Crochet For Absolute Beginners: The Basic Tools To Begin Crocheting

Where do you begin when you want to try your hand at some crochet? What tools do you need? Are there different types of crochet hooks? How many yarns are there?Read on to find out.

The Yarn

The type of project will determine how thick the yarn should be. Are you making a chunky blanket or a delicate little plushie? Yarn comes in different levels of chunkiness depending on the ply. Delicate lace, small toys or miniature amigurumi are made with 1 – 3 ply yarns. Big chunky pieces are made with 10 – 14 ply yarn. Most jumpers and beanies are made using your average 8 ply yarn. There are some specific terms for different sizes of yarn like “sock weight”, “DK” and “Aran” which are used to signify the ply. Yarn labels will usually say these terms along with the recommended crochet hook and knitting needle sizes for the yarn. Use all this information to help you select the right hook size for your project, more on crochet hooks below.

The desired outcome of your project will also determine the yarn type. Are you making a soft and fluffy pillow? Or do you need yarn that is stiff and abrasive for making cleaning cloths and pot scrubbers? Are you creating a light and breezy top? Or a warm coat? I use hemp yarn to make scrubbies for cleaning because of its rough texture. Alpaca yarn is very soft, light, drapes well and it’s excellent at keeping you warm. But it’s an animal product. I really love alpacas. I think it’s more ethical than wool farming, which is just horror after horror. Segue into my next point.

Finally, this one is a soapbox moment. I implore you to take into consideration the ethical impact your yarn has on the environment. Vegan yarns are my preference although I also acknowledge the impact of cotton yarn on the environment. I compare cotton’s impact with the impact of animal farming and cruelty involved with harvesting animal products. Then I make a decision on where I want my money to go.

I choose natural fibres to avoid creating plastic waste. Synthetic fibres are much cheaper to purchase but they’re costly for the planet. Synthetic yarns may be free of animal products but I am boycotting plastic everywhere I can, especially when it comes to microplastics. It’s absolutely heartbreaking to discover microplastics have been found in the most remote parts of Antarctica and in the stomachs of all ocean wildlife. Every time we wash synthetic clothes we allow thousands of microplastics to pollute the waterways. My empathy levels are too high! I want to help make this Earth a more pleasant place to live. I am such a hippy.

The hook

The size of the hook will depend on a few things: the yarn size, type of project and your tension.

A chunky yarn will require a larger size of crochet hook. It’s really difficult to use a small crochet hook, about 2mm, with a chunky 12 ply yarn.

The type of project will also determine the hook size. A crochet toy, also known as amigurumi, requires very small stitches to ensure the stuffing doesn’t pop out. You can choose a hook size a couple of sizes smaller than you normally would with your chosen yarn, that will create smaller sized stitches. To make larger, more open stitches you can use a larger crochet hook to make looser stitches.

Thirdly, your tension (or gauge as they say in the US) will affect your work. Tension is how tightly you crochet your stitches. If you are following a crochet pattern and you are a make tight crochet stitches you’ll end up with a piece that is too short for the pattern. For example, you want to make a cardigan but you don’t have enough stitches in the rows your piece won’t fit you, even though you followed the pattern exactly right. The opposite is true, if your stitches are too loose then your piece will be too big. In that case, your choices are to either go down one or two hook sizes or adjust how many stitches you use in the pattern.

Handy hint: You can make a tension square to test how many stitches you make per cm with a particular yarn and hook. This measurement will help you make the perfect sized pieces. Take your hook and yarn that you want to use in your project and make a square approximately 15 cm by 15 cm. Count how many stitches fit in the square and use this when calculating how big your project will be. A smaller hook will make smaller stitches and vice versa. If you crochet too tightly you can go up a hook size or 2 to get the tension you need to complete your pattern.

A range of crochet hooks. From left to right: A metal 4 mm hook, 4 mm hook with ergonomic handle, 10 mm bamboo hook for chunky yarn.

