Here's 6 definitive tips to giving your crochet a great start

You're a new crocheter and you're really keen to start your first project. But wait, put down that hook! There are a few steps you can take now that will make your work go much more smoothly.
A few minutes spent on preparation now can make all the difference between finishing a great project or ending up with a woolly mess cluttering up your cupboard. Have a look at our definitive guide to get a great start on any crochet work you try.
Keep reading for 6 great tips:
1. A good yarn
When starting a project, it's a good idea to bear in mind how much yarn the finished work requires, and how much it will cost. There are some very tempting projects out there which, before you know it, can get you parting with large sums of money as yarn can be expensive. If there's a pattern you've set your heart on, but the yarn breaks your budget, remember that you can substitute other, less pricey yarns - as long as they are the same weight. So swap out a pure wool DK for a DK wool mix, or a light fingering merino for a light fingering mix.
2. Skeins into balls
This sounds simple but makes such a difference. Skeins look so neat and tidy at first that it's hard to resist plunging in and crocheting straight from the hank. I've done it myself in the past but no longer - I always wind my skeins into balls, as it takes no time at all for them to get impossibly tangled. To wind, pop the skein over the back of a chair, a pair of hands if you have an assistant, or even drape the skein over your open laptop - this works surprisingly well. Then take the end and wind gently over your fingers, then ease your fingers out and continue winding. You can also buy winders on line.
3. Unraveling is easy
It can be a heartbreaker if you notice that, many rows back, you made a mistake. Sometimes, if you've missed a stitch and left a hole, you can go back with your tapestry needle when you're weaving in ends and do a little surgery on the site. Usually, though, it's easier and more effective to unravel. Just pull the end and watch your work disappear. Although it's sad, it will be satisfying in the end when you produce work without obvious flaws. And, remember, even the most experienced crocheters spend a lot of time ripping out stitches.
4. Size matters
Hook size can make a dramatic difference to a project. If you tend to crochet very tightly (and most beginners do) you'll find your second row after the foundation chain is hard work, trying to squeeze the hook into weeny little spaces. You can avoid this by using a hook one size larger than the pattern (or yarn band) suggests for the foundation chain. If you tend to make your chains very large, go down a hook size instead. But don't change hook size in mid-project or you'll get a very odd effect!
5. Hook styles
There are a huge variety of hook styles out there, and if you think you don't like crochet after trying it once, it might just be that you don't like the crochet hook you're using. While many people like the aluminum hooks, I personally prefer a plastic ergonomic hook. You can also find hooks in bamboo, wood, steel ... and there are prices to suit all budgets. It's worth bearing in mind if you travel a lot that plastic hooks are safe to take on airplanes. Try some hooks for size at your haberdashery store before buying to see what style sits best in your hand.
6. Why a tapestry needle?
Tapestry needles are used in crochet to weave in the ends at the finish of a project. This is not a stage that most crocheters love even a tiny bit but it does give a neat appearance, so you'll need a needle to hand when you start your project. Tapestry needles are used as the 'eye' part is large enough for yarn to go through without too much of a struggle. Some needles have curved ends, which can be handy for threading through a complex crochet design. Darning needles can do the job, too, but they tend to be longer so I prefer a tapestry version. There are loads to look at online.
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