The Best Crochet Guide for Absolute Beginners
We’ve taught countless crochet 101 workshops over the years (speaking of, grab a seat at our next Crochet 101 workshop this Sunday!), so between National Crochet Month and all of the recent crochet chatter, we thought it’d be the perfect time to put together the Best Crochet Guide for Absolute Beginners.
It’s no secret that crochet is EVERYWHERE these days — from the Olympics, to trend predictions, to pop stars, to our very own online crafting community. It seems like everyone is picking up a crochet hook to stitch up some wearables, gifts, or home decor, and we are HERE FOR IT!!
Have you downloaded a “beginner crochet pattern”, but still have no idea where to start? Yea, we’ve been there (more than once). By the end of this post, you’ll be fully equipped to read a crochet pattern, know exactly what tools you need, be fluent in common crochet lingo, AND you’ll get a bunch of our crochet tips along the way.
We promise by the end of your first few rows of double crochet, you’ll be hooked.
Your Ultimate Guide to Learning How to Crochet
Understanding Yarn and Hook Size
Often one of the first things you’ll see in a crochet pattern is the recommended yarn and hook size.
“Wait, can’t I just use the yarn I’ve had at the back of my closet since 2003?”
Probably! But you’ll want to do a gauge swatch first. Let me explain.
Yarn size, as in, the width of a particular yarn, is actually called yarn weight and refers to the thinness or bulkiness of a yarn. Most yarn labels indicate a recommended hook size for that particular yarn weight. When in doubt, you can refer to a Standard Yarn Weight Chart, such as this one from the Craft Yarn Council.
The hook size you use is completely reliant on your yarn weight, tension, and can vary from person to person. The hook size given in a pattern is a suggestion. When in doubt, start with the hook size recommended on your yarn label.
Where to Find Yarn and Hook Size on a Yarn Label
Yarn packaging contains all the information you need to start a crochet or knitting project, including the yarn weight, length of yarn, suggested hook/needle size, fiber content, color, and dye lot. Be sure to check your yarn packaging for this information to help determine how much yarn you’ll need for a project and the suggested hook size you’ll want to try.
When purchasing more than one skein of yarn for a particular project be sure to match the dye lot number. This ensures that the skein came from the same batch of yarn and the shades will match exactly.
“The label for my yarn is LONG gone. How do I know what hook to use?”
This is where that gauge swatch we mentioned earlier is going to come in handy.
Crochet Pattern Gauge
A crochet pattern’s gauge is the number of stitches and rows per inch. This is how the pattern author can ensure that everyone, no matter if they crochet with tight or loose tension, can achieve the correct fit and/or outcome for the project. It can also help you to determine the amount of yarn you need to complete a project.
PRO TIP: Always make your gauge swatch slightly larger than the pattern’s gauge indicates, as you want to measure the middle of your swatch where it is most consistent, not the edges, to obtain an accurate gauge.
For example, if your pattern gauge says: 9 sc sts x 12 sc rows = 4 x 4 inches, this means that after you make your swatch, 9 single crochet stitches across and 12 single crochet rows should take up a 4” x 4” space. If it does not, your final result may not be the desired size. You can adjust this by switching up your hook size or trying to adjust your tension.
Tension is the tightness or looseness with which one crochets. It is based on the way you hold your yarn when crocheting, and how tightly you pull your stitches as you go. Your tension will affect the crochet gauge, which is something to keep in mind when sizing a pattern according to a gauge swatch. Tension can evolve over time, especially from the time that you first learn to crochet. The more you crochet, the more likely it is that you will develop a consistent tension.
Learn more about gauge and tension here.
How to Hold your Crochet Hook
The most common ways to hold a crochet hook are either as a pencil, in between your thumb and index finger and resting on your middle finger, or like a knife, with the hook between the tip of your index finger and thumb but the rest of your fingers resting on or cradling the hook. Which method you use is totally based on what’s most comfortable to you.
How to Hold your Yarn when Crocheting
There are a variety of ways to hold your yarn when crocheting. How you hold your yarn is ultimately determined by what’s most comfortable to you and what yields a tension with which you are pleased.
What supplies do I actually need to start crocheting?
One of our favorite things about crochet is that you don’t need much to get started — with just a crochet hook* and some yarn* you’re off to the races! This also makes crochet very travel-friendly! There’s nothing that passes the time faster than making granny squares on a long plane ride or road trip.
