How to crochet: What you need to know before you start

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You’re ready to learn how to crochet but don’t know anything about it? Or where to start? Before you hold a crochet hook for the first time, you need to get familiar with the basic techniques. So what you need to know before you start to crochet? This first tutorial will cover it all!

It’s important that you learn the basics about yarn, crochet hooks and crochet patterns before you start learning how to actually crochet. There is plenty of detailed information about it online, but this guide will help you understand the basics.

1. Material

The nice thing with crochet is that the list of supplies needed to start is actually pretty short! All you need is the following:

  1. A Crochet hook: There are several different kinds of crochet hooks: plastic, aluminum, ergonomic and bamboo. Each one offers a different experience, but it doesn’t really matter which one you use as long as you are comfortable with it. I prefer the ergonomic ones as they allow me to get a firm grip, and my crochet never slips.

Obviously, you always want to choose your crochet size according to the yarn you are using. The recommended size is always written on the yarn label.

2. Yarn: There are so many different yarns available out there, that it makes it difficult to choose sometimes. There is no specific rule regarding which yarn to use but it is important to take a few factors into consideration. The first thing you want to decide is the type of yarn you want to use: natural (cotton, wool, silk…) or synthetic (acrylic, bamboo, polyester…). This choice mostly depends on your preferences. Second you will have to choose the appropriate yarn weight which basically represents the thickness of the yarn. Not all yarn weights are appropriate for every crochet project so you will want to be careful of that. As a beginner, I recommend that you use a light colored DK or worsted yarn (#4). The thickness will be in the mid ranges so it will be easier to see the stitches.  Before you buy yarn make sure to look closely at the label. You will find all the information you need.

3. Scissors: We all have one of these somewhere in the house. Won’t be that difficult to find! I just recommend to use a sharp pair of scissors to make sure the ends don’t split.

For now, this is all the material you will need to learn your first stitches in crochet. But later on, if you get hooked like I did, some additional material can become useful: tapestry needle, stitch counter, stitch marker and measuring tape.

2. How to Read a Crochet Pattern: Terminology and abbreviations

Before we talk about the basic stitches it is important to learn about crochet terminology. You see, for some reason, there are 2 different English terminologies used in crochet patterns: US crochet terms and UK crochet terms.

Each terminology uses a different name for the same stitch. But both use the same stitches, they just start with a different name for the basic stitch. So, a single crochet in US terms will be called a double crochet in UK terms. When you’re starting to crochet, this can be quite confusing, just remember that if you see a single crochet stitch that means the pattern is using US terms.

The table below covers the most common and important stitches. There are so many crochet stitches that it is difficult to make an exhaustive list.

When writing a crochet pattern, designers usually use many abbreviations or symbols. If you want to be able to read a crochet pattern, you need to understand these abbreviations and symbols.  Most crochet pattern include a list at the beginning but just in case I have included both in the table above.

Don’t worry about knowing all those stitches for now. In the next tutorial we will be covering the basic stitches! But for now, we just need to clarify one more thing!

3. Crochet in rows v.s Crochet in the round

Depending on what you want to create, you will be crocheting in rows or in rounds and sometimes a combination of both. Each technique starts in a different manner but uses the same stitches.  

Crochet in rows

Most crochet projects are created in rows. You start with what we call a foundation chain and then turn your project at the end of each row. Essentially turning the end of a row into the beginning of the next one. Might sound a bit difficult said like that but don’t worry, you will get the hang of it pretty quickly.

You usually end up with a flat final project that has straight sides. Blankets, scarfs, place mats, clothes and many square, rectangular items are typically made in rows.

This is the technique we will be using to learn the basic crochet stitches in the next tutorial. 

Crochet in the round

When crocheting in the round, there are several ways to start your project. We won’t get into that for now, as it can get a bit confusing, but I will cover that technique in a future tutorial. Using this way of crocheting, you do not need to turn your project, you just crochet round after round. Some patterns will require you to keep track of each round and close it at the end with a slip stitch. But with other patterns you will be crocheting in spirals and then a stitch markers could come in handy.

When crocheting in the round you can create amigurumis, mandalas, bowls, baskets, coasters and any other circular motifs.

Now that we have covered all the important terms and that you have all your material we are ready for our first stitches. So grab your crochet and yarn and let’s get started!


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