Most crochet basics tutorials start with a slip knot and chain stitch, but before we even make our first stitch, we need a few basic crocheting tools, don’t we? Namely, yarn and a crochet hook. Of course, there are many sizes and shapes to choose from and a few “minor” tools, and some hints, that may help us out along the way.
First, don’t be intimidated. Crocheting is mostly just tying different knots with a stick. At least, that’s how my husband describes it, lol. Really, crocheting isn’t as hard as it looks. And, that’s what’s cool about it – the different stitches looks so complex and beautiful, but the stitches themselves are not complicated to make. In the beginning, there are some common crochet mistakes, but once you start manipulating the yarn regularly, things will “click” and you’ll be halfway through a crochet project before you know it!
Choosing a Basic Yarn
There is a lot to know about yarn and how to choose the right one, such as ply, care, dye lot, and gauge, but we’re going to just stick with the basics. There are 6 basic yarn sizes that you see in the stores, devised by how many stitches can be made in a 4×4 swatch of stockinette stitch (knitting term). The larger the number, the smaller the yarn.
- Super Fine (lace, sock): 29-32
- Fine (baby, sport): 25-28
- Light (dk <- “double knit”): 21-24
- Medium (worsted, aran): 17-20
- Bulky (chunky): 13-16
- Super Bulky: 9-12
As a beginner, you should start with a medium-weight, worsted yarn. It’s the easiest to work with and most of your beginner projects use that weight of yarn. As for yarn TYPE, keep it simple when first starting out…a basic cotton will work just fine. Start with a light solid, so you can easily see the stitches. Also, please stay away from all “fancy” yarns when you’re first learning! I know it’s difficult, since they’re all so pretty, but absolutely NO eyelash, fur, feather, or knotted yarns. They will hide the stitch and make things very frustrating for you when you’re just starting out in crochet. Trust me, I learned this the hard way.
The Right Crochet Hook
Hook size is marked directly on a crochet hook. You will see a number or a letter and, sometimes, both. The number represents the diameter in millimeters. The letters (B-Q) represent hook size from a smallest to largest scale, “B” being the smallest and “Q” being the largest. Crochet hooks are usually separated into two categories: thread hooks and yarn hooks. Thread hooks are made from steel and yarn hooks are usually made from plastic, aluminum, or even wood. Personally speaking, I prefer aluminum. There’s a nice “glide” to it. Anyway, your hook size determines your stitch size, so if you want a relatively “medium” stitch using worsted-weight (medium) yarn, then start with a size 7 hook and, depending on how you crochet (I’m a tight crocheter and my daughter is a very loose crocheter), stitch a row and see how you like it. If you find your stitches too loose, go down a hook size. Generally speaking, your yarn and hook should somewhat coincide, i.e. smaller yarn, smaller hook, and larger yarn, larger hook. You may have to do some adjusting in the beginning, but no worries. Keep your crocheting relaxed, and remember, it’s all a work in progress!
Crochet Basics: What Else Do I Need?
Right off the bat, you aren’t going to need more than a crochet hook, a small pair of scissors, a blunt embroidery needle (for weaving in ends), and some practice yarn, but as you progress, there are things that are helpful to have on hand. When you start using crochet patterns, you will need a measuring tape to measure your gauge swatch. It is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED to crochet a 4″x4″ gauge swatch before starting any pattern where size matters, such as a sweater. Also, once you start “working in rounds” (hats, gloves, etc), you will want a stitch counter and stitch markers to track your stitches and identify the beginning/end of your “round”.
Once you have your tools and yarn in hand, get started with our “Crochet Basics Video Tutorial”, and happy crocheting!