Crochet Basics: Tools, Definitions, and Shorthand Terms
Crochet, the yarn work, comes from the French word 'crochet', meaning hook. Crochet work is formed by looping thread, yarn or thin strips of fabric with a hooked needle, forming a series of stitches.
Items that are made from crocheting can be very small and delicate, to large and durable. Lace can be created from crochet patterns. All sizes can be created from a single hook, just increasing the overall size of the hook itself, for example, very small and fine work can be done using a very small size number 14 hook, while the size N hook will result in very large loops. The size of the yarn will also dictate the finished project: the small the yarn the smaller and more delicate the work can be, no matter the size of the hook.
Just about anything can be crocheted: yarn made of acrylic, wool or cotton, specialty yarns, thin strips of fabric, cotton string, etc.
Examples of Crochet WorkClick thumbnail to view full-size
Crochet Shorthand Definitions
For those learning the art of crochet, reading a pattern may seem difficult since all instructions use crochet abbreviated shorthand. Here are some definitions to crochet shorthand you may encounter reading crochet patterns.
- beg - This means 'beginning', either beginning a new row or new stitch.
- ch - This means 'chain', as in a chain stitch. It could also mean single chain.
- chs - This means 'chains' or multiple chain stitches. Read the pattern to know how many chains to make.
- dc - Short for 'double crochet'.
- hdc - Short for 'half double crochet'.
- sc - Short for 'single crochet'.
- tr - Short for 'triple crochet', or 'treble'.
- dtr - Short for 'double treble'.
- dec - When this comes up in a pattern, it generally means that the stitch is decreasing, so decrease the number of stitches specified in the pattern.
- sp(s) - This means 'spaces'.
- cont - Means 'to continue'. Follow the pattern for how many to continue with.
- rep - Short for 'repeat', as in a repeating pattern or stitch.
Specialized Crochet Stitches and Patterns
These crochet stitches will create a textured pattern on the finished work. It is generally made on a large area, like a blanket, sweater or pillow, giving it a look of a plain background with pronounced 3-D designs standing apart from it. Examples include raised dots, a pineapple stitch, different sized balls or fans, etc.
Crochet patterns are openwork if they have a series of skipped stitches, resulting in an open work pattern. Patterns with a net-like pattern are examples of openwork stitching.
Crochet work can be done using different colors. These are finished pieces being joined together, or switching from different colors using different yarns in the middle of a project.
Medallion & Circular Stitching:
Crochet work is easily done in circular, square and hexagon shapes. These are either used by themselves, or joined to form a larger piece.
Besides the crochet hooks and yarn, these tools are also handy in crochet work:
- Ruler or Sewing Tape Measure: This tool will help measure stitches and the row length.
- Scissors: Used in cutting yarn.
- Large Needlepoint Needles: For working different patterns on top of a finished piece.
- Yarn Spooler or Swift: This will help to spool or roll skeins of yarn for you from pulled crocheted and recycled blankets, or from unrolled yarn.
- Basket: For holding crochet yarn in one place.