#1 Guide to Crochet for Beginners: The Basics & Free Patterns
Ever looked at those beautifully made crochet home décor or stuffed toys and wondered, “Man… I wish I knew how to make one of those!” Our crochet for beginners’ guide will help you make your first step into the world of crochet. Learn about this wonderful craft with us; we’ll discuss the basics of crochet, essential tools & materials, important crochet techniques, and basic crochet stitches. Read until the end to find free crochet patterns for beginners! We guarantee, once you pick up this fantastic hobby, you’ll never want to let go!
LEARN THE BASICS OF CROCHET FOR BEGINNERS
The term crochet itself derives from a French word, meaning small hook. It is a type of needlework that works by interlocking loops of yarns with a hooked needle. You can create Bags & Purses, garments, drink coasters, baskets, pillowcases, blankets, stuffed dolls by using only one tool. It’s important to note that when you pair yarns of different weights with a variety of crochet hook sizes, it changes the outcome of your project. Hence, even though you and your friend may be using the same crochet pattern, you may end up with different results!
One great thing about crochet is that you only need to know a few simple crochet stitches to do beginner-level projects. Below are some examples of what you can accomplish with basic crochet knowledge:
ESSENTIAL CROCHET SUPPLIES FOR BEGINNERS
Note: All our patterns and terms are based on the US letter & number system.
Like any other handicraft project, you’ll need the right tools to help you through the process. The most basic supplies you need for this yarn project are a crochet hook and a ball of yarn. Well, and a pair of scissors to cut your thread when you’re done with the crochet project. There is a wide range of crochet hooks and types of yarns in the market, but certain options are more suitable for an absolute beginner.
Crochet hooks are the primary tool you’ll be using to create stitches with yarn. It comes in various sizes, and depending on which country you’re from, they have entirely different terms and measurement systems. Refer to the image above to better understand the parts of a crochet hook.
An essential point to take note of is the material of the crochet hook. They are made from various materials, such as plastic, wood, steel, bamboo, and aluminum. To learn how to crochet for beginners, it is advisable to use aluminum hooks – they’re widely available and known to be more durable and lightweight.
Most crochet hooks are labeled in Metric sizes (mm), and knowing what different hooks are for will help you decide the best hook for your project! For beginners, it is best to start with a hook size between 4mm-6mm. These medium-sized crochet hooks are the best for when you’re just learning how to crochet; just nice for your hands to get used to the crocheting movements and stitches.
Each crochet hook brands label their hooks differently. Crochet hooks sold in the US are typically marked with letters B to S while the others are labeled in millimeters. Some may even include both the letter and number. Here’s a crochet hook size conversion chart for US, UK and Japan for future reference:
If you’re familiar with knitting yarns, then crochet yarns are no stranger to you. Yarns come in a variety of weights for you to create different types of crochet projects. The yarn weight does not refer to how heavy they are – instead, it’s how thick they are.
The best yarns for absolute beginners are medium-weight yarns, smooth yet strong, and can create consistent stitches. Thinner yarns could be tricker for beginners as it’s harder to gauge the stitches correctly. Also, to get into the groove of crocheting, start with light-colored yarns; the darker the color, the harder it is to see where you need to insert your hook.
Acrylic yarn and cotton yarn are the two most recommended yarns to crochet for beginners. They’re available in many colors, including vibrant and sharp colors. These yarns are lightweight, feel smooth to the touch, yet are strong enough to hold your crochet projects.
Due to the weight, acrylic and cotton yarns have excellent stitch definition, allowing you to see your stitches clearly. While it depends from yarn to yarn, these materials are typically machine-washable, which is great for household projects like doilies, coasters, rugs, and baskets (refer to the yarn labels for details).
Another kind of yarn Craft Passion enjoys using is raffia yarn – commonly used to create summer vibes accessories like the beach tote and summer hats. Other projects you can explore with raffia yarn include baskets, plant hangers, bags, and purses.
