What's a good beginner crochet project?

Have you been pinning adorable baby hats before your little one was born? Now that we're nearing sweater weather, challenge yourself to actually make some of them! If you're new to crocheting, a hat is a great starter pattern that can be completed in one or two naptimes. Read on for four tips to help you get started.

Buy just a little gear to start

Get some yarn. Not too chunky, as it can be hard to see your stitches. Not too thin, as it'll show your errors more. Just one skein of a simple medium-weight yarn like Vanna's Choice can get you started. Although you can buy yarn online, you're probably better off buying it in person the first time, as single skeins tend to be cheaper in-store.

Get a hook. With hooks, you need to make two decisions: size and material. Hook sizes are designated by letters. A "D" hook is teeny tiny. A comparatively huge "P" hook will help you make the kinds of chunky scarves you see at Anthropologie. For most beginner hat projects, you'll want a "G" or a "H" hook. Metal hooks have a nice heft to them but can be slippery. If you are just starting out and willing to spend a little extra money on tools, consider buying a wooden hook. This will help you from dropping stitches. Clover makes beautiful bamboo hooks. If you like a little more whimsy, consider Brittany birch hooks, whose magic wand handles help keep the yarn in place. 

Make it "in the round"

There are loads of hat patterns available online, but nearly all of them are made in two ways: 1) make a flat piece that you stitch together at the end or 2) make a piece that starts with a ring and widens out row by row until you have a finished hat. The second method will help you make a hat with no visible seams.  

Make it stretchy

The key to a great crocheted or knitted baby hat is stretch. There are so many cute baby hat patterns out there--and many adorable finished hats on Etsy--but many of them are very tightly crocheted or knitted, meaning that if you forget about the hat for a week or two you'll miss the window when it could have fit your baby. If the hat has some stretch to it, it can fit a baby or young child for years. 

Although you want a hat to have stretch, you also don't want it to be falling over your child's eyes all the time. You can solve this problem by making a longer hat and folding the bottom up, like this. Alternatively, you can make a band at the bottom hat (a few rows of slip stitches, for example) to help it stay on. As the child grows, you can remove the band to make the hat less tight.

Make a practice hat

Many child hat patterns come in multiple sizes. When you're just getting started, consider starting with the baby size. This will help you test out the pattern and see your mistakes much faster. An infant hat takes less than an hour to make. If it comes out great, you can give it to another baby. If it doesn't work out, you won't have wasted too much time figuring out the trickier parts of the pattern, so your bigger hat will work up more quickly and smoothly.

If you're ready to jump in, download my Pumpkin Beanie pattern. If you like the pattern and make a good hat, share the love by making another hat for someone else: another baby in your family, a holiday hat tree, or the NICU at your local hospital.