How to crochet: A complete beginner's guide
Learning how to crochet is easier than you probably think. Once you learn how to hold your hook and how to make a chain, you'll master the other crochet stitches in no time and will be creating colouful granny square blankets and softs toys before you know it.
Crocheting is a lovely craft pastime. Not only is it relaxing with plenty of healthy benefits, once you get going, you'll find it very quick to make anything from a crochet blanket to a crochet bag and so much more. And it's all thanks to just too things – a hook and a yarn as well as a pattern to follow.
Crochet is one of the most versatile and affordable crafts around so if you've been considering taking up a new craft but not sure what to try, our crochet for beginners tutorial is just what you need.
We show you the basic stitches step-by-step so you're confident on your crochet journey. Time to grab a crochet hook and yarn and get started!
What is crochet?
Crochet means 'small hook' in French and is a way of creating fabric by interlocking loops of yarn with a crochet hook. It's an ancient craft stretching back hundreds of years.
Most fashionable in the UK in the late 19th century onwards, Queen Victoria was rumoured to have instructed her ladies-in-waiting only to crochet because of the ‘dainty’ appearance of their hands while they were hooking away. Knitting was absolutely forbidden in the royal household. Today there's still a differentiation between the two - people are often knitters or crocheters rather than both.
Is crocheting easy to learn?
People often wonder, is it easier to knit or crochet? While both of these yarn-based crafts are easy to do once you learn the basics, crochet only involves one hook rather than two needles.
Arguably, far speedier than knitting with its tall, elongated stitch possibilities, crochet enables some gorgeous floral fabrics and bumper crochet blankets stitched in granny squares to grow in next to no time.
What is the best yarn to use for crochet?
To begin with, all you need is a ball of mercerised cotton yarn in DK weight and a crochet hook to match. While balls of yarn will recommend a hook size you may find a slightly larger hook easier to start with. In the examples here we're using Rowan Cotton Glace DK as the yarn and and a 3.75mm hook, (or 4mm to make it easier.)
Do be aware that while abbreviations in English and US patterns each read the same, the terms mean very different things – so always check which abbreviations a pattern is using. These instructions are for English abbreviations.
Abbreviations are listed alongside the name of each stitch, below.
How to hold your crochet hook and yarn
Before you start to crochet, make a slipknot and apply this to the hooked end of your crochet hook.
To make a slipknot, create a loop and pull another loop of yarn through it. Place it on your hook and gently tighten so it fits well on your hook.
Hold this in your right hand on the flat centre of the crochet hook, with the underside of the hook angled downwards.
Yarn is held in your left hand, with your thumb and middle finger pinching your work (at this point just the nub of a knot below your hook) directly below the hook to aid control and stop everything from wobbling around.
Your yarn should then flow from this work (still just a knot at this stage), over the tip of your index finger which is held straight and taught, with your yarn looking like a harp string as it travels down to your thumb, and weave the end of yarn attached to the ball in-between your middle and ring fingers which you will tighten and loosen to control your tension as you work.
Note: With any stitch, yarn is always wrapped over the hook from behind the work, over the hook and towards you.
Working a Chain (Ch) step-by-step in pictures
This is the simplest stitch in crochet which often forms the foundation of any crochet project.
Make a slipknot and apply to crochet hook near hook end to hold in right hand.
Holding yarn in left hand, and moving hook from left to right under yarn, collect one loop of yarn at a time before drawing through loop on the hook, and allowing the exiting loop on the hook to fall over the new one, and off the tip of the hook.
Repeat until you have the desired number of chains. When turned toward the front, each chain will resemble a V-shaped loop. Count the loops to determine the number of chains, but do not count the loop on your hook.
Working a double crochet stitch (dc) step-by-step in pictures
Insert the pointed tip of your crochet hook into the second presenting ch from your hook, and sweep your hook from left to right under your yarn.
Grab this loop of yarn and pull it through your chain, so that two loops are on your hook.
Grab another loop of yarn and pull through both of the loops on your hook, allowing these worked loops to fall over the tip of your new loop and off the hook.
If starting a new row, work 1 ch before inserting your hook into the first st to begin the first dc of the row.
Working a treble crochet stitch (tr) step-by-step in pictures
*Wrap a loop of yarn around your hook before inserting the hook into the designated stitch (If working at the beginning of a chain, miss the first 3ch and insert your hook into the fourth; if starting a new row, work 3ch before working your first tr into the second stitch along the work). Angle your hook downwards pointing towards your work.
Wrap another loop of yarn around your hook and draw through the work, towards you. You should now have three loops of yarn on your hook.
Wrap another loop of yarn around your hook and draw through two loops. You will have two loops remaining.*
Grab another loop of yarn and pull through remaining two loops. This forms your stitch.
You will know that you have completed any stitch when you only have one loop of yarn remaining on your hook.
If in doubt, take your loop off your hook and unravel your work until you only have one remaining, and simply pop it back on. Crochet is pretty sturdy and stands up well to being undone when you need to go back a step or two.
Working a treble 2 together stitch (tr2tog)
Decreases are pretty easy in crochet. The general rule is, you work the first stitch to be included in the decrease until the stage when only two loops remain, and then put it on hold as you start the next one and bring it to the same stage. Sounding like gobbeldygook? Not to worry.
Take a treble 2 together (tr2tog) for example.
Simply work as given from * to * above, and then work as follows:
Wrap a loop of yarn around your hook before inserting the hook into the next stitch along.
Wrap another loop of yarn around your hook and draw through the work, towards you. You should now have five loops of yarn on your hook.
Wrap another loop of yarn around your hook and draw through the first two loops. You will have four loops remaining.
To complete the stitch, wrap another loop of yarn around your hook and draw through all four loops on the hook.
Now you know how to crochet! Beginners to crochet often enjoy making granny squares, which can be stitched together to create a blanket, table cloth or even a scarf. You could even get started with a crochet kit.
There are many other types of crochet to try too. Find out more in our guides to amigurumi and Tunisian crochet or try your skills at creating a crochet flower. And if you fancy doing some seasonal Christmas crochet you'll love this crochet Christmas sprout pattern!
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