Since raffia yarn is made from natural plant fiber, it’s not as flexible as regular yarn. Hence, it makes it more difficult for beginners due to the rough material. However, if you’re up for a challenge, we have plenty of beginner-level raffia yarn projects you can try out!
YARN WEIGHT CONVERSION CHART
If you’re not from the US or use supplies from a different country, here’s a yarn weight conversion chart for your reference! Though it is not really exactly the same weight you may use it as a proximity guide. For example, if a crochet pattern asks for Light worsted weight yarn, you may replace it with DK or an 80ply yarn, depending on where your yarn was manufactured (check the yarn label).
ADDITIONAL CROCHET SUPPLIES
We’ve learned that the first things you need for your crochet journey are a crochet hook and a ball of yarn. However, you might’ve noticed that some crochet patterns for beginners involve using more than two supplies. Below are additional tools that you may need to make your first crochet project more convenient!
Tapestry / Darning Needle
Tapestry needles and darning needles are the same; they’re both a type of yarn needle with a blunt tip and a big eye that you can insert yarn into. Like crochet hooks, these yarn needles come in various sizes that suit different kinds of projects. For example, you’d use a small needle if you’re using thin yarns for your crochet project. Similar to crochet hooks, yarn needles are labeled with numbers (smaller number = larger needle size).
This little tool will come in handy when you are working on crochet projects with repetitive patterns. It kind of looks like a paper clip but is typically made with high-quality and durable plastic that won’t ruin your yarn—used to help you keep track of stitches or rows to minimize mistakes. If you’re halfway through your project and realize you ran out of stitch markers, replace it with a short strand of yarn. Otherwise, make your stitch marker with paper clips or safety pins; but try to be as gentle as possible so that it doesn’t tug on your yarn.
At some point, you will need to “detach” your crochet project from the ball of yarn. Hence, getting a good-quality pair of scissors would be nice to work with, even more so once you start working with thicker yarns. Yarn scissors are available in many shapes and sizes; make sure you get a pair that’s sharp and durable! Check out the beautiful Stork scissors or Beaditive 2pc scissors set: Both small, portable, and made with quality stainless steel for precision cutting.
Crochet hook organizer
Not exactly an essential item for beginners, but certainly a useful one! Once you’ve invested in more tools, it’d be nice to have everything in one place. A simple pencil case or storage box shall do the trick, but these organizers have specific compartments for different sizes of hooks, tapestry needles, and stitch markers. Take a look at the Teamoy Organizer Case or Damero Crochet Hook Case.
To make your life easier, there are tons of crochet kits for beginners in the market. These starter kits include the essential size hook, crochet needles, basic crochet patterns, and yarn you need to begin your first project. If you’re looking for a specific pattern for beginners, you can start with a kit with a granny squares pattern!
HOW TO HOLD A CROCHET HOOK
To learn how to crochet for beginners, you must first learn how to hold a crochet hook. There are two different ways to do this, but the most common method is the pencil grip. For this, you’d place your thumb on the flat section of the hook, pinching the other side with your index finger with the throat facing you. Next, close the rest of your fingers into your palm and allow the crochet hook to rest on your middle finger.
Another method is by holding your crochet hook like you would hold a knife when eating. Straighten your index finger and place it on the crochet hook, just a few inches from the tip. Then, rest your thumb along one side with the remaining three fingers on the other side of the hook. The main difference between these two methods is that the pencil grip lets you use your fingers to control the movement, while the knife method uses your wrist. Try both methods to see which one is more suitable for you; they work the same way for right-handers and left-handers.
HOW TO HOLD YARN FOR CROCHET
Your hand plays a vital role in controlling the tension of the yarn. You can control how loose or tight your finished projects will be by opening and closing your hand. There are several common methods to hold yarn for crochet, but it depends on which way feels best for you. Here’s how we do it:
- Place the strand of yarn on your palm, in your less dominant hand;
- Place the thread between your pinkie and ring finger;
- Pull the tail end of the yarn over your index finger;
- If you feel that the thread tension is too loose, wrap it around your index finger again.
