I’m a new crocheter. I grew up surrounded by crochet—my mother did it, my aunts did it, my grandmothers did it, so naturally I rebelled and learned to knit. I have been knitting since the early 2000s and have really enjoyed it. I had an interest in crochet; I even bought some hooks but truly didn’t know where to start. I just wanted to skip all the learning parts and get to the point where I was crocheting little stuffed animals that made people “Ooooo”.
The Brava Beanie Crochet Along felt like the moment to throw myself into crochet. The idea of making a hat felt more interesting than a dishcloth or afghan which as the two things people had suggested to me in the past to start with. Plus I already owned crocheted dishcloths and afghans made by my mom who continues to make me more on a regular basis. (Thanks Mom!) Hats appealed to me. I also liked that it was going to be a project for someone else, for a cause, for Warm Up America.
Here’s what I learned from making my Brava Beanies:
1.) I don’t know what I don’t know and that’s ok
I started and frogged the Brava Beanie five times before I asked for help. I didn’t know what the pattern was saying when it said, “Rnd 1: Ch 1, 7 SC into the center of the ch-4 lp, join with sl st. 7 sts.” What?! I read this sentence over and over and it didn’t make sense. Where was I supposed to insert my hook? How was I supposed to Single Crochet 7 times when there were only 4 stitches plus a chain?
I had learned how to make a chain, insert my hook in the chain, slip stitch and single crochet from the WeCrochet Youtube tutorials but I was still confused. Thankfully there were people around me that could sit with me and answer these questions. Sara Dudek, WeCrochet Brand Director, showed me where to enter my hook. Ah.
At that moment everything became clear to me. I realized I was thinking too much like a knitter and needed to let go of any preconceptions I had. I realized that crochet was the jazz of yarn, you can do almost anything and put your hook anywhere.
While there is structure with an end product as a goal, you can kind of do whatever you want. I learned that if something didn’t make sense to me, I just needed to seek help. I also found I wasn’t alone – so many people on Ravelry and Youtube were also there for me.
2.) Embrace imperfections
After finally deciding to keep going with that first hat, I got excited as it started to look like a hat and then got a little frustrated. Looking at it, I could see all the times I messed up – I put my hook in the middle of a split stitch or where I inserted the hook in the top look on one stitch and the bottom loop on the other. Some of the stitches were tight and some were loose. I was annoyed but then it put it on my head for an afternoon.
I took a deep breath and I made peace with it. It was still obviously a hat and was fine. I just learned this new craft, of course it’s not going to be perfect. It didn’t have to be perfect. Why did I expect to be perfect at something I just learned? It was going to be fine.
3.) Trust the pattern
After doing one hat I decided I didn’t have to look at the pattern ever again. I went rogue and then ended up with a big circle and ran out of yarn. I begrudgingly looked at the pattern and realized that I increased way way way too much and lost track of where I was supposed to slip stitch and chain one.
On my third Brava Beanie, I didn’t use Brava Yarn and didn’t follow the pattern exactly. I truly wanted to figure out the pattern as if I was discovering it and not just following it. This hat turned out on the larger side because I increased too much yet again. Thankfully I made it with Alpaca Cloud so I purposefully shrunk it (by putting it in the washing machine and dryer) which made it extra soft and a lot more wearable.
I started to really study the pattern and read it over and over to really set it to memory. Part of my problem with following patterns was having to look at it while working on it felt disruptive to the rhythmic flow of crochet.
4.) Make it my own
After two more pretty successful Brava Beanies, I decided it was time to level up my skills. I first tried doing some ribbing which didn’t really work out.
The next hat I tried holding two yarns together which turned out well. This is the hat I’m probably most happy with as it just looks and feels nice and doesn’t have any noticeable mistakes.
For my next hat, I asked Sara to crochet tutor me in doing some ribbing which ended up looking really nice. You can hear this on the Bonus episode of the WeCrochet Podcast. Adding ribbing was exciting for me because it looked good and took my knowledge of crochet in a new direction, literally and figuratively.
I really enjoyed exploring the Brava Beanie pattern and seeing what I can do with it. It was a good excuse to use a lot of different yarns.
5.) Enjoy the process
Overall, this felt like the perfect first crochet project for me. I got to that zen moment of not having to work at crocheting and instead just enjoying it. I had a bad attitude about crochet for so long that I needed something like this CAL and open me up to it. Listening to Heather and Sara on the WeCrochet Podcast helped because they are always so inspiring about the learning the process.
I also liked going on Ravelry and seeing other people sharing their Brava Beanies. There’s a special kind of magic that happens when you know that other people are making the same project at the same time.
6.) I learned how to crochet!
The most important thing I learned from the Brava Beanie CAL was that I learned how to crochet! I learned how to hold my hook. I learned how to read a pattern. I learned how to make a chain, slip stitch, join in the round and single crochet. I made 9 Brava Beanies (8 that are wearable and one that is basically a big weird circle) with different yarns. I learned that I really like to crochet. I learned about myself.
Hear more about (Producer) Sarah’s Brava Beanie journey on the WeCrochet Podcast.