There’s been a pandemic, baby. People are trying new crafts. Making she sheds. Learning how to raise their own bees, and cutting down their own lumber. It’s like the wild west out here and people are not afraid to try new things.
That’s why lots of people are learning how to crochet, and that’s probably why you’re here too. You know crocheting isn’t only for grannies, and you want to learn crochet basics so you can enjoy this wonderful hobby.
Don’t worry. I’ve got you covered, friend. I can teach you everything you need to know about crocheting. Do you want to be a crochet master? Let’s first start with crochet basics.
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7 Reasons Why You Should Learn How to Crochet
Why should you start crocheting? I’m going to give you some of the best reasons why you should consider crocheting as your next hobby.
- It’s fun to crochet. If you like doing crafts or making things, crocheting is genuinely enjoyable. You can have a lot of fun crocheting and try out different projects.
- You can do it anywhere. You can crochet while you watch Netflix in your living room or while you listen to your family talk about politics at Thanksgiving. It’s extremely portable.
- It’s good for any age. Crocheting isn’t only for old people, but it can help them with coordination. In fact, it can help anyone of any age with fine motor skills, concentration, and coordination.
- You can make whatever you want. You can make clothing, decorative items, and useful items for your home (but please don’t crochet a toilet cover).
- It won’t break the bank. Crocheting is an inexpensive hobby to get into. You only need to purchase a couple of crochet hooks and yarn to get started. So easy
- It’s believed that crocheting can reduce stress and anxiety. There is some research that indicates that crocheting (as well as crafting in general) can benefit mental health. One study released in 2020 concludes,
“The data suggests that crochet offers positive benefits for personal wellbeing with many respondents actively using crochet to manage mental health conditions and life events such as grief, chronic illness and pain. Crochet is a relatively low-cost, portable activity that can be easily learned and seems to convey all of the positive benefits provided by knitting. This research suggests that crochet can play a role in promoting positive wellbeing in the general population, adding to the social prescribing evidence base.”
- You can use the yarn you see in the stores. There’s just something about yarn but I have to actively tell myself not to buy yarn even when I don’t have a real purpose for it. If I see yarn, I always want to buy some. Maybe you feel the same way — and starting a craft that actually uses the yarn is a good reason to start!
Frequently Asked Questions About Crochet Basics
When you’re beginning to learn crochet, you might have some questions. I’ve rounded up some of the most common crochet basics questions I could think of and compiled them here for you with answers.
1. Is it hard to learn crochet? Honestly, the answer is no. It can feel awkward and difficult when you first try. You may feel like giving up, but please keep trying. I once taught a group of older women how to crochet. At first, they felt like their hands wouldn’t do what they wanted them to do. Their gauge was either too tight or too loose. They couldn’t figure out how to keep their ends consistent. They didn’t know how to finish a project once they were done. And so on… but it wasn’t long before they were able to complete simple crochet projects that they were happy with.
2. What is the difference between crochet and knit?
- Knit and crochet are similar, but there are some very key differences. They are:
- Crochet uses one crochet hook. Knitting uses two straight needles.
- The stitches look different. Knitting is interlocking loops that are a bit stretchier than crochet. Crochet is more like a series of knots that is more likely to keep their shape.
3. Can you crochet lefthanded? Yes! Here’s a YouTube video from Bella Coco Crochet that can show you how:
4. How do you unwind a hank of yarn?
Have you ever purchased a hank of yarn? It looks like a twist of yarn or maybe a figure eight. If you don’t know how to unwind it properly it will turn into a GIANT mess. Trust me. The good news is you can unwind your yarn into a beautiful little ball of yarn and you don’t need to pay for any special equipment. I have a tutorial all about how to unwind a hank of yarn so you can learn how to without frustration.
5. Can I crochet a blanket large enough to live in? I’m not sure, but I think so. My mom is a whiz at crocheting quickly and once crocheted a blanket bigger than Ned’s first apartment, so it’s possible. But, it wouldn’t work very well for keeping out the wind or the rain.
6. If I start crocheting will my friends think I’m cool? If your friends like Matlock, the answer is almost certainly yes.
What Supplies Do you Need to Start Crocheting?
You don’t need a lot of supplies to get started with crocheting. All you need is:
- A crochet hook (you can get a starter pack with a range of sizes)
- Yarn (worsted weight yarn is a good place to start)
- A tapestry needle
- A little pair of scissors
- A pattern
My Favorite Crochet Supplies
Some of my favorite yarns I’ve used are:
- Wool-Ease Thick and Quick. This yarn is a blend between synthetic yarn and wool. It’s a nice bulky yarn that I’ve used for making hats, hoods, and blankets.
