Crochet, Lesson 1: The Basics

Alright! So now that we’ve established quite a few valid reasons to crochet, it’s time to put that all into action and learn! Before we start, I’d like to point out that these Crochet Lesson posts are meant to teach the basics, until one feels confident enough to pursue the craft realm on their own.

For those who already have the hang of it, there will be a more generalized form of post in this Blog under the header T&A (Tips & Advice). That’s a helpful series for crocheters at any skill level, and will focus on organization, memorizing terms, writing patterns and other fun things.

Also, for those of you who are experienced in all of the above and would like to launch into some patterns, there’s the Free Patterns section of Crochet Buddies to explore.

Something to keep in mind, I suppose: At the moment these two types of posts–Crochet Lessons and T&A–are sporadic, meaning they can pop up here at any time. I figured it’s best to have it that way; Weekly Wonder and AwtB are consistent enough throughout the week. The Blog is supposed to be FUN, after all. There has to be some fluidity in writing these things. πŸ™‚

Anyhow, this post/lesson will cover the fundamental basics of crochet: tying a slip knot, and mastering chain stitch. You should have the selected two items (crochet hook and yarn) necessary to do the job. If not, don’t worry. You can even create your own crochet hook substitute! When first learning to crochet, I didn’t have the patience to wait for the next trip to a craft shop, so I stuck a wire down the empty inkwell of a pen, bent it, and used it as my own crochet hook. It did last through half a project. So all in all, you can be creative even when gathering supplies!

Something else to keep in mind: This tutorial, and all future crochet tutorials, will involve learning to crochet right-handed. I am not an ambidextrous crocheter (that’s still a work in progress), so for those who want to learn how to crochet left-handed, I suggest looking for video tutorials on YouTube.

Now then! To work, my fellow Crafters! πŸ™‚

Materials: A ball of yarn and a crochet hook. Ideal size is a Size H/5.00 mm, but it doesn’t really matter, as long as the hook isn’t too hard to manipulate, and is consistent with the thickness of yarn. It isn’t too hard to tell whether a certain size hook will work with a certain yarn ply. And if you get stuck, talk to the owners and ask them for advice (if you’re at a local yarn shop, that is, separate of the mainstream craft stores out there; though ten to one they’ll be super helpful as well).

Here are the materials I used for this tutorial:

Yarn, Red Heart acrylic (forgot to dig up the lot #):

G-6/4.00 mm hook:

First things first, let’s go over how to hold the crochet hook. There are two main ways most people work with: the “pencil hold” and the “knife hold.” Based on practice with both methods, I think the knife hold is relatively easier to use, particularly because it has a more natural feel and takes up less time. This may not always be true, as I’ve seen other crocheters working very quickly with the pencil hold; that being said, I think beginners should definitely start with the knife hold first. (Don’t worry, it doesn’t hurt. πŸ˜‰ )

The knife hold:

Closeup:

And the pencil hold:

Tilted down further:

Now let’s talk about holding the yarn. A lot of people weave the yarn around their hand different ways, depending on tension. The method below is one I’ve found most effective, but it’s not universal. Essentially what works the best is whatever method’s most comfortable for you, while also working to keep the yarn tension in check.

Here’s the method I use… yarn wrapped over the pinky finger, under the ring and middle finger, and over the index finger (the end will hang down between index finger and thumb when crocheting):

If the tension is too loose, it helps to wrap the yarn twice around the index finger, like so:

Now it’s time to put the yarn to good use! The most basic and essential first step to creating any project is the slip knot. This, in and of itself, can be done differently; though the main idea is always to get one loop on the crochet hook, as a springboard into the first chain stitch. In other words: drawing a loop through a loop.

Place your left thumb at a horizontal angle. Wrap the end of the yarn around your thumb diagonally upward and over, from bottom left corner to top right corner. (For those who do cross stitch, it’s the same technique as making one stitch, just across your thumb):

Now bring the end of the yarn back around to the front of your thumb, and cross over the loop you just made, by bringing it from the right bottom corner to left top corner. Use your index finger to hold the end in place:

Take the crochet hook and push it through the nearest loop to the right:

Use the hooked end to “catch” the remaining loop of yarn (still held in place by your index finger) and pull it through the first loop.

Now pull the end of the yarn to tighten the loop on the hook:

If it’s a tad tricky, you can always make a regular knot and slip that onto the crochet hook–though you may have a tad more difficulty adjusting the loop for the first couple of chain stitches.

Once that’s done, you can begin practicing how to hold the yarn and hook. If you’re crocheting right-handed, your left index finger will likely be up in the air, like holding a teacup. This works as a balance/stabilizer for wrapping yarn around the hook (otherwise known as “yarn over(s)”). What I do for the beginning of a project, is use my thumb and middle finger to hold the yarn in place, almost directly vertical. This makes it easier to get the hook through the loop when you’re chain stitching:

Right, now for the chain stitch itself! This is where people sometimes get caught off guard by how much the loops slide around. However, if you keep a good grip on the yarn and hold the end down firmly, you should be just fine. πŸ™‚

Using your left index finger and right wrist, wrap the yarn clockwise around the hook. It’s important to keep your right index finger over the initial loop, so it doesn’t slide or flip:

Twist the hook and pull it through the first loop, keeping the latched part of the hook downward. This will enable you to pull the hook through the new loop very smoothly:

Now you have your very first chain stitch! Bravo!

Repeat the sequence over and over again for as long as you wish. (Practice makes perfect!) As you’ll see, crochet is simply a matter of yarn overs, and pulling loops through loops. It’s as simple as that. Just remember to keep your right index finger holding the loop closest to your right hand in place.

After several chain stitches, you’ll notice how the chains looks like the pattern on a braid (or plait). There is also a similar technique for chain stitch in sewing, used to apply elegant edging and hem fabric.

Well, that’s it for this first crochet lesson! More news and super exciting updates are on the way, and will be published soon. πŸ™‚

Now, for a little rabbit trail… “Don’t stop! Crochetin’!” just came to mind, as perfect song lyrics. (A little twist on Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’.”) I couldn’t resist, hehe.

Until next time!~

Orchid

P.S. If you’re wondering how some of the images with both hands in the frames were photographed, well… I’ll just say it straight out. I used my nose. Propped up the phone on a carry case so that it towered above the table, and boink there you go, picture! (Look Mom, no hands!) Yay to no professional camera-mounting equipment, haha!

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