Crochet expert and blogger Laurie Wheeler gives us easy tips and tricks
Crochet expert Laurie A. Wheeler offers easy tips for making your first scarf. So even as winter settles over us like a bad cold, we can be cozy warm in lush creations of crochet yarns made just the way we like.
What are your favorite bargain yarns for crocheting a scarf? Any favorite high quality yarns?
For scarves that I am giving as gifts I try to choose a good quality acrylic that feels good to my hand. I don’t like stiff, scratchy yarns, so I choose things that have a lot of loft, which means they have a bounce to them, and stretch. I use acrylic for gifts most often because it’s washable, and you can pop them in the drier. For myself or immediate family I will use wool, wool blends, silk and alpaca or my hand spun.
Are there any bargain crochet hooks you'd recommend? Any high-quality crochet hooks that you'd recommend?
For bargain brands I have a range because each brand has a specific head shape. For example, Boye is rounded and Bates has an in-line shape. The crochet community is split 50/50 on what they prefer head wise. I use both. For every day crochet I use a Boye style head, and for creating very decorative stitches like the bullion stitch, I use a Bates hook. Now for specialty tools I love my Jenkin’s Tunisian S hook with a cable extension, my glass hook by Ernst Glass Pens and all of the hooks I have that were hand carved or turned by Jim “Jimbo” Price.
Do you have any tips for someone who likes to crochet but is on a tight-budget?
Work with yarn you really love. You won’t finish projects if you don’t like the yarn. If price is an issue for you, go to thrift stores. You never know when you might find a score of mohair or silk! Also, don’t forget that your independent boutique stores (i.e., local yarn stores) often have sale bins, and in reality their yarn isn’t more expensive per yard than most big box store yarn.
The best way to see what is the most affordable is to calculate the price per yard, I teach this in my webinars to members of the Crochet Liberation Front. The calculation is simple: Price of skein divided by yards equals price per yard. You often get more yardage out of local yarn store skeins than you do big box store skeins, especially when looking at the exotic fibers like alpaca, merino, cashmere etc.
What are your favorite stitches for crocheting a scarf?
I love them all! For quick and easy scarves I like to thread beads onto my yarn and then crochet using half double crochet stitches for the entire scarf. However, I most often do a kind of stitch sampler scarf where I keep everything at about 5 inches wide and work until I’m bored. I love to include cluster stitches like bobbles, puffs and popcorn stitches, and I can’t resist doing bullion stitches, which are a lot of fun. Another fast project is making a thinner scarf (about 3 1/2 inches wide) using the Tunisian simple stitch. It’s quick, easy and you can use a regular crochet hook to make the piece.
Is there anyway to fix uneven edges or scarves that keep getting more and more narrow?
Watch your turning chain. The main reason you are increasing and decreasing accidentally is that you are either counting the turning chain as a stitch (increasing the piece) or you are not doing the turn chain and inserting the hook in the wrong stitch.
Why is gauge important? What are the common reasons that the gauge is off?
Gauge is important because you are making fabric. You have got to have the right stitch count per inches/rows (rounds) in order to make the piece come out as per the pattern. If you are a tight crocheter you may want to go up a hook size or two to meet the gauge in a pattern. If you crochet really loosely, then you go down a hook size to meet gauge. Caveat: Our tension changes with our moods and energy levels so if you start something when you’re uptight or anxious and then put it down and come back when you are more relaxed (or vice versa) then you will likely have an off gauge.
Swatch, Swatch and more SWATCHING!
Reasons why gauge may be off include those listed above and if you are substituting a yarn in a pattern. You don’t want to change things up too much, if a pattern calls for cotton and you use wool, you may find your gauge is off even if you are using the same weight of yarn. Likewise, beware the yarn chart! The CYCA has a nifty little yarn size chart, but it’s a general guideline, in fact it even says so. I’ve had a lot of students wonder why projects didn’t turn out when they substituted one “3” for another “3” yarn. Your swatch will tell you if you are meeting the necessary gauge.