Crochet Basics: Getting Started & Reading Patterns

Holly's cute tattooYarn partyElsie Larson crochetKatie Shelton crochetEmma Chapman crochet I don't know about you, but every autumn season I get the itch to start something new! I don't know what it is, but every year I feel in the mood to get crafty or start some kind of project that I can do at home. In case any of you feel the same, we thought it would be fun to do something together. So, we've worked with Holly Neufeld to create a series of posts designed to teach you to crochet! I have been looking forward to this series for a few months now as I am in NEED of brushing up on some long-forgotten skills. So without further a do, take it away, Holly:

Crochet basicsCrochet partyHolly NeufeldCrocheting is one of my most beloved hobbies. I think one of the biggest reasons I love it so much is the simplicity of it. You only need a hook and yarn to create something. And it’s so easy to bring your projects with you wherever you go. 

I was very fortunate to have my husband’s mom teach me how to crochet. She took a bit of time one summer afternoon six years ago to show me the basics, and I’ve been “hooked” ever since. I started off making scarves and dish cloths, but it didn’t take very long before I was trying amigurumi animals and making hats and cowls. I enjoyed crocheting so much that I was looking for excuses to buy yarn and make things. I ended up opening an Etsy shop in 2007 to sell the things I created.

Holly Neufeld teaches crochetMy wish for you, is that this series will be a simple way for you to grasp the hobby and be well on your way to creating crocheted gifts and lovely things for you, your friends, family, and your home. I hope it ignites a passion for yarn crafts like it has for me.

Lots of yarnTo begin, you will need yarn, a hook, and scissors. Other things that will come in handy are a measuring tape and a tapestry/darning needle.

If there is a specific project you have in mind, your pattern will suggest a yarn weight that is best suited. There are many different weights of yarn, such as:

0: Lace (or fingering)

1: Superfine (or sock)

2: Fine (or sport)

3: Light (or DK, light worsted)

4: Medium (or worsted, afghan, aran)

5: Bulky (or chunky)

6: Super Bulky

Your yarn label will have a little symbol with a number on it.

Reading yarn labelsThe size of hook that you need is determined by the yarn you are using. Your yarn label will also have the suggested hook size printed on it. Either in metric range or letter size.

0: Lace, 1.6 - 1.4mm (steel hook)

1: Superfine, 2.25 - 3.5mm

2: Fine, 3.5 - 4.5mm

3: Light, 4.5 - 5.5mm

4: Medium, 5.5 - 6.5mm

5: Bulky, 6.5 - 9mm

6: Super Bulky, 9mm +

HooksYour pattern will have a gauge that explains how many stitches (st) should be in a certain length, for example, 4 inches. Use your measuring tape to crochet 4 inches of single crochet (sc) stitches to make sure the gauge is correct.

To start, choose a medium or bulky weight yarn and the appropriate hook. With the hook in your right hand, hold it with the hooked end pointing upwards between your thumb and middle finger. Your index finger will be a guide for the yarn, and the handle end of the hook will rest on the outer edge of your hand, with your ring and pinky fingers lightly keeping it in place.

Right handed

Flip if you are left handed.

Left handedNow let's talk about reading a pattern. Crochet patterns are written using abbreviations, which makes them easier to read. Yarn industry designers and publishers use the same abbreviations in most patterns. Sometimes a pattern will have a unique abbreviation and usually explains what it means at the beginning of the pattern. These are a few of  the most commonly used abbreviations:

ch, chs - chain, chains

dc - double crochet

dc2tog - double crochet two stitches together

dec - decrease

hdc - half double crochet

inc - increase

rep - repeat

rnd, rnds - round, rounds

sc - single crochet

sc2tog - single crochet two stitches together

sl st - slip stitch

st, sts - stitch, stitches

tog - together

tr - treble crochet

yo - yarn over

beg - beginning

ch sp - chain space

A chain space is, for example, when you ch1 and then skip a stitch before making another ch1 in the next stitch. This creates a little opening which is called the "chain space". So when the pattern reads: 4dc in ch sp, you'll stitch those 4 double crochet stitches in the little opening that was created the previous row. A Granny Square pattern is a pattern that you will work in chain spaces.

Brackets [ ] and parentheses ( ), indicate that you work the instructions within them as many times as directed, often in the same stitch. For example, when the pattern reads (sc, 2dc), it means to do those stitches in the same stitch.

* or * * indicates to repeat the instructions after or between asterisks as many times as directed. For example, the pattern might read: "Row 2: Dc in next 5 sts; *ch 1, skip next st, dc in next st; rep from * to end of row."

Understanding abbreviations, how to read patterns, needle sizes, and different yarn weights will be less overwhelming. This series will teach you basic stitches, and equip you with everything you need to know to start crocheting. So look forward to some fun patterns and how-to videos! -Holly

Credits // Author: Holly Neufeld, Photography: Sarah Rhodes. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions

20 Easy Craft Projects Under $10

Fabric lined built-in shelves (click through for tutorial!)Happy weekend! When's the last time you had a craft night with your friends? It's been a while for us, and this list has left us feeling super inspired and excited to have one. So gather up your girlfriends, get some refreshments, and make something fun! This list is extra awesome because each project can be completed for under $10. Let's start with these cute fabric-lined built-in shelves

Make your own spotted curtains!Transform a basic pair of curtains with some fabric paint using this spotted curtain DIY.

Lace planterAdd some pretty lace to your flower pots – so easy!

Make your own pop art pet portraitDisplay your favorite (it might be hard to choose!) pet photos on your walls with this Warhol-inspired pet portrait DIY.

