How Long Does It Take to Learn How to Crochet?
When I was about ten years old, my mom decided I should learn how to crochet. She didn’t crochet herself, but we had an elderly neighbor lady who did, and I guess mom was impressed enough to send me over for lessens.
My first lessons were with a tiny hook and crochet thread. Elvira (seriously, that was her name)taught me some basic crochet stitches to embellish a pillowcase edge. I still have at least one of those pillowcases somewhere. I had embroidered a pre-printed design on them. I never did finish the crochet part.
I decided to pick up crocheting about 20 years later, after finally recovering from tiny thread trauma. Since then, I have crocheted everything from blankets to, yes indeed, fancy edgings. I have found most projects to be therapeutic and a few to be a royal headache. The results make them all worth it.
The Long and Short of It
Most dedicated adults can expect a degree of proficiency after a few months of regular crocheting activities. Mastery of basic stitches and maintaining the proper gauge (stitches per inch or within a specific sized square) can only be attained with practice. So, just like playing an instrument or learning a new sport, success depends on how much time you have to dedicate to it.
A friend recently told me that her niece, born with spina bifida, had discovered crochet and made over 1,000 decorative pumpkins in a month. Now that’s dedication! I’ve made about 20 pumpkins for myself and others in the last month. Even if I did nothing but crochet all day, every day, I still can’t imagine producing so many–and I’ve been crocheting for decades.
That young lady is gifted, but the rest of us can make steady progress so long as we stick with it. Give yourself time to develop your skillset gradually over time. I am still learning new stitches and new ways of doing things.
I suspect I will never learn it all because some more creative person will be forever introducing new stitches, methods, patterns, and even advanced tools to expand and challenge my notions of how things work. I love the challenge, and my oh-so-patient husband will tell you I never tire of adding another project to an already endless list.
And why not? It’s fun, and it’s beneficial for home, gifts, and maintaining sanity. It’s a lifetime of lifting the bar of personal best. It’s challenging brain cells to keep up, and that’s an excellent way to stay young at heart and in mind.
What’s Your Motivation?
New skills are always easier to pick up if you actually want to learn. When I was ten, learning to crochet with a tiny hook and thread was not particularly appealing. Children will often learn more quickly with simple, fun projects like making a chunky yarn crocheted chain belt or necklace. The near-instant gratification will have them “hooked” in no time. Then use either bulky or regular-sized (weight 4) yarn to teach a single crochet stitch and make a placemat or lap blanket.
Crocheting is a way to satisfy the desire to be creative. It also fills time for someone who must be bedridden for a while. It’s an excellent distraction for long trips. It can also become a business venture, especially near holidays.
Older children and adults often need little supervision to learn to crochet, especially with so many books and YouTube tutorials available. A lot of oohs and aahs may be the best encouragement you can give–that and the right tools.
Tools and Yarn
I generally have several crochet projects in various stages of completion. Some travel well. Some are larger, so I give myself plenty of time to compete and even take an occasional break from them. We have 11 grandchildren. I want to give each a crocheted blanket when they graduate from high school. Some have already passed that milestone. The next is a few years away, but I’m already working on her blanket.
I make hats for charity. I work on that every day. I work on seasonal projects as they come up. I work on creative projects, such as crocheted stuffed animals, as the mood strikes me. I have each project in its own bag or basket so everything’s together when I need it.
When you’re just starting, you’ll need the correct crochet hook and yarn size for your project, your pattern instructions, a small pair of scissors, stitch markers, a small ruler for checking your gauge, and a yarn needle. Over time you’ll add to these tools. Here are a few recommendations when choosing tools and crochet yarn or thread.
Most project instructions include the hook size needed to create the correct size result. Using a larger or smaller size will affect the end product. With experience, you can sometimes use this knowledge to your advantage. But beginners should stick with the pattern instructions.
Crochet hooks are made from several materials.
- Metal. Metal is probably the most common hook material. Metal hooks are durable and smooth. They are easy for most people to hold and come in the widest variety of sizes. They can be bought individually or in packs.
- Plastic. Plastic hooks are often comparable in price to metal hooks. They can sometimes be available more cheaply and may be a good choice for childrens’ first attempts. Plastic is also very lightweight. And really large hooks for chunky yarn are often plastic. Oversized hooks are usually sold alone. Standard sizes are also available in packs.
