A Beginners’ Crochet Notebook…

Let’s start with Hooks:
~ There is often much confusion about crochet hook sizing. Different countries use numbers, &/or, letters, plus keep in mind these can also vary between manufactures.
So, use this chart as a general rule for sizing in AUS, UK/CAN & US.
~ Crochet hooks also come in different materials: metal, plastic, bamboo, wood & even bone, to name a few.
~ Choosing the right hook for you comes through experience & by trying out a variety to see what suits you best. Keep in mind: how it feels in your hand, is it light or heavy? Cool or clammy? Is the handle & thumb rest comfortable?
~ My personal preference is metal (Aluminium), especially for beginners, but this is not essential nor cast in stone, go for what’s comfortable & affordable.
For your first hook purchases get a collection of average sizes, marked red on the chart,

 

Hooks for other crochet techniques
~ The Tunisian Hook is a long hook, not unlike a knitting needle, used to work Tunisian Crochet, also known as Tricot & Afghan Crochet
~ The Double Ended Hook is exactly as it says, hook at both ends, used for the Cro-nit/Crochenit technique

 

Getting to know Yarn: You’re in the yarn shop & looking around. Yikes!! Where on Earth does one start? There are so many different kinds, in all shapes & sizes. Here’s a quick guide:  

Balls of yarn are round & can be worked by pulling from the inside or worked from the outside.

 

 

Skeins are similar, but oval in shape & like balls, can be worked from the inside or outside to start 

 

 

Hanks have been wound into large rings, then twisted into shape. Hanks require winding into balls or skeins before using them (to avoid a knotted nightmare). This is where yarn swifts/niddy noddies & ball winders come into play

 

 

My best advice for beginner crocheters is to start with inexpensive, plain coloured, 8 ply yarn & a 4.50/5.00 hook (preferably metal).

As tempting as it is to buy that gorgeous, textured, fluffy, variegated  yarn… when learning, it’s almost impossible to see your stitches & know what you’re doing.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A few more things to consider when buying yarn: Read the label…

Labels will tell you the yarn weight/yardage, the hook &/or needle size & care instructions

Type of Yarn, whether it’s a plant, animal or synthetic fibre (see chart below)

Weight/yardage is important for determining how much yarn is required for your project.

Dye lot number: Balls/skeins/hanks with the same dye lot number were dyed at the same time. The same colour & brand with a different dye-lot will vary & may ruin your project

Care instructions need no explanations, they tell you what you need to know, such  as; dry cleanable, machine/hand washable, important when crocheting projects for babies & children.Use the following chart as a general rule to help with yarn weight terms & approx recommended hook size

Other tools you will find handy for your crochet projects:

  • Scissors, find a nice sharp pair & keep them just for you.
  • Large eyed Darning/Tapestry needle, for weaving in ends & sewing pieces together
  • Stitch markers. Many crocheters like using commercial stitch markers found in most good craft stores, I prefer using a long thread of yarn, whatever works for you is fine.
  • Paper/notebook, pen or pencil, for marking off rows or rounds as you go. Very handy for when the phone rings or there’s a knock at the door.
  • Flexible Tape Measure
  • T-pins for blocking when working in crochet lace
  • Yarn Swift/Niddy Noddy when skeins need to be wound into balls
  • Ball winder worked in conjunction with yarn swift 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Ok, so you’ve collect your yarn & hooks & you’re busting to get started…

Holding your hook: The first thing I always suggest to beginner crocheters is to get familiar with holding your hook & yarn; it’s the one thing I’ve found to be the most difficult for beginners. Years of teaching have shown me that there are many ways to hold your hook & rarely do 2 people hold it the same way, in other words, there is no real correct way; it’s a matter of finding your own comfort zone to achieve even tension & this takes time, patience & practice; so don’t despair if you’re struggling with this in the beginning

The following 2 methods are probably the most popular but by no means the only way to hold your hook

A: hold your hook as you would a pencil with hook facing down

B: hold your hook as would a knife with hook facing down

  

Let’s get crocheting… The first thing you have to do is make a Slip Knot. Why, you ask… because it’s neater & more flexible which will make your first chain (ch) easier to draw through. 

