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Beginners Guide to Crochet How to Get Started

Lately, I have been doing some crochet projects,  and trying to explain what beginners need to know and encourage them to try crocheting.  I have finally decided to dedicate a how-to beginner post that I can refer absolute beginners to learn the crochet basics and essential crochet stitches.  If you linked over from one of my crochet posts, thank you. If you didn’t link over, welcome and I have added a few very simple project ideas for you to try once you have done this tutorial.

In this post, I am going to start at the very beginning and hopefully convince you to give crochet a try.  It is a fantastic craft, and quite easy to do, with a little persistence you will be making beautiful crochet projects in no time.

Supplies Needed to Begin Crochet

Worsted wool in size 4 and a size J9 / 5.0 mm crochet hook.  For practice, we will crochet a sampler, that goes through the different basic techniques and crochet stitches.

You may see posts that recommend a bunch of various other tools with links. I promise you only need a hook and wool to get started.  You can use a normal measuring tape, ruler, and pair of scissors. Let’s begin.  

What is Crochet?

Crochet is a craft that takes a thread of yarn and loops it into various useful items using a crochet hook.  

There are numerous different crochet projects you can make using the same basic stitches.  The stitches are patterned in different ways to create a wide variety of different items. I believe the biggest hurdle for new crocheters is learning all the different definitions,  terms, and abbreviations.  Stick with it and you will be making everything from scarves to beautiful afghans.  Start with a basic project, and progress to more advanced projects as you learn.

What Supplies Do  You Need to Begin Crocheting?

Three things, a ball of yarn, a crochet hook, and scissors.

Choosing the Yarn

The yarn you choose will usually be determined by your pattern. As wool comes in different weights, fibers, and finishes. The easiest yarn for beginners to work with is a medium-weight yarn in a light color.  Thinner and thicker yarn is worked the same way, but the medium-weight yarn in a soft color is the easiest for you to see.  

Three different sizes of crochet yarn with labels showing sizing highlighted.  Explaining yarn measurements for badsic crochet tutorial.

Choosing the Hook

Chances are the yarn you choose will have a yarn label that tells you the weight of the yarn, and the recommended hook size to use for that yarn. 

Yarn comes in a wide variety of thicknesses, there are so many different types of yarns for different purposes.  For beginners just remember, the thicker your yarn is the larger your hooks will need to be.

If you want to check out all sorts of different yarn types Lion Brand not an affiliate,

A collection of crochet hooks from very large to very tiny.  An example for a beginners tutorial how to post.

Crochet hook sizes are incremental with different sizes from tiny to very large.  For crochet beginners, I suggest buying one hook for the first simple projects you choose.  Once you have decided you love it and want to do more crochet then you can buy a set of crochet hooks.   

A table showing all the various different weight of yarn and hook sizes available for crochet along with a list of items are typically made with those yarn weights.

How to Hold a Crochet Hook

There are two typical ways to hold a crochet hook.  I hold mine like a pencil.  with my thumb resting on the flat part of the hook. and my index finger on the other side.   Looking into writing this post for you, I discovered that other people sometimes hold the crochet hook in the palm of their hand like a knife  The thumb still rests on the flat portion of the hook and the remaining fingers hold the hook from the underside.  My advice is to try and hold it like you hold a pencil, and see if it works for you.  In no time you won’t even be thinking about how you hold a hook, you just do it.  

Two different ways to hold a crochet hook.  The first one is pencil style the second is knife style.

Rolling Yarn into Balls or Not

One last bit of advice before I show you how to do crochet stitches.  Wool has outer fibers that will snag and twist and of course knot.  You can withdraw the wool from a skein from the middle of the skein as shown in the image, and have luck unraveling it as you crochet.

Two skeins of wool showing how to unravel the skein. The second pink on is a rolled up ball of wool.

Do NOT take the end of the wool from the outside of the skein, it knots too often.  I suggest rolling your wool into a ball first before you begin crocheting.  

As a side note. If you look at the large cream Bernat blank label, it has a free pattern included. You can also check out their Yarnspirations (not an affiliate link)

How to Hold the Yarn

To hold the yarn, loop the yarn through the fingers of your non-dominant hand. Pass the yarn over your pinky finger, under the third and middle fingers, and back over your index finger. 

