Friday, 12 April 2013

Learning to Crochet? This post is for you!

I am seeing that a lot of my friends are teaching themselves to crochet.  I think this is wonderful!  Its no small feat.  I have been doing it since longer than I can even remember.  My Grandma taught me when I was very young.  I have once in a while come across little things I made for my dolls, and it brings back wonderful memories of days spend with my grandparents.

I would like to offer this post in assistance to those who are teaching themselves.  Hopefully this little tutorial will give you some helpful tips.

Crochet Basics:

First of all, I think its most important to make sure you have the proper size of hook for the yarn that you are working with.  This can easily be found of the side of the label.  The most common yarns are MEDIUM weight (also referred to as '4' or WORSTED weight).  The best hook sizes for these yarns are 5.5-6.5mm.  The smaller gauge hooks will yield a smaller product, and larger hooks a larger product.

Here is a great page that gives nicely laid out charts for yarn types, hook sizes and gauge.

Next, when you are just starting out, its important to learn the stitches before learning to read patterns... well in my opinion anyway.  This way, when you start to read patterns you already know the abbreviations for the stitches and how to crochet them.  Start with 20-40 chains, and then just practice each stitch over and over again in a row until you have it perfected... and the move on to the next.

To start, you will want to hold your hook in your dominant hand, and your yarn with the other.  Everyone will have a different comfortable hold... for me its this:

When starting the yarn on the hook I make a loop in the yarn, put the hook through the loop, yarn over and pull it through.  This will make a slip knot that you can pull tighter to hold.

Making a slip knot.

Basic stitches:

Chain (ch):  With your loop on the hook, put the yarn over your hook and pull it through the loop.  Voila!  You have just done 1 ch.  To make a longer chain, just keep repeating.

The right shows repeating chain.

Single Crochet (sc):  To start you will want to have a chain made.  For our purposes just chain 20-40.  For a single crochet, you will skip one chain and place your hook through the next.  With the hook through, yarn over and pull through the chain.  You will have two loops on the hook.  Yarn over and pull through both.  That's it!  Single crochet.  

Now at this point I would suggest repeating this over and over until it feels comfortable and looks something like this ^^^

Double Crochet (dc):  You can either pull out what you have done above, or just keep going.  for a double crochet you yarn over BEFORE putting the hook through the chain, put the hook through, yarn over, pull through the chain.  You will have 3 loops on your hook.  Yarn over and pull through 2, then again yarn over and pull through 2.  Done.  Double crochet.  

Repeat, repeat, repeat... Here's what you will have^^^

Half Double Crochet (hdc):  Now this is exactly what it sounds like.  You do half of what you did for the double.  So, yarn over & hook through the chain.  Yarn over and pull through chain.  Yarn over and pull through all three loops on hook.  

It will look like this when repeated^^^

Treble or Triple Crochet (tc):  For this you will yarn over twice before putting the hook through the chain.  Put the hook through and yarn over, pull through chain.  You will have 4 loops on your hook.  Yarn over and pull through 2, yarn over and pull through next 2, yarn over and pull through remaining 2.  Here's what that will look like:

This is a row of repeated tc ^^^

How's that for a crash course??

I'd like to also share that while preparing this I discovered that I had actually been doing my yarn over the hook the wrong way, and that when I corrected it I realized that my stitches look totally different than when I do it the proper way.  

It is taking time for me to teach my hands to work the proper yarn over, but I am getting it and I am happy to have written this mini-tutorial because it taught me the proper way!!  It was pretty mind-blowing.  And, I had already taken ALL the photos for this post BEFORE I realized what I was doing differently.... and had to retake them all. It was a time-consuming but fortunate learning experience.  It makes me wonder if that's how my Grandma taught me, or if this something special I created all on my own....??  I'll have to ask her next time we visit!

While working on this post, I was watching the outside turn back into a winter wonderland....  Spring forgot it was here I guess.  Here are photos of the accumulation since overnight last night.  Yesterday there was grass where that snow is...

Happy Learning!  

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