While hunting for a crochet hook you might get mixed up with Tunisian crochet. That’s a different technique that I haven’t learned yet. It’s kind of like between crochet and knitting because it uses one long crochet hook that you use like a hooked knitting needle. There’s no handle section on the Tunisian crochet hook so that your stitches remain in open loops along the length of the hook while you work each row.

Tunisian crochet hook

The extras

Stitch markers are a must for crocheting in the round. Place a stitch marker in the first stitch of each round so that you won’t need to keep count of every stitch of the circle. Stitch markers are also immensely useful when you’re just starting out with crocheting in rows and you find it difficult to distinguish which stitch is the final one in the row. Sometimes beginners, like when I was starting out, will work into the turning chain by mistake or will miss the final stitch of the row. Place a marker in the last stitch so you can easily find it, then with practice you’ll be able to identify the final stitch of the row.

You can make your own stitch marker from a piece of yarn that is a different colour to your work. See the picture below.

Assorted stitch markers.

Row counters are less important unless you’ve got to keep track of a lot of rows or you are following a complicated pattern.

Two row counters
A couple of row counters

A pattern or imagination

You can find multitudes of free crochet patterns online. Use any search engine or Pinterest to find patterns for specific items or to get ideas for what to make with certain types of yarn.

If you have some of your own designs that you want to create with crochet, give it a go! Have a play with the yarn, hook sizes, different stitches and techniques to see how they all work together to create a unique piece.

Thank you for reading!

Check out my YouTube channel for crochet tutorials for absolute beginners and subscribe for more Full Cup Wellness.

Browse my store on Storenvy for fun crochet items.

Crochet For Absolute Beginners part 4: Continuing to crochet in the round

FYI: The video tutorial version of this post is on my YouTube channel here.

Welcome, please sit down, get comfy and join me for some more mindful crafting. Today we’re continuing to learn the art of crocheting a circle.

In part 3 of the crochet for absolute beginners series we learned how to begin a circle with yarn and our crochet hook. Now we need to learn the mathematical formula for creating nice flat crochet circles. If you have too many or too little stitches in each round you’ll end up with wonky bumpy circles that don’t sit flat.

The blue circle on the left has too many stitches in the round and is going bubbly. The red circle on the right has too few stitches and is becoming a bowl.

The mathematical formula to the perfectly flat crochet circle goes a little something like this:

For example, we begin with 6 stitches in round 1.

In round 2 we will need to increase in every stitch around. You now have 12 stitches.

In round 3 increase every 2nd stitch. Now you have 18 stitches.

Round 4 increase every 3rd stitch. 24 stitches will be in the 4th round.

Every round will increase 6 times so you will add 6 stitches in each round. If you begin with 8 stitches you’ll increase 8 times each round. That’s the mathematical pattern here.

Tips for keeping the right number of stitches

• Use a stitch marker to mark the first stitch in every round. Otherwise you’ll be constantly counting as you work and the chance of miscounting the stitches is too great! Trust me.

Types of stitch markers. You can also use a short piece of yarn that is a different colour to your work.

• Count your stitches at the end of each round unless you’re absolutely confident you did it correctly. Otherwise your subsequent rounds will all be off. You will notice your circle becoming more bumpy and wonky as you continue.

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Crochet for absolute beginners part 3: How to begin crocheting in a circle

Continuing on our journey to learn a new skill and practise mindfulness at the same time; it’s part 3 of the crochet tutorial series, how to crochet in a circle. Instead of crocheting rows as we previously learned in parts 1 and 2, we are now going to crochet in rounds.

See the video version of this tutorial at my YouTube channel.

Why would you need to know how to crochet in circles?

By learning how to crochet in the round you’ll be able to make circular baskets, amigurumi (crocheted toys), hats, beanies, round pillows etc etc etc. There are many crochet patterns that you will encounter which involve crocheting in the round instead of in rows.

Some crochet toys (amigurumi) I made this week. Each section of this pattern is crocheted in the round. Pattern by @Amiguruku

There are two methods to begin a crochet circle.

Method 1: Chain circle

I call this the chain circle method because you make the circle by joining the 2 ends of a row of chain stitches together. Let me show you how.