- Sugar’n Cream Cotton Yarn. This is the yarn I use when making dishcloths for the kitchen. Cotton yarn can also be a good choice for amigurumi.
- Vanna’s Choice Yarn. This yarn is an inexpensive synthetic yarn that has a nice weight and looks nice when used. I would say this is an all-around good option for projects like afghan blankets, hats, scarves, and so on. I used it to make my daughter a hat for her Margaret Tiger costume.
- Hometown Yarn. I also enjoy this yarn from Lion Brand Yarn. It’s similar to the wool ease thick and quick but it’s completely made of synthetic fibers. It doesn’t hold its structure as well as the wool ease thick and quick but it is softer.
- I also really enjoy going to local yarn shops and perusing their yarn selections. I find that local yarn stores are better at supplying yarn with natural fibers and they tend to support small yarn companies as well. If I can find it, I’m also a big fan of recycled yarns.
My Favorite Crochet Accessories
- I don’t have any special crochet hooks, but if I were in the mood to buy new crochet hooks, I think I would like to try these ones from Lion Brand. I think the handles would be a lot more comfortable than the regular aluminum crochet hooks that I have.
- I don’t know why, but I was really resistant to the faux fur pom poms when they first came out. Now I think they’re adorable on top of a crocheted hat.
- I REALLY want one of these pom pom makers from “Pom maker” They’re wooden and they’re adorable and I feel like I need them. They’re on my Christmas wish list but my very busy husband may not remember so maybe I will get it for myself for a happy winter gift down the road.
Everything You Need to Know About Yarn
Let’s take a minute to talk about yarn. If you stroll down the colorful yarn aisles in Michael’s or Hobby Lobby you may immediately be overwhelmed by the options. Thick yarn, thin yarn, yellow yarn, wool yarn,
yarn here or there,
yarn made of cashmere,
yarn to take back to your house,
loads of yarn to stress your spouse.
…Sorry. Got away from myself there for a minute.
Now that I’m back on track… let me teach you some things about yarn and help you know what kind you will need for your next project.
Yarns come in different-sized weights. You may notice when you pick up a skein of yarn at a box craft store that there is a little square with a number on it. This indicates the thickness of the yarn. The majority of the yarn you will be working with is called “worsted weight” which is a number 4 on the scale.
Yarn can come in sizes 0-7 (and I think even beyond for some VERY thick yarns that you can buy).
When you follow a pattern it will usually tell you what weight of yarn you need to use. A 0 would be a very light material. You might use a 0 or 1 to crochet lace or something very fine and light. On the other end of the spectrum is bulky or super bulky weight yarn. You might use bulky yarn to make a blanket or to crochet chunky sweaters or hats.
Worsted weight, or size 4 yarn, is considered average and will
The 0 number indicates lace or a material that’s extremely fine. The 6 number indicates a very thick or “super bulky” yarn. Size 7 yarn is called Jumbo. The average size for most patterns is 4, or “medium” weight yarn that you would use for ordinary projects.
Here’s a graphic I made showing the weights of yarn and what crochet hook will work best for each one. It only took me two Christmas movies time to make it.
The size and weight of the yarn is one consideration, but another important one is the material of the yarn. Your first crochet project will most likely be made using acrylic yarn. This type of yarn is the most abundant and it’s the one you will see the most of when you go over to the box craft stores. If you go to an independent yarn shop, you are more likely to see a larger variety of materials.
Most yarns can be placed into three categories: natural fibers, synthetic fibers, and mixed fibers. People tend to like certain kinds of yarn and will adamantly defend their choice, but I think they all have their pros and cons. You can check out the Making Life Yarn Stash to learn even more about different types of yarn and what projects you can make with them (plus the pros and cons of many popular types of yarn).
Let’s look a little more closely at each one.
Natural Yarn Fibers
Yarn that is made out of natural fibers is — as you guessed — made from natural materials. A lot of people love using natural fibers because it’s better for the environment, it’s a little more bohemian, and there are some really cool natural fibers that look and feel different than artificial ones.
Common natural yarn fibers you may find are:
Pros of natural fibers:
- Tends to be more eco-friendly (especially in terms of limiting plastic use)
- Some types of natural fibers can be very soft and luxurious
- Better opportunity to support small businesses (quite a few small businesses provide natural fiber yarns)
- If using wool it’s naturally flame resistant
- More absorbent. If you want to make something like a dish towel or dishcloth then you want to use natural fibers that absorb water. Artificial fibers tend to repel water.
