Crochet Tips & Stitches from Tamara Kelly

Posted by on Sep 18, 2014

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Tamara Kelly
Tamara Kelly is the founder of the popular crochet and knitting site, Moogly. She's a prolific pattern designer and blogger — we're thrilled to have the chance to sit down and talk with her about crochet! 

CraftFoxes:  After a beginner has learned the basics of crochet, what type of project do you recommend they try next? 

Tamara Kelly:  It seems like everyone starts with either a scarf or a blanket — and a lot of the blanket people end up turning it into a scarf! Once you've got working in rows down, I think the next thing to learn is working in the round. It's one tiny little step that opens up a whole new world of possible projects. Now you can make fingerless mitts, hats, bags — you name it! 

I think small, quick projects that teach new skills are great. Washcloths are perfect for learning new stitches and it’s low risk — even if it doesn't turn out pretty, it's still useful! A hat or bag can be a one skein project done in an evening or two. You only have to do most new stitches or techniques a couple of times to have it down — and these quick successes can advance your skills super fast! 

Here some small projects that fit the bill:
Gift Tags 

crochet washcloth moogly
moroccan tile stitch crochet hat
CF:  What are some of your favorite unusual crochet stitches? 

TK:  One stitch pattern that I really fell in love with last year is the Moroccan Tile Stitch — I used it in several patterns, and have tutorials for it worked both flat and in the round. I love it because it's far simpler than it looks, and the color combos used can make for very different effects.  

Another favorite of mine are standing stitches — sometimes called air crochet — this technique joins a new piece of yarn without slip stitching it to the work first. I have a pair of tutorials for this technique as well. These stitches give projects such a professional, "perfect" look! 

Right now I'm really loving the effect you can get by working Half Double Crochet in the third loop. I've played with this a little bit with a matching hat and mitts set and I hope to use it again. It looks a little bit like knitting, and adds a visual element of surprise to crochet. 
half double crochet third loop stitch
top 5 crochet tips for beginners

Tamara's Top 5 Crochet Tips for Beginners

1.  There’s no right or wrong way to hold your hook and yarn. I get a lot of people asking me if they're doing it "right." As long as it's comfortable, doesn't hurt, and the stitches are coming out the way they're supposed to, you're doing it right! And not every hook is going to suit every crocheter —don't be afraid to try different brands and hook styles as your budget allows. Your new favorite might be waiting for you! 

2.  There's no such thing as "bad yarn." All yarn is good yarn. Not all yarn is best for all projects or people, but that's for you to decide! Each crocheter has their own tension level, and just because the yarn label recommends one hook size, that doesn't mean that that's the hook size you should use for every project you make with that yarn. Experiment with hook sizes and see how the look, feel and drape of the fabric you create changes.

3.  There are lots of different yarn storage solutions. If you go through it rather quickly and you don’t have a pet hair problem, you don’t have to worry about keeping it air tight. Someone with a lot of pets or a lifetime stash should probably avoid open shelving and use closed containers instead. Use the online tools on Ravelry or set up your own spreadsheet to keep track of what you have. 

4.  Tense neck, shoulder or arm muscles lead to tight stitches, while relaxed muscles lead to relaxed stitches. Finding time to work can be tough, but crocheting is a great way to get through stress and that relaxation frame of mind you get is super important! Give yourself permission to be done with all your other work, kids are in bed, etc., then get good and cozy in your favorite spot with your favorite drink at hand, take a deep breath and then begin!

5.  If you're making a big project like a blanket or sweater, buy at least one more skein than you think you need. Yarn can be expensive, so clip your coupons or join email lists for online discounts. If you end up not using the extra skein, it's much cheaper to find a free one-skein pattern to use it up, than to have to start over on the big project because you ran out and can't get more of that color or dye lot!
crochet leaves

CF:  What do you love about crochet the most? 

TK:  The creativity — being able to make something for someone I love that I know they will treasure. I love taking string and a hook and turning them into something unexpected and new! And the feeling of completion — having something tangible and "done" at the end of the day. When I first learned to crochet, I was making simple things on my own without a pattern for a long time — lots of the proverbial double crochet scarves! Then teaching myself to read patterns opened up even more possibilities. But I've never been one to follow the recipe for too long — I always tweak it! Other crocheters started asking for my patterns, and I discovered that designing was my real bliss!

CF:  What does your family think about your "yarn habit"?

TK:  They are really supportive, but the one thing that still requires bribery is modeling — all three of my kids, and occasionally my husband, have been called on to model different patterns. Sometimes they hop to it with a smile, and other times it takes a bit of pizza! I do have one pattern where the model was particularly crabby at the time the photo was taken, but for the sake of family peace I think I'll neglect to point it out!

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