How to Crochet Part 1: The Basics
When learning to crochet there are a few things to be considered before you even start. Picking the right yarn for your project is essential. There are many beautiful yarns out there, but a very skinny weight, like a sock yarn, is not very practical to use for something like a blanket. So how do you figure out what yarn is best? Just look at the pattern, if you’re using one. It will most likely give you either a weight category of yarn, like bulky, or a number, like ‘4’.
A good pattern to start with is the simple rose pattern which is available here:
Once you have that information you can go raid the yarn aisles of your favorite craft store. Find a skein of yarn that you like and look at the label. There is a lot of information on here, but there are 4 main things to look for:
- The weight category or number
- The size crochet hook you will need (this may be either a number, letter, or both)
- How much yarn is in each skein
- The dye lot number
The weight category may seem complicated at first, but is a very simple and easy way to mix and match yarns in a project. There are dozens of different yarn companies out there, and hundreds of different types of yarn available. If you are making a project that uses two or more colors, like an afghan, you are not limited to using the same type of yarn in different colors. As long as each yarn has the same category or number (such as 4) then the weight of the yarn is the same, and it should work up the same.
Each type of yarn uses a different size crochet hook, and each yarn label should have what size is best for that type of yarn. These are all suggestions, but very accurate ones at that. The size of crochet hook helps to control the size of the stitches you will be making. Some crocheters prefer to use a hook that is a size larger or smaller than what is suggested to get a more uniform look. It’s quite popular to use a larger size hook for something like a blanket, as it gives it a looser and softer look and feel, where something like a purse or handbag may require a smaller hook and tighter stitches so you don’t lose items through the holes created by the various stitches.
Every pattern should tell you how much yarn you will need for the project. Some patterns will list this in the number or skeins while others will say the yardage or amount of meters. The latter is the more accurate amount, since each skein (by company) may not have the same amount of yardage in them. It is not uncommon to have yarn leftover, and having too much yarn is better than too little. The extra amount can always be saved and used for another project later on.
The dye lot number is very important when making a project that will involve more than one skein of yarn. There is some yarn that does not use a dye lot (it will say ‘no dye lot’ on the label) but if it does have one you need to get the same lot number on each skein. Though it may not seem like it matters or that there is a difference at all it will be quite obvious when your project is completed. You may end up with a significant color variance in the project.
How To Crochet Part 2: Slip knots, chains and single crochet
Okay, so now that you have all of your materials together you are ready to start crocheting. Here are the first few basic steps to just about any crochet project that is ‘worked flat’, i.e. worked back and forth instead of in a circle. Most every pattern starts with something like “chain (amount of stitches)”. This is a very easy step that is the basis to the projects, but first you need to know how to make a chain, or know what a chain even is.
First, you will need to make a slip knot. These are very easy to make, provided you know how to tie a regular knot. Take your yarn, and start to tie a knot. Instead of pulling the whole end through, pull up a loop instead. The tail of the yarn controls how big or how small your loop is.
Now for the next step: making a chain. A chain is the first row of stitches in any crochet project, and is often abbreviated ‘ch’. It shows how long or wide your item is. Insert your crochet hook through the loop made by your slip knot and pull the tail so the loop is barely snug on the hook. A bigger loop makes a bigger stitch, and a smaller, tighter loop makes a tighter, smaller stitch. Wrap the yarn around the hook from back to front, and pull the yarn through the loop. This results in you pulling up another loop. Congratulations! You have made your very first crochet hook and have learned the very basis for all other crochet stitches!
Continue the above steps until you have the required chain length. Once you get to the end, turn the chain around so that you will now be working the other way.
Single Crochet (often abbreviated sc):
A single crochet stitch is essentially the same thing as a chain stitch, with one extra step. Take your crochet hook and insert it from front to back through the top loop of the first chain stitch. Wrap yarn around hook front to back and pull up a loop. There will now be two loops on your hook. Wrap the yarn around the hook from front to back and pull through both loops, creating a new loop on your hook. Repeat on next chain and across until the end.
