How to Crochet: Getting Started for Beginners


Crocheting can be a fun and very rewarding hobby, and has become increasingly popular in the past few years. Unlike knitting, crocheting involves using a hook instead of needles to make knots in yarn. There are six basic stitches in crochet:

  • Chain
  • Single Crochet
  • Half Double Crochet
  • Double Crochet
  • Treble (or triple) Crochet
  • Slip Stitch

These five basic stitches can be manipulated to create gorgeous and intricate patterns and motifs that can be used to make anything from afghans and doilies to sweaters and socks.

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Crocheting Supplies

To get started with crochet, there are a few things you will need, the most basic of which are the following:

  • Crochet Hook
  • Yarn
  • Scissors
  • Tapestry Needle

There are optional supplies you may wish to have to make things a bit easier such as:

  • Stitch Markers
  • Stitch Counters
  • Gauge Measurement Guide

Crochet Supplies
Crochet Supplies | Source

Crochet hooks come in a wide range of sizes and materials. The most common materials are plastic and metal, but you can find bamboo. Just be careful and only purchase bamboo hooks from a reputable source. There’s cheap bamboo and expensive bamboo, and if you want your hooks to last, you need to stay away from the cheap kind.

Crochet Hooks
Crochet Hooks | Source

Yarn depends on what you want to work with because there are just so many different kinds of yarn on the market today. Yarn is classified by weight and there are six different weights:

  • Size 0 – Lace (typically called fingering or 10 count crochet thread)
  • Size 1 – Super Fine (most patterns will refer to it as sock, fingering or baby weight yarn)
  • Size 2 – Fine (this yarn is usually referred to as sport or baby weight)
  • Size 3 – Light (commonly called sport weight, it is considered a light worsted weight yarn)
  • Size 4 – Medium (this is the most common type of yarn used in most patterns and is typically called worsted weight)
  • Size 5 – Bulky (can be called chunky, craft, or rug yarn in some patterns)
  • Size 6 – Super Bulky (like its name suggests, it’s super bulky and is often referred to as bulky or roving yarn)

When you start a crochet project, remember that different hooks work with different yarns. You can find which hook works best with a specific yarn by looking at the label (see photo below).

Yarn Labels

This particular yarn is a medium weight (#4) yarn and the recommended hook is an I hook also known as a 5.5 mm hook
This particular yarn is a medium weight (#4) yarn and the recommended hook is an I hook also known as a 5.5 mm hook | Source

Yarn Sizes - Quick Chart

Alternate Name
Fingering or Thread Weight
Super Fine
Sock, Fingering or Baby Weight
Sport or Baby Weight
Sport or DK Weight
Worsted Weight
Chunky, Craft or Rug Yarn
Super Bulky
Bulky or Roving Yarn

What is Gauge?

Gauge is probably the most hated word in crochet and knitting. It can be a real pain in the neck, especially for a beginner. But if you plan on making clothes like skirts and sweaters, or socks and hats, you’ll need to know how to figure out what your gauge is.

Essentially, gauge will determine the size of your finished project. It is a certain number of stitches in a particular section of cloth.

For example, 5 single crochet stitches may equal 2 inches in a hat pattern that uses worsted weight yarn and a G hook. But, you may not get the same gauge using the same supplies.

Everyone crochets differently, some people make their crochet stitches very tight, others make loose stitches. This is why it is recommended to make a gauge swatch, or a sample swatch of the pattern to see what your gauge actually is.

Finding out what your gauge is involves crocheting a “swatch” the size of which is typically indicated by the pattern. The swatch uses several rows of the pattern, and once you complete the swatch, you measure it to see what its dimensions are. Finally, you compare your dimensions to what the pattern says the dimensions should be. For example:

GAUGE: In pattern, 12 sts and 8 rows = 3 ½ inches

Gauge Swatch: 4 ¼” w x 3 ½” h

To find your gauge based on the above, you would crochet a swatch (using the pattern) that is 4.5 inches wide, and 3.5 inches high (tall). Then count in 12 stitches and then up 8 rows and you should have a square that measures 3.5 inches.

A simple gauge swatch.
A simple gauge swatch. | Source

If your square is the right size, you’re all set. If your swatch isn’t the right size, you’ll need to change your hook size. If the swatch is too big, you’ll need a smaller hook size. If the swatch is too small, you’ll need a larger hook.

Once you decide on which hook may fix the problem, you’ll need to crochet another swatch and repeat the process. Can you see how this would be a real pain?

A Tip About Gauge

Pay attention to your stitches when you start crocheting. Are your stitches tight? Or are they loose?

When you first begin to crochet, your stitches will most likely be loose, but as you get the hang of the stitches, they will tighten up. Your gauge will also change with your mood.

For example, your stitches will be tighter when you’re angry or anxious and looser when you’re happy or calm. Keep this in mind when you make your gauge swatch.

It’s also wise to pay attention to this when working on a piece that takes longer than just a couple of hours. Your gauge may be different tomorrow than what it is today.

Crochet Abbreviations

Crochet patterns often look like some sort of code, and if you don’t know the abbreviations, deciphering this code will be virtually impossible!

