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How to Crochet: Learn the Basics of This Time Honored Handicraft

How to Crochet

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Did you know that a handicraft like crochet is a proven stress reliever as well as a positive creative outlet? With the recent resurgence of interest in crafting, more and more people are discovering the versatility of crocheting. No longer viewed as your grandma's hobby, amateur and professional textile artists continue to explore crochet's creative possibilities.

Luckily, it's not too difficult for beginners to get started. With so many techniques and stitches to choose from, it's possible to start out slow and pick up skills over time. With just a few basic techniques and stitches, you can be well on your way. So what exactly is crochet? This textile art requires the use of a long stick with a hook at the end, known as a crochet hook, which is used to make loops of yarn, thread, or cord to produce a fabric.

As crochet hooks come in all sizes, you can work with fine thread all the way up to thick rope to produce items like socks, blankets, mittens, shoulder bags, hats, sweaters, and much more. Most projects follow a crochet pattern that will help you achieve the look you're after, though some artistic techniques like freeform crochet are perfect for those who love to freestyle. Crochet is so versatile that you can even get away with ditching the hook and simply use your fingers in a technique aptly called finger crochet!

Crocheting Basics

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Crochet Basics


The Essential Supplies

To get started, the most important supplies you'll need is a crochet hook and yarn, thread, or cord to create your fabric.

  • Crochet hooks — These metal or plastic utensils come in different gauges depending on the thickness of the material to be looped.
  • Yarn and crochet threads — This is the fun part of crocheting—picking your fibers! Again, depending on what you're making will determine what kind of yarn or thread you'll need to use.
  • Scissors — Fiskars makes some of our favorite craft scissors.
  • Stitch markers — These little locket-shaped pieces will help you keep track of where you are in your patterns.

There are a wide variety of crochet stitches, but most projects start with you needing to know how to make a slip knot in order to get your yarn on the hook and a chain stitch in order to make a solid row to anchor your entire piece.


Get started right away when you watch this helpful video geared towards beginners. 

Other basic stitches that will allow you to start on beginner projects are the single crochet, half double crochet, double crochet, and slip stitch.


Basic Chain Stitch for Crochet

Photo: La corneja artesana via Shutterstock


Want to gain more knowledge of crochet basics? Try these online classes.

You might also consider joining Skillshare for complete access to a wide variety of tutorials and projects. Their vast library of materials on crocheting is great for all skill levels.

History of Crochet

Photo: Kostikova Natalia via Shutterstock


Crochet vs. Knitting

It can be difficult for novices to note the difference between crocheting and knitting at first glance, but though both use yarn there are many distinctions between these crafts. The first, and most obvious, are the tools used. Knitters use two flat knitting needles, while crochet requires a hook to latch onto the yarn. Crochet hooks come in a variety of sizes depending on the material used and are typically made of plastic, wood, bamboo, aluminum, or steel.

Crochet requires the use of only one hand, which some people find easier, and typically goes faster than knitting. The results are often lighter and drape better than knit pieces. While both crafts use yarn, crochet is a bit more flexible. Using different gauges of hooks, it's possible to crochet anything from thread to rope.

The types of stitches used also varies. Knitting primarily uses two stitches, while crochet has a huge variety of intricate stitches that you can use to create different effects. The way the stitches are formed differs greatly as well, with knitters having many active loops on their needles at the same time. In crochet, there's usually only one active loop at a time. (An exception to this rule is Tunisian crochet, which uses extra-long needles to produce a knit-like product.)

One similarity is that both crafts use patterns with abbreviations, many of them the same whether you are knitting or crocheting. This will make it much easier to hop back and forth between each craft. And, of course, many of the items one can make are the same, whether they're mittens, blankets, sweaters, or slippers. Good hand-eye coordination and patience is a must, so give both a try and see what you prefer.


Next: Learn about different crochet techniques and pick out a crochet kit to get your next project started.

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Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Contributing Writer and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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