At the end of the row, you’re going to turn the project like you did before, but with one extra step. You need to chain 1 first (the same stitch you did to make the base) and then turn the project around. To single crochet this next row you will insert the crochet hook under the 2 top loops instead of just the one; it’s the two stitches that look like a ‘v’.
A slip stitch is essentially the same thing as a single crochet with one slightly different last step. Insert the hook in the same spot as you would with a single crochet, and wrap the yarn from front to back. Instead of pulling up a loop and wrapping the yarn again, you will pull the yarn directly through the one loop already on your hook.
Pt 3: Double (dc) and Triple Crochet (tc; sometimes called treble crochet)
All stitches that are described from here on out will be much easier if you have already mastered the single crochet. They all follow the same basic steps of wrapping the yarn and pulling up and through loops. Double and triple crochets will leave wider gaps in the project, and make for a fancier appearance, but they are not any more difficult than the single crochet; they just have extra steps.
Double Crochet: (dc)
To create a double crochet, you are going to first wrap the yarn once around your hook (from back to front) before putting the hook through the stitch. After you put the hook through, wrap the yarn back to front and pull up a loop. There are now three loops on the hook. Yarn over, pull through two loops, yarn over, pull through remaining two loops. Repeat to end of the row.
When you reach the end of the row and prepare to turn, you will need to make two chains rather than just one. Some patterns may tell you to make three chains before you turn; either one is acceptable.
Triple or Treble Crochet (tc):
Triple crochet is very similar to the double crochet. Just like the double crochet you wrap the yarn around the hook before inserting it into the stitch, but you wrap it twice instead of once. Insert hook into stitch, yarn over, pull up a loop. Yarn over, pull through two loops, yarn over, pull through next two loops, yarn over, pull through last two loops. Repeat to end of row, chain three, turn.
How to Crochet Part 3: Half Double Crochet, V Stitch and Fan Stitch
Half Double Crochet (hdc):
This stitch is the perfect combination of a single crochet and double crochet, and shares steps and traits with each one. The first step is to wrap the yarn around the hook from back to front prior to putting the hook through the crochet stitch. Yarn over, pull up a loop; three loops on hook. Now instead of pulling through just two loops like a double crochet, you’re going to yarn over and pull through all three loops. That’s all there is too it! This stitch adds a little bit of a gap between stitches; more than a single crochet, but less than a double crochet.
This stitch tends to have a couple of small variations, depending on what pattern you use, but the same basic rules apply to each. Create your base chain. Wrap yarn from back to front (‘yarn over’) and insert the hook in the 4th chain from hook (the loop that is on the hook does not count) and do a double crochet. Skip the next two chains (this amount may vary by pattern) and do another double crochet.
Chain 1 (some patterns say ch 2) and do another double crochet in the same stitch you did the first one in. Skip the next two chains and repeat (2 dc, ch 1, 2 dc) in the next stitch. Repeat to the end of the row, but in the last stitch only do 1 double crochet; this will create a straight edge. Chain 3 and turn.
Now, this next row is just slightly different. Yarn over, and put hook through chain one space of previous row and do a double crochet. Chain one, do another double crochet in the same chain one space. Yarn over, insert hook into next chain one space and repeat all the way across until the end of the row. One double crochet in space made by your turning stitch from previous row (this is where you chained three then started the double crochet). Chain 3, turn. Repeat this until your piece is the desired length.
Fan or Shell Stitch:
This stitch is makes for a beautiful edging to blankets, tablecloths, and creates perfect flower petals too when paired with the v stitch. It varies depending on the pattern you choose, and can be done in either a 5- or 7- double crochet form. To create the shape, you will make 5 (or 7) double crochets in one stitch with a single crochet in the stitch before and the one after. Some patterns will have you skip two stitches before or after in order to anchor the shell.
To create the pattern you will also need to slip stitch across the fan until you reach the middle of the previous fan. This creates an airier design, with large gaps between each fan. Other patterns alternate the position of the fan stitch and have the center anchored in the single crochet, while slip stitching across the fans in the previous row. This pattern is especially pretty when using multiple colors, and can give off a much more complicated appearance than it actually is. While the patterns may vary, the same basic design principles apply.