Leaving about 10/12 cm (4”/5”) tail, make a circle of yarn with the ball end going under the circle, bring yarn through with your hook & pull end to fit hook so that it slides easily on the hook.

Tip: the slip knit is not counted as a chain (ch) – the loop on the hook is never counted as a stitch (st)

Next… Holding your yarn: & again, in my  experience, there is no right/wrong way to hold your yarn. The following two methods are the most commonly used techniques but if you come up with your own & it works well, then good on you.

Remember what’s important: that the yarn should slide easily from hand to hook without being too tight or too loose – I wish there was a magic bullet for achieving this quickly & effortlessly however, only patient practice, over and over again, will get you there.

 Method 1:

To maintain tension, wrap yarn around little finger & other fingers as shown in diagram for Method 1 – the middle finger is used to feed the yarn & the index finger & thumb hold your work.

 

 

 Method 2:

 To maintain tension, wrap yarn around little finger & other fingers as shown in diagram for Method 2 – the index finger is used to feed the yarn & the middle finger & thumb hold your work

 

Making your chain:

Now that you have managed your yarn & hook into a comfortable position you are ready to make your first chain. Remembering that the loop on the hook is never counted, you now draw yarn through the loop to make a chain – to do this you must first do a yarn over (YO), then draw yarn through the loop on your hook (you have made your first chain), continue in this manner until you have the number of chains  required

This is your foundation chain.

Foundation chain is the number of chains required for the length and/or pattern plus the extra chains that are required to accommodate the height of stitch in the row about to be worked – ie: if trebles (tr) (US:double crochet(dc)) are being used you will need 3 extra chains. 

These 3 extra chains are called the turning chain & (unless the pattern states otherwise) must always counted as the first stitch of the row or round. Therefore in subsequent rows or rounds – the turning chain must be treated as a stitch at the end of each previous row or round

Use the following chart as a general rule for the number of chains required for the turning chain for your working stitch & where to work your first stitch on the foundation chain.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The following are small exercises to practice until you feel comfortable & confident 

For your first exercise make 11 chains

So… you now have your foundation chain ready to begin the first stitch. In this case it will be a double crochet (dc) (US: single crochet (sc)) 

Row 1: working back along the foundation chain, insert hook into 2nd ch from hook, YO and draw loop through stitch (st) (2 loops on hook), YO and draw yarn through both loops – your first dc (sc) made, 

* insert hook into next ch, YO and draw loop through stitch (st) (2 loops on hook), YO and draw yarn through both loops, your 2nd dc (sc) made,

repeat from * in each chain across, you should have 10 dc (sc)

Row 2: Now… ** make 1 ch (this is your turning chain) – turn your work,

working back along the first row, insert hook into first st (under both loops of st), YO and draw loop through st (2 loops on hook), YO and draw yarn through both loops – your first dc (sc) of row 2 made, 

* insert hook into next st (under both loops of st), YO and draw loop through st (2 loops on hook), YO and draw yarn through both loops, your 2nd dc (sc) of row 2  made,

repeat from * in each st across, you should have 10 dc (sc) 

Row 3 & subsequent rows: repeat row 2 from ** to your desired size.

The following is the exact same instructions as above in written pattern & in chart (Graph) format

Exercise 1:Working in dc (double crochet) (US: single crochet (sc))

make 11 ch

Row 1: dc (sc) in 2nd ch from hook & in each ch across = 10 dc (sc)

Row 2: 1 ch, turn, dc (sc) in first st & in each st across = 10 dc (sc)

subsequent Rows: repeat Row 2 to desired length = 10 dc (sc)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

For your 2nd exercise you are working in trebles (tr) (US: double crochet (dc))

