New to Crochet? Here's How to Crush It

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If you've been perusing crochet boards on Pinterest and had a jonesing to start the craft, you've come to the right place. Even if you've never held a hook before or don't know a slip knot from a single crochet, use this guide to pick up basic techniques and tips. By the time you're done, you'll be ready to crochet in rows, which is all you need to make a scarf or even a simple blanket.

Let's get started!

Nab the Right Tools

There's a whole world of yarns and hooks out there, but some are better for beginners. The main goal is that you find the materials to be easy to work with. So when you're starting out:

Start With a Slip Knot

Everything you crochet begins with a slip knot on the hook , but fortunately, it's a pretty simple knot to make.

1. Make a loop with your yarn, and then bring the tail of the yarn over the working yarn. The tail should be 4 to 6 inches long after it crosses the body of the yarn.

2. Make the knot. Create a pretzel shape (see above) with the loop. Press your left finger where the yarn tail crosses the working yarn. Then use your right hand to bring the loop down over the working yarn. In reality, just flipping the loop upside down.

3. Insert the crochet hook from the right to the left over the working yarn and through the loop. It should go over the right side of the "pretzel," under the working yarn, then over the left side of the "pretzel."

4. Pull down to tighten the yarn around the hook. Lift the hook up and tug lightly on the tail end and working yarn to tighten it. You just made your first slip knot (way to go!).

Crochet a Foundation Chain

Once you have a slip knot on the hook, you'll need to crochet a chain . This chain is often called the starting or foundation chain because you work the other stitches into it.

1. Hold the crochet hook so that the tail hangs down, and pinch the tail between your thumb and ring finger. Just remember, crocheters hold their hooks and yarn in different ways, so find whatever is comfy for you.

Bring the ball of yarn to the left of the crochet hook. Yarn over so that the working yarn comes behind the hook and then over it, to the left of the slip knot. Bring the working yarn underneath your hook.

Pro Tip

In crochet, you'll run into lots of "yarn overs." This common crochet term (abbreviated yo) just means to bring the working yarn over the hook.

2. Pull the working yarn through the slip knot. Move your hook to the right, pulling the yarn over all the way through the slip knot. There will still be a loop on your hook, plus one loop beneath it. These loops are called chains. You've just crocheted your first chain!

3. That's all there is to it. Keep repeating steps 1 and 2: Yarn over, then bring the yarn through the loop that is on the hook. Each yarn over creates one chain, so if the instructions say "chain 20" then you will repeat these steps 20 times.

You can also see each loop as you work so if need be you can count them again. But it can get cumbersome the longer the chain, so counting as you go is a good habit to get into.

Single Crochet

Now that you know how to create a chain, you're ready to learn how to single crochet (abbreviated sc). Many crochet stitches begin the same way as the single crochet. Once you learn this stitch, you'll have the foundation to pick up the other ones.

1. The first row of stitches is worked into the foundation chain you just made. Each chain looks a little bit like a V, with the mouth of the V open toward the right. Insert your hook into the second V . Insert your hook from front to back through the V. Look carefully: When you insert the hook, there should be two loops of yarn above the hook and one strand of yarn below the hook.

2. With your hook through the first V, yarnover with your working yarn.

3. Pull the working yarn through the V: Move your crochet hook to the right, bringing the working yarn all the way through the chain where you inserted the hook. When you finish, there will be two loops on your crochet hook.

4. Yarn over again.

5. Pull the working yarn through both of the loops on the hook. Now you should have one loop on the hook. You have completed your first single crochet stitch! 

Continue all the way across the row. Each time, insert your hook into the very next chain.

Just to recap, here's how you single crochet

  • Insert hook, front to back, where the stitch is going to go.
  • Yarn over.
  • Pull up loop, creating two loops on the hook.
  • Yarn over.
  • Pull the working yarn through both loops on the hook.

Make More Single Crochet Rows

Now that you've learned to do one row of single crochet stitches, you can create as many rows of the stitch as your project calls for. There's just one more thing to learn for crocheting additional rows — the turning chain.

In crochet, you always work right to left. To make another row, you need to turn your work so you can continue to crochet right to left.

That's where a turning chain comes in. It gives your row a little height so when you start working your stitches, they can stand tall. Turning chains sometimes replace your first stitch, and are sometimes worked in addition to your first stitch — your pattern will let you know what to do. In this demo, we'll show you what to do when the turning chain is taking the place of the first stitch. 

1. Flip your work over, clockwise from right to left, so that everything that was to the right of the hook is now to the left. 

2. Chain one (you know how!). This serves as the first stitch in your row.

3. Now that you've made the first stitch, it's time to figure out where you're placing your second. Since your turning chain is standing in for your first stitch, jump ahead to the second stitch in your row.

In the photo above, the finger is pointing out where to place your hook for the second stitch.

4. Insert your hook into the second stitch from front to back, and make a single crochet.

5.Continue this all the way across the row. At the end, you'll have two rows of single crochet stitch, like this:

Nailed it! Now you can create as many rows of single crochet as you like. Just remember that your final single crochet of a row will be worked into the turning chain at the start of the previous row. This is something that becomes important when you do taller crochet stitches.

Good to Know

Where to Insert Your Hook

Your crochet hook should always go into the next stitch, immediately next to the one where you just worked. Insert it so that it's always going under the two legs of the V on the top of the stitch.

Keep Track of That Stitch Count

When you're working straight rows (no fancy increases or decreases), your stitch count should stay the same from row to row. If you have 20 stitches in the first row, there should be 20 in rows two, three, and so on. Count as you go, beginning with that turning chain. If you get to the end of the row and you don't have the right number, you know you have to go back and work again.

Now that you've crushed your first crochet lesson, what's ahead for you? You'll want to pick up more techniques to change the length of the foundation chain, crocheting more rows or fewer ones to create squares and rectangles of all sizes. Soon you'll be a pro at increasing and decreasing , working different loops and making taller basic stitches , like double and treble crochet. Get ready to make afghans , placemats and a slew of other gorgeous stuff.

The best part? You can pick up all these techniques here!

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