A Student’s Guide to Crochet

If you’ve seen me around campus, I’ve probably been crocheting. This semester, I’ve really picked up crocheting as something to pass by my time with something that’s productive, rewarding, and calming. I have generalized anxiety disorder, and this makes it hard for me to focus while my mind is running. Crocheting gives my hands and mind something to focus on that isn’t spiraling. It can even help me pay attention to what’s going on around me, such as in class.

Most people view attention in a specific way: eye contact, sitting still, head nodding. This isn’t how all people pay attention. For me, I learn best when my hands are active because I’m a kinetic learner with anxiety. Some professors find these behaviors disrespectful, which is a long conversation to be had on the expectations of neurodivergent and disabled people. I have spoken with some of my professors that I feel safe with, however, and most are understanding when I explain my situation. If you experience a learning disability and need extra accommodations, do not feel afraid to reach out to your professors for a better experience in the classroom.

Even if you don’t intend to crochet in the classroom, it is still fun to accompany you in your own home. I like to crochet while watching television or lectures outside of class, and it keeps me feeling productive rather than just sitting and watching. For me, I’m constantly crocheting, no matter where I am or what’s going on around me.

When people on campus see me crochet, they often respond with amazement, compliments, and the statement, “I could never.”

I always reply, “It’s easier than it looks!”

Crochet uses one hook, looping yarn around itself to create chains and patterns. That’s all you need—a hook and some yarn. Both can be found at your local craft stores. For cheap yarn for small projects, I often go thrifting. I’ve found large bags full of random yarn for less than five dollars that I can turn into beautiful gifts. For larger projects, such as a blanket, you’ll want to buy many skeins of the same yarn, which is easiest to buy outright. I keep an eye on the Michael’s and Hobby Lobby yarn sales throughout the year, which range from 20% to 50% off.

I learned the art of crochet entirely through YouTube tutorials and some practice on my own. My current process is to find projects on Pinterest, then look up a tutorial on YouTube, and then follow all the steps. I did this so many times that I can now wing lots of projects or edit them to suit me better.

A blue and grey yarn crocheted into a purse by Chloe Lewis. Photo by Chloe Lewis

Starting out, just practice crocheting a rectangle repeatedly. Practice doesn’t solve the wiggly lines immediately, but once you remake the same rectangle over a couple times, you will see results: a neater, more concise rectangle. The most important thing to practice first is tension, which is how tight you hold and hook your yarn. Having a consistent tension throughout a project is the most important aspect.

Believe it or not, most things are just a bunch of rectangles crocheted together, like blankets, purses and some sweaters. Once you have those shapes down, you can learn what’s called the magic circle, which is the stitch used to create circular shapes in crochet. From there, you can make plushies, mittens, beanies, granny squares and objectively anything. Amigurumi is a style of crochet which creates tight circles, which most people use to make stuffed animals.

For me, I mostly stick with the simpler projects, but even so, I have crocheted some beautiful things. My most proud piece would be my sunflower granny square tote, made of 18 granny squares with sunflower shapes inside them and one large rectangular piece as the strap. I’ve also created purses, water bottle holders, a pouch (made for a deck of cards) and more.

I stick with crocheting that is more muscle memory than anything else because my motivation for crochet is how calming it can be. My favorite hobby is to fade away into a show while I endlessly “chain one, single crochet 25, turn your work, chain one, single crochet 25, turn your work” until I have something beautiful. It gives a sense of accomplishment and physical representation of my time.

I give most of my projects away as gifts if I’m not intending to use them myself. I have made my mother a Christmas gift already, and I have plans for future ones. Sometimes, I crochet things that I have no intention for, so I just have a box of finished projects. I might use them as Christmas gifts, sell them or give them away to someone who falls in love with them like I did.

I encourage everyone to try some sort of physical, creative craft, such as crochet, knitting, painting or something of the like. It has helped me calm my mind and create beautiful works of art in the process, which can be used for thousands of purposes.

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