I KNOW that you have been in the craft store eyeing that bulky, soft, amazing, thick yarn. That yarn that is so cozy it makes you want winter to be here NOW! Well, go for it! Get that yarn! You won’t regret it, I promise!
How to Crochet with Thick yarn:
- Gather your tools
- Bulky, super bulky, or jumbo (weight 5, 6, or 7) yarn
- Crochet hook (Size 6.5 mm/K-10 1/2 or larger depending on your yarn choice and pattern)
- Choose a project
- A pattern written for bulky yarn
- A stitch you will use to make your own pattern
- Test your gauge
- If using a pattern, crochet the gauge swatch to ensure the right size of your final project
- Crochet your project!
Alright, you did it. You bought that glorious bulky yarn! You have a general idea of what you are doing from above, but let’s dive deeper! Keep reading for more details about the tools, techniques, tips, troubleshooting, and benefits of crocheting with thick yarn!
Tools for Crocheting with Thick Yarns
Just like in other weights of yarn, thick yarn comes in a wide variety of types. First off, there are actually three categories of “thick yarn:” bulky, super bulky, and jumbo (weight 5, 6, and 7) yarn. Each of these yarn weights can then come in different materials, shapes, textures, and colors (of course).
Some of these are better for certain projects than others.
In terms of material, acrylic and acrylic blends will make for a stiffer, more durable end result which makes it really nice for things like rugs and backpacks. Cotton is probably better for clothing and cowls because it is softer and more flexible. Wools and other softer choices are great choices for clothing as well but will have more specific care instructions.
In terms of shape/texture, you may want to use a flat t-shirt style or ribbon bulky yarn for a rug or a bag, but probably not for a scarf. But you may want to use that fuzzy yarn for a baby blanket or scarf, but not a rug. That eyelash bulky yarn? It might make a fun throw pillow!
You also have the option of “making your own” bulky yarn. According to the Lion Brand website, you can combine two of their yarns to approximate the weight of bulkier yarn choices. If you combine two of their “thinner” worsted weight (size 4) yarns you will approximate a bulky (size 5) yarn, and two of their “thicker” worsted weight (size 4) yarns will approximate a super bulky (size 6) yarn.
This principle would also be true of other brands of yarn.
You could definitely get some additional variety this way too, by combining different colors or textures.
You may need to purchase additional hooks for your bulky yarn crochet projects.
Many of the multi-packs of hooks that you can buy have a size J (6 mm) or K (6.5 mm) as the largest. For most bulky (size 5) yarns you need AT LEAST the size K (6.5 mm) hook, but for many you actually will need a larger hook than that.
Many times these larger hooks are made of durable plastic or aluminum. You may end up having a preference for one or the other, or you may want to go with bamboo, wood, or an ergonomic hook. The one that is “best” is very dependent on each individual.
You may skip a crochet hook altogether! Especially with super bulky (size 6) and Jumbo (size 7) yarns you may want to try finger crochet. In this case, you won’t need to buy a new hook.
“Jumbo” darning/tapestry needles
If you are like me, and prefer to weave in your ends with a darning needles instead of a hook, you will likely need a needle with a larger eye for threading the thick yarn through.
You can find larger-eyed darning or tapestry needles on Amazon or at any craft store. When you search, I recommend looking for “jumbo” darning needles, as this is the most common description I have found for them.
Techniques for Crocheting with Thick Yarns
If you are using a pattern, go for one that specifies to use the yarn weight that you want. You can usually search patterns by yarn weight, especially if you are on a site that is specifically for patterns.
If you are going to ad-lib it, you will want to choose a stitch that will look good when made with thicker yarns. This will vary a little bit depending on if you are using bulky, super bulky, or jumbo yarn. But in general here are the stitches that tend to work well for thicker yarns.
- Basic stitches: single, half double, double, treble crochet
- These are actually really nice with thick yarn, especially super bulky or jumbo yarn because they are easy and you can see the details very well. They look beautiful!
- This is nice because it is a double crochet, so you get to see those details, but you add a little bit of extra texture and variety in directionality of stitches.
- Herringbone stitches
- This is similar to the last. It just adds a bit more detail and variety to the basic stitches
- Back loop only or post variation on basic stitches
- These keep nice clean line, but add a textural component to make the project ribbed either horizontally or vertically. It really “pops” when using thicker yarn and gives you that amazing cozy look and feel!
- Puff, bobble, and popcorn stitches
- These are really nice for bulky (size 5) yarn, but could be a bit overwhelming with the thicker sizes. They are nice for adding thickness and texture to a project and they are fun and pretty!
Another technique you may consider is tapestry crochet. This is often used for rugs and bags (among other things), which are GREAT to make with thick yarn. The color change details will really come out with the nice thick yarn. Also, they usually use the basic stitches, which we already talked about being GREAT for thick yarns!
You can also use the finger crochet technique (or for VERY thick yarns, arm crochet/knitting). This can be a fun change from normal crocheting. It is also a good options for kids who may not quite have the dexterity (or attention!) to manage the hook. Check out this tutorial from MyBluprint.com to see how to finger crochet and for a few patterns specifically for finger crochet!
