YarnCraft, Lion Brand’s audio-podcast, will air its 100th episode on September 13th. To celebrate, the hosts are on a blog tour, and today is our stop.
Since launching in 2007, YarnCraft (iTunes link) covered all kinds of yarncrafting topics, from tips to running an Etsy business to dyeing your own yarns. In that time, we’ve also interviewed guests from knitting humorist Stephanie Pearl-McPhee to authors Sue Grafton and Kate Jacobs, celebrities like Vanna White, and knit/crochet bigwigs like Lily Chin, Nicky Epstein, Vickie Howell, (and even me! Here’s my interview.)
Liz and Zontee, the hosts of YarnCraft, are both yarncrafters passionate about knitting, crocheting, and yarn–crafting wherever they are. Liz is the director of yarn development for Lion Brand. She’s appeared on The Martha Stewart Show and has a degree in design from Parsons The New School for Design. Zontee is the editor of Lion Brand’s three weekly e-newsletters, the official Lion Brand blog (the Lion Brand Notebook), and the YarnCraft podcast. She was also the host of the knit-alongs on Knitting Daily TV, series 500.
If you follow the Craftsy blog, you know that we are finishing up our Holden Knit-Along. I’m planning to host a Crochet-Along next, and am a total crochet newbie. Needless to say, I had a few questions for Liz and Zontee, the YarnCraft hosts:
Me: What advice would you give someone just starting to crochet?
Liz: Experiment with different crochet hook handles and ways of holding the yarn until you find one that is comfortable for you for extended crafting time.
Zontee: That’s right; everyone is different in terms of how they distribute weight, so different ways of holding the handle and yarn may be more or less comfortable for you.
Liz: A few more: Use a bigger hook to keep your tension loose, as crochet tends to be denser than knitting when using the same yarn. When working flat, count your stitches after every row at first, because it is very easy to inadvertently make an increase or decrease. Make your foundation-chain ridiculously, comically loose at first—it will make it much easier to work into the chain.
Zontee: Yes, most beginners have a tendency of thinking the stitches should be kept tight in order to be neat, but just like with knitting, it makes it much harder to work into them in the next row!
Liz: I think it’s good to experiment with the basic stitches and one or two flat projects before jumping into motifs, granny squares, working in the round, etc. But if you do some swatches and practice single, half-double, and triple crochet, there is no reason your first project can’t have a creative stitch pattern or basic shaping.
Zontee: Personally, I think it’s great to look at any kind of yarncrafting project as a challenge that can teach you something. I love encouraging people to take on projects that push their skills and force them to practice new ones, so if you want to learn to crochet an oval, make a tube, or do crochet intarsia, there’s no time like the present!
Liz: Slip knot, chaining, single, half-double, and triple crochet, increasing, and decreasing.
Zontee: I also think it’s important to learn how to recognize each of the stitches by looking at them. This is true for both knitting & crochet, but being able to “read” the stitches will allow you to fix your mistakes, improvise a design, and more.
Me: Are there yarns that just work better for crochet, or can I use my regular-old knitting yarns?
Liz: If you can knit with it, you can crochet with it! That said, it is best to make your first through projects with ‘classic’ yarns (roving, two-ply, three-ply, etc) so you can most easily see the stitches. Once you have a little more practice at knowing where to stick your hook, you can move on to fancier textured and eyelash yarns. For those of you who may have laceweight yarn in your stashes that you never seem to use up, many people find themselves preferring to crochet (rather than knit) with these very fine yarns, as crocheting tends to be much faster than knitting.
Zontee and Liz are giving away 3 balls of Lion’s new Vanna’s Colors Yarn (and the winner can choose the color!)
You bring the creativity, and Vanna’s Colors will do the rest. This silky-soft premium acrylic features a unique painterly effect that creates subtle, sophisticated color changes. Its bulky weight makes it a breeze to create fast-finish afghans, home décor, and accessories.
To win, simply be a Craftsy member (it’s free and easy to join!) comment below, telling us whether you knit, crochet, or both, and what beginner tips you’ve found to be the most valuable!