Anna Fazakerley of Dotty Doily is an avid crafter who blog tutorials and share pictures of her beautiful crochet creations. I asked Anna about how she got started with crochet and whether she has any tips for beginners…
How did you get into crochet?
“I tried knitting years ago and, as with many children, found I didn’t have the patience for it. Years later I had a hankering to try a craft and asked my mum to try to teach me to knit again. I really struggled and was not finding much in the way of relaxation from it so, on the verge of giving up yet again, I went to see my auntie. She was in the middle of a great pile of beautiful crochet squares, made following a tutorial she found on the Attic24 blog and she showed me the basics of how to crochet. I loved the idea and, although my auntie was so quick it was hard to keep up, I was engaged both by the resulting colourful creation and the enjoyment she gained from the activity. I trawled through the blog for hours when I got home, then visited YouTube and followed some tutorials on the basics. At some point I realised that the 5mm hook I had borrowed was too big for the yarn and all of my squares were looking decidedly wibbly as a result! With a bit of practice, a few more books, blogs and tutorials, and the right size of crochet hook for the yarn, I gradually mastered this craft and I continue to be obsessed over a year on!”
What was your first crochet project?
“I started making the Summer Garden granny square on the Attic24 blog and the way that Lucy photographs all of the stages is great! It means you can see straight away when you have gone wrong. After that I made some mug cosies as Christmas gifts for all of my friends, creating a customised pattern myself.”
What’s your favourite creation?
“I have tried lots of techniques over the last year or so. The blankets and shawls I have made are epic, and give an immense sense of satisfaction when they are finally done, but my favourites are amigurumi toys, made with one simple crochet stitch in ever-changing combinations. You can make all kinds of shapes and then stuff them to make little toys and creatures. I have started making my own and I made thisas an Easter gift for my friend’s little girl.”
What are you working on at the moment?
“I am working on three projects at the moment. Two are top secret – sorry! The third is a dinky little baby cardigan for a work colleague who couldn’t resist this crochet pattern when she saw it. The pattern uses DMC Natura cotton thread and is worked in a lovely trellis so it will be perfect for the summer weather. The pattern is pretty complicated and I have come unstuck a few times whilst trying to crochet in front of the TV! I will have to close myself away in a quiet room to get this finished!”
What was your worst crochet nightmare?
“I haven’t had too many problems with crochet. I find that making the item is the fun part. Looking at the finished piece is great, but the making is the best bit! If I go wrong and have to pull back a few rows, it is annoying but I just get to stitch them again! I think the worst issue I had was in making a large blanket – I went back to a shop to buy more yarn in one of the colours I was using, only to find that they didn’t stock it any more! Eventually I managed to find the same colour elsewhere, but I did panic when I thought I was going to have to start over with that project!”
How do you go about designing your own patterns?
“The main thing for me is remembering to write it down! I quite often just have a go at making something I want to try out and am really happy with the finished item, but not quite sure how I arrived there! These days I try to take notes as I make each item, and sketch ideas for alternatives or combinations as I go. Then, once I have a scribbled pattern to test, I make another one following the instructions and typing them as I go so they are ready to publish. One of my problems is that I am constantly seeing or thinking of new stuff I want to try, so I have many WIP items kicking around, all of which will be completed I know not when!”
Do you have any top tips for beginners?
“YouTube is a great place to start as there are lots of video tutorials. You can pause and rewind as much as you want so it won’t run away with you and you won’t lose your place. Be aware of the difference between UK and US crochet terms. They are talking about the same stitches but the terms are similar and yet slightly different so it can be confusing to the unwary. If the guide or pattern you are following states which terms it is written in that is useful but my rule of thumb is – if it uses the term ‘sc’ or ‘single crochet’ it is a US pattern. UK patterns tend not to refer to this stitch name.
Crochet is like any new thing. It takes practice. The first few stitches in any project are the trickiest so that can be off-putting, but if you persevere it will suddenly ‘click’ and you will have access to a multi-faceted and highly versatile craft. The possibilities are endless, just take it one stitch at a time!”
Which projects would you recommend for beginners?
“Squares are great for beginners, or small projects like phone cases, mug cosies and… and a crochet hook case is always needed at some point! Experiment with different ways of working crochet. Some patterns work up in the round and others in rows; you can stitch your next row or round into the stitches of the last one, or you can make chain spaces and stitch into them to make a lacy pattern. You can make tiny, tight stitches and increase or decrease to create spheres and shapes. There are endless possibilities and such a range of textures that can be created. Collect books, patterns, blog posts and Pinterest boards, and once you have mastered more stitches and techniques they will be there for you to try. In the meantime you will have a great pool of inspiration.”
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