I guess I'll share a little on the very common question
"How do I crochet better/faster/neater/nicer (and so on)?"
Well as the saying goes "Practice Makes Perfect". But I also heard this saying "Perfect Practice Makes Perfect".
There's a difference.
If one just keep doing and practicing the exact same thing, in the same fashion, things may not get better. Because the same way of doing things may not be the correct way of doing things.
So firstly, find out where you are weak at, or where you did wrong and correct it before continuing and practicing.
So if you are a crochet newbie, I believe it pays to invest in a crochet workshop to learn the correct technique of crocheting. Personally I learnt my skills through the internet, articles or videos but mostly pictorial instructions, so there were many times I could not tell if I am correct or not. I learnt through the hard way, lots of mistakes and failures. I did my first amigurumi rabbit back in 2011 and it was a terrible failure and I concluded myself not suitable for amigurumi. I would never have believed that one day I could be making hundreds of amigurumi dolls and selling them. Attend a crochet workshop and have a teacher tell you where you went wrong or where you are weak at.
So first correct your technique and then keep practicing.
Common mistakes I see:
1. Not holding the hook and yarn properly.
Experiment with different ways of holding your hook before you get fixated in a certain way. Find a way where you have the best control over the hook and most comfortable for you. Is there a correct way to hold? I will say no because I've seen different crocheters holding it differently and they all produce amazing work. As for the yarn, ensure enough tension so that it's easy to work with.
2. Not using the correct hook that matches your yarn and project.
Sometimes I follow the recommended hook size indicated but sometimes I don't. Try it out and see which hook size works the best. Why is that so? Because everyone's tension is different. And don't change hook sizes in the middle of your work. It will show.
3. Being afraid to make mistakes and to undo your work.
I see participants' eyes open wide and jaws drop when I tell them they have crocheted the wrong number of stitches/there's an extended single crochet/they have made a slip stitch instead of a single crochet/they have missed a stitch/they have made multiple increases erroneously and I undo their entire row of stitches right before their eyes. Brutal huh.
It's not the end of the world! A mistake is a chance to learn, so don't be afraid of it. If you found your mistake to be done way before, be brave and undo your work to correct it. Sometimes when you made a mistake but can't find it, be brave to undo your work til you find it. That's how you learn.
For me, sometimes I would unravel rows of work just to correct a mistake. I just cannot move on if I don't correct it. So don't be afraid!
My advice, LOOK when you are working. LOOK carefully, work in a lighted place where you can see your stitches clearly. Start slow and one day you will be fast.
4. Using bad quality yarn and hook.
I've used bad quality hooks and yarn before and it's really not nice to work with these. Even if you are a newbie, buy a good hook and quality yarn to learn. Bad quality yarn are hard to work with, sometimes the material is not consistent throughout and you get inconsistent stitches. When there's a lot of unraveling to do in the early days of learning, good quality yarn will allow you to rework the yarn 2-3 times. Bad yarn, you probably can't even unravel it.
As for the hook, I I use soft-grip hooks so it's not so painful to work with.
The set of hooks on the right are Clover hooks that features soft grips. I've been using them for years. Super smooth to crochet and comfortable to hold. The 2 hooks on the left are without soft grip and it's rather painful to use after a while.
5. Not reading up, learning and upgrading your knowledge.
You don't have to buy expensive books to learn, the internet has extensive information on crochet and amigurumi! There's so much to learn that could affect your crochet skills. Learn about different yarn material. Try them out and see how they work out for you. Learn about different crochet stitches. Have you heard about the Chainless Starting Double Crochet? This technique made my granny squares look flawless. The Invisible Decrease has made my Amigurumi dolls look better when decreasing the stitches. Single and double loop Magic Ring? I use both and I choose a different magic ring for different parts of my Amigurumi. Most people only know about the single loop method though.
Hope these help and do share with me if you strike a cord with any of them.
Before ending today's post, I'd like to share a simple pattern for an amigurumi heart. These are easy to make and quick projects for little gifts!
Amigurumi Tiny Heart Pattern
What I used:
Stylecraft Special DK yarn, 2.75mm crochet hook.
Fiberfill, a stitch marker (as this is worked around in continuous round, meaning you do not need to slip stitch at the end every round to join the round.), a tapestry needle for weaving in the end.
(First create the 2 tips of the heart)
Make 2 of these
Row 1: 4 single crochet (sc) in magic ring
Row 2: 2 sc in each sc around [8 sc]
Row 3: (1 sc, 2 sc in next sc) repeat 4 times [12 sc]
Row 4: 12 sc around
For the first tip created, fasten off and weave in the ends.
For the second tip, do not fasten off. Instead, connect the 2 tips together by working sc around both tips.
Row 5: 24 sc around both tips
Row 6: 24 sc around
Start decreasing from here
Row 7: (2 sc, sc2tog) repeat 6 times [18 sc]
Row 8: 18 sc around
Row 9: (1 sc, sc2tog) repeat 6 times [12 sc]
Row 10: 12 sc around
Start stuffing fibrefill.
Row 11: sc2tog repeat 6 times [6 sc]
Stuff firmly with fibrefill.
Row 12: Ultimate finish to close up the hole completely
Then weave in the end!
There may be a little gap between the two tips of the heart. You can stitch it up neatly using the same yarn, or use a little craft glue to close it up nicely.
That's it! Easy right?
Some gift ideas
- make lots of these and put them in a clear glass bottle
- attach a keyring to turn it into a keychain
Do share with me if you have more ideas! Hope you like this simple pattern and do tag me @dancingjewelbox or #dancingjewelbox if you share your completed heart on instagram.
Till next time!