Crochet is all the rage at the moment, though it’s been around for far longer than the last few years. While there is some debate about when and where it started exactly, it’s widely believed that crochet originated from Chinese needlework, an ancient form of tapestry popular in Turkey, India, Persia, and North Africa.
Crochet likely reached European shores in the 1700s, so needless to say, it’s been around a while. And learning how to crochet is one of the easiest things you can do to turn “downtime” into “productive time.”
But it can be intimidating to learn new arts and crafts, and sometimes it seems like crochet has its own language altogether. So with that in mind, let’s break down this beautiful and historical craft and dive into some crochet tips and tricks to get you started.
The Tools You’ll Need
One of the best things about crochet is that you don’t need a lot to get started. All you really need is a crochet hook and yarn. Now, within those two options, there are plenty of variations, so let’s look at breaking down the different sizes and weights of hooks and yarn.
Yarn comes in a variety of weights, and we distinguish them based on grams, typically. You can find super-fine yarn for baby crafts, or very bulky wool for chunk blankets, scarves, and knits. Different patterns will have different yarn requirements, but as a beginner, you want to look for projects that use a medium-weight yarn.
You also have the option of acrylic yarn, pure wool, and even cotton yarn, but acrylic is the easiest to start with as it’s smooth, light, and inexpensive. Look here for some great options.
Just like wool, crochet hooks come in a variety of shapes, sizes, colors, and materials. The most important thing you need to consider is that your hook should match the weight of your yarn. You want to use larger crochet hooks with thicker, chunkier yarns, and smaller hooks with your thinner wools. For beginners, try out a 4-5mm hook with an ergonomic handle, though the label of your yarn will recommend the best size to use.
Holding a Crochet Hook
The way you hold a crochet hook is going to be very important in the tension of your project. Tension essentially equates to how tight your finished piece is. The tighter your tension, the smaller and more densely packed your stitches will be (though this can make it difficult to crochet through), and the looser your tension, the more holes you’ll see through the stitches.
Start by holding your hook like you would a pencil, with your thumb and index finger pressing against the hook at the indentation in the middle. Slide your third or middle finger towards the hook for comfort and control. Make sure the hook is facing slightly towards you.
Making a Slip Knot
One of the very first things you’ll need when you learn to crochet is tying a slip knot, as it’s the first step to almost every crochet pattern out there. Work with a four-inch tail in one hand, and the working yarn in the other. The working yarn is the one that goes back into the ball of wool.
In your left hand, hold the yarn between your thumb and index finger like a loop. Move the yarn onto the hook, then twist it under the hook and pull it through the loop to tighten. Make sure it’s securely in place before moving on to the next step and reinforce your learning by watching video demonstrations of the act in practice.
How to Crochet a Chain Stitch
The next thing every beginner should know is how to chain stitch. It’s one of the most important basic stitches you’ll need to learn, and most patterns start out with a foundation of chain stitches. Once you have your slipknot, hold it between the thumb and middle fingers of your right hand.
Yarn over the hook by taking the working yarn from back to front and looping it over the hook. Rotate your hook as you pull the hook down, grabbing the working yarn in the notched hook and draw that through the work.
Repeat this as many times as the pattern asks for. The abbreviation for a chain stitch is CH or CHS.
The Different Basic Stitches
While there are a lot of stitches and styles out there, it’s important to start with the basics. Most patterns only call for the below two stitches, and when you’ve mastered these, you should have no trouble learning new ones! For now, let’s focus on single crochet, double crochet, and a slip stitch.
A single crochet is one of the most common and most basic crochet stitches out there, and it will serve as the foundation for many of your projects. It’s also one of the easiest stitches to master. After you’ve made your foundation row of chain stitches, insert the hook into the loop of the first chain.
Yarn over once the hook has gone through, pull the yarn through both loops. You should have two stitches on your hook. Yarn over again and pull the yarn through both these stitches. You should now only have one stitch on your hook.
The abbreviation for a single crochet is SC.
A double crochet adds height to your stitches, so it’s a great second step for any beginner to master once they’ve nailed single crochets. Most rows of double crochet will start with a foundation chain of 3 stitches. Start by yarning over, then inserting your hook into the stitch below and yarn over again. If you’ve chained to start, insert your yarn into the next free stitch.
You should have three loops on your hook. Yarn over again and pull through two of those stitches. You should now have two loops on the hook. Yarn over and pull through again to complete the double crochet.
The abbreviation for a double crochet is DC.
A slip stitch is useful for finishing projects off or joining two pieces together. It’s also very easy to do! Start by inserting the hook into the desired stitch, yarn over, and pull through the stitch as well as the active loop on the hook. No need to yarn over again like with a single crochet.
The abbreviation for a slip stitch is SL ST.
Projects to Start With
Once you’ve mastered the two basic stitches above, as well as chain and slip stitches, it’s time to try out some easy, fun, and useful patterns. We know it’s exciting, but we always recommend starting small and working your way up to bigger projects. In the beginning, aim for projects that are rectangular or square.
For now, why not try some of these fun ideas?
- Hand towel
- Coffee cozy
- Tablet or phone cozy
- Baby blanket
- Granny square blanket
- Infinity scarf
- Fingerless gloves
- Leg warmers
Hooked on Crafts
The possibilities are endless, and it’s amazing what you can do with just a few basic stitches once you have learned how to crochet. The best advice we can give is to explore, take your time with your projects, and be open to accepting mistakes.
If you enjoyed this article, head on over to some of our other crafting and lifestyle posts for more great content.