You could also try to place the yarn under your palm or over your palm. If you’re working with slippery yarn like cotton or lace weight yarn, you can even try wrapping the yarn around both your pinkie and index finger for extra security! With that said, try all methods until you’ve found something you’re comfortable with; if neither of the proposed ways works, come up with something of your own. Just remember, your yarn should flow smoothly as you crochet, and avoid tugging too hard!
HOW TO START CROCHET
Now that you know how to hold your crochet hook and yarn, let’s learn how to create a starting point for your crochet piece. The slip knot and magic ring are two fundamental techniques known as the first steps before you begin working on your project. Without them, you’d have trouble pulling yarn through the crochet hook.
Before diving into the list of basic stitches, we must first connect the crochet hook to the yarn by tying a slip knot. Begin by making a loop with the yarn and ensuring the tail is on top of the long yarn. Next, flip the loop down towards the longer yarn, grab the middle section and insert the crochet hook into the loop from right to left. Lastly, pull down both ends of the yarn to tighten the loop around the crochet hook. The tail should be about 4-6″ long.
Many crochet project calls for you to crochet in rows, but there are also a lot of patterns that will ask you to crochet in the round. Simply put, the magic ring or magic circle is an adjustable loop with a “drawstring.” It allows you to create a tight circle in the center of your crochet piece from the start, leaving no hole in the middle of your ring! This technique is commonly used as the starting point for Amigurumi projects and some granny square patterns. Basically, you’ll need to make as many single crochet stitches your pattern calls for into the ring, then pull the yarn tail tight to close both ends.
TYPES OF BASIC CROCHET STITCHES
Time to start creating your first stitches! Below are six basic crochet stitches with recommended crochet patterns for beginners. To make slst, hdc, dc & tr, you must first create a row of foundation chains with ch and sc.
Chain stitch (ch)
Chain stitches are often referred to as a starting chain or foundation chain. After the slip knot, this is the first stitch that gets your crochet pattern up and running. And guess what, it’s the easiest stitch to learn!
- YO; your hook with the working yarn from the back to the front;
- Rotate your crochet hook and turn counterclockwise as you pull the hook down through the loop;
- Repeat as many times as needed to create your first row of stitches.
Slip stitch (slst)
Working in the round or magic ring is accomplished by using the slip stitch. This basic technique allows you to join the ends of a starting chain to form a circle, stitch two pieces of crochet fabric together or decorate a crochet fabric.
- Insert your crochet hook into the next stitch;
- Place the tip of the hook under the yarn, then pull it through the first loop;
- Pull the same loop through the loop on the hook.
Single crochet stitch (sc)
Make dense and smooth pieces with the most common crochet stitch! Single crochet stitches are so versatile they can be found in all crochet projects. You can create fashionable pieces like scarves to household items like baby blankets. They’re also the foundation stitch in making Amigurumis or crochet stuffed dolls. Experiment with different types of yarn and hooks to see a variety of outcomes.
- To begin a new row or round with Single Crochet, make a chain stitch;
- Insert the crochet hook into the next stitch;
- YO; pull the yarn through to form a second loop;
- YO; pull the yarn through both loops.
Half double stitch (hdc)
With a height between the SC and DC, the half double stitch makes looser stitches but is solid enough to make sweaters and blankets. It creates stitches quickly and is suitable if you’re in a rush to complete a project! Our Basketweave Baby Blanket and Ruffle Flower Hair Tie are some patterns we used HDC with.
- To begin a new row or round with Half Double Crochet, make two chain stitches (typically counted as one HDC unless stated otherwise);
- YO; insert hook into the next stitch;
- YO; pull through, leaving three loops on the crochet hook;
- YO; pull through all three loops.
Double crochet stitch (dc)
Change the appearance of your crochet piece by combining different stitches with double crochet stitches! These stitches are a little wider and more flexible than the regular single crochet and can be used to join rounds or work in rows – commonly seen in projects like granny squares, afghan blankets, headbands, and more. See how we incorporated the DC with other stitches to create beginner crochet patterns like Crochet Oversized Tote and Crochet Ruffle Dress.
