Top 5 Beginner Crochet Mistakes

by Laura Eccleston

13 Mar 2021

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Top 5 Beginner Crochet Mistakes
When starting out as a beginner crocheter it can often feel very frustrating and more often than not a lot of experienced crocheters forget or deliberately keep some of the common mistakes that keep beginner's crocheters progressing a mystery, but I'm here to help. Having crocheted for many years now and having worked with absolute beginners who have never even picked up a crochet hook before, I often see where they get confused. So below I have listed the top 5 most common beginner frustrations below. Although the title says mistakes, I don't believe in crochet mistakes, just learning curves. 

1. Being unable to make chains/pulling through a loop
The very beginnings of crocheting involves making chains and one of the first hurdles for beginners is usually being able to pull their loop on their hook through the previous loop. This is down to tension problems. It can seem quite cumbersome at first holding the yarn and the hook as well as the project in your other hand, especially if you're following someone's else's advice on how to do it. This is why I never teach beginners how to hold their yarn and hook because everyone develops their own way over time that feels natural for them. Some people hold their hook like a pencil, some like a knife, some people hold their yarn over their fingers, some through their hand grip. It's all about finding what works best for you and remembering there is no correct way to do it! It would be like telling a left handed person that they were using a pen wrong.
But going back to the problem of being able to pull that yarned over loop through your previous loop is because your yarn is too loose. Your working yarn needs a little tension, that means pulling it tight (not too tight it doesn't move though!) but just enough to stop it going limp in your hand. If you're struggling to wrap it around your fingers or to grip it in your hand to make it tighter, try tucking your working yarn under your leg or keep a foot on it and see if this helps.
You may also struggle if your previous loop you're trying to work through is too small, so when you work a chain trying pulling the yarn up a little to keep it a bit bigger. Don't worry about your first chains being all baggy, neatness will come with practice.

2. Adding stitches or losing stitches when working in the round
Quite often I receive comments saying that they have extra stitches at the end of the round, or less than expected and can't see where they have gone wrong. This is most often than not happened at the beginning or end of their round, rather than somewhere along the way.
There are two ways to crochet in the round, firstly by joining the rounds at the end or working continuously in a circle like a snail's shell. Both have their advantages and disadvantages and I will look at both and explain how problems can arise.

Joining the round
When joining the round we usually chain 1 at the beginning and work into the first stitch directly below. This is where a mistake can immediately occur because some beginners may miss their very first stitch which is right below their chain. The chain once made must be immediately forgotten as a stitch and never counted (don't worry it doesn't mind this) and the first proper counted stitch must be worked directly into that first stitch as if the chain 1 had never happened. If this stitch is skipped this can cause a lost stitch.
Secondly, when we finish the round we slip stitch into the first stitch, not the chain 1 (at least in my patterns), but sometimes beginners may add an extra stitch in what I call the 'fake stitch' which appears at the end of the round. The fake stitch is actually the slip stitch from the previous round and must be ignored, just like your chain 1 must also be ignored and not crocheted into and neither must be counted as a stitch. If you crochet into this fake stitch or the chain 1 from the beginning of your round you will be adding extra stitches without realising it. The key thing to look out for is only work into stitches that have a V shape below. If they look a bit odd at the end of the round then avoid them and see if this helps your stitch count!
I do recommend joining rounds for beginners though because it is easier to remember where you start and finish and you won't lose count or even have to count as you crochet. It is also recommended to join rounds when working with colour changes to get a seamless join, but the negatives are these additional stitches can catch you out. 

Working continuously in the round
The benefits to working continuously in the round as if making a snail shell is that you avoid the chain 1 and slip stitch problems above, however it easy to forget where you started and need to finish and stitches can easily be added or lost if you don't remember where you are. You can use a stitch marker, but often it is unclear where to place it or how to read it. A trick to helping you, is adding a stitch marker to roughly tell you where your round starts and finishes, but also looking out for the increases, which should always line up if a pattern is neatly conforming to mathematical increases as in my patterns at least.
So after round 3, you will start to see groups of 2 stitches appear on top of each other, spirally out from the centre. This will look like 2 V shapes lining up if done correctly and your new increases should fall right in-between your last 2 V increases. So, if you get lost, check if these are lining up and if they're not you may have skipped over to the next round without realising.
Also check your stitches in between your increases. For example if you're working to 1 single crochet in the next 2 stitches and then an increase, but there are 3 individual previous stitches before your next previous increase then you've reached the end of your round because you're next round asks you to work to 1 single crochet in the next 3 stitches not 2 and your increases need to line up.
If this makes sense, hopefully it will relax you a little when working continuously because you know what to look out for. I can't guarantee this would work for other patterns out there that don't match up neatly, but it should help with all mine. If you do work colour changes though, working continuously will create a jagged join so bear this in mind.

3. Wonky edges
Another beginner problem is finding your projects when worked in rows have wonky edges. I personally believe this is due to the tradition of crochet books teaching beginners to use chains at the beginning of their rows and asking them to count them as stitches. I recommend to chain a single chain at the beginning of your row (no matter the stitch design) and then ignoring it, don't count it as as stitch and work your first proper stitch into your first previous stitch (if the design allows). This will not only make it easier to see where to crochet into at the end of your row because you'll be crocheting into proper stitches rather than the top of a load of chains, but also your stitch count will be more accurate and you will notice much straighter edges!

4. Stuffing showing through / Project too tight or too loose
There is nothing worse than finally completing a crochet toy, only to have the stuffing showing through the gaps. Unfortunately there may be no way of fixing this at the end of a project other than using less stuffing so your toy isn't so overstuffed, but it can be fixed for a new project. The problem arises from your tension, you may have a looser tension than the pattern is suggesting so a quick fix is to use the same yarn, but swap to a smaller hook. This will immediately make your stitches smaller and hopefully tighter. 
You can use this trick if your work is too tight, just swap to a larger hook but keep the same weight yarn. This will loosen up your work and create a softer drape without altering the pattern. If you want to make a scarf or blanket, but the project seems to be working up to be stiff then just upping the hook size is an easy fix!

5.  Bulky decreases
The traditional beginner decrease can often make your projects look bulky and ugly. This is because a normal decrease is asking you to yarn over multiple times before working the stitch. This is especially noticeable in a half double crochet decrease. There is a cure though and it's called the invisible decrease. I have worked on a video tutorial for this technique and not only does it make your project more slim lined and neater, it's quicker to work and uses less yarn! A win win and hard to ever go back to the normal decrease once converted. Watch my tutorial here on the single crochet decrease: https://youtu.be/5S06d4UIl9Q

Bonus tip!
A lot of beginner's ask me if they can use the same pattern, but with a different yarn weight or hook size, or even both and the answer depends on the project. If the pattern relies on sizing, such as a hat or baby clothes then no, do not swap the yarn weight or hook size because you will end up with a different sized project at the end. Unless you're using my tip above if your tension is too tight or loose. If you're making a toy though or anything that doesn't require a perfect fit then you can always swap your hook and yarn to different sizes. It's an idea to match the correct hook size that your yarn recommends, but there are no rules in crochet. Sometimes breaking these suggestions can create interesting new designs. To make a project bigger, use a thicker yarn and a bigger hook and to make a project smaller, use a smaller hook and a thinner yarn! Have fun experimenting!

I hope these tips have helped and answered a few questions you may have had or experienced. If you have any suggestions or other issues you have found as a beginner crocheter then head on over to my Instagram channel at https://www.instagram.com/happyberrycrochet and let me know in the comments!

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