Foundation chain make 12 chains

Row 1: working back along your foundation chain, make a yarn over (YO) & insert the hook into the 4th chain from the hook, YO & draw yarn through chain (you should have 3 loops on hook), YO & draw yarn through 2 loops (2 loops left on hook), YO & draw through last 2 loops – treble (tr) (US: double crochet (dc)) made

* YO, insert the hook into next chain, YO & draw yarn through chain (you should have 3 loops on hook), YO & draw yarn through 2 loops (2 loops left on hook), YO & draw through last 2 loops, repeat from * across to last ch, = you should have 10 trebles (US:dc)

Row 2:**make 3 ch (this is your turning ch, Beginning-ch, & counted as your first stitch), turn, YO, insert the hook into next stitch (under both loops), YO & draw yarn through stitch (you should have 3 loops on hook), YO & draw yarn through 2 loops (2 loops left on hook), YO & draw through last 2 loops, repeat from * across to last stitch, work your last treble (dc) into the 3rd chain of the Beg-ch = you should have 10 trebles (US: dc)  

subsequent Rows: repeat Row 2 from ** to desired length = 10 tr (dc)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Exercise 2:Working in trebles (tr) (US: dc) (Again, the exact same instructions as above in written pattern & in chart (Graph) format)

make 12 ch

Row 1: tr (dc) in 4th ch from hook & in each ch across = 10 tr (dc)

Row 2: 3 ch (count as tr, Beg-ch), turn, tr (dc) in next st & in each st across = 10 tr (dc)

subsequent Rows: repeat Row 2 to desired length = 10 tr (dc) 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Finishing off: with last st complete, cut yarn (leaving about 10/12 cm (4”/5”) tail) & draw through loop on hook, pull tight to close loop. Weave in tail end. With slippery yarn draw through loop twice (make an extra chain)& pull down tightly with your thumb to close. Weave in end.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The following last 2 exercises are combinations of dc (sc) & tr (dc) stitches for you to practice & get comfortable with where to work your first & last stitch.

Exercise 3: make 11 ch

Row 1: dc in 2nd ch from hook & in each ch across = 10 dc

Row 2: 3 ch (count as tr now & throughout, Beg-ch), turn, tr in next st & in each st across = 10 tr

Row 3: 1 ch, turn, dc in first st & in each st across (ending with tr in top of Beg-ch) = 10 dc

Row 4: 3 ch, turn, tr in next st & in each st across = 10 tr

Subsequent Rows: repeat Rows 3 & 4 to desired length 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Exercise 4: make 11 ch

Row 1: dc in 2nd ch from hook & in each ch across = 10 dc

Row 2: 1 ch, turn, dc in first st & in each st across = 10 dc

Row 3: 3 ch (count as tr now & throughout, Beg-ch), turn, tr in next st & in each st across = 10 tr

Row 4: 3 ch, turn, tr in next st & in each st across (ending with tr in top of Beg-ch) = 10 tr

Row 5: 1 ch, turn, dc in first st & in each st across (ending with tr in top of Beg-ch) = 10 dc

Row 6: 1 ch, turn, dc in first st & in each st across = 10 dc

Subsequent Rows: repeat Rows 3 to 6 to desired length

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

So, you now have a better understanding of yarn, hooks & stitches. You’ve worked your way though the 4 exercises & feeling more comfortable with the crochet technique. But I’m sure you’re wanting to move on to more exciting projects. My hope is that this final part of the tutorial with help with choosing & reading patterns & chart symbols. 

~ Don’t be frightened by the terminology and symbols; you’ll soon be familiar with what, to the newcomer, looks like another language. Be aware that patterns are written in UK or US terminology… I use UK terms with US terms in Parentheses ( ),

~ Above all, take your time. If you come across a particularly complicated section and you’re having trouble nutting it out, put your work aside for the minute, make yourself a cuppa and take a deep breath. Then, have another go – you’ll often find it’s not nearly as complicated as you first thought.

~ And I strongly suggest making use of both the written patterns and, where applicable, diagrams & charts. You will be surprised how much clearer the instructions become.