Two images of how to hold a yarn for crochet. The first one shows the underside of the hand and how the yarn is wrapped. the second shows the side of the hand with an arrow describing where the hook goes.

Just to make things complicated, the USA does not measure hooks or define things the same way as the UK does. American crochet terms are different, and for this post, I am using the American terms.  The UK uses metric and different terms, as a Canadian I tend to use American.  I strongly suggest if you are learning from the USA stick with a pattern that says it’s for the USA.  

The abbreviations are different depending on where the pattern was written.  Most patterns will tell you which terms they are using so again it doesn’t matter too much.   I am adding this for your info. In the table below they mention the same stitch using different terms and terminology.

A chart showing the abbreviations for basic crochet stitches in both USA, and UK terms.

Often Used Terms You Will Come Across

Yarn Over Hook

The “yarn over” is abbreviated by YO.  You will often “hear” the term on YouTube or in written descriptions of most basic crochet stitches.  

How to Yarn Over Hook

To do a yarn over hook,  while holding the yarn in your left hand.  You pivot the right hand circling the wool around the hook. This wraps the yarn over the hook.  

Working in the Round 

This term refers to projects you crochet in a circle.  It’s a row of work that you do in a circle.  It often means you’re going to work in a single continuous row without any need to turn the direction of your work.  You continuously work in the same direction.  Small motifs, flowers, bowls, and toques (sweater caps), are often worked in rounds.  

Other patterns may ask you to start a round, end with a sl st to the beginning of the same round.  Then chain and start again.  Let the pattern guide you, but now you know what the term round means.  

Rows

When crocheting in rows you will be turning your work at the end of each row. Typically with a turning chain of different heights.  Again the pattern will direct you. Rows are used for rectangular shaped projects, cushion covers, afghans, baby blankets, rugs, sweaters, and scarves are some examples.

Crochet Stitch How-To Tutorials

Slip Knot

Slip knots are used to tie the yarn to the crochet hook at the very beginning of a crochet pattern.  They are the first step to putting the yarn on the crochet hook.

How to Slip Knot

1. Wrap the yarn around your fingers. 2. Pull the long working string through the loop.  3. Slide it on the hook.  Use the short yarn to pull it tight.

Chain Stitch

Crochet nearly always starts with a string of chain stitches, you will see the chain stitch used to create, foundation rows, turning chains, and loops of various kinds. The abbreviation for chain stitch is: ch

How to Chain Stitch 

To do a chain stitch, you will already have a slip knot on your hook.

Hold the crochet hook in your right hand, and keep light tension on the yarn in your left hand.  Encircle the yarn with the hook, in a counterclockwise direction. Then pull the wool through the slip knot or loop on the hook.

Practicing a Chain Stitch

Let’s crochet a sample together, I will take clear step-by-step photographs so you have all the time you need to practice the crochet tutorials.  I will also do it on YouTube for extra illustration. Keep the work you do in the Sample as we will grab it for the next stitch tutorial.

Let’s begin with a worsted weight 4 yarn and a size H8 /  5mm crochet hook.

Make a Slip Knot, and chain 20.  

Lay your crochet down and count the stitches.  

Let’s take a close look at the chain stitches you made.  The front will look like a bunch of interlocking Vs and the back will be bumpy.  Once you’re sure you have 20 stitches you are done.  

In the next image, the numbers show you where you would count each chain stitch, the arrows show where I would place my hook when crocheting the next row.

A foundation row of crochet stitches with numbers and arrows illustrating how to count each chain stitch.

Foundation Chain and Counting Chains

When you begin a pattern you will be instructed to work a specific number of chain stitches to create a foundation chain.

Do not count the original slip knot on your hook.  Count every time you pull the yarn through the loop. This first series of chain stitches is referred to as the foundation chain.  

We already did the foundation chain when we started our sampler.

To count chains crochet a few, set your crochet down, and check it out.  The front of the chain will have a series of V shapes.  Each V is a stitch.  Flip it over and the back side has a series of bumps.  

Patterns will tell you how many stitches to skip at the start of the foundation row. 

Unfortunately, the first row you crochet into the foundation row is the hardest because you don’t have much yarn to hold on to, and it can twist on you.  Please stick with it, after a couple of rows it gets MUCH easier.  Invest a little bit of time in practice and remember this little bit of wool is cheap and you can always happily toss it at and try again.

