Hi, my name’s Helen and I work at different libraries across the Borough, including Wokingham, Lower Earley and Finchampstead. When I’m not at work I can usually be found either reading or crocheting. I find crochet very relaxing, and it’s good for my mental health and well-being. The benefits of being creative and crafting are well documented, so if you’re looking for a new hobby why not give crochet a try?
I think it’s fair to say that crochet was once thought of as the preserve of an older generation – think of doilies! – but crochet has seen a strong resurgence in recent years. It’s a very versatile craft, and can be used to make anything from blankets and soft toys to home accessories. The possibilities are endless as you will see from the pictures of some of my creations!
All you will need to get started is a crochet hook and some yarn. The best size to start with is a 5mm hook, with some double knitting (DK) yarn. These are both widely available in shops and online.
It’s worth taking some time to learn the basic stitches before you attempt a pattern. I found this helped me feel more confident when I attempted my first pattern, and it can be frustrating to make great progress on a project and then realise you have a new stitch to learn before you can go any further! There are lots of videos available on YouTube, just search for ‘crochet for beginners’.
It’s important to note that crochet terms are different in America and the UK, so always make sure you know which ones the pattern uses before you start. For example a UK double crochet stitch would be called a single crochet in an American pattern, while a UK treble is a US double, and so on. As a general rule if a pattern refers to single crochets you can be reasonably confident the pattern uses US terms.
Once you’ve learned the basics and are ready to try a pattern there are some wonderful online websites and blogs, where designers share their inspiration, creations and quite often free patterns. Here are some of my favourites…
Confessions of a Barkham Hooker https://gaynorwhite.blogspot.com
Wokingham’s very own Gaynor White of the Barkham Hookers has published several patterns on her blog, including the very appropriately named Coronavirus CAL. Her patterns are very well written and easy to follow, accompanied by some beautiful photos of her creations. She also gives details of some local places where you can stock up on crochet essentials.
Lucy has produced a wonderful array of designs, from boudoir birds to blankets. They are bright and cheerful, and each comes with detailed photographic step by step instructions so they are suitable for beginners. Her colour choices are irresistible and even just a browse through some her posts is a good mood lifter!
Kerry Jayne Designs https://www.kerryjaynedesigns.com/
Kerry Jayne has written some beautiful patterns, including some easier designs that are suitable for beginners.
Bella Coco Crochet https://bellacococrochet.com
Sarah-Jayne has some beautiful patterns to try, as well as a detailed stitch library if you want to try something new.
During this period I’ve also regularly been using PressReader to read crochet magazines for inspiration. It’s a free service, available with your library card, and there are lots of different crochet titles available free of charge. They contain patterns to try, and usually have instructions for the basic stitches. You can access the library’s e-magazines here https://www.wokingham.gov.uk/libraries/library-services/e-magazines/. If you’re not a member you can sign up online here, through the Spydus website.