What is crochet?

Crochet is a centuries old craft that takes its name from the French word crochet, which means hook. Crochet, is a fun and relaxing hobby and easy to learn. Using this popular needlecraft, you can create beautiful fashion and home décor projects such as tops, hats, ponchos, scarves, doilies, tablecloths and bedspreads as well as adorable items just for babies.

    Gather Your Tools

    Only two basic supplies are needed to crochet  - a hook and a ball of thread or yarn.


    Crochet thread comes in various sizes, types, colours and quantities. Threads are sized by weight with each weight identified by a number, the lower the number, the thicker the thread. For example size 3 is a much heavier thread than size 8. Thread sizes include sizes 3, 5, 8,10, 20, 30, 40 and up. Sizes 30 and 40, ideal for lacy patterns, are used less frequently. Crochet thread balls vary in meterage (yardage), which is indicated on the packaging. Project instructions usually indicate the number of balls required and the designated thread size to complete a project.


    Crochet hooks are available in steel, aluminum, plastic, and all sorts of exotic materials like rosewood or graphite. They come in various standardised sizes to accommodate different sizes of thread or yarn. The important thing to remember is that a crochet hook for thread is called a steel, thread, or lace hook, and the hook sizes get larger as the number gets higher – for example, a size 3.00mm hook is larger than a size 2.00mm hook.

    The smallest hook is a 0.60mm; the largest is a 19.00mm; with the extra large specialty hooks for crochet rugs or novelty yarns. Always make sure your hook is an appropriate size for your yarn.


    Since the colour of crochet threads can vary slightly from dye lot to dye lot, manufacturers include a dye lot number on each label. This number guarantees that crochet thread with the same dye lot number will be the exact same colour. When purchasing crochet thread for a project, it is recommended that you buy all the thread for the project at the same time and with the same dye-lot number.

    Holding a Crochet Hook

    There are two ways to hold the hook.

    A. Hold the hook between your index finger and thumb the way you hold pencil. This method, which uses your wrist, is most often used when working with thread of light-weight yarns.

    B. Hold the hook between your index finger and thumb the way you hold a knife to spread butter or cut meat. This method, which uses your shoulder muscles, is most often used when working with yarn.

    Note: Whether you are crocheting with thread or yarn, use the method which is the most comfortable for you. There are no hard and fast rules about which method is correct.

    Reading a Crochet Chart

    With a little practice, a crochet chart is easy to read and follow. Once the symbols are familiar to you, you can see the entire patterns at a glance. No more losing your place in lengthy row-by-row written instructions.
    - This chart is very clear, because it's easy to see that the pattern is a heart with a ruffled border around it.

    - For this Heart Border, read the chart from the solid black triangle at the bottom point of the heart up to the top.

    - To the right of the black triangle, which is the starting point, there are 3 blank circles. Each one represents a chain stitch. These 3 chains are the foundation row.

    - The first row includes 3 capital Ts. Each capital T represents a half treble crochet stitch that is to be made in each one of the 3 chains in the foundation row.

    - The second row shows 2 capital Ts coming out of each half treble crochet stitch (or capital T) in the first row. Therefore, make two half treble crochet stitches in each one of the half treble crochet stitches in the first row. There are now 6 half treble crochet stitches in the second row.

    - Continue to read the chart to the top of the heart. Then add the border by following the chain and double crochet symbols that surround the heart.

    Understanding Crochet Patterns

    In the UK the instructions are written row-by row or round-by-round with the help of abbreviations, symbols and terms. Instructions written in other countries usually use charts and symbols rather than row- by-row written instructions.

    Most crochet instructions are written using a standard set of abbreviations and symbols. DMC recommends you downloading the PDF of this abbreviation list and mounting it on a card to keep handy while you work.

    Pattern instructions in the form of charts and symbols are universal and simple and easy to read. Below is a sample chart with symbols and a basic explanation on how to read it.


    Find Projects by Your Skill Levels
    Beginner Level   

    Projects for first-time crocheters generally use only one or two basic stitches. They use thick threads and large hooks that are easier to work with, rather than fine threads and small hooks. Garments in this category are simple shapes. A simple one-colour scarf that uses a size 3 Petra or Natura Just Cotton crochet thread would be a good beginner project.
    Easy Level   

    These projects often use two or more colours and may call for a finer thread and smaller hook than beginner projects. Easy level projects 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. A good project in this skill level would be a multi-colour striped scarf using size 5 thread such as DMC Petra.

    Intermediate Level   

    These projects require more crochet experience than easy projects and use a variety of techniques and more complicated stitch patterns. Intermediate projects may have colour changes more often than easy projects, but their degree of difficulty generally depends on how difficult the stitch patterns are. Once again, the patterns may call for threads and hooks of all sizes. Garments 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 3 or more stitches with bust shaping, buttonholes and a picot edging.

    Experienced Level   

    These projects have intricate stitch patterns, techniques and dimension such as non-repeating patterns and multi-colour techniques. They call for fine threads and small hooks. Garments generally have more increases and decreases in stitch counts to produce detailed shaping. They generally have detailed finishing stitches. A project for this level would be a form-fitting, lacy sweater that uses a lacy stitch pattern, size 20 thread and has buttonholes and inset pockets.

    Starting & Ending

    To begin, create a sample square/swatch to make sure your tension/gauge is correct. Chain your foundation row a little looser than the gauge so the bottom of your project will not pucker or pull inward. Carefully follow the written instructions or chart for creating the design. If there's a term you don't understand, head to our Needlework Glossary for all terminology. 

    Whatever way the pattern is to be worked, the very first thing you must do is make a slip knot on your hook. Usually the pattern does not tell you to do this but it is always assumed that every project is started with a slip knot. See below for how to create a slip knot in 3 easy steps. You can discover more crochet stitches with our Crochet Stitch Guide.
    Step 1 Starting the Slip Knot

    To begin, slide the hook into the knot, pull the two ends of thread to tighten the knot and form a loop.

    Step 2 Holding the Thread

    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.

    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 little/pinkie finger. Use the thread between the thumb and index finger to make the crochet stitches.
    Step 3 Yarn Over

    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.

    Note: All the illustrations shown are for a right-handed crocheter.
    Step 4 Finishing

    Using a tapestry needle weave in all ends to hide them in the body of the crochet.
    Step 2 Block

    Block all pieces to the measurements given in the pattern.
    Step 6 Seaming

    If multiple pieces need to be joined together, as for a garment, seam the pieces. You may either put the right sides together overcast stitch the seams or join them with a slip stitch or double crochet, or hold them with the wrong sides facing each other and use the ladder stitch from the right side.
    TIP: Sooner or later you are going to run out of yarn or thread. It's best to join the new thread at the end of a row for a neater appearance. When you're about to run out of thread, work your last stitch until there are 2 loops left on your hook. Leaving a tail, draw the end of the new yarn through the 2 loops on your hook. Then continue working with the new ball of yarn. With a large-eyed needle, weave in the ends of both balls of yarn to secure. This method is also used when joining a new colour of yarn.