Crochet Supplies for the New Crocheter
update ©2012 Sandra Petit, http://www.crochetcabana.com
If you are a new crocheter, or you have a friend who is new to crochet, you might wonder what kinds of supplies you should have to make your crochet experience the best it can be. Since I recently needed this information, I thought I’d share what I gleaned by asking other crocheters which crochet supplies they thought important to have on hand. Of course, you can get these things gradually. You don’t have to run out and buy everything at once. You can click here to download a simple list as a PDF, and check off the items as you go.
The first items are those I consider most important. The others are lagniappe (extras that I believe will be helpful for your crocheting pleasure).
Yarn (light colored, smooth worsted weight), hook (J), scissors, and large eye needle. You might also want a needle threader if threading needles is difficult for you.
Hooks - There are two basic hook styles - inline (like Susan Bates hooks) and tapered Boye style (you can read more about this here). Which one is best for you will be determined by you over time. For now, you won’t know which is best so you might like to get an inexpensive hook in both types, or just choose one to see how you enjoy the craft (you will love it!).
You will also need to decide on a size to buy. Worsted weight yarns generally work well with an I or J hook, so that might be a good starting point as they are easily found in your local Walmart or craft store.
If you are financially able, you might like to try different types and sizes. Crochet hooks can be made with aluminum, plastic, wood, brass, steel, and Corian (and probably some other things too). You can find them with inline and tapered hook heads.
Yarn - You will need a light or medium color, smooth worsted weight yarn. I suggest not starting with a dark yarn or a multi-color (variegated or ombre) yarn because it is more difficult to see your stitches. Most people learn to crochet using acrylic or wool yarn (as opposed to cotton or the thinner thread). Different yarns do work up differently, but in the beginning you don’t want to spend a fortune on specialty yarns for you to work up and rip out while you learn. Get a cheap, acrylic yarn to practice on. But when you are able, I would also suggest you buy a skein of cotton yarn, because it is such a different feel to work with. When you’re more comfortable in your crocheting skills, you might like to try the different yarns such as wool, wool blends, chenille etc. Remember to buy enough yarn in the same dye lot if you intend to do something with your practice projects. With the cotton, you can make bunches of dishcloths while you learn. They don’t have to be perfect. Who cares if a dishcloth is a little bit off?
Scissors - This is important. You need a good, sharp pair of small scissors. Actually, to be honest, you need a BUNCH of pairs of good, sharp scissors. LOL Mine keep disappearing.
Large Eye Needles for weaving - I like #16, but use whatever you like. Your needle has to have a large eye since you’re working with yarn and thick cotton. If you’re working with thread, a smaller needle will do fine. If you’re working with bulky yarn, you’ll need an even larger needle than the #16.
Stitch/row markers/holders - These are used to keep your work from unraveling if you have to walk away from it for a while. You don’t have to get official stitch markers, though they are handy little things and come in all sorts of types and designs (just make sure you get the crochet type, not the knitting type if you purchase them). You can make do with a paper clip or a safety pin. Recently, a visitor to the web site made a suggestion I liked so much I put it on the web site. Instead of using a stitch holder or safety pin, you just make what I call Lil’s Knot. It’s like a slip knot but you don’t use the hook. Your work won’t unravel and you don’t need to worry about having a pin handy. I use this myself almost exclusively now.
Nail file or Emery board - There is nothing worse than working for hours on a project and have your nail snag and mess up a section way at the beginning of the work! It’s to your advantage to keep your nails clear of chips.
Ruler and/or nylon measuring tape - Don’t use the one from your husband’s tool box. Get a good one that will be flexible. I found a spring nylon measuring tape made by Clover at www.jklneedles.com. They also had just a regular nylon tape. I ordered one of each. I got one at Walmart and it works just fine. I use it and throw it on the table. I like to keep one in my carry-along tote bag as well as my purse, so I have several of them. That said, I also keep a wooden or plastic ruler handy as it is best for measuring squares most accurately.
There other things that you might like to have in addition to the basics.
Though you can find a lot of patterns and the answers to questions online now, I have a lot of purchased pattern books and reference books on my shelves.
Pattern leaflets/books/copies of your own designs etc - Everybody has their favorites. I have a list of books elsewhere on site, but there are lots more I could include. I can tell you one of the books I use most often is Quick and Cozy Afghans. When I’m looking for something quick (and I always am) I check that book first. I also have all the "Vanna" books. I like to look at them, but haven’t made many afghans from them. I find I mostly use my own patterns, or make up a new one, making each afghan unique for that person. I have some patterns for sale at my Etsy shop, Crochet Cabana Creations and free patterns are posted at The Crochet Cabana blog. There are also a few free patterns in the charity patterns section.