Tips for Crocheting with Thick Yarns
Pick the right project
You don’t want to just make anything with thick yarn. It is heavy and warm and tends to result in a stiffer end result. If you are looking for something with a drape to it, you may want to avoid thick yarns. (There are ways to do it with more open work designs, but in general, lighter yarns work better for drapey projects.)
Some projects that work GREAT for thicker yarns are chunky cowls, thick blankets/afghans, baskets, rugs, bags (backpacks, market bags, handbags), socks/slippers, boot cuffs, mug cozies, pot holders/trivets, beanies…You get the picture!
Test your gauge
You should be doing this for every project that offers you a gauge anyway, but you should definitely do it for crocheting with thicker yarn. Your tension will likely be different with this different material, and you may not be a “normal” as you are with lightweight or worsted weight yarns.
Or, you may not care if your finished product is the “right” size (maybe a blanket or something). In this case, do what you want!
But for a hat or socks, I would definitely test your gauge!
Start with a lighter color yarns
If you are new to working with thick yarns, I recommend starting with lighter-colored yarns. It is much easier to see where your hook goes when working with lighter colored yarn and will make your initial experience with the material more pleasant.
Fray or split your yarn when weaving in ends
When you are weaving in the ends of thicker yarns, they tend to come out pretty easily. To help combat this problem, try to fray or split the ends as you weave them in. This will make for a more secure project.
Troubleshooting Crocheting with Thick Yarns
Are your chains or stitches too tight?
Often, when working with bulky, you end up with very tight stitches. It is harder to crochet with that natural, loose feel with thick yarn than normal or thin yarn.
If you have this problem, you may want to go up a hook size to get a looser look to your project. But even changing hook size won’t help the problem of getting your hook into the stitch easier if you are still crocheting really tight. Now you just have a bigger hook to stick in a slightly bigger hole. Potentially the same issue.
The second thing you can try is to “just” crochet looser. So much easier said than done, but basically you want to ensure you are making a teardrop around the hook versus strangling your hook with each loop.
Another options is to actually try a different hook material, some slide through yarns better than others. This is SUPER individual, but in general, a bamboo or wood hook will “grip” the fabric more than an aluminum or plastic hook, making it a little hard to insert your hook and pull yarn through loops on your hook.
Are your hands or forearms sore/cramping?
Even for experienced crocheters who have lots of “hand strength,” working with bulky yarns is harder on the hands. You may experience some soreness.
One way to address it is to take breaks. This is probably not a project you will want to work on for three hours straight.
You can also try adjusting how you hold your crochet hook. There are two main “grips” that are used, the pencil grip and the knife grip. I know that I typically use the pencil grip, but when working with super bulky or jumbo yarn, I prefer the knife grip. Try it out and see if it helps to change from one to the other.
Another option, especially if you are getting sore very quickly after starting and changing how you hold the hook does help, is to look into other options for crochet hooks. You may want to try an ergonomic hook (if you are willing to purchase one) or a hook grip (which would be cheaper).
Do your rows or round look “wonky”?
Just like the details of the stitch are more obvious when using thinker yarn, so are the mistakes. Make sure you are counting and inserting your hook into the right spot for your pattern. Maybe it specifies that turning chains count as a stitch and you aren’t counting them, or something else. Just make sure you are being consistent and following the pattern. If you are having trouble with where to place your hook, check out my previous post about just that!
Benefits of Crocheting with Thick Yarns
When you use a thicker yarn, your project will grow much faster than with thinner yarns. It is amazing how quickly you can make a blanket or scarf with super bulky yarn! You get to do a lot fewer stitches to get to the same dimensions!
Even if it takes you a few extra seconds per stitch because the stitches are sometimes tighter, the overall time is reduced significantly by the size of the stitches! If you are looking to go really fast, I recommend using a double crochet, as it is the fastest of the basic stitches to work. (See my previous post about the time it takes to do each stitch!)
Using a thicker yarn will give you that amazing cozy feel for your projects! This is so nice when making a winter blanket or a cozy cowl if you live somewhere cold! It also gives that cozy look for things like Christmas stockings which really should look cozy and inviting, in my opinion!
This is mostly a benefit, as long as you are choosing the right project. For things like rugs and bags having a stiffer end result is definitely a benefit! It is also more durable than thinner yarns!
When using the thicker yarn, you get much larger stitches, and with these larger stitches, you can see the detail in the stitches much better. Seeing the details is actually a two-fold benefit.
First, you can see where to place your hook easier, which can actually make crocheting with bulky yarn easier, in this one area, than with lighter-weight yarns. It is pretty obvious where each loop is in each stitch.
Second, you can “get away with” crocheting “less complicated” stitches, because they will look very detailed with seeing each loop and twist! Even the “simple” single crochet looks very detailed and beautiful when working with bulky yarns!
I hope that this clarified some things about working with thick yarns. I also hope that it inspires you to try it out and make something amazing! If you think of any other questions about this topic, drop me a comment, and I will answer the best I can!
Now it is time for YOU to get Crafty with Ashy! Show me YOUR bulky yarn projects in the comments!
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