Reading patterns: sometimes crochet patterns can be rather wordy, particularly circular motifs that require instruction for each round – a daunting experience, especially for the beginner. 

~ My first advice is to Read the crochet pattern’s title, this of course will determine if it’s a pattern you’d like to try; is the pattern for a scarf, a blanket or whatever? Often, the title will include difficulty; whether it’s for beginners, intermediate or advanced crocheters. As a beginner, it’s rather pointless trying an advanced project & getting confused & frustrated.

~ Secondly Check the requirements, type, yardage & weight of yarn needed for your project. The pattern will most likely also recommend the hook size & any other materials you may need like buttons etc

~ Following the pattern. Firstly, glance through the pattern and see if there’s anything unusual that you need to know, then go back to the beginning.

~ The pattern will begin with how many chains to make for your foundation chain. 

~ The pattern will be set up as rows or rounds; Row/round 1 followed by Row/round 2, followed by Row/round 3 & so on. 

~ Follow the pattern instruction for each row/round from one comma to the next comma. Everything between those commas is one instruction. 

For example: 1 ch, dc (sc) in next 3 sts, – make the 1 ch, then work a dc (sc) in each of the next 3 stitches, and so on. 

~ Count, count & count – I can hear you sigh… however, counting your stitches every other row/round or so can alleviate so much heart-wrenching pulling back (frogging). It’s a lot better to pick up that mistake on row/round 5 than realising it on row/round 105.

Abbreviations used in Crochet patterns: the following are most frequently used but by no means all

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The following are explanations of symbols used in patterns: Asterisk (*), double Asterisk (**), Parentheses ( ), Brackets [ ], Braces { }

For the beginner these symbols can be confusing & can lead to abandoning the pattern all together. Hopefully this brief index of symbols within written patterns will take away some of that mystery.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

~ Where there is an Asterisk (*), it means you need to repeat in the order as instructed. 

For example: 1 ch, * dc (sc) in next 3 sts, 3 tr (dc) in next st, repeat from * across to end.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

~ Where there are double Asterisks (**) work a particular set of repeat instructions as indicated by double asterisks.

For example:

* Ch 3, (dc (sc), ch 3, dc (sc)) in next ch-2 sp, ch 3 **, shell in next tr (dc), rep from * 3 times, ending last repeat at **

2 dc (sc) in first st, * ch 2, skip next st, shell in next st, ch 2, skip next st **, 2 dc (sc) in next st, repeat from * around, ending last rep at **

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

~ Where Parentheses ( ) indicate different sizes.

For example: a small size requires 10 chains; The brackets, will show (16, 24, 32), which means chain 16 for medium, or chain 24 for large, or chain 32 for x-large.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

~ Where Parentheses ( ) indicate repeated instruction, 

Instructions within brackets ( ) indicate a collection of stitch groups worked as one instruction in the same place; 

For example: 

(3 tr (dc), ch 2, 3 tr (dc)) in next corner space,

(dc (sc), htr (hdc), 3 tr (dc), htr (hdc), dc (sc)) in next stitch

(48 dc)indicates stitch count at end of row/round

(88 [94, 106, 112] dc (sc))indicates multi stitch counts for additional sizes or rows/rounds.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

~ Parentheses ( ) for special instructions &/or clarifying information. usually indicated in italic text.

For example: 

3 ch (counts as tr (dc), now & throughout, Beg-ch), 

Row 1 (RS): – indicating right side of work

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

~ Where Brackets [ ] indicate repeat instructions; can also indicate additional or clarifying information.

