What you really need to do is just skim through the crochet instructions first. Usually the first things mentioned are the materials. This is where they tell you how much of which yarn you need. Patterns are tested only with the yarns listed.
Also in the materials section is a list of any other things you might need to finish your project. These things might be a needle, zipper, buttons, etc. In crochet instructions the materials list will also include the size of hook needed to complete your project to the tested dimensions. This still depends on how you crochet - whether your work is firmer or looser than the gauge they suggest.
YES - the gauge! The gauge or tension in crochet instructions is the number of stitches and rows you should work to give a certain size result. Usually a 4x4 inch square is size they give. You can work a smaller tension square or swatch, but if you're not a very even crocheter then you may not end up with the right measurements. Your best bet is to not take any shortcuts! Do the size they recommend.
"Oh No!", you say - do I HAVE to?? YOU MUST DO A TENSION SWATCH if you're going to follow the crochet instructions and you want your project to turn out the correct size. I know - it's a pain - you just want to get started. That was me when I first started - "But I don't want to!" I'd say to my Mom. She'd always tell me I should work a swatch, but I rarely did. I was lucky - things usually turned out well.
So - work a tension swatch to find your gauge. If you work the same number of stitches and rows but your swatch ends up bigger, then you need a smaller hook or finer yarn. If your swatch is smaller - you need a larger hook or thicker yarn.
Also - especially if you're a
, following the crochet instructions for the swatch helps you to learn the right stitch. If you get your mistakes out of the way on the swatch - you can just sail through the main project - no problem! Have confidence - you CAN do it!
Don't let abbreviations put you off. You can just keep glancing at the list and soon you will know them all. You will find as you go on that you refer to the abbreviations list less and less. They actually make the patterns easier to read once you speed up and get to know them - I promise! It's the age old way - you just need to practice.
One more thing - you may have chosen crochet instructions which give schematics or diagrams. These diagrams show you the shapes of the pieces you need to work. They will also give you measurements so you know the dimensions each piece should be. If you see multiple numbers through the pattern, they refer to the different sizes you can work. The first one will refer to the smallest size. The rest will normally be in parentheses (or brackets) and refer to the the larger sizes.
TIP --- Before you start, pencil circles around the size you want to follow, then you won't get mixed up as you work!
So - what are you waiting for? Let's get you set up with a pattern you can get your teeth into. Oops - your hook, I mean! Yes - check back here for patterns which I'll share with you soon. In the meantime, grab a ball of wool and practice, practice, practice!
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TIP --- To keep your yarn balls from jumping all over - drop them in a pop-up hamper (the mesh kind) and they can't get out! Prevents cats, kids and you from chasing them across the floor!