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Choosing Projects for Beginning Knitters and Crocheters

Beginning knitters and crocheters, and those who teach them, often wonder what types of projects are best. What should you look for when choosing a project for a beginning knitter or crocheter?

Here are some tips for choosing projects for new crocheters and knitters.

picture of tan ball of yarn on table with several crochet hooks-Tips to help you choose projects for beginners-knitters & crocheters

Start Small

When you are learning, it can be discouraging to have a big project looming!

A lot of people choose a scarf as a first project, but even that much stitching can be overwhelming without the proper incentive and/or support.

lime green double crochet circle with a blue crochet hook

Start by choosing something small like a coaster or a glasses case. Choose a project where gauge doesn’t matter much, so you can focus on making the stitches themselves. Your gauge will become more even (and often looser) as you become more comfortable with the craft.

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Choose the Right Pattern

You want to follow a pattern that is clearly written and uses standard pattern language. The pattern should include information about the yarn and the needle or hook size used. Stay away from patterns that use unusual abbreviations (or don’t include a list of abbreviations).

Patterns labeled as “easy”, “beginner”, or “basic” may include tutorials to help with new-to-you techniques, but you should not necessarily expect these extras.

Instead, “easy” or “beginner” patterns will be written in a way that makes it easy to understand what to do. You may need to refer to outside resources like books or YouTube videos for extra help, and that’s fine!

Read more about Project Levels on the Craft Yarn Council site.

In most cases, the pattern should include a gauge statement; even if gauge “doesn’t matter”, it’s an important piece of information for a successful project.

If possible, use a pattern that has been professionally tech edited to ensure that all the details are included and that the pattern instructions are as error-free and easy to understand as possible. Most patterns from yarn companies and many patterns from experienced designers are tech edited.

cover page of Easy Two-Toned Pillow knitting pattern, highlighting gauge statement
granny square crochet symbol chart

A lot of crocheters prefer symbol charts to written instructions. If the design includes anything beyond simple back-and-forth stitches, look for a pattern that includes both text and charts. That way, you’ll have TWO ways of understanding the instructions.

Use the Right Yarn

Beginners usually do best with a smooth, medium-weight yarn in a light or medium color. Using a dark yarn or one that’s fuzzy is just asking for frustration! Some beginners will like chunky yarn, but others find that having to use big hooks or needles is more challenging that it should be.

Craft Yarn Council 4-medium weight yarn

Cotton yarns don’t have much resilience and may be tough on the hands at first. A wool, wool-blend or acrylic yarn with a little bit of give will be kinder to newbies.

Your best bet is to start with a medium, or worsted weight, yarn.

Don’t Get Discouraged!

You’ll probably be pretty bad at this stitching thing at first. It takes time to learn a new skill.

Think back to when you were a child. You didn’t know how to do much of anything, and you weren’t good at much. And that was OK, because you knew you could only get better. (Read Teach a Young Child to Knit for more information.)

Take on that mindset now, and realize that the more you do, the better you’ll get. The more time you take to understand what you are doing–not just mindlessly follow a step-by-step video, for example–the faster your skills will grow.

Be Ambitious!

Flat lay of a green sweater and a blue sweater, both with crew necklines, worked in double crochet
Plain Jane Pullover

Even though I’ve said to start small, there’s nothing wrong with dreaming big. There’s a fine line between biting off more than you can chew skillwise, and not stretching yourself enough. If you wanted to learn to knit so you could knit yourself a sweater, that’s a great goal! If you learned to crochet to make a baby blanket for your first child (or grandchild), go for it!

Want to design something? Sure, you can do that, too!

Remember that you have to take baby steps before you can run. Find a good teacher or mentor to help you figure out the steps you need to get to where you want to go. It’s never a bad idea to have a big goal in mind. The amount of time that it will take you to reach that goal will vary, so relax and enjoy the learning.

Scarves and Blankets

Scarves are often thought of as beginner patterns, but they are repetitive and may take a long time to make. They don’t offer any advantage over washcloths or dishcloths in terms of skills learned, and can be boring for beginners who want to immerse themselves in their new hobby.

Blankets also take a long time, and are like scarves often just flat rectangles with repeating stitch patterns. Especially for beginners who need to learn new techniques quickly to pique their interest, blankets can be a miss. (Unless they are super-quick to make, like my PDQ Throw.)

First Projects

These small projects can be completed easily by beginning crocheters and knitters.

  • Washcloths or dishcloths
  • Coasters
  • Bags
  • Purses
  • Placemats
  • Pillow covers
  • Granny squares (crochet)
  • Cowls
  • Baskets
  • Headbands or ear warmers
  • Tea cozies
  • Wall hangings
  • Simple amigurumi
  • Bookmarks
  • Key fobs

Second or Third Projects

After you’ve become more comfortable and have mastered a basic stitch or two, try one of these slightly more complex projects.

  • Hats (requires a little attention to gauge, otherwise they would be good first projects)
  • Baby blankets
  • Scarves
  • Blankets made in chunky yarn
  • Skill-Builder projects intended to be learning experiences

All that being said, I would never discourage someone from trying something that seems beyond their current skills! With the right pattern, support and inspiration, you can make anything!

What are you going to learn this week?

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