Paint dipped wood candle holder DIYThese balsa wood candle holders are so fun, and they are easy to make – no saws required! :)

Try this- embroidered shirt with your favorite quoteAdd your favorite song lyrics or quote to a shirt pocket with this tutorial.

Sharpie mug DIYWe love these personalized his + hers Sharpie mugs. These make great gifts for any occasion!

Love this anchor wallLearn how to make your own stamp and transform a bare wall into a statement wall.

DIY color run powderThis non-toxic colored powder (inspired by the Color Run) is so easy to make on your own! We love how it looks in photos too.

Make your own soap on a ropeMake your own soap on a rope. How fun are these? They can be customized with your favorite essential oils. 

Use an old type tray to display nail polishDisplay your nail polish collection with an antique printer tray and some colored cardstock.

Custom phrase mat board- so cute!Combine your favorite phrase with a photo to make a custom mat board.

Chalkboard paint DIYOne of our favorite tutorials of all time! How to mix your own chalkboard paint (in any color).

Gold moon wall DIYThis gold moon wall is amazing, and you only need three things to make it!

Hand-stamped strawberry crib sheetHow adorable is this hand-stamped strawberry crib sheet?

Glitter shoesLearn how to make your own sparkly glitter shoes.

Interior washi tape!Change up a doorway with washi tape. The possibilities are endless!

DIY embroidered photo artMake a photo extra special with this embroidery DIY.

Serving tray makeover DIYAdd some glitter vinyl or a flower print to a serving tray.

Make your own clay word magnetsWe love refrigerator door word magnets, and these clay ones are super colorful and fun to make!

Be sure to tag your projects #mybeautifulmess, and we will pick our favorites to feature on our instagram! xo. The ABM team

Autumn Shopping Fever

Autumn Shopping FeverWe teamed up with our old friends at ModCloth for a special autumn wish list. As the forecast begins to show more and more cool weather days ahead, I can't help but dig up my long-forgotten sweater and coat stash from last year and take stock. Do you do this? Are you a compulsive closet cleaner? There's just something so satisfying about dropping off a bag of ill-fitting clothes at the thrift store, right? Feels like I'm really getting my life together, even though I'm just de-cluttering my closet or dresser drawers. 

On the list this season is a new pair of boots. I'm just taking my time, internet-window-shopping for now. We still have at least a month before the really chilly days are upon us here in southern Missouri. My boots from last year finally bit the dust, and since I know whatever boots I buy I will end up wearing nearly everyday from January to mid March, I figure I better find the perfect pair. I am also in the market for a few more cute sweaters, maybe a blazer (because I'm a business woman, dude), and anything else that both feels like autumn AND I know I'll get a lot of wear out of. 

What about you? What's on your autumn shopping list this season? xo. Emma

Emma's Wishlist: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9 / 10 / 11 / 12 / 13 / 14 / 15


Life is Colorful

Sister StyleThese past few seasons we've been trying to dress more colorfully. It started out for practical reasons. First, we were shooting a video with Jeremy, and he told us to wear bold colors. We realized our closets were filled with mostly black, white, and denim. So we made it a goal to collect a few more colorful outfits.

Next, I had a mega girl crush phase for both Mindy Kaling and Solange Knowles. They're both so pro at dressing colorfully, and they inspired me to try to be more courageous with color choices. 

And lastly, we rediscovered that we really love color, and we're relearning what colors work with our individual skin tone and hair color. It's fun! There are endless ways to mix and match our colorful pieces. Most not nearly as crazy as these outfits, but still fun.  

I'm glad we're back into colorful outfits. Not that I don't still love my black and white and denim staples, cause I do. But it's nice to feel brave with color and enjoy fashion as more of a hobby again. God knows we love hobbies. 

Sarah had the idea to try shooting with giant bubbles. It was the most fun shoot of our year. One to be beat! I mean, it's not everyday that we get to blow giant bubbles. 

Sister Style Sister Style Sister Style Sister Style Sister Style Elsie's wearing: Kimono/Nasty Gal (it's 1/2 off!), Necklace/TopShop (similar + similar), Sunnies/Karen Walker, Top/Anthropologie (old), Shorts/Motel Rocks, Shoes c/o Swedish Hasbeens, Purse/Pixie Market (yeah- it holds almost nothing. cute, though.)

Emma's wearing: Dress/ShopSosie, Sunnies/UO, Shoes/Zara, Purse/ASOS

Sister Style Sister Style Horse-purseXOXO! Elsie 

Credits// Author: Elsie Larson. Photography: Sarah Rhodes. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess Actions

ABM Book Club Selection: October

The Great GatsbyI'm really excited to announce the ABM book club selection for October. Many readers have requested for the book club to look into reading a few classics now and again. Guess what, we listened! :) In October we will be reading The Great Gatsby

I'm really excited to refresh my memory on this one. I read this book back when I was in high school (so it's been over 10 years!). Maybe you've read it too, but it's been a while? You should totally join us next month. Or if you've never read The Great Gatsby, then you should for sure join us as this one is a real treat. If you don't read, guys, there's a movie version too. So... options.

Elise's moderates the ABM book clubThe ABM book club will also have a rad guest moderator next month, Elise Blaha Cripe. Elise is a good friend, fellow blogger (did you read her goal setting post this week?), and e-course author. I've received many awesome book recommendations from her site, so I'm super excited to have her moderate for us in October.

And don't forget: we'll be discussing Middlesex with Danielle on September 30th. I can't wait to see what you all thought of this month's book as it's sort of... different. Abnormal. Extraordinary. It should be a good discussion, so please join in. xo. Emma

Credits // Author: Emma Chapman, Photography: Sarah Rhodes and Elise Blaha Cripe. 

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