Learning Crochet: The Basics

So you want to learn how to crochet?? YES!! 
Sorry… I do get a bit excited when people want to pick up this amazing craft. It has helped me so much over the years, helping me reduce my anxiety and stress, so I get very excited when people are willing to give crochet a try!
So there are quite a few things to familiarise yourself with in order to learn crochet. These include hooks, yarn, tension, stitches, techniques, patterns. And that is only scratching the surface. In this post I will take you through the first few things that if you understand, learning the basics of crochet will be that much easier.
Glorious, colourful, soft, squishy, flexible, chunky or fine with endless potential….. I could go on about yarn for days. I love the stuff. There is such an amazing variety available these days of both natural and synthetic fibers that are durable, colourful and wearable.
Synthetic fiber yarns like acrylic are good yarns to start with as they are easy to care for, they are smooth with no funny textures that are difficult to hold. Cheap acrylic yarns can be harder to work with as they don’t glide on the hook as easily. But there are many affordable acrylic yarns that are soft and smooth.
I would also recommend starting with lighter colours. Black yarns, while they can make striking pieces, are difficult to work with as the stitches are hard to see, unless you are working in bright daylight.
Pure wool yarns are  excellent to work with too as they are soft, lightweight and these days most of them are machine washable, (but always check the yarn information).

The other consideration with yarn is the weight. Yarns can vary from silk weight to chunky and beyond. These days there is such awesome giant knitting and crochet going around the internet (here).
A good basic size yarn is 8 ply or 12 ply. 
Yarn bands contain all the information you need to know. Care Instructions, yarn weight, recommended hook/needle sizes.  It also shows the colour and dye lot numbers. These numbers are important when you are buying multiple skeins for the one project as there can be slight shade variances between dye lots. So its important if you are buying yarn for a large project that you search for the same dye lots. 

I honestly think hooks are just as exciting as yarn! I have my favourites, but hooks are quite a personal thing to pick. It’s like how everyone has their desk chair at a different height or drivers seat in a different position. Hooks can be made from many different materials (plastic, metal, bamboo & wood) and in many different styles. 
Hooks are manufactured in different sizes so you can work with different weight yarns. The millimetre sizes are the diameters of the hook & shank. The most popular hooks are between 4mm & 8mm, however the smaller hooks are popular for lave work and the larger for jumbo projects! 
Personally my favourites are Clover (below & here). They are lightweight, the hooks are smooth and give the yarn a nice surface to glide on, and the handles are soft and grippy. They are very comfortable to use and since I got my full set over 2 years ago I haven’t used another hook! 
If you are starting out with 8 or 12 ply yarn I would recommend starting with a 5mm hook as it gives you a good size stitch to be able to work out what you are doing!


Holding your hook is yet another personal thing. (If you can’t tell already there really isn’t a right way to crochet!)  Many people hold the hook like I do, like a knife… 

So try holding it in a few different ways until you find the way that works best for you. 

So now you understand the basics around hook sizes and yarn types and sizes and are ready to choose the first thing you want to make. 
Before you dive headfirst into a project, I recommend practicing the basics like the chain stitch, single crochet and double crochet so you can work out how to hold the yarn comfortably and work out how your hands are the most comfortable. 
I am in the process of getting set up to film some crochet tutorials for my very own Youtube channel… so watch this space. 
But in the mean time here are a few good channels/websites that will take you through the initial stitch tutorials to get you started! 

Crochet Gifs – I had a thought late last night that GIF’s would be a great way to show the simple stitches and beginning steps of crochet, so I googled it and this clever clogs has already set this up! Great work and they keep playing! So you can practice over and over to get your basic stitches jusst right!
Melanie Ham – Crochet Tutorials – Melanie has an extensive website and youtube channel where she does tutorials on all sorts of things and some fantastic crochet tutorials. 
Bella Coco – Crochet Tutorials – Here are some excellent suggestions for projects to start with, and I can’t lie, I just love listening to Sarah-Jayne’s accent!

My best crochet advice: there is no ‘right’ way to hold your hook or your yarn. It is right if it feels comfortable to you. And it will take time to get right. Don’t feel discouraged if you are fumbling around in the first few days/weeks. It comes with practice, just like everything else in life. Our toddlers don’t stop practicing after the first fall when they are learning to walk, so don’t give up after your first ‘ugly’ stitch/project. Keep trying, keep getting more comfortable and keep practicing. When you’re warm under your first blanket you will be so glad you stuck it out! 

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