Begin with a slip knot on your crochet hook. Remember: this doesn’t count as a stitch.

The pattern you are working from will tell you how many stitches to use to make the circle, unless it uses method 2 below. If you’re not using a pattern you can decide how many chain stitches you want to use depending on how many stitches need to fit in the circle. Let’s say you need 6 single crochet stitches to fit in your little chain circle. I would chain 3 then join the circle with a slip stitch in the first chain, see image below.

Three chain stitches joined to the first chain stitch with a slip stitch.

Then you can crochet into the circle you made. I put six single crochet (US terminology) stitches into my chain circle, see image below. I haven’t joined this round with a slip stitch. The pattern that you’re working from will state whether the rounds are joined with a slip stitch or not. If they are not joined rounds then you get a spiral instead of concentric circles.

Six single crochet stitches in a chain circle.

Tip: As a beginner, I sometimes mistake the initial slip knot as a stitch but we need to remember not to crochet into this loop! Join your circle in the first chain stitch and you can definitely see which is the first chain by using a stitch marker. Examples of stitch markers that I have are in the picture below. You can also use a short piece of yarn that is a different colour to your work in the stitch you want to mark.

Examples of stitch markers

New stitch alert

I mentioned the slip stitch in the previous section but I haven’t yet shown you how to do it! The slip stitch is the shortest stitch you can make, it’s even shorter than a single crochet stitch. You do the stitch by entering the next stitch, yarn round front of the hook as normal, then pull the yarn all the way through all of the loops on the stitch. Done!

Method 2: Magic circle

Begin by almost making a slip knot. What I mean is that you leave the knot loose instead of pulling the yarn close to the hook. See the picture below for reference.

A loose slip knot to begin the magic circle.

Now you seal the magic circle by making one chain stitch. See the picture below!

Magic circle plus one chain stitch to seal the circle.

The stitches that are going into the magic circle are called “round one” of the project. If you need to do single crochet (sc) stitches (US terminology) in round 1 then you only need one chain stitch to begin your work. This is because one sc is the height of one chain stitch. Follow the rules for the number of chains you need for a turning chain as mentioned in part 2 of the crochet for absolute beginners tutorial series.

Now you’re going to crochet round 1. In the example below I’ve made 6 sc in the magic circle. The first chain doesn’t count as a stitch in this case.

6 sc in a magic circle.

Here’s the part where it becomes a MAGIC circle. Pull the trailing end of the yarn tail until the circle is drawn tight.

Magic circle with 6 sc pulled tight.

Now you can join the circle together with a slip stitch, unless the pattern says not to join the rounds. Below is a picture of the circle joined with a slip stitch.

Magic circle joined with a slip stitch in the first stitch of the round.

As you work around the circle the centre will become loose unless you secure the tail of the yarn. There are different ways to do it and I’m not quite perfect at it yet but I’m getting there! Here’s my method for securing that circle tightly: Once you’ve completed your work, or when you’re a little bit of the way through, pull the tail of the yarn as tight so that the magic circle is as small as you need it to be. Then use your crochet hook to weave the tail back and forth through the stitches around those first few rounds of the work.

When you want to make perfectly round circles you will need to pay attention to the the number of stitches you work into each round. If you have too many stitches the circles will become ruffled like a chip because all those extra stitches are trying to fit in a smaller space. If you don’t have enough stitches in the round then the work will become bowed and bowl-shaped as the stitches will pull to make the way around the circle.

There’s a mathematical formula to getting the right number of stitches in each round. I won’t go into it here in this post but stay tuned for more crochet tutorials.

Thanks so much for reading!

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Mint choc chip ice cream monster in purple and vanilla ice cream monster in mint. Contact me to request your custom colours. Each individual monster is AUD$25 not including shipping.

Crochet for absolute beginners Part 2: Crocheting in a straight line

Welcome back for part 2 of crochet for absolute beginners. The video version of this tutorial is at my YouTube channel. I’ll be using US terminology in the main text. In brackets I will place the equivalent UK stitch translation next to each US stitch. In the previous part we made a foundation chain. You’re going to use that foundation chain now so have it ready.

