I wanted to put in a plug for a particular "line" of products by Debbie Stoller of "Stitch Nation". If you are new to crochet, rusty at crochet, or super interested in crochet, you MUST MUST MUST acquire a copy of Debbie's book, "The Happy Hooker". This is not the biography of an actual hooker that is for sale by the same name. It's a crochet book. If you want to "preview" it, I am sure your local library will have it as it is very popular (and I have supplied a library or 2 with a copy : ). Also, I'm including photographs of each of the items I mention today so you can find it with no trouble.
Next up: Hooks. I have a small obsession with hooks. Sure, you can pick up a Boye at Wally world or Meijer, but you can pay just a tad more for a more comfy hook by Susan Bates with a bamboo handle, or you can upgrade (each system costing a bit more). I LOVE Etimo Tulip hooks, Brittany wood hooks, and I sorta-kinda like the Clover Soft Touch hooks (though I don't think they are very soft). Etimo and Clover comes in a nice kit.
On to yarn . . . . Stitch Nation has, by far, the nicest/softest/plushest/prettiest natural fiber yarn you can find for the money. The color ways are GORGEOUS, and I love that I can actually afford to make something in a natural fiber that looks amazing. The stitches POP with Bamboo Ewe (bamboo/wool blend). I'm excited to try the other 3 as well (listed on the side). Superwash wool can get pretty expensive, but NOT with Stitch Nation's "Washable Ewe". Can you believe that you can actually find all, or most, of these fibers at Michael's, Hobby Lobby, Joann's, and Meijer?? If you can't find them there, go to www.jimmybeanswool.com for a wide selection of all four.
If you really want in with a nice supportive group, check out crochet groups in your area OR head on over to Ravelry and join the "Citizens of Stitch Nation" group for everything Stitch Nation.
I hope I have successfully "hooked" yet another potential crocheter with this info. As many of you know, I learned to crochet when I was 8, but I never learned stitch names or how to join a round, sooo I didn't graduate from scarves and blankets until I was 30 and learned to knit. I wanted so desperately to crochet a hat, but I couldn't get anyone to show me, so I decided to just learn to knit instead. I stumbled upon "The Happy Hooker" in the library while searching knitting books, and I have been a hooking maniac ever since. I enjoy knitting occassionally, but it's crochet for me hands down. It's a tradition thing, you know? My girls do it now, and I try to get as many others "hooked" as I can. This book is seriously the best one out there for instruction and general inspiration. I had NO CLUE what anything meant until I got it.