All you need to get started with 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.
Choosing a crochet hook
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.
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: 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.
The type of yarn should be selected to suit the individual project, taking the composition and thickness into account. Finest crochet threads give a lacy finish and can be used for edgings and even Christmas decorations. Double-knitting (DK) or 4-ply give a thicker, more solid finish and are used for items of clothing.
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.
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.
Other crochet abbreviations
- ch - chain
- dc - double stitch
- ss - slip stitch
- tr - treble
- ch sp - chain space
- lp(s) - loop(s)
- t-ch - turning chain
- WS - wrong side
- yrh - yarn round hook