Your New Sustainable Crochet Wardrobe

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During lockdown, the pull to learn new hobbies meant that crochet gained a crop of new devotees, eager to learn how to create their own new wardrobes.

You might be one of these people or desperately want to try the craft yourself!

Consider me a crocheting ally and let me pitch to you why taking up the craft will be good for both your mental health and the environment.

Here are some brief but awesome sustainable benefits of crochet:

  • Wool and yarn are sustainable materials as they biodegrade a lot faster than polyester and nylon
  • Yarn can be made up of things like old clothes, used cotton and recycled plastic.
  • Creations are tailored to you so less likely to be thrown away
  • Clothing is more durable than thinner materials that wear and tear easily
  • Make clothes that you want to wear. You can plan a pattern any way you’d like, with custom shapes and sizes.
  • Learn motor skills/manual dexterity (the young boy in The Circle who did it for his motor skills to become a brain surgeon)
  • You can make unlimited birthday presents for minimal costs and minimal waste.

With crochet, you have a sustainable way of making and repairing clothes that also gives you a new hobby. Fiddling with yarn and a hook can be a productive and fun replacement for a fidget toy and (what I’ve found to be one of the biggest benefits) also means you don’t have to make eye contact with someone as you speak to them. The amount of fun I’ve had just sitting on the sofa talking about life since I started crocheting has been immense!

My Crochet Journey

I am a complete beginner. Before January 2023, I had never done a stitch of crochet before. When I finished my exams near the end of the month, I needed something to occupy my time again, and something that tricked my brain into thinking it was being productive. I began by making long chains and slip-stitching rectangles— and at first they were really ugly! Despite being purple and grey, my first functional rectangle (an iPad case) did successfully hold my iPad and saved me about £10+ buying one from a store.

My next step was learning how to double crochet. This meant crocheting large items quicker. I learnt how to make beanie hats and whittled my time to make one down to 4 hours! After three successful beanies and some convincing by a friend, I decided to make something wearable.

After all, if I could make a sweater as a beginner, couldn’t everyone?

The Sweater

I decided to use a tutorial from YouTube, since you can see every individual stitch in the video and rewind it if you think you’ve gone wrong. You can find the tutorial I used and modified here:

First of all, I went to investigate what sorts of wool I could get for the lowest amount of money possible. I found some wool in HomeBargains, it was the cheapest I’d seen so far but the colours weren’t very strong or what I wanted to go for in my creation. There was also cheap wool available from other home stores I looked at— B&M and larger supermarket stores such as Tesco.

In the end, I found the particular colour I was after at my local craft store and bought 4 balls of yarn. Because I didn’t opt for the cheapest option– something I would have done, had I needed to save money– the wool came out around £10. 

This was the main colour I chose, a saffron yellow to match with a more summery vibe. I bought one ball of orange wool for any trimmings or sleeves I felt like I wanted as well. 

I started out by making the ribbing. This was a bit fiddly with the small loops but very easy to do. I only needed to remember three steps for making one stitch and then repeat those steps until I had a full line of ribbing.

After the ribbing, I switched stitches and began double stitching in rows. This formed the main body of the top. I crocheted 21 rows for each side. In the picture, the top panel seems a little bigger than the bottom, but don’t worry! The two fit together, despite me making a rookie error with a few added stitches and some questionable stretching.

When I had one front and one back panel, I weaved wool through the sides and attached the two together, leaving neck and arm holes to add to later. At this point, I could wear it!

After joining, I switched wool to a bright orange. To begin the sleeves, I put my hook through the bottom of the armhole and began a single crochet all the way round the edge. Then from there, I double crocheted on top. This made the beginning of the sleeve look like an accented edge.

I originally intended to do long sleeves but I realised I liked the shape of the top’s main body and only crocheted two rows around each arm hole. Since it’s coming to summer and I’m beginning to wear fewer and fewer layers, I also didn’t want to be overheating.

After crocheting all the components of my new sweater-shirt creation, I tried styling it with some accessories.

This is me wearing the finished product!

The whole project was super fun and it meant that I could do something productive and fulfilling for myself whilst also relaxing. For the first half of third year, I hadn’t felt able to switch off. After taking up crochet, I feel so much more able to just sit back and enjoy watching things. 

On my next project, I would love to crochet stripes in more neutral colours. I didn’t want to try and change wool each row for this project, but as I gain more skills I feel like it will be crucial to master.

Wearing my own beanies and now my own shirt feels amazing. I know they’ll fit me exactly because I made them. I also know that my crocheted clothes are made out of sustainable materials and when I no longer want to wear them as they are, I can undo each row and recycle the wool into something else. In fact, I think that after I get bored of my new yellow shirt, I’m going to make the yellow into stars.

Related Information

Find out more about fast fashion and how it can hurt the environment and the people around you.

Here’s a useful page of resources for the crochet beginner that might be helpful!

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