Learning Crochet Stitches

It may seem like learning crochet stitches is more difficult than it actually is when you look at a crocheted hat or blanket. In truth, learning to crochet just takes a little bit of practice and a little bit of patience. Once you get the hang of forming your first crochet stitches, you'll soon master the skills you need to turn a budding interest into a rewarding hobby with beautiful, wearable results.

Getting Started
There are six main stitches used in crochet:

  • Chain stitch
  • Slip stitch
  • Single crochet
  • Half-double crochet
  • Double crochet
  • Treble (or triple) crochet

All crochet patterns are designed around various combinations of these six stitches. Once you commit the individual stitch techniques to memory, you'll have the skills you need to complete almost any project. But before you pick up your hook and get started, you'll need to learn how to hold the yarn and the hook properly.

The most common way to hold a crochet hook is in your dominant hand, similar to how you'd hold a pencil or a knife. Your other hand will hold your work out of the way while you're stitching and guide your working yarn to help you maintain the proper tension while you're stitching. Consistent tension is key to producing stitches that are uniform in size and shape. Some crocheters like to wrap the yarn around more than one finger, while others use only their index finger for the anchor. You'll get a sense pretty early on which method of holding the yarn is most comfortable for you.

Basic Crochet Stitches

Chain stitch. The chain stitch is the foundation of any project. It is used to form the base for your first row.

To get started, tie a knot about one inch from the end of your yarn. Leave a loop that is just big enough to pull the head of your crochet hook through comfortably.

Insert your hook into the loop, then wrap your working yarn once over the hook before pulling it through the loop. Once the first chain stitch is completed, repeat this process until you've reached the desired number of chain stitches for your swatch or project. Almost all patterns begin with a foundation row of chain stitches. Subsequent stitches are built off of that row.

Slip stitch. The slip stitch is commonly used to connect two pieces of crocheted work together, to form a circle for example, for crocheting in the round. To make a slip stitch, insert your crochet hook into the first stitch at the opposite end of the row from your hook.

Pull your working yarn over the hook, then pull the hook back through the stitch along with the yarn loop on the hook. Now, the two ends of the crocheted row are connected.

Single crochet. To form this stitch, insert your crochet hook into the next stitch. Wrap your working yarn around the hook once and pull it through the stitch. You now have two loops on your crochet hook. Wrap the yarn around the hook again and pull through both loops. One single crochet is completed.

Half-double crochet. A half-double crochet produces a fairly dense fabric, though not quite as dense as items made solely from single crochet. To make a half-double crochet, wrap the yarn around your crochet hook before inserting into the next stitch. Then, wrap the yarn around the hook again and pull it through the stitch. You now have three loops on your crochet hook. Wrap the yarn around the hook once more and pull through all three loops on your hook.

Double crochet. The double crochet stitch produces an even lighter fabric than the half-double crochet and, as a result, projects work up more quickly than if you're using single or half-double crochet only. Make one double crochet by wrapping your working yarn around the hook, then inserting it into the next stitch. Once the hook is through the stitch, wrap the yarn around the hook again and pull through the stitch. You now have three loops on your hook.

Wrap the yarn around the hook again and pull it through the first two loops on your hook. This will leave you with two loops on your crochet hook. Wrap the yarn around the hook one more time and pull through both loops. One double crochet is completed.

Treble or triple crochet. The final crochet stitch you're likely to run into is the treble or triple crochet stitch. This stitch is the tallest of the three and produces the lightest fabric of all the crochet stitches. It also means your projects will work up quickly, so it makes quick work of large items like blankets and afghans.

To make a treble crochet stitch, wrap your working yarn twice around your crochet hook before inserting it into the next stitch. Then, wrap the working yarn around the hook again and pull through the stitch. You now have four loops on your hook. Wrap the yarn around the hook once again and pull through the first two loops. Repeat this step until you have one loop remaining on your crochet hook. One treble crochet is completed.

A Note on Patterns
When you're just learning how to crochet or knit, your first glance at a commercial pattern might intimidate you. Patterns are written in a language all their own and rely on heavy use of stitch name abbreviations. Don't let this intimidate you. Instead, try breaking the pattern down into individual stitches and focusing on producing one row at a time.

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