Because there are only six stitches, there aren’t a lot of abbreviations. They are pretty simple to remember since they are only two letters long!

Single Crochet
Half Double Crochet
Double Crochet
Triple or Treble Crochet
Slip Stitch
Yarn Over

If you’re going to crochet, you’ll need to memorize these abbreviations because they aren’t listed on every pattern; however, they are listed in most pattern books! Once you start crocheting, you quickly get the hang of reading a pattern.

Crocheted baby booties
Crocheted baby booties | Source

Reading a Pattern

That said, reading a pattern can be intimidating in the beginning. I thought so when I first started crocheting! But if you take it a little bit at a time, it’s much simpler. For example:

Ch 1, sc in same st, *3 dc in next stitch, ch 1, skip next sc, sc in next sc, 3 dc in next sc, ch 1, repeat from * across to last st, sc in last stitch

I just made this up as an example, but it reads as follows:

  • Chain 1, single crochet in same stitch as the chain stitch you just made.
  • Double crochet three times in the next stitch and then chain one.
  • Skip the next single crochet stitch, and then make a single crochet in the next stitch (which also happens to be a single crochet).
  • Double crochet three times in the next single crochet and then chain one.
  • Repeat this pattern starting at the asterisk until you get to the last stitch.
  • Make a single crochet in that last stitch.

Obviously, not all patterns will be this easy to read. In fact, I sometimes still have problems reading a pattern on occasion. If this happens to you, try walking away from it for a few minutes. I’ve found that taking a break and coming back to the piece with a fresh pair of eyes can make all the difference.

© Copyright 2013 - 2015 by Melissa "Daughter of Maat" Flagg ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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Comments 12 comments

Ceres Schwarz profile image

Ceres Schwarz 3 years ago

Interesting hub filled with a lot of details regarding crocheting for beginners. This does sound like a fun thing to do but it seems that it can also be pretty hard and complicated. The images of the crocheted shoes and hat look really nice.

kittyjj profile image

kittyjj 3 years ago from San Jose, California

Love that cute baby booties. Thank you for sharing this informative hub.

nicolehubbard10 profile image

nicolehubbard10 3 years ago from North Carolina

I do know how to crochet. I have only used the crocheting hook. I know how to do chains, but I would like to make things like hats. I commented on the one Hub you post on how to crochet hats, and that is one thing I would absolutely love to make.

Only if my great-grandmother was still alive she would teach me. She would make sweaters, afghans, blankets, socks and many other things to. My birthday is coming up and I am thinking about getting me some crochet hooks, and a few books teaching me how to crochet.

Daughter Of Maat profile image

Daughter Of Maat 3 years ago from Rural Central Florida Author

@Nicole, I'm currently working on a hub that steps you through each stitch with pictures. I should have it done within the week, but the pictures are taking longer than I expected! A great book to teach you how to crochet is "Crocheting in Plain English" by Maggie Righetti. It taught me how to crochet, and it's very easy to understand.

Daughter Of Maat profile image

Daughter Of Maat 3 years ago from Rural Central Florida Author

@Kittyjj Thank you!! I sell them on Etsy, but it's difficult for me to let them go because they really are adorable! lol

Daughter Of Maat profile image

Daughter Of Maat 3 years ago from Rural Central Florida Author

Thank you Ceres! Some patterns like the crocodile stitch can look very intimidating, but it's just a matter of manipulating the stitches. The hat and baby booties, I just recently finished for my Etsy store. :D

phoenix2327 profile image

phoenix2327 3 years ago from United Kingdom

How weird is this. I used to crochet, sort of, about 40 years ago. I never got past the basic chain stitch and I couldn't understand the instruction book so I lost interest. About a month ago, I started getting interested in crocheting again. I looked at some books but the old confusion set in again so I didn't peruse it any further. But I was still interested in taking up crocheting again.

This hub makes more sense to me than any of the books so I'm bookmarking this as a reference guide. I'm starting to get excited about crocheting again. This time I think I can really learn to make something. Just one thing, could you grant me an extra hour or two a day so I can squeeze this in along with everything else I do? lol

Daughter Of Maat profile image

Daughter Of Maat 3 years ago from Rural Central Florida Author

lol Phoenix!! I wish!! I could use a few extra hours myself! I'm working on a hub that explains the single crochet stitch, so stay tuned, the hub after that will talk about how to double and triple crochet, which really are just variations of the single crochet. I'll have plenty of pictures and I might try some video!

phoenix2327 profile image

phoenix2327 3 years ago from United Kingdom

Excellent. Looking forward to it. :)

threadworkzrosado 12 months ago

I learned to crochet blankets and a basic scarf in High school and wished I knew more, with the Internet I have been able to learn a few different stitches. Now I need to know more. I want to be able to create more. I'm eager to make different things and make my own patterns, and be able to write them to share with others and pass them on to my children.

lucy 8 months ago

how do knit 2 hdc together?

Angela 2 months ago

I am a novis crochet person, I need hhelp not dropping a stitch at the end of a row blankets I do in the round turn out great but when I try to do something in rows it goes in an angle , help please.

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