Before you start to crochet

If you have ever watched someone crochet and been fascinated by the darting movement of the hook and the speed with which the work grows, you may have been tempted to try it for yourself. It's a cliché, but learning how to crochet is much easier than it looks.

You only have to learn the language and a few simple techniques to be able to make some of the smaller crochet items. Don't be put off if your first attempts are mis-sized or mis-shapen. Just experiment until you feel relaxed and can make the right sort of fabric naturally and easily. 

Choosing a crochet hook

Crochet hooks

Crochet is done using a hook. The hooks come in many shapes and sizes, some have thick handles, and others are very fine. Some are made from metal, others from plastic or bamboo. The hook should be comfortable to hold and should not slip in your hand whilst you are working your stitches. It is a good idea to have a selection of sizes so that you can choose the hook that gives you the right fabric with the yarn you are choosing.

Hook sizing varies depending on the manufacturer and when the hook was made. Many now are sold by their metric size (in millimetre circumference), but some are sold by Imperial size, which is a number given to that circumference. For instance, if a pattern asks for a 3.50 mm hook you can use the Imperial 9 hook you already own. Please note that the US has its own hook naming system.

Hook Size Chart

Imperial Metric (mm)
14 2.00
13 2.25
12 2.50
11 3.00
10 3.25
9 3.50
8 3.75
7 4.00
6 5.00
5 5.50
4 6.00
3 6.50
0 8.00
00 9.00
000 10.00


Buying yarn

Most patterns will tell you what yarn to use, so try to buy that to get the same result as the pattern writer. When you buy yarn look on the band wrapped around the ball for this symbol x washing symbol to know what size hook will work best with that yarn. It is important to buy the best yarn you can afford, as you will see the quality in your finished project.

Reading a written crochet pattern

So as not to take up a huge amount of space, written patterns have standardised terminology and characters, such as brackets and asterisks, to denote repeated instructions.

  • Square brackets [ ] 

Square brackets are used when an instruction needs to be repeated or where more than one stitch needs to be worked into the same stitch or place.

  • Asterisks* 

These are sometimes used in place of, or written in conjunction with, square brackets. The most common place to find an asterisk is when a pattern asks "rep from *," which would mean that you find the first asterisk above this instruction and repeat the section of pattern from this point.

Sometimes asterisks are used in pairs, for example "rep from * until **." This means that the pattern is repeated from the first single asterisk above the instruction to the following double pair.

Be careful to make sure you are working from the correct asterisk, because some patterns use them throughout so you could be in danger of following the repeat from the wrong one. Always search for the first asterisk before the instruction.

  • Round brackets ( )

Round brackets are used to give you an extra written instruction, such as (counts as a stitch) or (20 stitches made). Round brackets are also commonly used to tell you the stitch count at the end of a row or a round.

How to hold a crochet hook

How to hold a hook

Hold the crochet hook as if it were a pencil, with your thumb resting on the flat part of the hook and your index finger resting on the top side of the hook.

How to make a slip knot

Before you start working you must first attach the yarn to the hook with a slip knot.

How to make a slip knot

Leaving a tail end of about 10cm, make a loop in the yarn by wrapping it once around the fingers of your left hand.

How to make a slip knot

Pass the tip of the crochet hook through the loop and over the ball end of the yarn with the hook facing down. Use the hook to catch the ball end of yarn and pull it back through the loop.

How to make a slip knot

Keeping the new stitch on the hook, slip the loop from your left hand. Pull gently on the tail end of yarn to tighten the slip knot around the hook.

How to hold the yarn

How to hold the yarn

Leaving a length of yarn from the loop on the hook, wrap the yarn around the little finger of your left hand, across the inside of your two middle fingers and then behind your index finger and to the front leaving it to rest on your index finger.

How to tension the tail

How to tension the tail

If you do not create a tension on the tail end of yarn you will find that you are attempting to crochet in mid air! The tension of the tail is regulated by the left hand. Use the middle finger and thumb of your left hand to hold the tail end of yarn by pinching it just below the hook.


First Crochet


The content on this page is taken from First Crochet, published by LoveCrafts. 

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Last updated: 10-Jul-2013 at 10:28 AM