Cons of natural fibers:
- Usually more expensive
- Harder to source
- Some natural fibers like wool can be itchy or uncomfortable
Synthetic Yarn Fibers
Synthetic yarn are man-made fibers. They’re easy to find at your local craft box store or online and come in a wide variety of colors.
Types of synthetic fibers you may find are:
Pros of synthetic fibers:
- Usually less expensive
- Easy to find a wide variety of colors
- Good elasticity (if you need that for a project)
- Durable (probably more durable than natural fibers)
Cons of synthetic fibers:
- Not absorbent (if this is something you want)
- Melt easily when ironed
- Synthetic fibers can catch fire easily (would be a terrible choice as a potholder, for example)
- Not as eco-friendly (made from plastics so not easily composable)
Mixed Yarn Fibers
Mixed yarn fibers can mean mixing natural fibers with natural fibers, mixing synthetic fibers with synthetic fibers, or mixing synthetic fibers with natural fibers. It’s pretty common to find “wool” yarn in the store mixed with other fibers types. That “wool” stamp may only constitute a small percentage of the makeup of the yarn.
Fibers can be mixed for a variety of reasons from the way they feel, to the function they serve, to the cost. It’s much cheaper to purchase yarn with a little bit of wool as opposed to one that’s made entirely of wool.
The pros and cons of these mixed fiber yarns are highly dependent on what kind of mix you’re using.
How to Unwind a Hank of Yarn
Those of you who have purchased a hank of yarn might be wondering the proper way to unwind it. Do it the wrong way and you have a huge mess on your hands.
Although I won’t go into detail here about how to unwind a hank of yarn, I do have a quick and easy guide you can use to learn how to unwind a hank of yarn. You won’t need any fancy tools to do it so don’t worry… and if you have a chair you can unwind the yarn all by yourself.
Typically you will find yarn wrapped up like this at independent stores rather than the box stores like Hobby Lobby, Michael’s, or JoAnn Fabrics.
Everything You Need to Know About Crochet Hooks
You only need one crochet hook to crochet something, but they do come in a variety of sizes and materials. The one you choose depends on what project you want to make and what you think feels comfortable when you crochet.
What Are Crochet Hooks Made From?
Crochet hooks are most commonly made out of metal (specifically aluminum.)
Aluminum crochet hooks are inexpensive and can be found at any box store. Popular brands for these types of crochet hooks are Susan Bates, Boye, and Loops and Threads.
Crochet hooks can also be made from plastic, wood, or a mix of plastic and metal.
What are the Sizes of Crochet Hooks?
Each crochet project you start will require a specific size of crochet hook. Those of you who live in the United States will use a number/letter combination to determine the size. For example, the smallest size (and one you might use with lace weight yarn) is B/1 which is a 2.25 mm hook. On the other end of the spectrum is an N/15 which is a 10mm hook.
I commonly use an H/8 when I crochet with worsted weight yarn.
The American sizes are as follows:
B/1 – 2.25 mm
C/2 – 2.75 mm
D/3 – 3.25 mm
E/4 – 3.5 mm
F/5 – 3.75 mm
G/6 – 4 mm
7 – 4.5 mm
H/8 – 5 mm
I/9 – 5.5 mm
J/10 – 6 mm
K/10.5 – 6.5 mm
L/11 – 8 mm
M-N/13 – 9 mm
N-P/15 – 10 mm
P/Q – 15 mm
Q – 16 mm
S – 19 mm
T-30 30 mm
Understanding Basic Crochet Stitches
When you learn how to crochet you will be asked to do a variety of stitches. For crochet basics, I would say you really only need to know about four. You can also crochet knowing only one stitch, so never fear as you continue with the process of learning how to crochet.
The basic crochet stitches you’ll need to know to get you started are:
If you’ve ever looked at a crochet pattern before then you may have noticed that crocheters LOVE to abbreviate things. They have their own little shorthand for everything including their stitches. So if you ever come across the letters “ch” it means chain.
Chains are the foundation of every crochet pattern I’ve ever used. You’ll often see people write “chain X” in a pattern. That means you will make X number of chains to begin your project.
