Getting Started with Soft Crafts
Decided to start your soft crafts journey, but not sure where to begin? You’ve come to the right place! One way to narrow your choice down is to decide if you want to start knitting or crocheting. Now, this doesn't mean you have to stick to your choice, or only pick one of them to learn! However, it’s helpful to educate yourself on what craft sounds more appealing to you so you know what to look for.
Difference between Knitting & Crochet
The biggest differences between knitting and crocheting are the tools and processes.
Knitting uses two long needles to form loops with yarn, moving a set of loops from one needle to another. This is called a stitch, and they are all held on the needle. Since there are several active stitches, if one dropped, the whole row could unravel. Crochet, on the other hand, uses yarn and a single hook to create knotlike loops together directly on the hook, and most of the time there is only one active loop. This makes crochet a bit easier and potentially less intimidating for beginners, but every creator is different!
A knitting stitch and a crochet stitch appear different and each have a unique structure. Knitting is more loop-like, resulting in a piece that can generally stretch more; which is why items that are capable of stretching like sweaters and socks are extremely popular for knitting. Whereas crochet appears to be more knot-like and not as stretchy, which is why a lot of crochet projects are items that you want to keep their shape like blankets, table runners, etc. Of course, this is just a few common uses; as with anything creative, there are often ways to achieve your desired look, regardless of the materials you have!
Now that you have a bit more info on the process, let’s get you set up for your first soft crafts project!
Step 1: Choosing the Correct Tool
Most yarn products (including ours) have size suggestions of knitting needles/crochet hook on the packaging, as well as the stitches needed to make a gauge (the number of stitches in one inch of fabric). As these are only recommendations, if your knitting pattern has different guidelines for the gauge it is important to create a test swatch. Obtaining the correct gauge is more important than the tool that gets you there.
Crochet Hook - The tool that is used for creating your crochet patterns. These come in various sizes and each size is suitable for specific weights of yarn. US sizes are letters, while UK are metric. A yarn label will not always have both, so it is helpful to know how to convert if needed. Both the pattern you're working from and the yarn suggest sizes of crochet hooks. As mentioned above, it's always best to create a gauge so you know if you need to adjust your tools.
Knitting Needles - The correct size of knitting needles are essential to your project. Different countries go by different sizes, so it's important to know what size you need, and be able to convert sizes if needed. Most countries also use the metric system, so mm (millimeters) is a common measurement. Knitting needles can come in as small size as 1.0 mm (US size: 00000 ) and as large as 25.0 mm (US size: 50) Lastly, the size of the needle will affect your stitches, as large needles with create bigger stitches per inch (and more loose items) and smaller needles create more stitches per inch (a more dense item) As always: save time, check your gauge.
Step 2: Choosing your Yarn
Now that you’ve decided what craft you want to try first and have the right tools, it's also important to get to know the medium you’ll be using: yarn. The great thing about yarn is its versatility. Yarn is used for both knitting and crochet, so if you’re still undecided on which craft to start, you can always try both without needing a different fabric! There are a few different types of materials, weights, and important terms. Let's break down some things to look for when deciding on a fabric!
There are three main sources of yarn:
- Plant: Cotton, linen, bamboo, and silk
- Animal: Wool, cashmere, and alpaca
- Synthetic: Acrylic, nylon, and rayon
Each of these sources can have even more variety among them! Merino wool for example is a wool that comes from the Merino sheep and has a softer feel compared to other wools. There are many other types of yarn fibers not on this list, and there is also yarn which blends several fiber sources together. Ultimately, the thickness, qualities, and feel of the yarn will be a big determining factor for your project!
Arteza carries crochet thread and acrylic worsted yarn.
- Crochet Thread is thinner than yarn and creates finer details, making it perfect for doilies and more intricate soft crafts. It's important to note that for crochet thread, the bigger the number the smaller the size of the thread (Whereas for yarn the bigger the number, the thicker the tread)
- Worsted Yarn is one of the most common weights of yarn (Medium, or 4) and is known for being an incredibly versatile fabric that is perfect for many soft crafts projects and garments
Each size of yarn has a suggested use, and recommended tools to achieve the best results. As always, these are recommendations, so make sure you create a test swatch!
Source: Craft Yarn Council's www.YarnStandards.com
Now that you are more familiar with basic differences between knitting and crochet, yarn sources, and weights, you can start looking at patterns! Patterns will list everything you need to know about the yarn, tools, skill level, and measurements. Using these yarn basics, you’ll know exactly what to look for, and you’ll be able to determine what you like (or even don’t like!) about a potential pattern.
Happy crafting! And don't forget to send us a picture of your first design, or tag us on Instagram!