Tips for Starting a Large Crochet Project
In this blog post you will read about the top 10 tips for starting a large crochet project. Those big, or complicated, projects can be daunting! Let’s break it down into bit sized chunks to get that large crochet project off your hook.
The Back Story of my Large Crochet Project
For a few years, I dreamed of gifting my father in law a blanket of his favorite football team’s logo. Last year (2020), seemed like a great year to get it done with all the home time the pandemic gave me. As I worked on this large crochet project, I made a ton of mistakes and learned how to do better next time. Suddenly, there were many, many hours to think about all the ways to make this process better as I stitched up his blanket. Today, I am sharing with you my top tips for starting (and finishing!) a large crochet project.
Into the Unknown
Once I decided I wanted to make him a blanket, the only thing holding me back was the fear of the unknown. Que the spiral of “what ifs”. Because what if I run out of yarn? So, if I order more yarn, will the dye lots be noticeably different? And, what if I get halfway through to lose all my cro-jo? Then, the most dreaded fear… what if I don’t ever finish it? The last thing I wanted was this project to end up next to that unfinished granny square blanket from 2014. She needs a friend, but not this one.
So, how do you move forward on a big project? By naming the thing that’s holding you back, and reminding yourself that you WANT to make this project. After you do that, let me bust a couple of myths.
Myth #1 – All it takes is a crochet marathon to finish your large crochet project.
Crocheting a large crochet project is less about marathon crocheting during the weekend, and more about little crochet deposits over a longer period of time. You may think you can’t start a large crochet project, because you don’t have hours on end to work on it. However, that’s simply not true. It may take more planning, and starting several months prior to the finish date, but you CAN crochet a beast of a project. Also, crocheting in smaller bits of time (like 15-30minutes) is a great way to create progress on your large crochet project.
Myth #2 – Flying by the seat of your pants is your best plan.
Overall, this Large Crochet Project of 2020 took at least a month of planning before any crocheting was done. Here is a quick rundown of a few things to nail down before get started—type of yarn, yardage needed, gauge, size, how much time it may take you to complete it, and deadline. I will go into these things in more detail in the list of tips below. However, the biggest take away here is to plan, plan, and plan more than you think. You won’t be able to execute a project well without a plan.
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10 Tips for Starting a Large Crochet Project
#1 – Buy all the yarn you need (plus an extra 1-2 skeins) before crocheting.
This tip has a few steps before it — picking a pattern, and calculating yardage needed. Here is a great article about calculating yardage from Joy of Motion. Once you have your yardage calculated, buy all the yarn you need plus a little extra. You don’t want to run out near the end, and not be able to find the same dye lot. Since dye lots are not the same, even in a commercially made yarn, it’s important to grab all the same dye lot for a large project. Even one skein of a separate dye lot can throw the whole color off a project. The worst part — you may never realize the difference in color until you’re done with the project. Save yourself the headache, and check those dye lots!
#2 – Estimate how long the project will take to make
This tip requires a bit of honesty with yourself. Consider how long it takes you to crochet, and how much time you have to devote to the project. Then, you’ll be able to accurately create a schedule to meet your deadline. Alternatively, it’ll give you the ability to decide if you can make that double sized blanket a month before Christmas. You will save yourself from stress, and sleepless nights of crocheting, if you take a few minutes to determine if the project is achievable in time you’re given.
#3 – Start earlier than planned
Great! You’ve estimated that your large crochet project will take you 3 months to complete. Now, go ahead and add a few weeks onto the completion time to give yourself a little buffer. Life is beautiful because unexpected things pop up. It makes living interesting! But, it can cause chaos when you’re trying to meet a deadline without any wiggle room. You’ll want some “sick days” available in case life tried to throw a wrench in your completion plans.
#4 – Give yourself mini deadlines
The best way to keep working on a large crochet project is to create a few mini deadlines. When a deadline is far off, we feel secure with the time that we think we have to work on it. So, we put it off. Create weekly, or every 2 week deadlines to break down the project into bite sized pieces that you can accomplish. Make these deadlines realistically achievable, not what you’d hope to accomplish.
#5 – Take advantage of the occasional crochet marathon
You will be given days to work on the project longer than planned. Take advantage of those days! Maybe the family is all napping one afternoon, or you are taking a road trip with lots of down time — these extra, unplanned hours to get ahead is like saving pennies in a bank. Those stitches add up, and you’ll be glad to get ahead!
#6 – Plan in rest days
Let’s face it.. you probably can’t, and don’t want to, crochet every day for several months in a row. At the very least, you’ll end up with aching wrists, and tired eye balls. When you’re creating your large project plan, schedule complete days, or weekends, to take time COMPLETELY off. You’ll save your body pain, and save your project from being delayed when you add in rest.
#7 – Keep your cro-jo alive and eager
Okay, so this one can be a bit illusive. Usually, we either HAVE the cro-jo, or we DON’T HAVE the cro-jo. So, here are a few tips to not let that new project excitement fizzle out a third of the way in.
Tip 1 – Crochet for a few minutes even when you don’t want to crochet. If you need to meet your next mini deadline, but don’t want to pick up your hook for the next hour, then set a timer for 15 minutes. Usually, you’ll get in a groove and knock out the next hour with crocheting. Or, if you choose to be done after 15 minutes, then, at least you worked on it.
Tip 2 – Keep a smaller project on hand when you do get tired (or bored) of your big project. You could even use this as a reward system for completing those mini deadlines. I loved having a few knit beanies to work on while I made the blanket.
#8 – Avoid the crochet-spiration distractions
Crocheting is some of my best thinking time. Often, new crochet ideas pop into my head, and distract me from my current project. If you struggle with this, then keep a simple notebook by you to write down those bright and shiny ideas (even if they’re not crochet related). It’ll save them from getting lost in your brain, and still keep you on task for your large project.
#9 – Don’t make counting the frenemy
Counting can get.. over the top. Picking a simple pattern for a large crochet project, with less counting, goes a long way to actually finishing the project. A blanket with an easy repeat is a great first large project idea. Using a stitch marker to count rows/rounds is an ideal way to count once, and be done with it. No one wants to count the same 50 rows over, and over, and over again.
#10 – Remind yourself why you’re making this large crochet project
At some point you will battle the “whyyyyyy did I decide to do this?” This is when you need to remind yourself that you wanted to create this beautiful piece. Remind yourself who you’re making it for, and how much you love them. Pssst.. even if it’s just for you, it’s okay to remind yourself that you’re worth the effort. While I crocheted the blanket for my father in law, I often thought of him, and why I chose this project. In the end, I’m grateful I stuck it out. You will be, too.
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Patterns for Large Crochet Projects
Do you want to put these tips into practice? Here are a handful of large crochet projects to get started on today!
American Flag Blanket by Ambassador Crochet
Shades of Spring Afghan by Sunflower Cottage Crochet
The Bee Afghan by Sunflower Cottage Crochet
Key West Dress by Me n My Hook
Wrapped in Hugs and Kisses Blanket by Flo’s Crafty Corner
Loops and Fans Poncho by Esther’s Crochet Nook
Alebrije by Make Me Roar
CozyCabled Sweater Dress by I Need It Crochet
Bliss Skirt by Bliss This
Flower Granny Square Throw by Gootie
Lorelei Cardigang by Deni Sharpe
Breezy Days Girls Pullover by Make With Meggie
Train Blanket by Katie Mae Crochet
Celtic Pyramids Blanket by K.A.M.E. Crochet
Classic Coffee Cardigan by Straight Hooked
You’ll Move Mountains Blanket by Jaded Crafts & Creations