For Examples:

[dc (sc) in next dc (sc), work shell in next ch-1 sp] 5 times,

[dc (sc) in each of next 3 dc (sc), shell in next shell] across to next corner

women’s 12 [14, 16, 18] indicates multiple finished garment sizes

Rows 29–36 [31–38, 31–40] indicates additional rows/rounds for multiple sizes

Sc in each of next 4 [5, 6] sts indicates additional instructions for multiple sizes

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

~Where Braces{ } are used to indicate a set of repeat instructions worked within a bracketed set of repeat instructions,

For example:

[dc (sc) in each of next 3 sts, {shell in next ch-1 sp} twice] 4 times,

[{ch 5, dc (sc) in next ch sp} twice, ch 5, skip next st, dc (sc) in next st, {ch 1, skip next st, dc (sc) in next st} 6 times] twice

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Where Braces { } indicate multiple repeats of stitch patterns that are part of a collective stitch group contained within parentheses.

For example:

({tr (dc), ch 1} 5 times, tr (dc)) in next ch-2 sp ({tr (dc), ch 3} 3 times, htr (hdc), ch 2, htr (hdc), ch 3, {dc (sc), ch 3} twice, dc (sc)) all in corner sp,

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Symbols used in Crochet pattern Charts: when you see your first pattern chart, I can imagine you thinking, ‘what on Earth’; but, it’s really worth that extra look. Charts are a fabulous help when reading patterns; if you take your time, to get your eye in, you’ll be amaze how clear patterns become. Symbols are generally universal, so you may also be able to read that Russian or Japanese pattern you like…

The following are a few of the most frequently used but by no means all.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Just a few more handy hints: 

What happens when your yarn runs out? the following are a few ways of bringing in new yarn, or new colour

1) Simple Russian join: is best used with chunky yarns when adding a new ball as the old one runs out helps with eliminating those pesky tail ends that require weaving in later.

2)Russian join: is ideal when joining even finest yarns & eliminating those pesky tail ends that require weaving in later.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 Front or back loop only:  

Work only in loop indicated by arrow

 

Post Stitch: (FP or BP)

Work around post of stitch indicated in row or rows below, inserting hook in direction of arrow

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

One final tip: Working in the Round:

~ Working in Rounds is a little different from working in Rows. To keep your work flat you must increase every round evenly; if you don’t increase enough your work will cup, alternatively, if you increase too much your work will ruffle. 

~ The following is a basic formula for crocheting a circle. The example is worked in trebles (tr) (US: dc) but also applies to other stitches  

Foundation ch: make a number of chains & join with ss to form a ring or use an adjustable ring (magic circle) 

Rnd 1: 3 ch, 11 tr (US:dc) in to ring, ss join = 12 sts

Rnd 2: 3 ch, tr (US:dc) in same st, 2 tr (US:dc) in each st around, ss join = 24 sts

Rnd 3: 3 ch, tr (US:dc) in same st, * tr (US:dc) in next st, 2 tr (US:dc) in next st, repeat from * around, ss join = 36 sts

Rnd 4: 3 ch, tr (US:dc) in same st, * tr (US:dc) in each next 2 sts, 2 tr (US:dc) in next st, repeat from * around, ss join = 48 sts

Rnd 5: 3 ch, tr (US:dc) in same st, * tr (US:dc) in each next 3 sts, 2 tr (US:dc) in next st, repeat from * around, ss join = 60 sts

Rnd 6: 3 ch, tr (US:dc) in same st, *tr (US:dc) in each next 4 sts, 2 tr (US:dc) in next st, repeat from * around, ss join = 72 sts

# Keep increasing in this manner to desired size.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

And so, we’ve come to the end of this Beginners’ Crochet Notebook; there is so much more I could include, so much more you might find useful; but it’s such a fine line between cramming too much in & then overwhelming you.

Having that said, I feel certain that the information in this tutorial will give you a great start & hopefully you will continue to explore, learn & discover.

Enjoy Renate.

I trust this tutorial is a comprehensive journey through the crochet basics for the beginner & that it encourages you to venture forth with a little more confidence & understanding of this wonderful craft.

I have spent many hours compiling this tutorial and offer it for your personal pleasure & knowledge. ~ I’m very happy for you to use it for any learning or teaching purposes – but not so happy if you re-print or sell the tutorial for profit – you know the drill – copyright & all that!! Thank you for your help & understanding in this matter…. Renate