- To begin a new row or round with Double Crochet, make 3 chain stitches (typically counted as one DC unless stated otherwise);
- YO; pull through to form three loops on the crochet hook;
- YO; draw through the first two loops, leaving 2 loops on the crochet hook;
- YO; pull through the final two loops.
Treble crochet stitch (tr)
Lift your crochet workpiece quickly with treble crochet stitches! Tall stitches are mainly used to create loose fabric projects, ideal for light and lace patterns. Check out how we used TR in our unique solid granny square pattern and Crochet Yo-Yo Puff Pattern.
- To begin a new row or round with Treble Crochet, make four chain stitches (usually counted as one TR unless stated otherwise);
- YO twice; Insert hook into the next stitch;
- YO; pull up through the stitch, creating four loops on the hook;
- YO; draw through the first two loops, leaving three loops on the crochet hook;
- YO; draw through another two loops, leaving two loops on the crochet hook;
- YO; pull through the final two loops.
BASIC CROCHET TERMS CONVERSION CHART
Without prior knowledge of crochet terms and abbreviations, the crochet pattern will look like a bunch of morse codes. Hence, it is vital to read a crochet pattern before picking out a project to work with. It will take time and patience to interpret a pattern for absolute beginners, but once you’re familiar with the flow and sequence, you’ll be crocheting like a pro!
As mentioned earlier, all our patterns are using US crochet terms. If you are from other countries which are using UK crochet terms or Asian crochet symbols and diagrams, we have the conversion chart for you. Please refer to the above conversion chart for the beginners’ crochet stitches including the first six basic crochet stitches we mentioned above.
MORE CROCHET TECHNIQUES FOR BEGINNERS
A loop of yarn on a crochet piece, usually with a specific name such as single crochet, double crochet, slip stitch, etc.
Once you’ve completed the last stitch of your project, use this technique to secure the yarn. First, cut off your working yarn, leaving at 4-6″ tail. Next, wrap your yarn around the hook, pull it all the way through the loop (remove hook) and secure it tightly. Now, we need to hide the rest of the yarn tail! Thread yarn with a tapestry needle, run it under the top row of stitches until you reach the end of your crochet project, weave it within the stitches to camouflage it.
Increase (inc) & Decrease (dec)
You may or may not need to increase/decrease in a beginner crochet pattern, but it’s good to know the purposes of these stitches. Essentially, INC & DEC means to add or subtract stitches from a row or round. The crochet pattern will indicate whether to increase or decrease in the middle, beginning or end. For example, for an SC increase, you’d work two SC stitches into the same stitch. Your crochet piece will have a slanted edge if the pattern calls for an INC or DEC at the beginning or end of a row. Though, if a pattern (specifically Amigurumi projects) calls for these techniques in the middle of a crochet piece, it is used to create a three-dimensional effect.
Turning chain (tch)
The purpose of a turning chain is to bring your yarn to the desired height before working the first stitch of your next row. The number of stitches required in the turning chain depends on the type of stitch you’re crocheting. For example, sc = 1 chain stitch, HDC = 2 chain stitches, DC = 3 chain stitches and so on. To do so, once you’ve reached the end of a row and before you begin the next row, do the turning chain; then flip your crochet piece to work on the other side. Remember, do not work into the turning chain after you flip over.
The turning chain for dc, hdc, and tr is counted as one stitch in the row by default unless stated otherwise in the pattern. For instance, a crochet piece made from dc stitches that calls for a row of ten stitches is made up of three chain stitches turning chain and nine dc stitches.
ANATOMY OF CROCHET STITCHES
The anatomy is the same for crochet stitches on a foundation chain and a magic ring row. Here are the four main parts;
- Post- The body of the row/round of stitches.
- Front loop/Back loop- The sideways V-shaped stitches are either the closest to you (front) or furthest away from you (back).
- Third loop- Located below the back loop on the wrong side of the crochet piece. This may not apply to most beginner-level projects, but when a pattern asks you to crochet into the “back bump” or “third loop,” it helps make the crochet piece look neater and tighter.
