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The Holidays Are Coming! Start Now to Crochet Beautiful Gifts

Sep 26, 2013 01:18AM ● By Erin Frisch

As September comes to a close, we also move a month closer to the winter holidays and the season for giving. Holiday giving doesn’t have to cost you a bundle. If you start now, you can learn to crochet a variety of beautiful items for gift giving—anything from baby blankets and afghans to stylish ponchos, shrugs, berets, hats, and scarves—pretty much something for everyone on your list this holiday season. Read on for some of the basics, as well as tips about sites where you can get more details on patterns and directions for advanced stitching.

First you’ll need a pattern for whatever it is you decide to crochet. Then you need to decide what type of yarn to use (although the pattern may offer a suggestion or two). Depending on the type of yarn you choose, you can create different looks for your projects. Yarn comes in seven different thicknesses (also referred to as “weights”) numbered from 0 through 6 on the skein when you purchase it. These range from lace (for things like doilies) to fine and superfine (for baby blankets), light and medium (for afghans), and bulky and super bulky (for rugs and crafts). Lighter-weight, softer yarns will produce a more delicate product, while thicker yarns will create a sturdier item. Once you become a seasoned crochet crafter, you can even use different thicknesses of yarn to create texture and raised stitches in your projects.

Another tip about yarn is to figure out how much you will need for your finished product, and purchase it all at once. If the yarn color you choose has a dye lot number, this is especially important because there can be subtle yet noticeable color differences in yarn from different dye lots. These yarns are dyed after they are spun. You also have the option of buying “no dye lot” yarns, which are spun from fibers that have been pre-colored and therefore are less likely to have variations in color.

Crocheting is different from knitting; rather than using two knitting needles, you’ll need only one crochet hook. A crochet hook has a notch at one end for catching loops of yarn and creating stitches. Hooks come in a variety of materials including plastic, aluminum, wood, and bamboo. In general, the choice is a personal preference. When you’re shopping for hooks, pick up different ones made of these materials, and see which feels most comfortable in your hand. A numbering system is used for hook sizes (B-1 is the smallest and S is the largest). The pattern you are following will list which hook size to use for the best-looking final product. In addition, for very fine lacework, special steel crochet hooks are sold (sizes 00-14).

Every crochet project begins with a chain stitch (abbreviated as “ch” in instruction pamphlets). To create this stitch, begin with a slip knot. Take the end of the yarn, make a loop as though you are going to tie a knot, then hold the place where the yarn crosses. Pull the yarn from the skein side through the loop; place this second loop through your crochet hook; and pull the free end of the yarn tight. Now hold your hook with the free end dangling; take the piece of yarn on the skein end and wrap it over the hook from back to front; grab it with the hook and pull the grabbed piece through the slip knot. This is your first chain stitch. Continue practicing this stitch until you can keep equal tension in the yarn as you are working to create equal-sized chain loops.

There are many other stitches you can incorporate into your project once you have mastered the simple chain stitch. These include the single crochet, double crochet, half-double crochet, treble crochet, and slip stitch, to name a few. There are also techniques for increasing, decreasing, finishing off your project (weaving and edging), and joining yarn to create a quilted look for your project. Of course, it’s much easier to learn to crochet by following step-by-step visual directions instead of reading a written description of how to make the stitches. The following websites provide both written and visual tutorials on how to create the different stitches you’ll need to know to create great gifts for everyone on your holiday list:

How to Crochet - Crochet Lessons

Craft Yarn Council - Crochet Learning Center

The Purl Bee - Crochet Basics

Now it’s time to head to the craft store and pick up an easy pattern to get started, some beautiful yarn (so much to choose from!), and the right-sized hook for the pattern you’ll be following. Happy crocheting! What are your favorite crafts for creating holiday gifts? Share them with us in the comments!

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