Learn to Crochet the Easy Way
All you need to learn to crochet is a hook and some yarn.
Hooks come in different sizes, and yarns come in different thicknesses.
You match the thickest yarns with the largest hooks to produce chunky fabrics, while beautiful lacy work is made with fine hooks and fine yarn.
Types of Hooks & Yarn
The sizing of hooks has been standardized to an international range, measured in millimeters and running from the largest at 8·00 to the smallest at 0·60.
Thread used in crochet can be made of wool, cotton, nylon, silk, hair, flax, hemp, natural materials or numerous man-made fibers, all of which can be used alone or in various combinations
The 'ply' of a yarn is the number of strands used in its spinning, and these can be of any thickness, so a 2-ply is not necessarily finer than a 4-ply.
It is important to check your tension, which is the number of stitches to the inch.
This should be done at the early stage when planning to make a crochet garment.
If you work a small piece and find you get fewer stitches to the inch than the pattern directs, the work is too loose and you should use a smaller hook.
The opposite is also true, if you have too many stitches to the inch, try a size larger hook.
To find this out, work a small block in the main stitch of your pattern, as the hook size suggests, then place the sample on a flat surface and press it.
Pin out one inch in both directions and count the number of stitches and rows.
If correct, start your design, otherwise change the hook size as suggested and repeat the above until your stitches per inch matches the pattern.
The term 'miss a stitch', used throughout crochet patterns, means skip or pass over a stitch.
Abbreviations in Crochet
As you go through the information below, the abbreviation for each stitch is noted next to it's name.
Here are a few other abbreviations you will come across when you crochet a pattern.
Most of these are standard abbreviations that are used, and in cases where the abbreviations are different, the crochet pattern you are trying to follow should have the list at the top, along with any special instructions you should follow.
Make sure you read these carefully, before you begin your project.
The Crochet Stitches
Nearly all crochet begins with a simple slip-loop, or slip-knot if you prefer to call it, which is placed on the hook.
The long end of the yarn is held in the fingers of the left hand, running over the forefinger, under the middle fingers, and over the little finger.
The crochet hook may be held with the hand underneath the hook, like a pencil, or with the hand on top of the hook, like a knife, whichever you find the most comfortable.
Now work your first Chain Stitch (ch. st, or ch.).
Holding the knot of the slip, loop down with your left thumb and index finger, slip the head of the hook under the strand of yarn, from left to right, catch the yarn in the hook, and pull a loop through the loop already on the hook.
This is illustrated in the picture to the right. All forms of crochet start with a chain and is worked from there.
Continue to do this until you have the required number of chain stitches.
As a beginner you will probably work too tightly, just relax and remember that you will be working back along this chain, into the stitches you are now making.
If you have made your chain too tight, this will make it difficult to continue back along the row.
Try to keep the chain as uniform as you can make it.
The single crochet (s.c.) is the basis for all stitches, the only difference is the amount of loops of yarn you are going to put over the hook.
When hooking onto the work, always go through the top two strands of yarn in the loop, unless the pattern tells you differently.
I am first going to go through the most common stitches used in crochet.
Then I will move on to more elaborate patterns, and ways that you can combine the stitches.
At the end of this article are some patterns that you can use to practice your stitches and practice reading a pattern.
Besides the single crochet (s.c.), the following stitches are used in simple crochet.
Slip Stitch (sl. st.) AKA Chain Stitch
This stitch is used for joining, or for placing the yarn in a different position on the work without adding extra stitches.
Put the hook into the stitch on the left of the hook, from front to back, under two loops (this is done when making every stitch, unless otherwise stated), put the yarn over the hook and pull the new loop through.
Repeat to end of row, make 1 chain stitch extra (turning chain) miss the first stitch on the left of the hook and work another row in the same way.
Work the last stitch into the turning chain of the previous row.
Single Crochet (s.c.)
Work a chain of required length plus one extra st. for turning chain, turn.