How many times have you picked up crochet but gave up because your project looks nothing like what you envisioned? Even if you’ve got the right yarn weight, size of hook, and followed the pattern down to a T… Well, it might be because you weren’t using the correct tension gauge! Everybody crochets with different tensions; some looser, some tighter. Therefore, to standardize the outcome of a project, most crochet pattern designers would specify the gauge requirement.
You will also be advised to make a gauge swatch, a square piece of knitted/crochet fabric that helps you see how your yarn, hook, and stitches interact. To do so, you must gather the hook size and yarn mentioned in the project, crochet the number of stitches stated until you’ve made at least 4″ horizontally x 4″ vertically.
Tension gauges may not appear regularly in beginner crochet projects and non-garment projects. Still, it is an important technique to learn, especially if you want to make a fitted garment like the halter neck top, sweaters, or other wearables. In short, a gauge helps to determine how dense your crochet piece should be. It is measured by a certain number of stitches/row (usually 10cm/4″) created by a specific hook size and type of yarn.
HOW TO CHANGE YARN COLOR
We will show you how to create colorwork crochet projects that use two or more yarn colors like the heart coasters pattern. Even though there are different ways to change yarn color, they’re the same for all the stitches your design calls for. We’re going to use single crochet stitches to show you how to change yarn color.
Method 1 (at the end of a row):
- At the end of the row, YO; leaving two loops on the hook (do not complete the stitch)
- Drop your yarn, then pick up the new yarn color and fold it in half to create a loop
- Use the crochet hook to pull the new yarn through the two loops on the hook
- Continue to crochet, as usual, turn your work, make a chain stitch then continue to crochet with the new yarn color
- Grab both loose ends of your yarn together above the row
- Single crochet over both loose strands until you reach a comfortable point, then cut off any loose strands
Method 2 (middle of the row)
Your pattern will indicate when to change the color. For example, to change color on the 7th stitch, work the existing color until the 6th stitch on the row, leaving two loops on the hook. Then, grab the new yarn through both loops and continue your stitch.
Method 3 (at the beginning of a row):
This method is similar to method 1; however, instead of leaving your last stitch open at the end of a row, you’d fasten the last stitch then incorporate the new color at the first stitch of the next row. To do so, once you finish the last stitch of your last row, fasten your work. Loop the new yarn color around your hook, pull through by making a slip knot, leaving roughly 6″ of tail to weave in. Then, continue crocheting the stitches along the new row.
YARN OVER VS. YARN UNDER
Traditionally, yarn over (YO) is used in most crochet projects, whereas yarn under (YU) is like a variation of crochet stitches. Since both methods produce different results, one should use what the pattern calls for!
For a yarn over, you’d place the hook under the strand of yarn, wrap it around your hook from below, and into the loop.
- Bigger stitches
- Looser tension (may leave “holes” in fabric)
- Uses more yarn
- Produce a V shaped stitch in Single Crochet
YU works by placing the hook over the strand of yarn, hooking the yarn from above, then pulling it into the loop.
- Smaller stitches
- Tighter tension (No holes in fabric)
- Uses less yarn
- Less slant in stitches
- Produce X shaped stitch in Single Crochet
Does it matter whether you yarn over (YO) or yarn under (YU) in a crochet pattern? Yes, it does affect the outcome of the project. But whichever method you decide to use, there is no definite right or wrong; they only produce a different appearance. It is based on the type of project you’re working on or your personal preference. For example, most modern Amigurumi patterns use the yarn under method, which creates denser and neater-looking stitches. In some cases, you can even combine both ways to create a unique pattern!
FREE CROCHET PATTERNS FOR BEGINNERS
The Granny Square and African Flower patterns work beautifully on their own but can also be used as a crochet blanket pattern for beginners! Get started with our novice crochet patterns to improve your new skill. The simplest way to learn a new skill is to practice it; practice until you get it right, practice until you’re comfortable with the method, practice until you can crochet and watch TV simultaneously! Let us know if you found this guide to crochet for beginners useful 🙂
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