Begin at the Beginning: Crochet

Le 09 March 2017

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    Begin at the Beginning: Crochet

    Hints and Tips to Help Get You Started

    So you want to learn how to crochet? Amazing! To encourage your effort we have compiled a few guidelines and hints that we hope will help you along the way. We think you’ll love stitching!  

    Crochet Pattern Instructions

    A crochet pattern will tell you everything you need to know about creating the design. This includes the type and quantity of crochet thread, hook size, gauge, and complete row-by-row instructions.

    You’ll find tons of crochet patterns out there. One place you can count on to find great ones is right here on our blog. You can also find patterns in bookstores, your local craft store, and needlework catalogs (these will offer crochet leaflets, books, and magazines).


    Getting Started

    Look for projects that are at your skill level. Here’s a rundown of each level:  


    Projects that are tailored for newbies generally use only one or two basic stitches. They use thick threads and a large hook, which are easier to work with. Garments in this category are simply shaped. For example, a simple one-color scarf that uses a size 3 crochet thread would be a good beginner project.  


    These projects often use two or more colors and may call for finer thread and a smaller hook than beginner projects. This level can use the same thread and hook as a beginner project, but may include a series of moderately complicated stitches. They may also take more time to complete than beginner projects. An example project at this skill level would be a multi-colored, striped scarf using size 10 thread.  


    Projects at this skill level require more crochet experience than the more beginner levels. They also use a variety of techniques and have more complicated stitch patterns. Intermediate projects often have more color changes than easy projects, but their degree of difficulty generally depends on how difficult the stitch patterns are. The patterns can call for threads and hooks of all sizes. Garments will often need shaping and may call for buttonholes and other details not found in easy projects. A good project for this level would be a cardigan sweater with a v-neck that uses three or more stitches with bust shaping, buttonholes, and a picot edging.  


    Expect intricate stitch patterns, techniques, and dimension (such as non-repeating patterns and multi-color techniques) at the experienced level. Garments generally have more increases and decreases in stitch counts to produce detailed shaping. They also generally have detailed finishing stitches. An example of a project at this level would be a form-fitting, lacy sweater that uses a lacy stitch pattern, size 20 thread, and has buttonholes and inset pockets.

    Understanding Crochet Patterns


    About abbreviations and symbols:
    In the U.S., the instructions are written row-by-row or round-by-round with the help of abbreviations, symbols, and terms. However, in other countries, the tendency is to use charts and symbols rather than row-by-row written instructions.

    Most crochet instructions are written using a standard set of abbreviations and symbols. We recommend downloading this abbreviation list and mounting it on a card to keep handy while you stitch.

    Pattern instructions in the form of charts and symbols are universal and are simple and easy to read. We’ve provided a sample chart below with symbols and a basic explanation on how to read it.

    Pattern instruction symbols small

    Holding a Crochet Hook

    There are two ways to hold your crochet hook: [caption id="attachment_6247" align="aligncenter" width="286"]Two different types of ways to grip the crochet hook. Two different types of ways to grip the crochet hook.[/caption]

    A. Hold the hook between your index finger and thumb the way you would hold a pencil. This hold uses your wrist and is most often used when working with thread from lightweight yarns.

    B. The second way to hold the hook is between your index finger and thumb—similar to the way you would hold a knife to spread butter or cut meat. This hold uses your shoulder muscles and is most often used when working with yarn.

    Note: Whether you’re crocheting with thread or yarn, you should use the hold that is most comfortable to you. There’s no single correct way to hold your hook.


    Tips When Starting Your Crochet Project

    • Select your crochet design. Read the instructions carefully to ensure that it’s the right skill level for you, and that you have the right crochet thread and hook. If you don’t want to use the yarn or thread indicated in the pattern, you can substitute it with something of the same weight that will produce the same gauge.
    • To begin, create a swatch to make sure your gauge is correct.
    • Chain your foundation row a little looser than the gauge so that the bottom of your project won’t pucker or pull inward
    • Follow the pattern instructions/chart carefully.
    When you run out of yarn or thread, we recommend joining the new thread at the end of a row. This will give your project a neater appearance. Here a steps to do this:
    • When you’re about to run out of thread, work your last stitch until there are two loops left on your hook.
    • Leaving a tail, draw the end of the new yarn through the two loops on your hook.
    • Continue working with the new ball of yarn.
    • With a large-eyed needle, weave in the tails of both balls of yarn.
    • Note: this is also the method you should use when you’re joining a new color of yarn.
    • Let’s look at a typical pattern. A pattern may be worked in rows (back and forth to form a flat piece such as an afghan), or in rounds (worked around to form a tube with no seams, such as a hat).

    Whatever way you work the pattern, the first thing you must do is make a slip knot on your hook. The pattern will often not tell you to do this because it’s assumed that every project begins with a slip knot. We’ve broken out creating a slip knot in three easy steps:

    • Step 1: slide the hook into the knot, pulling the two ends of your thread to tighten the knot and form a loop.

    • Step 2: hold the hook (which has been placed through the slip knot), in your right hand. Hold the bottom of the knot with your left thumb and index finger. Then hold the thread in your left hand so that it runs over the index finger, under the middle finger, over the ring finger, and under the pinky finger. Use the thread between your thumb and index finger to make the crochet stitches.

    • Step 3: Yarn over. This refers to catching the thread in the groove of the hook by bringing the thread over the top of the hook from back to front.

    [caption id="attachment_6248" align="aligncenter" width="440"]Steps for making a slip knot. Steps for making a slip knot.[/caption]

    Note: We’ve provided illustrations below (from a right-handed crocheters perspective).

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