1st Row; Miss the first chain from hook (insert hook from front to back under 2 loops of next chain, yarn over hook, draw new loop of yarn through chain, 2 loops on hook, yarn over hook, draw new loop through both loops on hook, forming 1 single crochet and with 1 loop left on the hook), repeat bracketed instructions to end of chain.
Make 1 turning chain to count as first stitch of next row, turn.
Work following rows in same way, missing first single crochet from hook and working under two loops of stitches on the previous row.
Half Double Crochet (h.d.c.)
Work a chain of required length plus 2 turning chains, turn.
1st Row: Miss the first 2 chains from hook (yarn over hook, insert hook from front to back under 2 loops of next chain, yarn over hook, draw new loop of yarn through chain only, 3 loops on hook, yarn over hook and draw loop through 3 loops on hook, forming 1 half double crochet and with 1 loop left on hook), repeat to end of chain.
Allow 2 turning chains and continue further rows as described above.
Double Crochet (d.c.)
Work a chain of required length plus 3 turning chains, turn.
1st Row: Miss 3 chains from hook (yarn over hook, insert hook under 2 loops of next chain, yarn over hook, draw loop through chain only, 3 loops on hook, yarn over hook, draw loop through next 2 loops on hook only, 2 loops remain on hook, yarn over hook, draw loop through 2 remaining loops on hook, 1 d.c. now formed and 1 loop remaining on hook), repeat to the end of chain.
Allow 3 turning chains, continue further rows as above.
Triple Crochet (tr.)
Work chain of required length plus 4 turning chains, turn.
1st Row: Miss first 4 chains, yarn over hook twice, work as for d.c., working off two loops at a time until 1 loop is left on hook.
Repeat to end of chain.
Allow 4 turning chains.
Proceed as before.
Double Triple Crochet (d. tr.)
Work a chain to the required length plus 5 turning chains, turn.
1st Row: Miss first 5 chains, yarn over hook 3 times, work as for d.c., working off 2 loops at a time until 1 loop is left on hook.
Repeat to end.
Allow 5 turning chains, and proceed as before.
Triple triple, Quadruple Triple
This is not a common stitch, but you may come across it, depending on what you wish to make.
Work as d. tr. but take yarn 4 and 5 times respectively over hook.
Once you have mastered the stitches above, the whole world of crochet design is open to you.
At first, it is advisable to make something small, there must be a lot of half-finished bedspreads and long dresses around. You will want to start with something small, like a doll blanket, a pet blanket or maybe a head-band or a tie.
To help you get started in the basics, there are a couple of patterns below to practice.
The beginner, might find it easier to make straight articles, which do not require increasing or decreasing, such as the above items, as well as edgings, afghan, bags, shawls or belts.
But increasing and decreasing is not as difficult as you will see from the instructions below. you will also find out how to turn your work correctly, depending upon which stitch you are using.
Below are also some patterns which you could use for simple items to start with and some more elaborate ones as you become more proficient.
Try experimenting with these patterns, first by using fine thread and thin crochet hook and then yarn and a larger hook.
Increasing and Decreasing
When you begin to make clothes and circular articles you will want to know how to increase and decrease. Both are very simple and will enable you to follow any crochet pattern as well as make up your own.
To Increase: Just work two stitches instead of one into one loop. It is usually carried out at the beginning or end of a row, for example, in sweaters and dresses, or evenly around the work in articles like circular shawls.
To Decrease: The usual way is to miss a stitch at the beginning or end of the previous row, causing a shortening in the width of the work.
How to Turn Your Work
In crochet a certain number of chain stitches are needed at the end of a row to bring the work into position for the next row. Then the work is turned so that the reverse side is facing you.
Follow the chart below for the number of chain stitches needed to make a turn.
NUMBER OF CHAINS
Half Double Crochet
Double Triple Crochet
Triple Triple Crochet
Single Crochet Pattern
This consists of rows of single crochet of the required length worked to and fro, the hook being placed each time under both loops of the previous row of stitches.
Ribbed Single Crochet
This is worked in the same way as the above pattern, except that the hook goes under the back loop only of the stitch of the row below.
Double Crochet Pattern
Just work rows of double crochet to the required width and length.
