After you’ve learned your basic crochet stitches, you’ll probably want to make something useful—not quite a sweater or a dress just yet, but something you can wear or show off. One of the easiest first projects is a crochet flower. You can make a whole bunch of them and put them up on your wall, or use them as appliqués for some of your existing clothes. In any case, they’re easy to make and come in a variety of styles, so they’re perfect for practicing your hard-earned skills.
The most common crochet flower patterns, as well as the simplest, are those that are done in rounds. This makes the design flexible; you can make the flower as big or small as you like. However, the center remains more or less the same size, so if you want to keep things in proportion, a good size would be two to four inches across. You can go with the standard two-color plan (one color each for the center and petals) or break away from the norm and try more or fewer colors.
Five-petal flowers are the most symmetrically attractive, and work well as decorations for bags, hats, scarves and tops. They also look really nice on girls’ dresses—if you’re looking for a gift, get a simple shift and just stick some of these on. They’re probably the first designs you’ll find when you start looking for crochet flower patterns. They take no more than 20 minutes to make—even less if you’re really good—so you can make an entire garden with just a day’s work.
A typical crochet flower pattern starts out with a chain-6 ring for the center, then surrounds this ring with about 15 single crochet stitches for the petals to hang on with a slip stitch. The sides of the petals are made with about three chain stitches and joined with a double crochet running down each one. There are variations to this pattern, of course, and if you’re brave enough you can even tweak them on your own.
More complicated designs often include several layers, so you have a more “three-dimensional” finished product. You may be able to find patterns for these at a craft store or a knitting specialist, sometimes even as part of a kit. These usually require light yarns, as the work is more intricate and thick strands will just drown out the design. You can use them as adornments for headbands, women’s hats, or sofa blankets, or even give them away as souvenirs for parties.
Few things can raise the holiday spirit better than a candy-filled stocking on Christmas day. It’s one of the few traditions that transcend age; whether you’re five or fifty, Christmas stockings are sure to bring a smile to your face. They’ve become iconic even in cultures where they’re not traditional. And if you want to give something that really touches the heart, you can’t go wrong with handmade needlepoint Christmas stockings.
Many people find needlepoint designs too complicated for a first project, or aren’t sure their work is good enough to give away. But Christmas stockings can go either way: you can find designs you can probably do on your first day of learning, and those that take years of practice to master. Most of the time, it’s really just a matter of finding the right design.
Start by looking for Christmas stocking kits at your local craft store, if you don’t have supplies yet. Most of them will include the stocking fabric, threads and needles, and a pattern with detailed instructions. Some will even include a few spares to make room for mistakes, or a variety of patterns you can choose from. If you’re a bit more advanced, you can tweak the design as you please, but you can usually get good results just sticking to the original pattern.
You can also create your own design, of course, but this will take a lot more time. One of the first steps is deciding on the size of the stocking, and after that, the fabric size—most needle point projects use 13 or more, but that can vary depending on your specifics. You can then cut out the pattern from both the cross-stitch fabric and whatever you’re using for the back, lining and trim. Once you’ve got your pieces, you can incorporate your design into it, whether by hand or using a computer program. Then you can choose your thread colors, buy the threads if you need them, and get started.
For some people, this process can take months, so you’ll need to start early if you want your stocking in time for Christmas. Most experts recommend starting at least three months in advance and working on it at least an hour a day. This will give you enough time to choose your design, create your pattern, and shop for supplies—and do things over in case you slip up or change your mind.
Shawls are one of the most popular first projects for crochet beginners. One reason is that they’re easy—while some designs are harder than others, one can usually whip up a decent shawl after learning just the basics. Another is that they’re practical. The feeling of wearing your own creation over your shoulders is extremely gratifying, and nothing’s better at keeping new knitters motivated.
That’s why it’s no big surprise that crochet shawl patterns are easy to find, both online and at brick-and-mortar shops. They range from simple, solid-colored ones to top-of-the-line pieces that look like they just came off the runway. And what’s great about finding projects online is that most of them are free, meaning you don’t have to make a big investment for something you’re not sure you will enjoy.
Many people take a basic shawl pattern and make several pieces to give away as gifts. This is a great idea if you’re looking to save over the holidays or are out of gift ideas. For one thing, you can be sure they won’t find the same shawl anywhere else; for another, knowing that you put time and effort into the gift will mean a lot to them.
It’s also easy to move on from shawls to ponchos, vests, and waistcoats, as they tend to have more or less the same shape and use the same techniques. Once you finish a shawl, chances are you’ll want to move on to something bigger, or at least try different styles. And since most of these items are fairly loose, you don’t need to worry about fit or sizing as much as with sweaters, hats, or socks.
