Originally posted 2017-07-17 20:00:30.
I was going to have this post be about how to read a pattern, but I decided it would be easier to read a pattern if you knew what the stitches were, so I’ll discuss those this month and get into pattern reading next month.
Before we begin stitching, it is important to know how to make a yarn ball. Yarn usually comes in a skein, which can be wound any number of ways. You can work with the yarn directly from the skein, but sometimes it is easier if you make a ball. This is because when you leave the yarn in the skein, depending on how it was wound it can get tangled as you get toward the end and be frustrating. Most projects I do I’m lazy and just leave it in the skein, and then I get mad at the end. It’s all part of my creative process. If you’re like me and just leave it in the skein, you want to make sure you start with the end of the yarn that comes from the middle of the skein, not the handy one hanging out around the outside. You will probably have to dig the middle one out. Let me find a skein and show you what I mean…
Sugar ‘n Cream is a pretty popular commercially available cotton yarn we have here. Since it is very easy to work with for beginners, I’ll us it in all my pictures and videos today.
This is how you’ll usually find the yarn in the store, with a tag hanging out on the outside.
Use the one from the middle, not the one from the outside!
To make skein into a ball, you just start wrapping the yarn around your finger (or fingers), compress it into a tight packet, then keep wrapping yarn around that in alternating directions. In the following video, I’ve started a ball. You would just continue doing that until you’ve wrapped up the whole skein.
The first thing we need to discuss is how to hold your yarn and hook to crochet something. My pictures are all going to be right-handed, because, well, that’s how I crochet. If you are left-handed, the idea is the same, you just do it reversed from how I would. Here is one left-handed crocheting guide. I am also going to be showing you how I do it. If my way is uncomfortable for you, there are probably hundreds of other ways to hold your work that you can find. This is how I hold mine:
Place your thumb and forefinger on the thumb rest, sort of like holding a screwdriver. I wrap the yarn from behind my pinky, in front of my other three fingers fingers, then wrap it around my pointer finger to the front again. I hold the yarn and project I’m currently working with between my middle and pointer finger, using my pointer finger to create and hold tension on the yarn. This will be more evident in the videos later in the post.
Crocheting works the same way everywhere, however, there are some discrepancies as to what the stitches are called depending on where you live. I’m going to call this different “crochet languages” to make it easier to explain. Basically, British crochet does not use the term single crochet, so the stitches are called a size bigger than in American crochet. This chart shows the major differences:
|American Crochet||British Crochet|
|Single crochet||Double crochet|
|Half double crochet||Half treble crochet|
|Double crochet||Treble crochet|
|Treble crochet||Double treble crochet|
|Double treble crochet||Triple treble crochet|
The very first stitch you need to learn is the chain stitch (called the chain stitch in both languages). The chain stitch is the foundation of any crochet project, and is also used throughout patterns to create gaps or spaces or add loops to projects. As a foundation, you just make a string of chains as long as you want your piece to be. To leave a space or make a loop, you chain as many chains as stitches you wan to skip, or as long a loop as you want to make. If you’ve never crocheted before, because this stitch is your foundation, I want you to practice doing it until you can make each stitch the same size consistently. To start the stitch, you simply make a simple knot to start your project and shrink the loop to the size of the thumb rest (this will ensure it is easy to get the end of the hook through the loop). Then, you yarn over (this means wrap the yarn around the hook), and pull the yarn through the loop on the hook. Here is a video of me making the chain stitch:
The next stitch I will show you is the single crochet (double crochet in British crochet). To make a single crochet, you pass the hook under the top two loops of the chain stitch. They look like a V on top of your hook if you’ve done it correctly. Then yarn over your hook and pull the yarn underneath the V. You now have two loops on your hook. Yarn over again, and pull the yarn through both loops on your hook. You’ve completed a single crochet! Here is a video of me making single crochets in the base chain:
A few notes about the video: making that first row in the foundation chain is the single most frustrating part about crocheting (once you get used to holding the yarn and moving the hook). I still struggle with it sometimes, especially when I’m trying to go slow and make a video so you can watch. Ha. Ha. Also, I skipped that very first chain next to my hook for a reason. When you turn your work (start going the other direction), you need to make a chain stitch (or stitches) equal to the length of the stitches you will be using in the next row: one for singles and half doubles, two for doubles, three for trebles, etc. I will demonstrate this in my next video about how to do half double crochet stitches.
Onward to the half double crochet stitch (half treble crochet stitch in British crochet)! It its called the half double because you’ll do half the work of making a double crochet stitch, but more work than making a single crochet stitch. Height wise, it falls about halfway between a single and a double as well. To make a half double crochet stitch, you need to yarn over (before inserting your hook under the V of the previous stitch), insert your hook under the V of the previous stitch, yarn over, and pull the yarn under the V. You now have 3 loops on your hook. Yarn over again, and pull the yarn through all three loops at once. This ends your half double stitch. Here is a video of me making half double crochet stitches:
I chain one to start my row, turn my work, and begin my stitches.
The next stitch we need to discuss is the double crochet stitch (treble crochet stitch in British crochet). The double crochet stitch starts much like the half double crochet stitch: you need to yarn over (before inserting your hook under the V of the previous stitch), insert your hook under the V of the previous stitch, yarn over, and pull the yarn under the V. You now have 3 loops on your hook. Now, yarn over and rather than pulling the yarn through all three loops, only pull the yarn through the first two loops only. This will leave two loops on the hook yet. Yarn over again and pull the yarn through both loops left on the hook. That action of essential doing the single crochet twice in the same stitch is why they call it a double crochet, I think. You start each new row of double crochet stitches with two chain stitches. Here is a video of me making double crochet stitches:
The final stitch I will go over today is the treble crochet stitch (double treble crochet stitch in British crochet). Essentially each time you go up a size, you add another set of loops to go through. For the treble stitch, you yarn over twice before going under the V of the previous row, yarn over, and pull the yarn under the V. You now have 4 loops on your hook. Yarn over, pull through the first two loops, yarn over pull through the next two loops, yarn over and pull through the final two loops. You have completed a treble crochet stitch! You start each row of treble crochet stitches with three chain stitches. Here is a video of me making the treble crochet stitch:
Here is a picture of my “finished product” so you can see all the stitches together. The bottom row is the single crochet stitches and the top row is the treble crochet stitches. It shows you how different the sizes of each stitch are:
Now, there are a plethora of specialty stitches out there from shells to popcorns and everything in between. These stitches are simply the basic crochet stitches combined in a new and interesting way. Each pattern that includes a special stitch will also have directions on how to do the stitches. That part will be covered next month in my patterns post. You can make anything with just the stitches I’ve shown you here. In fact, your first project could be something as simple as a cotton rectangle made of all single crochet stitches that could be used as a dishcloth. Just make sure you count the number of stitches in each row so that they’re always the same, or your rectangle won’t have straight edges. Alternatively, if you make a chain, and rather than turning your work at the end of the row, just make single crochets in the remaining loops of your foundation chain and continue around in a sort of stretched out oval. If you just keep going like that, it will eventually turn in on itself and make a double layered potholder. This is actually kind of neat to watch, so I think you should make at least one at some point. All the potholders (aside from mitts) in my house are this type.
Oh, and in case you’re wondering, it’s really easy to go back if you make a mistake. You just pull your yarn out! You’ll want to be cautious of this fact if you’re putting your work down for a while. It’s really easy for it to get ripped out by accident. Either leave an extremely long loop, or put something like a twist tie or commercially available stitch marker in it so your work can’t be completely undone. Here’s how easy it is:
Have fun practicing your stitches!