- Wood. Bamboo is the most common wood for crochet hooks. It’s lightweight and easy to grip. Bamboo is not as smooth as metal and plastic, making it ideal to use with yarns with more tendency to slip. Quality wooden hooks are more expensive and make a great gift for experienced crocheters. They may be all wood or a combination of metal hooks with wooden handles.
- Ergonomic. For those with disabilities, there are also hooks with foam grips or different shapes for easy handling.
Yarn comes in a variety of weights and styles. Beginners will want to stay away from fuzzy or looped yarn. It is challenging to keep track of stitches and maintain an even tension with these. Begin with a relatively smooth bulky to average-sized worsted weight yarn for the best learning experience.
Somewhere on most skeins (or cakes) of yarn is a picture of a skein with a number from 1-7. This number indicates the size, or weight, of the yarn. Crochet thread also comes in different sizes, but I will cover only the most commonly used yarn sizes for beginners.
- Size 1–Super Fine: Although there is a size 0 yarn, it’s more like thread and is referred to as “lace yarn. Superfine yarn is used for more intricate baby outfits or other baby accessories such as a fancy blanket for a newborn. This size is also used to make socks or gloves. Generally requires a (C-2) 2.75 mm or (D-3) 3.25 mm hook.
- Size 2–Fine: Fine yarn is also used for baby or children’s items. This is also referred to as “sport” weight, though I’m unsure where that reference originated. Size 2 yarn is also used for hats, scarves, and lightweight adult clothing. Use an (E-4) 3.50 mm or (F-5) 3.75 mm hook unless the pattern says otherwise.
- Size 3–Light: Light and medium-weight yarns are referred to as “worsted.” Worsted simply means they fall in the middle of the scale of standard yarn sizes. So when a pattern calls for a worsted yarn, you need to choose size 3 or 4 to achieve the desired gauge or stitches per inch. Worsted is the most common yarn used for a plethora of popular projects, from afghans to clothing to crafts. Use hook (G-6) 4.00 mm, (7) 4.50 mm, or (H-8) 5.00 mm.
- Size 4–Medium: As would be expected, size 4 is the most abundant and most commonly-used yarn. Over the years, probably a good 90% of my own projects have used medium worsted yarn. It works well for all ages and experience levels. Size 4 yarn often requires an (I-9) 5.50 mm, (J-10) 6.00 mm, or (K-11) 6.50 mm hook. I have also used size H for many hats.
- Size 5–Bulky: There are two bulky sizes, so you’ll want to try to verify which size you need for a project, if possible. If the size is not specified, check your gauge and adjust your hook size accordingly. Sizes 7.00 mm, (L) 8.00 mm, or (M/N) 9.00 mm hooks are used for bulky yarn. Larger-sized hooks are available individually or in sets.
- Size 6–Bulky Roving: Yarn sized 6 and above are generally manufactured differently than smaller yarns. The term “roving” means that the yarn was not twisted together as smaller sizes are. Instead, the yarn is made in long, narrow bundles. Often, the type of fiber used causes the yarn to hold together. Roving yarn often has small threads that stick out here and there, creating a rougher appearance. Some of these yarns have a small thread that wraps around the yarn to hold the fibers together. Be picky when choosing a bulking yarn, especially for beginners. A cheap bulky yarn may literally come to pieces, making it hard to work with. Many bulky patterns call for an (N/M) 10.00 mm or 12.00 mm hook size.
- Size 7 and up–Jumbo: Jumbo yarn sizes go as high as 17. These huge sizes are most often used to create extremely thick, plush blankets or rugs. Some sizes are so big that they are actually worked by hand, without the need for a hook since there’s not one big enough. Size 7 jumbo yarn generally requires a (P/Q) 15.00 mm or (Q) 16 mm hook.
The easiest yarn material to work with is acrylic or polyester. However, specific projects have a higher quality result with natural fibers. Some examples are wool for hats, scarves, winter socks, or cotton for dishcloths or towels. Some silk yarns are available but can be slippery for beginners to use. Always read instructions carefully, so you choose the correct yarn for a successful project.
Ready, Set, Crochet!
Once you’ve gathered all the necessary materials, you’re ready to jump right in and learn to crochet. Many projects include a step-by-step glossary of how stitches are made. If not, there are pictorial or tutorial instructions online.
Begin with a simple pattern that uses only one or two types of simple stitches. You’ll find as you progress that more complicated stitches simply combine the basic stitches in creative ways. Try adding a new stitch or stitch pattern every 3-4 projects, and you’ll be an experienced crocheter before long.