Basic Guide to Soft Crafts
Are you looking to start knitting or crocheting and are trying to wrap your head around all these new terms? Look no further than this quick (and simple!) guide. We’ll be going over basic materials, tools, and names of common techniques to get you started. Once you’re an expert on the basics, you’ll be creating elaborate stitches and exploring other techniques in no time!
Cast-On - The beginning step of your knitted work where you create the first stitches on your needle or crochet hook. Can also be called bind on
Cast-Off - An essential step to the end of your work. This is the last stitch that ensures your project doesn't unravel. Can also be called bind off
Crochet - Crochet uses yarn (or crochet thread) on a single hook to hook the loops together directly on the piece, and most of the time only one loop is active
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 and the yarn suggest sizes of crochet hooks. If the pattern and the suggested size on the label do not match, make sure to create a gauge (see below)
Crochet Thread - Thinner than yarn and creates finer details, making it perfect for doilies and more intricate projects. 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)
Gauge - The number of stitches and rows in a swatch (Often the swatch is 4” x 4” inches / 10 cm x 10cm) When you are reading a pattern or looking at a label, it will usually look like this:
- For knitting: 17S / 23R ( S meaning how many stitches, R meaning how many rows)
- For crochet: 14SC / 16R ( SC meaning how many single crochet, R meaning how many rows)
Can also be called: gauge swatch, test swatch, swatch
Knitting - Knitting uses yarn and two long needles to form loops, moving a set of loops from one needle to another to create a stitch that is held on the needle
Knitting Needles - The tool used to create knitwear. 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)
Mercerized - This means an additional process has been added to the cotton, which results in numerous advantages such as; added sheen, more vivid colors, and stronger fabric overall. These benefits means your finished craft will stand the test of time and the colors will remain vibrant for years to come
Stitch - The type of techniques you're using to create your fabric craft.
Skein - A common type of yarn packaging. Other types include: hanks, balls, cakes, and cones
Worsted Yarn - This is one of the most common weights of yarn and is known for being an incredibly versatile fabric that is perfect for various knitting and crochet crafts
Yarn Fibers - There are three main sources of yarn:
- Plant: Cotton, linen, bamboo, and silk
- Animal: Wool, cashmere, and alpaca.
- Synthetic: Acrylic, nylon, 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 all be big determining factors for your project!
Yarn Weight - Each size of yarn has a suggested use, and recommended tools to achieve the best results
Source: Craft Yarn Council's www.YarnStandards.com
Let us know in the comments what terms you wish you had known when you just started out with soft crafts!