That being said, there are a few additional crochet supplies that will make your new crochet-loving life a lot better:
- Crochet hooks in several sizes. You don’t need to start with a full set, but it’s a good idea to have a hook that is one size up and one size down from the recommended hook size for your yarn. This will allow you to easily adjust if you find that your tension is loose or tight, or if you find that your tension changes over time (very normal!).
- You’re going to want at least one yarn needle*, but we recommend having a handful. A yarn needle makes weaving in your ends at the end of a project tremendously easier, and you’re bound to lose one or two, so you’ll be grateful to have a few around!
- Stitch markers* are a godsend for counting stitches, or marking the start of a row.
- PRO TIP: You can also use a stitch marker to your place when you need to put down a project. This prevents your hard work from unraveling when your hook inevitably falls out.
*Item is included in our Crochet Kit!
Bonus Crochet Supplies
These are crochet supplies that aren’t necessary, but fantastic to add to your craft closet once you’re hooked.
PRO TIP: These make great gifts for crocheters, or are perfect for adding to your own wishlist!
- A project bag or basket for keeping all of your work, yarn, and tools together in one place. This makes it incredibly easy to pick up your project in your free time, then set it aside again for later.
- Folding scissors are GREAT for throwing in your project bag(s), or when traveling. Say goodbye to that inevitable scramble for scissors when ready to switch colors because you left them with your other project.
- A small pouch for keeping all of your small odds and ends (stitch markers, yarn needles, folding scissors, etc.) from getting lost at the bottom of your project bag.
- A yarn winder is great for winding your skein of yarn into a knot and snag-free ball that will unravel neatly while you work.
- Yarn bowls are wonderful for keeping your ball of yarn from rolling off of your surface and running away. You find them made from wood, resin, pottery, and even 3D printers!
Common Crochet Abbreviations, Terms, and Lingo
“Well I’ve got my supplies, but I still have no idea what all these letters on my “beginner” crochet pattern mean!!”
When looking at a crochet pattern for the first time, it can often feel like you’re reading another language (or at least your last text from a tween — all of those abbrevs, YKWIM?)!
Here’s a crochet cheat sheet you can screenshot or save to your Desktop that outlines common crochet abbreviations, and what they mean:
Other common, often entertaining, crochet terms or abbreviations you may come across:
- Blocking – A method using water or steam to shape your project for a more polished look
- FOTH / HOTH – Fresh Off The Hook / Hot Off The Hook
- Frogging – When you have to take apart your work (derives from saying “rip it, rip it” like “ribbit, ribbit”)
- JAYGO – Join As You Go (usually in reference to granny square projects)
- WIP – Work In Progress
- Yarn Barf – the chaotic tangled mess that often comes out of a skein of yarn when you pull from the center
Common Crochet Stitches
Now that you’ve got your supplies, understand crochet lingo, and can read your crochet pattern, it’s time to make your gauge swatch, and start crocheting! Below you’ll find all of our tutorials for the most common crochet stitches.
PRO TIP: Practice the stitches in your pattern before starting your project! This will help you get a feel for the movements before diving in, and will help you avoid frogging any of your hard work!
How to Read a Crochet Pattern
With the basics out of the way, it’s time to finally dive into your crochet pattern! Phew.
Learning how to read and understand crochet patterns is essential to being able to create all of the various designs and projects that inspire you! Trying a new crochet pattern is also a great way to challenge yourself to learn new skills and stitches.
Find our complete guide on how to read crochet patterns here.
Finishing A Crochet Project: Weaving in the Ends
“I FINALLY finished my project, but now I’ve got all of these loose strands everywhere. Do I just cut them?”
Ahhhh yes, maybe the most polarizing part of crocheting – weaving in your ends. You either love it or loathe it.
First of all, please don’t cut them! Cutting your yarn ends without weaving them in properly first could result in all of your work coming unraveled (and also your brain from the frustration). We don’t want that for you. Properly weaving in your ends can be tedious, but is absolutely worth it!
Just like holding your yarn, there are lots of different ways to weave in your ends. Here’s what we recommend:
Using a yarn needle weave your yarn ends in and out of the closest rows of the same color on the backside of your work so that they don’t show. To avoid the ends from making their way out, try to weave in at least three different directions. Once you’ve woven ~1.5″ of your strand, trim the tail close to your work.
The absolute best, most important crochet tip above anything else: Practice, Practice, Practice!
As with anything, the more you crochet, the better (and more addicted) you’ll get.
Still have questions, or need clarification on any of the above? Drop it in the comments below.
Be sure to tag us @theneonteaparty in any of your crocheted creations! We truly cannot wait to see what you make!
Peace, love, & neon