There are multiple parts of the chain you can work into to get a different effect along the beginning edge of your work. First we will identify the parts of the chain so that we know which part to use.

From the top view of the foundation chain you will see V-shaped stitches linked together. Each of the 2 strands of the v is a single chain stitch. Normally you will work into either 1 or both of these strands. I prefer to work along the top strand of the v.

Foundation chain top view. Find the V-shaped stitches. Excuse me for the chipped polish!
Foundation chain bottom view. Find the back bumps of each chain stitch.

When viewing the base of those v-shaped stitches you’ll see a 3rd strand behind the 2 v strands. I call this the back bump of the chain. Sometimes it’s pulled a bit tight to see it but once you get an eye for it you will spot them in no time. It will take a bit of practice and playing around with the yarn before you can easily tell which strand is which. Don’t give up too early! Practise, practise, practise.

Depending on which type of stitch you will use along the chain there will be a particular number of “turning chains” you will need. This is because the height of each stitch is different. One single crochet stitch (double crochet in UK terms) is the height of one chain stitch so you will leave one “turning chain” on your foundation chain and between each row. A half double crochet (half treble crochet in UK) stitch is as tall as 2 chains so you will leave 2 chain stitches before working into the 3rd chain from the hook. Remember, the loop on the hook isn’t a stitch yet so it doesn’t count.

Working a single crochet (double crochet in UK) into the 2nd chain on the hook. Also working into the top loop of the foundation chain.

My preference is to work into the top loop of the foundation chain as this is easiest for me. Here’s a row of single crochet or sc (dc in the UK) worked into the top loop of a foundation chain, see next image below.

Single crochet (double crochet in UK) worked into the top loop of the foundation chain.

To make the sc (dc) stitch you begin by inserting the hook into the second chain on your hook. The loop on the hook doesn’t count as a stitch so don’t count from this loop. Next you “yarn round hook” (as shown in my YouTube videos part 1 and 2). Then pull that yarn through the first loop on the hook which is called “pulling up a loop”. Now you have 2 loops on your hook so next you “yarn round hook” and then pull the yarn through both loops. You’ve completed one sc. Well done!

Now what about crocheting into other parts of the chain? As I mentioned above, working into the back bump is more difficult but it’ll give an edge that has the V-shaped chain stitches pointing out. This technique makes a nice looking detail for crocheting straps and hems.

Working a sc (dc) into the back bump of the foundation chain.

In the next photo you’ll see a row of single crochet (dc) worked into the back bump of the foundation chain.

Row of sc (dc) worked into the back bump of the foundation chain stitches.

My personal favourite stitch is the half double crochet or hdc (half treble crochet or htr in the UK) because it works up so quickly and it looks like pretty little knots all in rows. The height of this stitch is between a sc (dc) and a dc (tr). You’ll need 2 turning chains to make a hdc (htr) so count 2 chains after the loop on the hook. Work into the 3rd chain from the hook.

Half double crochet (half treble crochet) stitches worked into the top loop of the foundation chain.

To make a hdc (htr) you need to “yarn round hook” before you place your hook in the stitch. Now the yarn is wrapped around the hook once, place the hook in the next stitch and yarn round hook. Now you pull up a loop through the first loop on the hook. You will have 3 loops sitting on the hook. Now yarn round hook and pull through all 3 loops. That’s one hdc (htr) complete. Excellent!

A double crochet (treble crochet) stitch needs 3 turning chains as well because it is about as tall as 3 chains. When making a new row with dc (tr) stitches you’ll make 3 chain stitches at the end of the row then turn your work and continue into the first stitch of the new row.

Double crochet (treble in the UK) stitches worked into the top loop of the foundation chain.