One thing you should always look for when looking at shawl patterns is the difficulty level. Have a good idea of how much complexity you can handle and choose your project accordingly. Most of the patterns available today are rated “beginner,” “intermediate,” and so on, or something similar. You want to make sure you’re not taking on too much, especially if you’re buying your gear at the same time.
Once you’ve mastered the basic shawl design, try tweaking the patterns and adding your own touches, even if it’s just a lace trim or a different yarn weight. Not all knitters have an eye for color or texture, but it’s always good to try new stitches, new shades, or new yarns. After all, experimenting is part of what makes crochet fun—you never know what you can come up with!
Bernat is a manufacturer of yarns and knitting supplies based in Ontario, Canada. Although they have a number of retail stores, much of their business comes from online sales, with their products distributed through several online sellers. Besides yarns and needles, they are well known for their wide range of patterns, which cover everything from hats and scarves to sweaters, bags, and home accessories.
Many of their patterns are free, which is great for beginners who don’t want to invest too much in their craft just yet. It also works well for amateurs who don’t expect to make a business out of knitting, or even professionals looking to cut a few corners. Most of their yarns come with free patterns online, which are rated according to difficulty (beginner, easy, intermediate, and experienced).
Clothing is no doubt the most popular of Bernat patterns. They cater to men and women of all ages and sizes, and can go from casual to formal to funky. Each pattern includes information on the yarns and needles required, so you can get your supplies at the same time. Ponchos and shawls are especially popular because they’re easy to make, but there are also sweaters, vests, skirts, and dresses available.
Beginners often go for smaller pieces, such as children’s clothes. Bernat also offers excellent variety in this department, with fun, age-appropriate colors and designs and products ranging from hats, mittens, and bootees to sweaters and socks for school. The recommended yarns are among the softest, warmest, and most comfortable, so they make excellent wintertime gifts for kids as well.
If you’re looking for something other than clothes, you can look into Bernat’s range of toys, crafts, home decorations, and kitchen accessories. They have patterns for stuffed toys and rattles, placemats and coasters, throws, afghans, and Christmas tree ornaments. For the holidays, you can try one of their stocking patterns—use it as quick gifts for kids or hang one up in your home for a unique, creative touch.
Bernat patterns also go beyond knitting and cover crochet and non-needle crafts, although the range is much smaller and not as up to date. The crochet patterns lend themselves especially well to home décor, with products ranging from small coasters and ornaments to mats, blankets, and table covers. There’s no end to your options—no matter what your style or skill level is, Bernat is sure to have something fun for you to do.
Dragon Yarns is one of the leading online resources for knitting products, including yarns, needles, patterns, kits, and accessories. Based in Gloucestershire, England and founded in 2003, they are known for their diverse selection of brands and materials, as well as a keen eye for quality and design. They also have one of the most competitive price ranges around, making them a top choice for both professional and amateur knitters.
The company is known particularly for its selection of yarns, which include both common and hard-to-find fibers. There are basic yarns in all lace weights and thicknesses, as well as various textured and multicolored ones. Although they don’t make their own for the time being, many people go to Dragon Yarns for their broad range of fibers, which include wool, silk cashmere, cotton, bamboo, alpaca and angora. There’s something here for every taste—plant-based, organic, smooth, chunky, you name it.
Although based in the UK, Dragon Yarns carries brands from all over the world, including Italian, Canadian, and even Uruguayan manufacturers. This is part of what makes them a good resource: they’re open to sourcing their materials from lesser-known sellers and even support small and startup manufacturers. Many of their brands are approved by the World Fair Trade Organization and have been certified for quality. There’s also a good selection of organic and all-natural ones for knitters who have sensitive skin or are environmentally conscious.
This variety is particularly attractive to intermediate to expert knitters, who may want to experiment with different textures or color combinations. For instance, their chenille-type chunky yarns offer lots of room for creativity—they’re great for making fun scarves and ponchos, but they also work well as accessories, adorning hats, bags, and cardigans. Of course, for those just starting out in the craft, there’s no shortage of options either: basic light yarns come in all colors and weights, so you can start as small or big as you like.
Dragon Yarns also sells patterns, which can come in handy if you find a nice yarn but don’t know how to work with it. There are buttons and accessories to help you spruce up your finished products, or even get ideas for your next project. They also have instruction books and pattern books for knitters of all skill levels. It’s a one-stop shop—whether you’re just starting out or are ready to start your own business, you’re sure to find everything you need here.