How to Make a Turning Chain

Each type of stitch is a different height. Here’s a simple chart.  I will show you each one of these stitches. 

A chart showing the different lengths of turning chains needed to compliment specific crochet stitches.

A turning chain is used to turn the direction you are working in.  When working in rows or rounds you will need to create a specific number of chains at the beginning of each row. This is done so that the hook comes to the same height as the stitches in the upcoming row. 

You will practice turning chains while doing the sampler for each stitch type. But now you know what a turning chain is.

Single Crochet Stitch

A single crochet is the shortest crochet stitch. It’s hardwearing and durable and creates a solid densely strong fabric. You often see single crochet for baskets, cup coasters, cushion covers, and toys.

The abbreviation for single crochet stitch is: sc

How to Single Crochet

Skip the first stitch. 1. Place the tip of the hook (with the last chain stitch still on it) into the second stitch from the hook. Push through from front to back.  2. Pass the hook under the yarn, yarn over hook, and draw it through the first loop.  3. You will have two loops on the hook.  4 Yarn over hook again, and pull through both loops. You just finished your first single crochet.

Practicing Single Crochet Stitch

Grab the sampler with the 20-stitch long foundation chain.

We are doing rows of single crochet stitches, so chain 1.  Insert your hook in the second chain from hook,  1 sc in next stitch, and repeat until the end of the row.

Repeat the single crochet in every stitch until the end of your foundation chain.  Be careful not to twist the chain.  Every stitch has to go through the V side.  Stop when you reach the end of a row.  We will make a simple turning chain next.

Chain 1  and turn.  You have just finished your first crochet row. The first row is by far the hardest.

Do as many rows of single crochet as you need to until you’re comfortable doing single crochet. Make sure to do this part, before proceeding. It helps with getting comfortable seeing the next stitch, holding the yarn, and keeping a nice loose tension. While practicing take notice of how much faster you get after each row.

In a pattern what you just crocheted would be abbreviated as follows.

1 row –  1 sc in 2nd ch from hook.  1 sc in each ch to end of ch.  Ch 1. Turn.  

2 row –  2 sc in each st to end of row. Ch 1 . Turn.  

Half Double Crochet

The half double crochet is halfway in height between the single crochet and the double crochet.  You will see patterns calling for this stitch when making curves.

The abbreviation for half double crochet stitch is: hdc

A collage of each individual step it takes to do a half double crochet stitch.

How to Half Double Crochet

To do a half-double crochet.  1. Yarn around hook ONCE before inserting the hook into the next stitch. 2 Insert hook and push through. 3. Yarn around hook again. 4. Pull yarn through first loop. 5. You will have three loops on hook. 6. Yarn over hook again. 7 Pull yarn through all three loops on hook.  You’ve finished your first half double crochet stitch.

Practicing Half Double Crochet

Grab the sampler, make sure you have ch 2. Wrap yarn around hook, insert it into the next stitch, yarn over hook again, and pull through. You will have three loops on hook, yarn over hook again pull through all stitches on hook.  Repeat this until the end of the row.  Chain 2. Turn

Do a second row of half double crochet.  ch 2, and Turn

In a pattern what you just crocheted would be abbreviated as follows.

3 row –  1 hdc in 1st from hook.  1 hdc in each st to end of row.  Ch 2. Turn.  

4 row –  repeat row 3.  

Double Crochet

The double crochet is a very popular stitch that creates a softer more open design than the very solid single crochet stitch does.  Don’t quote me but I think it’s the most often used stitch in crochet.  It is taller than the half-double crochet and not as tall as the treble stitch.  

The abbreviation for double crochet stitch is: dc

A step by step collage of how to complete a double crochet stitch.  Easy images shows the yarn being woven using a crochet hook.

How to Double Crochet

1. Wrap the yarn around your hook once. 2. Insert it into the first st from the hook.  3. Wrap the yarn around the hook again. 4. Draw the yarn through.  5. You will have 3 loops of yarn on your hook. 6. Wrap the yarn around the hook again. 7. Pull yarn through the first TWO, loops on the hook.  8 Wrap the yarn again. 9 Draw the yarn through the last two loops on the hook. You have just finished your first double stitch.