Before you put the hook into your work wrap the yarn around the hook once then go and put the hook into the next stitch. Yarn round hook, pull up a loop through the first loop on the hook. You have 3 loops on the hook. Yarn round hook, pull yarn through the first 2 loops on the hook. You have 2 loops left on the hook. Yarn round hook, pull the yarn through both loops. That’s the double crochet (treble crochet).

Treble crochet (known as double treble crochet in the UK) needs 4 turning chains and it is taller than a dc. You normally won’t encounter stitches taller than the tr (dtr) in the majority of the patterns you will see. So I’ll end with a picture of tr (dtr) stitches worked into a foundation chain.

Treble crochet (double treble in the UK) stitches worked into the top loop of the foundation chain.

For the tr (dtr) stitch you leave 4 chains then crochet into the 5th chain from the hook. Or if you’re at the start of a new row you will make 4 chains before working into the row. But before you go ahead and put the hook in the stitch you need to give the stitch height. More height than the previous double crochet (treble crochet) stitch.

Wrap the yarn around the hook twice and then insert the hook into the next stitch. Yarn round hook again and pull up a loop through the first loop on the hook. Now you have 4 loops on the hook. Yarn round hook and pull up a loop through the first 2 loops on the hook. Now you have 3 loops on the hook. Repeat the yarn round hook and pull up a loop through the first 2 loops on the hook. Now you have 2 loops left on the hook. Time to finish the stitch! Yarn round hook, pull through both loops and you’re done.

Thanks again for joining me as we become more confident and competent with various crochet techniques. Please like and subscribe to my YouTube channel too!

Just a reminder, you can see the video version of this blog post here.

Crochet for absolute beginners Part 1: how to begin a foundation chain

There’s a new video on my YouTube channel showing how to begin a foundation chain. I’m a left hander but I learned to crochet right handed so all of these tutorials are right handed. I tried to provide enough background information so that you not only can begin a crochet project but you can understand what you’re doing as you learn. I was disheartened by a lot of tutorials that relied on a lot of assumed knowledge in their videos. As an absolute beginner I was so lost and I quickly gave up relying on video tutorials. I had to first study the basics before watching seasoned crocheters try to remember what it’s like to be a beginner.

My first video was a bit dodgy because I’m nervous. I keep doing that thing where my mind tells me I’m doing everything wrong and I psyche myself out. I’ll try to film the second video today. Until then, here’s the link to the first video: https://youtu.be/58f4hh0LGMw

The basics

1. Make a slip knot

The easiest way to do it is with your crochet hook in your hand. Wrap the yarn around your fingers and pull the yarn from the ball through the loop you made around your fingers.

2. Holding the yarn

Keeping the tension is important if you want even sized stitches. Wrap the yarn around your pinky and then around your forefinger of the non dominant hand.

Wrap the yarn around your fingers to keep an even tension

Using your thumb and middle finger hold your work close to the hook to keep it steady.

Hold your work close to the hook

3. Yarn round hook

Wrapping the yarn around the hook in a consistent direction will produce consistent stitches. Unless otherwise stated in the pattern the yarn will always go behind the hook then wrap around and you pull it through the loop.

The yarn begins behind the hook…
…and wraps around so you can pull up a loop.

4. Pull up a loop

Pull the yarn through the loop on the hook.

One chain stitch is done.

One complete chain stitch.

5. Identifying parts of the chain.

Find the v-shaped stitches. Each v is a chain stitch as viewed from the top. There are 3 parts to a chain stitch and you can use the different parts to create certain edges at the beginning of the work. Just remember to always crochet into the same part of the chain stitch the entire way through otherwise the chain will end up bumpy and uneven. Also remember the loop on the hook isn’t a stitch yet. Your chains are the stitches next to that loop on the hook.

3 chain stitches and a slip knot that has been pulled tight.

Note that the initial slip knot does not count as a stitch in crochet. Pull this knot tight and don’t work into it. (This can get confusing for knitters as knitted work always uses the slip knot as a stitch!)

Thanks so much for reading, as always. I’ll be uploading the next video tonight so you can learn how to crochet into a row. Pretty please like this and subscribe to my YouTube channel queeenvk (with 3 e’s.)