Ear warmers are the quintessential winter accessory – they're like headbands with the warmth of a hat. Crocheting your own ear warmers gives you control over the material (and thus the warmth), as well as the color and style. Even beginning crocheters can make these and feel a sense of almost-instant gratification.
Tools and Supplies
You'll need three things to crochet ear warmers: yarn, a crochet hook and a tapestry needle. Choosing your yarn is largely a matter of preference. Wool and animal fibers are warm but can be a challenge to wash. Acrylic yarn doesn't hold as much heat but is cheaper and more readily available than animal fibers and has the benefit of being machine washable and dryable.
The weight or thickness of your yarn determines the size of hook you need. A solid worsted weight yarn can work up quickly with an H (5 mm) or I (5.5 mm) hook, while finer yarns like fingering and DK weight take longer to work with but create a denser fabric when used with an E (3.5 mm), F (3.75 mm), or G (4 mm) hook.
The tapestry needle is necessary for weaving in ends and, if your ear warmers are worked flat instead of in the round, sewing the piece together.
Ear warmers can be worked flat or in the round. Ear warmers that are worked flat are worked back and forth in rows and are easier for beginners who haven't mastered joining techniques or don't feel confident in their ability to count stitches in the round. When an ear warmer is worked flat, you'll have to sew a seam to connect the ends together. For crocheters who despise seaming, working in the round is preferable.
Ear warmers worked in the round are worked continuously -- there's no back and forth to contend with like there is with rows. It can be handy to slip a stitch marker or safety pin on the first stitch of the round to make counting stitches easier, ensuring that you've got the same number of stitches in each round and that you can locate the start of your project. There are no seams to sew up at the end of the project, meaning you'll only have to weave in the ends.
A Little Bit of Math
To crochet an ear warmer, you'll have to do a little bit of math. Measure the circumference of your head or the head of your intended recipient. The average adult head is between 21 to 23 inches. Next, work up a gauge swatch with your yarn and hook. A gauge swatch is just a little practice square, usually 4 by 4 inches, that gives you an idea of how many stitches you'll need. Your yarn's label should have a recommendation for the hook size and an estimate of the number of stitches per inch. Use these guidelines to make up your gauge swatch. Measure the number of stitches per inch, and multiply the number of stitches by the number of inches of the recipient's head.
Chain that number of stitches, and start crocheting your ear warmer. You can use basic stitches like single crochet, double crochet or triple crochet, or mix it up with the slightly fancier V-stitch, shell stitch or crossed stitch patterns. Simply crochet until your piece is the desired width from start to finish -- anywhere from 4 to 6 inches for good coverage. Weave in your ends and give your piece a good soak, laying it flat and shaping it to dry.
You can choose to leave your ear warmer plain or embellish it to your taste. Crochet a flower, animal or other applique to attach to the front of the ear warmer. Or branch out into noncrocheted embellishments by gluing on rhinestones, sewing on ribbons, weaving ribbons through the stitches or doing anything else your heart desires. The sky is the limit when it comes to embellishing ear warmers. Just remember to keep any embellishments in mind when washing your ear warmer – if they aren't machine washable but your yarn is, hand wash the entire piece to keep the embellishments intact.