Practicing Double Crochet

Grab the sampler. Make sure you have a ch2 turning chain on your hook.  Wrap the yarn around your hook once, then insert it into the first st from the hook.  Wrap the yarn around the hook again and draw the yarn through.  You will have 3 loops of yarn on your hook. Wrap the yarn around the hook again and draw it through the first TWO, loops on the hook.  Wrap the yarn again and draw it through the last two loops on the hook. Repeat the double crochets until the end of the row. Chain 2 and turn.

In a pattern what you just crocheted would be abbreviated as follows.

5 row –  1 dc in 1st from hook.  1 dc in each st to end of row.  Ch 2. Turn.  

6 row –  repeat row 3.  Ch 3 turn

Treble Crochet 

The treble crochet stitch is the tallest basic stitch that quickly adds size to the project you’re working on.  It is often used along with other stitches to make curves, just like the half-double crochet stitch.  It creates more holes and a looser fabric that drapes, you often see it in lacy tablecloths, baby cloths, and afghans. It’s done exactly like the double crochet except you begin with two wraps around the hook, and pull through one more time.  

The abbreviation for treble crochet stitch is: tr

How to Treble Crochet

Make sure you have ch3 turning chains on your hook. 1. Wrap the yarn around your hook twice. 2. Insert it into the first st from the hook. 3. Wrap the yarn around the hook again and draw the yarn through. 4. You will have 4 loops of yarn on your hook.  5. Wrap the yarn around the hook again and draw through the first two loops on the crochet hook.  6. You will have 3 hoops left on the hook.  7. Wrap the yarn over the hook again and draw through the next two loops, this will leave two loops on the crochet hook.  8. Wrap the yarn around the hook for the last time and draw through the remaining two loops on the hook.  You’ve created your first treble crochet.

Practicing a Treble Crochet

Make sure to have ch3 turning chain on your hook. Do a treble crochet in each stitch to the end of the row. Once you reach the end of the row ch3 and turn.

Repeat with a second row of treble crochet.

In a pattern what you just crocheted would be abbreviated as follows.

​7 row  – 1 tr in 1st from hook.  1 tr in each st to the end of the row.  Ch 3. Turn.

8 row – repeat row 7.  Pull through and tie off.  ( I will cover the pull-through later) 

Even Taller Stitches

Based on what you already know, you can form taller stitches for each height increase you just need to wrap the yarn over the hook one more time and add a length to the turning chain.  I am not going to include anything else about these stitches, as I have never had to use them in a pattern.  There are two more stitches I want to add to the post and Eureka they are the easiest.

Slip Stitch​

The slip stitch is the shortest of all the crochet stitches.  It is used to change colors in a project. It is most commonly used to move from one point in your crochet to the other, or at the end of a round.  

The abbreviation for slip stitch is: slst

How to Slip Stitch

To do a slip stitch.  You begin by passing the crochet through the stitch. Yarn over hook, and pull through both loops.  You are done.

Pull Through

​You use a pull-through to end a crochet project.  It’s the stitch that knots the end of a portion of a crochet project. It’s like a knot. It can also be called a finish-off. It’s almost identical to a slip stitch except at the end you snip the yarn and pull through to form a knot.

​How to Pull Through

On your last stitch, you yarn over hook and pull the yarn through the one loop left on the hook.  Cut your yarn and pull it through.

These are all the basic crochet stitches and terms you need to make a countless variety of different crochet projects.  Including every one of the projects on Pretty DIY Home.

I think your next step should be to create some easy crochet projects. 

The most important thing is to enjoy and not stress about learning.

A pretty graphic with the pretty diy home logo in it.

Note: 

For myself, I enjoy crochet because it is a quiet no mess craft. There is no cleaning up to do, it’s portable, you can do it as a passenger in the car, on the plane, or when waiting for an appointment.  

Although I wish I had YouTube to learn the crochet stitches all those years ago. I by far prefer written patterns to “crochet along with me videos”.

I do create crochet with me videos to help someone if their stuck, but highly recommend unplugging and enjoying crochet quietly.  I hope you learn to love this craft as much as I do. Leanna

Don’t forget to pin this for later!

An image from the post of me doing a crochet stitch with pink yarn and a blue crochet hook.  The overlay text says "Learn how to Crochet 100% Complete Beginners How To"
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