How to.. Teach Yourself to Crochet
I had a lovely Guest Post by Clara showing us her crochet Teddy Amigurumi – one of now many FREE Crochet Patterns on Red Ted Art. I love the idea of Amigurumis – they are small and cute and I (assume), thanks to their smallness, do not take long to make. There is just on snag: At the time I couldn’t crochet. At all. I am a knitter and have never really giving “crocheting” any thought. As a heads up – you can watch our beginner’s crochet videos on YouTube now. More to come.
So I set about teaching myself to crochet and I wanted to share with you how I did it. Red Ted Art has been an amazing crafty catalyst for myself – and I am learning and trying out new things all the time. Things I wouldn’t have bothered with before. I do hope that you get a little of this craft mojo too and that you give new things a go! A few years later.. and I taught my daughter – Craft Alotl – to crochet too! She has since gone on to teach her friends and we are putting all our leaning together to help you today too!
This How To, will not teach you, YOU WILL, but hopefully it will give you some handy pointers in starting you off.
What you need to get started with crochet
1) Patience. Lots of it. Time. I gave myself 6 months!
2) One crochet hook – I had 4.5mm or 5mm – which is a pretty standard size
3) Some left over wool, that you can “waste”. Lighter colours (e.g. cream) are easier to crochet with, as you can see the stitch better
4) The internet – for some instructional crochet videos (see below)
5) A basic crochet book – you can sit on the sofa, in bed or in the car and practice (though strictly speaking not necessary, as you can also view videos on your phone!).
6) A first project – simple enough for a beginner, hard enough that you will be proud!
US terminology vs UK terminology
Note: The American and British terminology is different. A British treble is an American double stitch etc. There is a full list of terms here.
The US and the UK terminology are different and can REALLY CONFUSE people. We tend to use the US terminology throughout all our crochet projects. But this is a helpful reference guide for anyone learning to crochet – these are the basic stitches that you will see most common. The most common crochet abbreviations are shared in the brackets.
- Chain or Chain Stitch (Ch) US = Chain (Ch) UK
- Slip Stitch (Sl St) US = Slip Stitch (SS) UK (appreviation different)
- Single Crocht (SC) US = Double Crochet (DC) UK
- Half Double Crochet (HDC) US = Helf Treble Crochet (HTR) UK
- Double Crochet (DC) US = Treble Crochet (TR) UK
- Treble or Triple Crochet (TR) US = Double Treble Crochet (DTR) UK
- Double Treble Crochet (DTR) US = Triple Treble Crochet (TRTR)
- Yarn over (YO) US = Yarn over hook (YOH) UK
- Magic Loop/ Magic Circle (ML or MC) US = same for UK
- Gauge US = Tension UK
Here we go.
Beginner’s Crochet Book
I can highly recommend the (British) publication “Crochet Unravelled“. It is simple, unpretentious and simple. You can easily get a second hand one! It feels a bit more like a brochure than a book, but it did the trick for me! I found it useful at the beginning, then switched to the internet and then back to the book. Unfortunately, it is only “inexpensive” via Amazon.co.uk not so via Amazon.com. But I am sure you can find a simple basic book from the library. Nothing too clever. Keep it simple.
The reason, why I suggest you get a book, is that you can sit in bed or on the sofa with it and not hurt your back sitting at the computer (all the time).
Step 1: Holding the Wool & a Chain Stitch
Get used to holding the wool in the “correct” manner and practice doing a “chain” (the equivalent to “casting on” in knitting. I probably did about 20 chains – re doing them and re doing them.
This super simple basic “Learn to Crochet a Chain Stitch” process, can take a fair while. Be patient with yourself. The tension (ie how you hold your yarn and hook) are key at this stage!
Let’s begin with tension:
Now let’s look at a slip knot and chain:
Step 2: Practice a Double Stitch (British) / Single Stitch (US)
Now, everything I have read and heard, is that the “first row” is always the hardest – the chain stitches are sometimes tight and fiddly. So. Just becaus this “first row” is hard, do not give up!! Keep going! As the 2nd and 3rd rows are so much easier and you will feel that you are “getting somewhere”. Don’t worry if your first row looks messy your don’t quite have the number of stitches you are supposed to have. Remember, you are practicing!
Step 3: Treble (British) / Double Stitch (US)
Have a go at a US Double Stitch or Treble Stitch if using British terminology.
Granny Squares make great little “toy blankets”, so this time your efforts can be “re used” in the kids’ doll house!
Step 4: Find an easy project
There is a wonderful blog written by Lucy called Attic 24. She has some wonderful patterns and writes the pattern in such a way that even a beginner can follow. Note: Lucy follows British terminology. I absolutely and totally recommend that you use one of her patterns as your first! I went for the neat Ripple Pattern and this is my first ever corcheted item:
1) If you have a couple of weeks break between “practice sessions”, don’t worry if you have “forgotten it all” and you need to restart and refresh your memory. That is all part of learning and embedding what you have learnt. I still have go back and check “again” what the treble stitch is etc.
2) The loop on your hook doesn’t count as a stitch – this took me ages to work out and meant that I was always one short.
3) When picking up a stitch, you pick up BOTH parts of the loop, for some reason I didn’t realise this and it look rather funny – you end up with like a ribbed edge. Don’t do that. However: when you pick up hat first row (i.e. you have done your chain and you are now crocheting into it) you pick just the one loop up.
4) The American and British terminology is different. A British treble stitch is an American double stitch etc.
5) I still find the “beginnings of a row” most confusing, which stitch exactly is the first one. This comes with practice (I found..) and getting used to a pattern. So again, give yourself a chance to practice the body of the crochet and worry about the beginnings and ends later…
6) As a beginner, whenever you start a new project, give yourself the chance to practice the required stitches again – so if the pattern needs some treble stitches, go back to basics and practice them again. Ditto granny squares etc (see my point 1). Also, if it is suggested you do a test patch, do a test patch. I know it is boring, and I am not the most patient person in the world, but as a beginner, you need to give yourself the chance to practice. It is worth it.
7) Follow the worded instructions. Once you are ok with them, look at the “pattern instructions” and see if you can match the two up – this will get you used to reading and understanding patterns – they look like gobble di gook at first. But again, you do get the hang of them, if you give yourself time.
8 I(!) found that crocheting is more forgiving than knitting. I did make a couple of mistakes in the blanket above. But I was able to “cheat, by sneaking on a stitch here and taking one away there… But I guess this is only applicable for bigger things. An Amigurumi no doubt has to be “perfect” (I will attempt one next).
Good Luck. And Get Crocheting!
Now you have mastered the basics, do take a look at our Free Crochet Patterns here: