Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Thread Crochet
What was your reaction when you saw the recent news about the beautiful thread crochet wedding dress made by Chi Kmeta? What about when you see examples of vintage crochet blankets made entirely with thread?
A common reaction among crocheters goes something like, "that's beautiful and amazing...and I could never do it".
There are a lot of myths around thread crochet that make even experienced crafters afraid to give it a try. It's such a shame, because there are so many beautiful things that you can make using thread crochet and it's really not difficult at all. This guide to thread crochet will help debunk some myths and provide you with some tips to getting started.
Note: The thread crochet project you see worked in the photos throughout this post is the first snowflake in the Snowflake Appliques free crochet pattern. It's worked with Aunt Lydia's Fashion 3 Crochet Thread in warm teal and a Susan Bates 00 (2.7 mm) crochet hook.
Thread Crochet Myths
Here are some of the most common myths about thread crochet that simply aren't true:
- Thread crochet is difficult. It's not. It uses the exact same skills as crocheting with yarn. Yes, thread is usually thinner and the hooks are a little smaller but with just a little bit of practice it's exactly the same process.
- Thread crochet is too fiddly. False. If you've worked with sock yarn, you can work with thread crochet; there are some threads that are just as thick as sock yarn.
- Thread crochet is hard on the hands. It's true that working with a smaller hook and thread can cause some hand pain, especially at first. However, it doesn't have to be that way. Working with larger hooks and thicker thread will help, as will playing around with your yarn tension. If you have a lot of crochet hand pain, consider trying ergonomic supplies and make sure that you do regular hand exercises.
- Thread crochet is only for doilies. No way. You can crochet any item with thread that you'd crochet with yarn! Of course, it's better suited to lacier, lightweight projects but that includes everything from small crochet bracelets to large crochet bedspreads.
- You absolutely have to block thread crochet projects. Some people block everything they make. Others hate to block and avoid projects that require blocking. If you don’t like to block, you can still do thread crochet projects as long as you choose them wisely. Crochet jewelry is one example of an item that you may not need to block.
Beginner's Thread Crochet Tips
Now that we've debunked some of the most common thread crochet myths, let's arm ourselves with some helpful tips that make it easy to get started working with thread.
- Smaller is bigger when it comes to crochet thread. Crochet thread is labeled with a number, like a 3 or a 10, and this refers to the thickness of the thread. It's counterintuitive but the smaller the number, the thicker the thread. If you're new to working with thread, try a crochet thread 3, 5 or 10. Save the size 20 and 30 thread for after your skills have been built.
- Likewise, smaller is bigger with steel crochet hooks. This is also counterintuitive and can be confusing at first. A smaller number is a bigger crochet hook, which you can double-check by looking at the mm size. For example, my Susan Bates hook size 9 is 1.25 mm and size 10 is a smaller 1.15 mm. In general, you should start with the hook that is called for in the crochet pattern that you're following and then adjust as needed based on your gauge and comfort level.
- Work with what are called "steel crochet hooks". They are designed specifically for the unique nature of working with thread. You may find that the head of this crochet hook differs from what you're used to so this may take some adjusting. If you're having a hard time, play around with this hook head type using bigger hooks and yarn to get the hang of it.
- Choose the right crochet hook handle. One of the biggest reasons that people find thread crochet more difficult than yarn crochet is because they're working with much thinner hooks. That's an easy problem to solve. Simply choose a hook that's got a bigger handle. In the pictures in this post you'll see the Susan Bates Bamboo Handle Steelite crochet hooks. You can also make your own polymer clay handles for your crochet hooks.
- Buy crochet thread, not sewing or embroidery thread. Technically you can crochet with anything that even remotely resembles thread or yarn but make life easy on yourself by purchasing the kind of thread that is specifically intended for crochet.
- Work your yarnovers close to the crochet hook head. You want to make sure that the work on the hook is done above the part of the hook that starts to get wider. If not, then your loops will be too loose in your work.
- Wind the thread around your non-working hand to better control your tension. Whether or not you already do this when crocheting with yarn, you'll find that it's really helpful when crocheting with thread. There are several ways to wrap the yarn. Here's how I do it:
- Err on the side of slightly stiffer tension. You want to crochet tighter with thread than you do with yarn, as a general rule. Don't crochet so tightly that you hurt your hands or that you can't easily work into your loops but do crochet a little more tightly than usual (unless you're already a tight crocheter, then just do what you always do!)
- Pay attention to the projects you're doing before you work with thread crochet. Jumping from a size K hook worked with a bulky yarn down to thread crochet is drastic and will make your thread work seem unbearably tiny. Gradually work your way down to the smaller sizes. (In contrast, it can feel really good to work a big project after you're done with a thread crochet project so don't be afraid to mix it up!)
- Make your crochet setting amenable to this work. You want to work in good light so that your eyes don't have to strain. Work with lighter colored thread at first for the same reason; make it easy on yourself to find those little stitches! Try this work when you're refreshed, energized and ready to learn something new, not when you're tired!
The photo above shows the same snowflake as above as well as the same pattern worked in size 10 thread with a 1.5 mm crochet hook. You can see that the size 10 thread (on the right) makes a smaller crochet snowflake. You could make even smaller ones using size 20 and size 30 crochet thread.
- Find the fun in it. Crochet has its challenging moments but overall it's supposed to be fun. Be patient and gentle with yourself and notice the things that are pleasurable about this new work.
- Choose a beginner's crochet pattern to start (there are some suggestions at the end of this post). Better yet, work a really simple crochet swatch using basic stitches just to get the hang of the work without the pressure of following a pattern.
5 Reasons to try Thread Crochet
You already know how to crochet with yarn, so why bother trying to learn to crochet with thread? Here are some good reasons:
- It'll boost your crochet confidence. It's not as hard as you think and it will feel good when you realize that you can do it. Crochet is a great way to build self-esteem.
- Thread crochet helps us practice and refine our fine motor skills.
- It's exciting to learn something new in crochet. Even when we just work with a different material, it expands the craft and refreshes it for us.
- You can make many new things. Old projects will get new life when you work them in thread.
- Why not? If you try it and don’t like it, then that's just more information you have about what does and doesn't work for you in this craft.
5 Popular Types of Thread Crochet
As said before, you can make almost any item that you want using thread crochet, but there are some projects that are especially popular when working with thread. Here are five examples:
- Wedding / Bridal Crochet. From the crochet garter to the bow around the bouquet, many items at a wedding can be made in thread crochet.
- Filet Crochet. This classic chart-based niche of crochet works well with thread.
- Crochet Doilies. The classic crochet doily (and its more contemporary cousins) as well as related vintage items like table runners are often worked in thread.
- Crochet Jewelry. You can make exquisite fine jewelry using thread crochet with or without bead embellishments.
- Crochet Collars. The vintage collar, including the Peter Pan collar, has made a huge comeback as a fashion accessory in recent years. Thread crochet is perfect for this.
5 Easy/ Beginner Thread Crochet Projects
Crochet collars and wedding crochet can often be intimidating for a beginner trying crochet. Get yourself started with an easier project. Here are five thread crochet projects designed for the beginner or advanced beginner: 1. Curlicue Necklace and Earrings
by Kathryn Vercillo