This blog post is a more concise version of my most popular YouTube video, where I casually chat about my experiences teaching thread crochet. I hope you will find my thread crochet tips helpful!
In the video I am working on a small tablecloth. It’s a vintage crochet pattern called “Roses in Bloom Centerpiece” from the book “150 Favorite Crochet Designs” by Dover Needlework Series.
I’ve used Katia Mako* 8 count cotton crochet thread and a 1.25mm crochet hook. I like to use Tulip hooks and I talk a little more about that shortly.
*this thread is now discontinued, but any cotton size 8 thread would work.
Thread Crochet Tips
From teaching thread crochet over the course of several years, I noticed that some of my students struggle with their gauge, tension and stitch neatness, so their work might be loose or sloppy looking. Read on for my top thread crochet tips to help overcome these problems.
Use the Best Tools
My first piece of advice would be to make sure you are using a decent crochet hook with an ergonomic handle.
Traditionally, the steel crochet hooks could have quite a thin handle, maybe with a thumb pad and sometimes a bone handle – for these small sizes of crochet hooks, it can make it very uncomfortable to crochet with a handle that is only a couple of mm wide, causing muscle cramps, joint pain and difficulty working the stitches. Fortunately, there are many types of modern thread crochet hooks with molded or ergonomic handles that are kinder to your hand and finger joints and make it a more pleasant experience.
A good hook is actually important when you’re working with fine threads because having a low quality hook will affect how much you’re going to enjoy doing the work. For thicker yarns that require hooks of 5mm and up, you can sometimes get away with quite cheap hooks, but when working in thread crochet, nuances of the hook really make a difference. For example, that little nook in the hook where the yarn engages, if that isn’t properly formed, it’s just so unpleasant trying to crochet because you keep losing the thread where it isn’t engaging. If the tip of the hook isn’t properly finished and really nice and sharp, that’s also a problem because you rely greatly on the tip of the hook in thread crochet. Due to the fine nature of the work and the small stitches, it can be a struggle, even with corrected eyesight, to clearly see the stitches. The hook is used like a needle guiding you through the stitch – you’re using the tip, the very pointy bit of the hook to find the correct path through the loops of the stitch, the path of least resistance. A poorly tooled hook will make finding the stitches tricky and can also snag and catch on the yarn.
My favourite hooks are Tulip Etimo Rose.
Work in Good Light
Thin threads and small hooks make for tiny stitches which can be really hard on your eyes. Make sure you are crocheting in good light, such as natural light near a window or maybe even a reading lamp focused on your work. It’s also much easier crocheting with light coloured threads such as whites and creams – it can be almost impossible to see the stitches when worked in very dark or black threads.
A Different Way to Crochet
If you usually crochet with thicker yarns and bigger hooks and you start a thread crochet project, I find it really helpful to have a bit of a mental reset. By that I mean, consider it a different way to crochet that will require you to tweak and adjust the way you usually work which may take a little while to get used to, to re-program your crochet “muscle memory” of how you handle the hook and yarn.
Don’t worry – it won’t negatively affect how you usually crochet, with practice you will find yourself naturally switching from one style of crochet to the other without even really thinking about it.
Crochet True to Hook Size
This is probably the key tip if you struggle to get your thread crochet work looking neat. I tell my students that for thread crochet, they need to crochet “true to the hook size”. You may think, “well, I’m using a 1.25mm hook, so that’s the size I’m crocheting to!”, but what people are often not conscious of is the size of their live loop on the hook. To crochet “true to hook size” the live loop that you have around the hook needs to be more or less exactly the size of the hook throughout the process of generating the stitch. If you take a moment to notice how that live loop behaves as you crochet, you will start to notice that this loop is often elongated as you work, especially when you’re making longer stitches such as dcs or trcs… this elongation could be causing you to inadvertently crochet several hook sizes up. For “normal” crochet, this isn’t a problem because you’re probably wanting to produce a fabric with some drape. In thread crochet, especially filet, you are relying on crisp, compact and neat stitches to define the pattern and also keep to gauge so that you stick to the square grid – the distinctive feature of filet. I’ve known students that have struggled to crack gauge who have just kept moving down hook sizes without ever hitting gauge because they are not controlling the size of the live loop on the hook.
You should also check the shaft of your hook. For example, the section on my hook that is actually 1.25mm is very, very short. You can see it starts to taper out wider towards the handle so I only need to accidentally slide my live loop a bit too far up the shaft and I’m probably going up 2 or more hook sizes which will give you incorrect gauge and uneven stitches if you are not consistent.
The image below shows a lovely doily that would look better crocheted up with a smaller hook size… closer inspection reveals the stitches are not compact and neat but show quite a bit of white space between the treble crochets thus reducing the definition of the solid areas of stitches.
Control the Live Loop
There are a couple of ways I keep extra control of the live loop to help me work true to hook size.
1. I put a little more tension on the yarn feed between the hook and my index finger to help keep the live loop stay closed.
2. Control the live loop by gently holding it down with the index finger of my right hand while I’m forming the stitch to help stop it opening up.
Re-evaluate Your Feed
The other thing that I’ve noticed, or people have mentioned to me is that they struggle in controlling the tension with thread crochet, i.e. they find their tension is too lose. I’ve found that you might need a bit more friction than you would normally apply to the working yarn. You may need to reconfigure how you feed the yarn, for example, you might want to wrap it around one of your fingers if you don’t currently do that, or wrap it twice if you usually only wrap once. Experiment with different ways of threading and feeding the yarn. What I tend to do is, once I’ve got a body of work, a bit of fabric going, I use the fabric as a bit of extra friction against the working yarn in my left hand.
Hone Your Crochet Skills with Thread Crochet
Now I really notice how I have to subtly change between each different crochet project and that I do end up crocheting in a slightly different style for different thickness of yarns and techniques. Don’t let that intimidate you, embrace it! It’s an excellent way for you to hone your crochet skills. Thread crochet by its nature, requires you to be far more aware of what you’re doing with your hook, with your tension, with your stitches and how you are controlling the live loop. If you start a thread crochet project, stick with it, give it a chance, try the things I’ve mentioned, and you will find that once you’ve mastered it, your crochet will improve overall.
The Love of Vintage
I love the unique look and feel of thread crochet. It has a distinct vintage look. I also love knowing that people have been doing this kind of work for many, many years. When you get an old vintage pattern off the internet and you’re recreating something that someone may have made a hundred years ago, and you wonder how many of those pieces were ever made, are any still in existence? And who made them? Thread crochet isn’t for everyone that is true, but even if you master it and think, “well, that’s not for me”, you would still have picked up a lot of good skills that will help you with all your other crochet projects.
Tell Me About Your Thread Crochet Work
Do you make things with thread crochet? Did you find my thread crochet tips helpful? Do you have any extra tips that you’d like to share?
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You can often find me on Instagram. Please do follow and tag me @mezzamay if you make one of my patterns, use one of my tips or stitch patterns. I really love to see what you’re making.