I’m sometimes asked about skill levels in crocheting. Let me explain my thoughts about it (please scroll this page down).
Defining levels is a very subjective thing. You might have come across such tables of crochet levels that divide all crocheters into just four categories without considering their background.
If you are new to crocheting but you had sewing lessons in school curriculum then you certainly know the basics of how garments are constructed. You understand where you need some positive ease, when to start decreasing or increasing. Even better if you have already knitted several garments, so you know what should be adjusted while making your own crochet garments – for example, where to start decreasing for waist (especially if the girl model is much taller than you are), how to make the shoulders wider or narrower depending on your own figure etc. And most important that you have patience in creating your own clothes regardless of the handwork (knitted or crocheted ones).
For example, before starting crocheting I have knitted many cable pullovers without following patterns (only having charts for the cable pattern, no description on where to increase/decrease and how many stitches to start with). The only crochet stitch I knew was single crochet (here and throughout I mention American crochet terms) that I used for sewing seams. Several years ago my neighbor has visited me while I was feeling not well (I suffer from grass pollen allergy especially during summer drought). She asked whether I could crochet and brought me a hook, a book with photos of several crochet stitches and their chart symbols. Crocheting in bed was quite comfortable (knitting requires more space : )). After completing several rows of double crochet and treble crochet stitches I ordered some cotton thread, found charts for a beautiful lace crochet tunic and started working on it.
Here I need to clarify that I’m used to knit with charts, so recognizing crochet stitches in crochet charts was not difficult – the charted double crochet stitches resemble the real ones. If you are new to crocheting I would strongly recommend to learn with charts as soon as possible (even better right from the beginning). I have not seen any youtube videos for beginners in English that think charts are necessary and show how each stitch looks like in chart. So, if you follow such youtube videos try to search for crochet symbols for each stitch you have learned. Charts offer better visualization of what you are working on. Especially if your project has many separate motifs and you need to see how they are connected into a garment. If you have learned crocheting following the written instructions you might not be able to recognize possible mistakes. Besides reading through endless written instructions might be tiresome – what “chart-crocheters” can do in 10 minutes (and correct possible mistakes) would take you hours : ).
So, back to my first crochet project : ). My thread was thinner than recommended and I had to adjust the amount of motifs. But since I have knitted without instructions I could easily add the necessary amount of motifs. Then I have changed the original crochet pattern used in shoulders and in the top of the sleeves, so all decreases in the armholes I had to invent. I had to undo the stitches several times till I was satisfied with the result.
All my knitting experience in crocheting garments is NOT considered in any of skill-levels-tables. For them I was a mere newbie who had to concentrate on scarfs without even attempting to make any tight fit garment as first project : ). Or even adjusting it to my figure or gauge :)). Well, I have never crocheted scarfs or doilies for tables. Not yet : ).
I have a German customer who completed this maxi skirt only after she made ONE doily – she had no crochet experience before. I also had another customer from USA who has finished a crochet mandala vest but was afraid of even starting the same skirt – she though that it would take her ages to complete. I do not have any news from US-customer since then and do not know whether she did at least one square motif.
Defining and categorizing things also hangs from the person. For example, there was an experiment on how older, middle-aged and younger people estimate time. Middle-aged journalist asked them how long would it take to walk from one place to another. Older and more relaxed people have overestimated time and younger agile respondents underestimated it. Same is with crocheting – people who are accustomed to learn fast will regard many patterns as very easy and people who learn slowly or regard crocheting as an effortless hobby might even give up on a project that requires more of their attention and patience.
Once I’ve read in an English crochet book (that contained written instructions only) that pineapple patterns are not easy and crocheters should pay close attention to written instructions (and do not watch TV simultaneously : )). I regard pineapple patterns very logical – charts help to see this logic straight away.
So it is really up to person’s patience and any experience in making own garments (in my case – knitting experience counted). The most used stitches in crochet are the same for beginners, intermediate and advanced users: chain, single crochet, half double crochet, double crochet, treble crochet. Most pineapple patterns use chains and single crochet stitches only.
To summarize all these you will be able to work on even higher level than indicated for crochet patterns if:
- you have basic knowledge of how garments are constructed; know “problematic places” in your own figure that need to be disguised; understand that any of your tight-fit projects should be adjusted (decreased or increased in some places) and it might be not the part of the original pattern (because girl model is much taller than you are or has broader shoulders);
- you are accustomed to knit/crochet/sew items alone and do not tend to search for teachers every time but rather solve any problems alone using your own common sense and logic;
- you have knowledge of geometry (symmetry, centre, spacial thinking etc), especially if you are going to connect many separately worked motifs into one piece as you go;
- you are able to recognize crochet stitches in charts – any beginner that read charts will have a considerable advantage over any intermediate crocheter who is used to work with texts (because you will see straight away what stitches are to be repeated and where you could have made a mistake);
- you have patience in achieving your goals even if somewhat more efforts are needed than you thought in the beginning;
- you had high notes in school (well, intelligence, good memory, persistence and patience matter everywhere, even in crocheting).
You are more than welcome to write YOUR thoughts about levels – it can be that my marketing analysis about patterns and customers is somewhat not that simple : ).