Here’s a short video from JoAnn Fabrics that shows you how:
Single Crochet (SC)
A single crochet stitch is foundational in understanding other stitches. In a pattern, it will be written as “sc.” Single crochet is an easy basic stitch (easy once you get the hang of it) and is likely going to be one of the first ones you learn to use. Most of the patterns I’ve used do not use a single crochet stitch for the whole project, but it can be very good if you need a nice tight stitch. In my experience, it takes longer to single crochet something than it does to use a different type of stitch, but it’s very pretty and very important to learn.
Here’s a short video showing you how to make a single crochet stitch:
Half-Double Crochet (HDC)
A half double crochet, abbreviated to “hdc”, build on the single crochet stitch. Using this stitch will give you a looser project and it will produce more of the holes that you might notice in crocheted work. This stitch is also taller than a single crochet stitch. I would say this is the stitch I use most often, but you may feel differently depending on what types of projects you’re attracted to.
Here’s a video from Heart Hook Home that shows you how to do an HDC. It’s a bit longer of a video but she does a good job showing how to do it.
Double Crochet (DC)
The last basic crochet stitch we’ll cover here is the double crochet. In a pattern, it will be abbreviated to “dc.” The double crochet builds on the foundation of the single and half-double crochet stitches, and is an even taller stitch than the half-double. It works up faster than either of the other basic stitches I just mentioned. This stitch is also extremely common when crocheting and it’s one I personally use a lot when making hats and things that need an extra bit of stretch.
JoAnn Fabrics will finish you out with a quick video for how to make a double crochet stitch:
Basic Crochet Terms You’ll Want to Know
When you begin to familiarize yourself in the crochet world, there are some terms that come up that you may not recognize. Let me share with you what they are so you won’t be confused when you see them or hear them.
- Granny Squares. Nothing makes you feel more youthful than making something called a “granny square.” But nomenclature aside, a granny square is a block of crochet. It’s small, usually about 5-6 inches across. Granny squares can be made bigger to make a bag or a purse, or made smaller and pieced together to make a blanket or a tapestry. Although they can have a bit of an antiquated feel, there are also many modern-looking granny squares that are very attractive.
- Working in rounds. If you’re making something like a blanket you will be using a back and forth horizontal pattern to make your project. It will be flat when you’re done and square or rectangular. If you’re making a hat or other circular pattern, you’ll be working in rounds. Yep, as it sounds, you’re making something round instead of square.
- Magic Ring. Ah, the magic ring. Bane of my crocheting existence. I’ve been able to use it a few times, but I often can’t figure out its magic. Anyway, a magic ring is really useful for starting round crochet projects, and it helps keep a small hole from forming at the beginning of your project. But since I’m not good at using it, here’s a video from Yarndrasil showing you how to do it:
- Frogging. Sometimes when you can start a crochet project or start a new row, you discover that you’ve made a mistake. It could be several rows ago that you made this mistake, or it could even be at the beginning of the project. When this happens, you may want to rip out a bunch of stitches so you can repair the mistake. This is called frogging. In crochet, it’s quite a bit easier to fix mistakes than in knitting because you can simply unravel your project until you’ve reached the mistake point.
- Gauge. Gauge is another big crochet term that you will see often. Your crochet gauge has to do with how tight or loose you crochet. I tend to crochet more tightly than some people. Others crochet more loosely. When you crochet loosely your project will be bigger and if you crochet more tightly your project will be smaller. Sometimes a pattern will tell you how many stitches it will take to fill so many inches based on their results. This is telling you the appropriate gauge for that project so your end product comes out about the same size.
- Fasten Off and Weave in Your Your Ends. When you’re finished with your crochet project you will need to finish your project so the whole thing does not unravel. You don’t want to accidentally frog your work, so you use something called fastening off. There will be strings remaining at the beginning and end of your project, and sometimes in between. You can use a tapestry needle to incorporate those strings back into your project which is called weaving in the ends. Red Heart yarn shows you how:
- Decrease. Some crochet projects will require you to decrease a stitch to make a section smaller than a previous one. You might use decreases when making a piece of clothing or a toy for a child. Decreases are their own special stitches that help you shorten a previous round or row.
- Increase. The opposite of a decrease is of course an increase. To increase the stitches you will add stitches to your project. Again, you might use an increase to make clothing like a hat. To increase a row or round, you will put multiple stitches in a previous stitch from an earlier row.
- Amigurumi. Amigurumi is something I’m not very familiar with, but something I would like to learn how to do. The term itself is a mix between two Japanese words. Ami means crochet or knit, and nuigurumi means stuffed doll.
How to Read a Crochet Pattern
Nothing will stop your crochet journey in its tracks faster than not knowing how to read a pattern. So many weird abbreviations. So many numbers. What’s up with those symbols? It may as well be Latin.
