How to Crochet

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Make crochet the hobby of your heart.
Make crochet the hobby of your heart. (Image: nelik/iStock/Getty Images)

The history of cross-stitch, embroidery and knitting is easily traced, but the origins of crochet are cloaked in uncertainty. Some historians claim that the needlecraft started with the 16th century’s lace-making, beginning in Arabia, in South America or in China. However, there is no definitive evidence to support one theory over another, and it wasn’t until 1800 that crochet left a historical footprint in Europe. From the Middle French word for hook, croc or croche, crochet even caught the fancy of U.S. President James Buchanan.

Crochet Supplies, to Start

Crochet requires very little in the way of supplies.

You’ll need:

  • Crochet hook sized according to your pattern instructions. Hooks come in aluminum, steel, wood, plastic and bamboo, along with other materials found in specialty stores. The choice of material is purely personal; as you continue learning to crochet, you will find what is most comfortable for you. You can also find padded grips to add to the handle of your hook to make it easier to hold.

  • Material to create your crocheted fabric. Yarn is the most common choice, but you can use ribbon, fabric strips and even “plarn” made from recycled plastic bags. Most beginners find worsted weight yarn the easiest to use when learning the stitches.

Grab That Hook

Gripping the hook securely makes stitching easier. There are two common grips for projects, and you’ll need to experiment to decide which is best for you. For the first, hold the hook in your dominant hand as you would a pencil, resting it on your second finger, gripping it between your thumb and forefinger. For the second, hold the hook like it’s a knife you're using to cut something on your dinner plate.

Use your non-dominant hand to manage the yarn. One method is to wrap it around your little finger and your index finger, going from the front to the back.

Read the Pattern

Some crochet patterns include a stitch diagram, but nearly all use certain standard abbreviations. Knowing these will make following the pattern much easier.

The ones you'll use most often are:

  • ch -- chain stitch
  • sc -- single crochet
  • dc -- double crochet
  • hdc -- half double crochet
  • sl st -- slip stitch
  • yo -- yarn over.

Start With a Chain

Most crochet projects begin with a foundation of chain stitches. Start with a slip knot that you make by wrapping the yarn around your index finger, then slipping your hook under the yarn and pulling a loop up onto the hook. Most hooks have a flattened area an inch or two from the end; pull the yarn taut on this spot.

Next, wrap the yarn around your non-dominant hand, on the little and forefingers, and grasp the loop on the hook with the thumb and second finger on that hand. Cross your hook over the yarn between your index and second fingers, and then wrap the yarn over the hook. Turn the hook slightly to catch the yarn and pull it through the loop already on your hook. You’ve made your first chain stitch.

Move to Single Crochet

Single crochet is a basic stitch that joins others in making different patterns and motifs. Begin by inserting your hook into one of the chains you made to begin, or into a stitch in another row, according to your project instructions. Holding the hook and yarn as you did for the chain, wrap the yarn and pull up a loop to make two on your hook. Wrap and hook another loop, and pull it through both of the ones on the hook, leaving the new loop.

Double Up With Double Crochet

A double-crochet stitch begins the same as a single crochet. After you’ve made two loops on your hook, wrap and hook to pull up a third loop. Wrap and pull a loop through the first two loops, leaving two on the hook. Wrap and pull through the remaining loops.

Make a half double crochet by making the three loops on the hook and then pulling a loop through all three of them at once.

Finish It With a Slip Stitch

Join rounds, skip across a row or end your work project with a slip stitch. Begin as if you're going to make a single crochet. Instead of leaving the second loop on the hook, pull it through the original loop.

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