Ribbed double Crochet
Work as for ribbed single crochet using double crochet instead.
You can also work rows of triple crochet, and double and triple triple crochet, ribbed or un-ribbed, although these require a lot of practice to achieve an even look.
Try, too, a row of single crochet alternating with a row of double crochet. It is fascinating working out your own combinations.
Make a chain of the length you require.
1 d.c. in 8th ch. from hook * ch. 2, skip 2 ch., 1 d.c. in next ch. Rep. from * to end. Turn with 3 ch.
As you can see in the picture to the right, this produces an open mesh in contrast to the more compact effect of the previous designs.
It can be made into items that require to be draped, or tucked in, like scarves or blankets.
This stitch is a very attractive one and would look good made up into bags, or, with a lining underneath a cushion cover.
As it is worked across 6 ch. the number of ch. you use must be a multiple of six.
Make a ch. of desired length.
1st Row: Draw up last ch. to ¼-in. high, * draw thread through this loop, 1 s.c. through back of same loop, * draw up loop on hook to ¼-in. high, then rep. from * to *, skip 3 ch., 1 s.c. into each of next 3 ch. (1 patt.). Draw up loop on hook ¼-in. high, Rep. patt.
2nd Row: Work 2 loops (1 patt.) to turn, * 1 s.c. in loop on one side of knot st. of previous row and 1 s.c. on other side of same know st. Work 2 loops. Rep. from * to end. Rep. 2nd row for patt.
Fan Shell Stitch
This is a very pretty stitch which is fairly simple although it looks complicated.
It is often used for dresses and long skirts. It also requires a multiple of 6 ch.
Work ch. of required length, turn.
1st Row: Work 3 d.c. in 3rd. ch. from hook, ch. 1, 3 d.c. in same ch., skip 2 ch., 1 s.c. in next ch., * skip 2 ch., 3 d.c., ch. 1, 3 d.c. in next ch., skip 2 ch., 1 s.c. in next ch. Rep from * to end. Turn with 3 ch.
2nd Row: 2, d.c. in 1st. s.c., * skip 3 d.c., 1 s.c. in ch., 1 sp., skip 3 d.c., 3 d.c. in s.c. between the 2 shells, ch. 1, 3 d.c. in same st. Rep. from * to end finishing with skip 3 d.c., 1 s.c. in ch.-1 sp., skip 2 d.c., 3 d.c, in last st., turn.
3rd Row: * 3 d.c. in s.c., ch. 1, 3 d.c. in same st., skip 3 d.c., s.c. in ch.-1 sp., skip 3 d.c. Rep. from * to end finishing with 3 d.c. in sc., ch. 1, 3 d.c. in same st., skip 2 d.c., 1 s.c. in last st., ch. 3, turn, Rep. 2nd and 3rd rows for patt.
A blanket made using this stitch will be very warm and cozy, especially if a fairly small hook is used.
The stitch requires a multiple of 2 ch.
Work ch. of required length.
1st Row: Draw loop on hook up to 3/8-in, high, thread over hook, insert hook into 4th ch. from hook and draw loop up to 3/8-in. high, (thread over hook, insert hook into same st. and draw loop up as before) twice, thread over and draw through all loops on hook, 1 ch. to fasten (a puff st. made), * 1 ch. skip 1 ch., thread over hook, insert hook into next ch. and draw thread up to 3/8-in. (thread over hook, insert hook into same place and draw thread through as before) twice, thread over and draw through all loops on hook, 1 ch. to fasten (another puff st. completed), Rep. from * to end, omitting a puff st. at end of last rep. 1 d.c. into last ch., 3 ch., turn.
2nd Row: * Puff st. into next sp., 1 ch. Rep. from * ending with 1 d.c. into 3rd of 3 ch., 3 ch., turn. Rep. 2nd row for required length.
Variations of picots are often used in crochet patterns to give an attractive edging. With loop on hook, turn and ch. 7, sl.st. in 4th ch. from hook to form a picot, ch. 3 skip 3 sts. of previous row, s.c. in next st. Rep. to end.
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