There has been a lot of discussion lately on how fast I am as a crocheter. I’m not the fastest crocheter in the world, but I seems like I’m pretty close!
Today, I’m going to share my secrets!
There are many ways to hold a crochet hook; they generally fall into two categories: “over-hand” and “under-hand”, and there are many ways to hold the yarn. You want to make sure you’ve got the best combination that works for you. I hold my hook over-hand, with my pinky and ring finger actually holding the hook and my thumb and pointer finger guiding it. You can see how I hold the yarn in this post.
Take a look at how you’re hold the hook and yarn, and also how you’re sitting and holding yourself.
When you’re crocheting, look at what your hook is doing while pulling it through a loop. Make sure the hook is pointed down (see this tutorial) and the hook will move more smoothly, and thus can move more quickly!
Because of the way I hold my yarn in my left hand, the best place for the yarn to be is in front of me and off to the left (around 10 o’clock). If I can’t do that, then I put it directly to the left.
I also make sure that I have a pair of scissors and a sewing needle (for end weaving) on hand.
Look for the optimal spot to put your yarn while you crochet. Try out different locations to be sure!
I always use centre-pull balls of yarn. And I always work from the centre end. When starting a new ball, if the yarn barf hasn’t done it for me, I pull out several yards of yarn to get the ball started – the middle of the ball tends to be a bit tight, so you want to pull the yarn out until it starts coming out freely.
If you have a lot of yarn barf to deal with, or need to wind a centre-pull ball, here is a tutorial that will walk you through it.
This doesn’t seem like the sort of thing that would contribute to your speed, but you’d be surprised! Having an efficient system for dealing with the ends can save you some time; not a lot of time, but enough. And once you’re crocheting faster, you’ll have more ends to weave in, and then you can save even more time. It adds up!
My system is as follows:
– leave a tail that’s at least 6″ long
– Use a sewing needle to weave the ends in (don’t just crochet over them)
– weave the end in at least three directions
– try to stab the needle through the yarn you’ve woven in already when making a return pass
– as soon as there’s enough fabric to do so, and you’re sure that area of your piece is correct, weave the end in!
That last point isn’t just a procrastination-avoidance step. For me, anyway, weaving ends in on a smaller piece of fabric is much, much easier to do than on a larger project. When making a blanket I always weave in as I go because it’s just too awkward to do it once the blanket is finished. It literally saves me time.
Reading your work
Being able to read your work really speeds things along because you don’t need to count stitches as often, and you can quickly compare your piece to the pattern (if you’re following one) to see if things are working out, which leads to less ripping out and redoing.
If you’re a beginner and you want to learn how to do this, I think your best bet is to pick a stitch and work rows and rows and rows of it. Count every stitch. Watch what you’re doing. Look to see what the first and last stitch of the row looks like. See what the stitch looks like from the front and back. Once you feel you’ve got the hang of it, keep going, but stop counting your stitches. See if you can tell where each one needs to go. Then pick a new stitch and do it all over again. (Or keep going on the piece you’ve started – in the end you’ll have a super long scarf and you’ll be ready for the next Polar Vortex winter!)
Once you’ve done that (or if you already can do that), grab a motif book and start making some. Make as many as you can. Motifs are great projects for learning new stitches, seeing what multiple stitches look like when they’re working together, working in the round, and really reading your work. Motifs are also great because you can use them to decorate items (like a bag, or hat), or you can join them together to make lots of neat things (scarves, bags, blankets, stuffed animals, etc)
And finally, you need to practice. Try to crochet every day if you can, even if it’s just a few stitches. Once you’ve got all of the above sorted out then the more you crochet, the faster you’ll be able to go.