How to Crochet: Learning the Basics

I’m not an advanced crocheter, nor is it something I do all the time. I don’t make my own wardrobe, but I do enjoy making smaller items or crocheting gifts from time to time. And, there are always new innovations in crochet…a new way to seam or a new way to do an old stitch. I kind of like how the craft evolves over time. Learning how to crochet isn’t very difficult, and it’s so much more popular and modernized today than it was when I was a teenager.

Getting Started: How to Crochet

Honestly, you only need a few basic, inexpensive things to learn how to crochet – a crochet hook, yarn, yarn needle, and scissors or travel snips. No surprises there, but I have a few things to say about each item in my short list. These notes are specific to absolute beginners that are wanting to learn how to crochet.

If you’d like to get everything at once (some items you will not use right away, like stitch markers), they have beginner crochet sets like this that include everything you need to get started (except for your yarn). They range from about $15-$25, depending on what’s included, and quality of product. Personally, I would try out crochet first before investing in a starter kit, but if you end up loving it, this may be the less expensive route to go.

Find out what tools and stitches you need to learn how to crochet.

Choosing Beginner Crochet Yarn

When learning how to crochet, pick the right yarns.In the beginning, yarn choice will be vital to your success. You don’t know this yet, but yarns can be finicky and stitches can be hard to see. I highly recommend using an inexpensive, worsted weight yarn in a light color. Worsted weight is a medium weight yarn, as I’ll explain below, but the color is important because the darker the yarn is, the harder it is to see your stitches. I know there are some very beautiful, luxurious, and fun yarns available, but save your money for now. You’ll know when you’re ready to move on to more “fancy” yarns. Trust me.

Yarn weight can be a bit confusing, as some overlap others, but right now, it’s not that important. Think of it as a basic guide. There are six weights. These weights are based on the number of stitches in a 4×4 swatch (we’ll get to what a swatch is in a minute). Smaller number, heavier (thicker) yarn.

  1. Super Fine (lace, sock, fingering): 29-32
  2. Fine (baby, sport): 25-28
  3. Light (dk <- “double knit”): 21-24
  4. Medium (worsted, aran): 17-20
  5. Bulky (chunky): 13-16
  6. Super Bulky (extra chunky): 9-12

Which Crochet Hook is Right for You?

Fortunately, crochet hooks come in a variety of styles, colors, and materials, so it should be no problem finding one that works for you. Unfortunately, you can’t test out every cool crochet hook or you’d go broke (there are some pretty fancy ones out there).

There are two categories of crochet hooks: thread hook and yarn hooks. Thread crochet hooks are for making delicate things like doilies that are made from crochet thread. Yarn crochet hooks are for your typical or traditional type of crochet projects that are made from yarn…scarves, afghans, bags, toys, etc.

You’ll be using a yarn crochet hook (size H or I: 5-5.5mm), which could be aluminum, plastic, or even wood and bamboo. I can’t tell you which one is right for you, but I can attest to the fact that aluminum slides well with the yarn (unless it peels or gets nicked). Obviously, plastic is the least expensive, so it’s easy to get started crocheting without breaking the bank.

Crochet hooks for beginner crochet.All crochet hooks are sized directly on the hook. It’s very common to see a number or letter, or both. Sizes generally range from “B” to “Q” (B being the smallest). Mine may say something like “US I9/5.5MM”. That means that the crochet hook is a USA size I-9 or more accurately, 5.5mm in diameter. The sizing of a crochet hook is not very standardized (although they’re working on it), and the numbers/letters can be less accurate than the more precise millimeter measurement. However, some hooks still do not list the exact measurement and may only list a letter, like “G”, so you may need to use a crochet hook chart to determine what that actually means until you get it somewhat memorized. Chances are, you’ll tend to stick to only a few sizes for your projects until you get into crochet patterns.

Picking the Right Scissors for the Job

Some people will say that scissors don’t really matter, as long as they get the job done. And, I agree, in some cases, but in crochet, it’s more about convenience. I like to crochet while I’m watching TV or on long trips, so a pair of big, old sewing scissors isn’t very convenient in those situations. I want something small and lightweight, but sharp…something I can easily pack away and easily grab. Snips or clippers are much easier to use, or even embroidery scissors would work well. I have a pair of Quick-clips in my travel case that work pretty well, but they don’t stay sharp forever, so expect to replace them.

Are You Ready for Some Stitches?

When learning how to crochet, the very first thing you have to figure out is how to hold your crochet hook – and keep in mind that this will take some time. It will feel very awkward at first, but know that there is no “right way” to do this. You want to be able to hold tension and easily make your stitches. I cover crochet hook holds and tension here, and show three different people crocheting with different holds.

As far as beginner stitches, you need the slip stitch to even get off the ground (video tutorial above), then the single crochet stitch, the half-double crochet stitch, and the double crochet stitch. Those are the most popular, and you can get away with quite a few projects using just those starter stitches. You can watch these tutorials on how to crochet, and a few others, in our Beginner Crochet playlist on YouTube.

Other than that, I just caution you to take it slow and steady. Find your hold, and keep your hands relaxed. Your stitches shouldn’t be too tight or droopy, and should eventually look consistent. It takes practice, especially when you’re just learning how to crochet, but as they say, “practice makes perfect”. Try practicing only about 15-20 minutes at a time to prevent frustration. I don’t want you throwing your hook out the window. Please comment below with updates or questions, and happy crocheting!

About Rachel

Rachel grew up in the Pacific Northwest, where much of her inspiration comes from. Crafting and crocheting has always been a part of her life, and she can't imagine a life without it.

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