Reference books - The Righetti book Crocheting in Plain English is a good reference though the pictures are in black and white. Donna Kooler’s Encyclopedia of Crochet is also good. Lots of color pictures and stitches. The Good Housekeeping Illustrated Book of Needlecraft is good if you like to do different types of needlework. The illustrations are also great. A few good "stitch" guide books would be handy to have as well. It just all depends on how much you want to invest. This can be done over a period of time. The Crocheter’s Companion by Nancy Brown is a neat little book sized you can carry it around with you for reference. Personally, I love all the Dummies books and they do have one for crochet. Crocheting for Dummies by Susan Brittain. New books come out often so just browse the shelves at your local bookstore or craft store.
Chibi needle holder - You will use needles for sewing in ends and this wonderful little Chibi holder is great to keep your needles in one place. There are two different ones I believe. One comes with curved needles and one straight, but you can buy your own needles and stick them in there as well.
Magnifying glass - This is optional and really depends on your eyes and the quality of the patterns you get. Great for seeing those little charts when working filet crochet.
Plastic sleeve protectors for patterns - These are good to protect patterns from spills while you’re working. I also use these to store my favorite patterns that are not in books. I keep them in a 3-ring binder. This would be patterns I get off the ’net, patterns from my own web site that I print out, patterns I write up freehand, crochet information about hooks or yarn or whatever. I also use them in my Crochet Journal, where I keep a picture and pertinent information on items I’ve made as gifts so that if I want to make them again, I am able to find that pattern. Isn’t it strange that I have hundreds of patterns and yet I continue to go to that book because I want to make one for so-and-so just like the one I made for such-and-such. LOL
Reference sheet giving hook sizes and what hook should be used with what yarn (I have one here) - Might want to laminate this so it will last longer.
Hook organizer - I have a quilted roll up hook case which I love and which I keep in my plastic Spacemaker box. I also have a couple of the Craft Stor plastic boxes which I keep in my big plastic Craft Stor Compact Tote. I saw these are available at www.joann.com under storage and totes. My other storage devices are featured on their own page.
Supply case - that would be the Craft Stor Compact Tote I have, or the larger one they also offer. You need something this long to fit the afghan hooks and crochet on the double hooks that won’t fit in a smaller box or case.
Carry-all tote for on-the-go crocheting - I use them all the time. In fact, I rarely go out for any length of time without one. You can get these at a craft store, or order one online. I have a couple of canvas ones I bought at http://www.zazzle.com/bags.
Magnetic board - holds patterns as you work.
Needle threader - In case you think this is only for thread users, think again. I’ve used it for yarn as well. This is particularly handy if you’re getting on in years and the eyesight/hand-eye coordination is not all it could be.
Highlighters - When you’re working a complicated pattern, it’s a good idea to photocopy the pattern and use a highlighter to mark each row as you finish it. Of course, your pattern will have a repeat. You can either make several copies and mark each one in a different color :-) or you can put hearts or pencil marks next to each one, using a different mark each time you go through the repeat.
Pom-Pom maker - If you make a lot of hats, it might be a good thing to have.
Yarn bobbins - These are neat little creatures. When you finish your project, sometimes you have just a little bit of yarn left. If you leave it alone, it will eventually become a big mess. If you use these yarn bobbins, it will keep those bits neat and you can later work them all into a scrap yarn afghan. Waste not, want not. Also, you can use yarn bobbins to hold a bit of yarn needed while making a project that calls for a number of color changes. The bobbins hang there and wait for you to come back on the return row and pick it up again.
Small notebook and pencil to keep track of projects - I have Crochet Journal sheets (see my teaching crochet outline) which I use to keep track of completed projects, but what about those projects that are terminally "in progress". LOL By the time I get back to them, I’ve forgotten what hook I was using, what pattern, which one of these white skeins is for which project - you know the dye lots are different. LOL With one little note on a page, I could have all that information at hand. Another way to keep track of this info is to use Office Supply Tags (see below).
Office supply tags - Here’s another great idea. You know those price tags you can buy at office supply stores? They are tan with a string attached. They’re also not very expensive. You can get a box of 100 for just a few dollars. You write all the information about your project down - hook, yarn and pattern, then tie the string around a stitch. Voila! All the info right there on the project. This is the method I use as the notebook tends to get misplaced. The tags come in several sizes.
Small photo album - If you have "shortcut" patterns that fit on index cards, you can put them in this photo album and keep it near your crochet supplies. I guess this might be more for experienced crocheters, but one day you will all be experienced. What I mean here by "shortcut" patterns is this. You’re working a pattern and it’s pretty complicated but you can see where it’s going. It goes on and on but what you really need to remember is "first row sc" "second row dc" "third row long stitch". Since the previous rows are done, all you have to do is glance down to know what you meant. I remember one pattern particularly that I did. It was so complicated to follow each row. I decided to simplify it.
Instead of reading the entire long instruction, I wrote:
I hook, name of afghan
6, ch 2, sk 2
6, 2sc in sp, dc
That was one pattern.
The next was
2sc in sp
Of course you have no idea what I’m talking about, but if you were working the pattern, it would make perfect sense because you’ve been going through the rows and understand the pattern by that point. This is the kind of thing you’d put in your little album.
Also you might put little notes on hook sizes or what hook to use with what yarn, as noted above.
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