Never fear. I learned how to read a pattern, and you can too. You just need a little push in the right direction. You don’t need to learn how to read a pattern to make some beginner crochet projects, but eventually, you’re going to find something on Pinterest that catches your eye and you’re not going to be able to stop thinking about it until you learn how to make it. Chances are, you’ll need to know how to read the pattern to make it.
I mean look at Pinterest. It’s mesmerizing.
Crochet Pattern Abbreviations
To read a crochet pattern, let me first show you a list of abbreviations you may come across in your crochet pattern.
- bet = between
- bo = bobble
- ch = chain
- dec = decrease
- dc = double crochet
- hdc = half double crochet
- inc = increase
- sc = single crochet
- sk = skip
- sl st = slip stitch
- sp = space
- st = stitch
- yo = yarn over
Parenthesis in a Crochet Pattern
Sometimes a pattern will use parenthesis to explain something. There are several reasons why a pattern might include a parenthesis.
- To tell you how many stitches in total. Each row or round will have a number of stitches and many patterns will tell you how many by putting the number in parenthesis.
- To share how many stitches to use for different sizes. Sometimes you will use a pattern that has more than one size. In the parenthesis, it will have several different numbers like (10, 14, 18). That will tell you how many stitches to add depending on the pattern you’re using.
- To tell you an important detail. A parenthesis might tell you something you need to know about the pattern like whether or not a chain at the end of a row counts as a stitch. This might read like Ch. 2 (does not count as st.)
- To tell you to work two stitches into one stitch from the previous row. Sometimes when you’re crocheting you may be asked to crochet two stitches into a previous stitch. It could be to increase the size of the row or it could be a normal part of the pattern. When this happens, sometimes a pattern may say (sc, dc) so you know to work a single crochet and a double crochet into the same stitch.
Rows or Rounds
As you’re crocheting your pattern may say Row 1 or Round 1 to give you an idea of which part of the piece you’re working on. This may also be abbreviated to an “R”
When you’re working in rows the pattern will usually tell you to turn. This means you turn the entire project over and begin crocheting the opposite way, working across the stitches you just made.
When you come across asterisks in your pattern it means that something is repeating. For example, you may do the same set of stitches across the whole row or for several rows.
The Making Life Crochet Pattern Example
Here’s an example of an easy dishcloth crochet pattern that we have on our website.
In this pattern, you’re first told what materials you will need.
Next, you’re given a key that explains all the abbreviations that will be used in the pattern.
Once the pattern begins, you’re told how many chains you’re supposed to make to start the project.
Row 1 tells you to single crochet across the stitches, chain 2, and turn your project over so you can crochet the other way.
Row 2 lets you know that the chain you made does count as a stitch. Then you’re supposed to half-double crochet in the first stitch. Next, the pattern says to skip one stitch and then put 2 hdc stitches in one stitch. That pattern repeats, so it’s put in *asterisks.*
The pattern repeats until you’re ready to be done.
Then the final row tells you to single crochet across, fasten off, and weave in the ends.
If you have any more questions about how to read a crochet pattern, go ahead and drop it in the comments below and I’ll do my best to help you out! Sometimes patterns are written a little differently from each other and that can make things extra confusing.
What are the Best Beginner Crochet Projects?
If I were giving someone a very first crochet project I would recommend making a dishcloth like the one that I talked about in the section above. Dishcloths are easy easy easy to make and they’re also extremely practical. I use them every day to wash my dishes and wipe down the countertops. If you don’t want to use them in the kitchen they can instead be used in the tub for bathtime.
Cotton yarn is the best yarn you can use for dishcloths because it’s very absorbent, it holds up pretty well, and it can come in any color you like.
An afghan (or crocheted blanket) is also something that can be a good beginner project. Depending on the pattern, you may just be repeating the same stitch over and over again until the blanket is complete. It can be a nice project to help you learn how to keep your ends even and practice stitches. It can also be a good meditation practice.
Although they are a bit trickier to learn, hats can also be a pretty good beginner crochet project. The hat below is a tiny bit tricky, but some crochet hats are pretty much repeating the same stitches over and over again but in a round.
What Did I Miss About Crochet Basics?
Okay, how did I do? Did I answer your questions? Do you feel confident to begin crocheting something? If you still have questions let me know! I would be more than happy to answer them in the comment section below. You can also find us on Instagram and drop us a message there. I can’t *wait* to see what wonderful crochet creations you come up with!