Sunday, January 18, 2009

Beginner Tricks: The Hook, and Such

Being a beginner myself, I'm hardly in any spot to be giving tips to other would-be crocheters. Still, in the short time that I've been doing this, I've realized how personal the craft is, and so I'm going to document some of the tricks that have been working for me.

The Hook
My own research taught me that there are basically two ways to hold your crochet hook. The first is the Pencil Hold, which means that you hold it like you would a pencil. The flat part goes between your thumb and fingers, and the meat of it rests on your hand.

The second is the Knife Hold. This is the hold that I chose, because, and I quote, "I feel like I have a lot of control with this method and can really 'dig in'...It allows me to crochet faster than using the pencil hold." - Nancy Queen, The Chicks With Sticks Guide to Crochet.

Now that I've become used to it, I completely agree. Because you stitch into other stitches, you really are "digging." It did take me some time to get used to though. After all, I hold pencils more often than I hold knives.

The trick? You don't have to face the hook in any particular direction. You can aim it up, at you, down, or all around. This will not affect your yarn over. In fact, "yarn over" sounds more complicated than it is. 99% of the time, as long as you are hooking the yarn, you've yo'd.

Stringing the Yarn and Holding the Project
My other main problems involved holding the yarn. Everything was so tight, and I'd end up stretching my stitches trying to loosen the new ones and make room. Funnily enough, the problem rests almost entirely on what you're doing with your left hand (or right, if you're a leftie).

Why is it so tight? Because you're holding it tightly, silly! You just don't notice because you're paying attention to the hand with the hook. Once you've wrapped the yarn around your hand in a way that works for you, don't let it go. This is now a permanent condition until you have to put the entire piece down.

Remember that you have to shift the yarn a little through your hand. You also have to tug on the ball. Just move your entire left hand to pull a little yarn. If you're having trouble, check out your ball. If it is resting on the way it is wrapped, or caught on something, you might do well to turn it or move it entirely.

I like to keep it nestled between the back of my keyboard and my books, in the tote bag I carry, or in my lap with my legs crossed.

Trust me, treating your left hand (or whichever holds your yarn) as one solid unit did wonders for me.

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