Keen to learn how to crochet?
Want to make October’s gorgeous pastel cushion but have never crocheted? Here’s how to get started today…
What equipment do I need?
- A pair of needles or crochet hook and some yarn
- Tape measure – essential for checking your tension square at the beginning of a project
- Darning needles – for darning in ends and sewing up your project. Tip: If you are using a very chunky yarn, ensure it will fit through the eye of your needle
- Scissors – always useful for trimming the ends of yarns
- Pins – use pins to keep the fabric in place when sewing up your project
- Bobbins – useful to have when working on a project with different coloured yarns as they help prevent the yarns from tangling
- Stitch counter – to hang on the end of one of your knitting needles to keep count of what row you are on
- Crochet markers – help to identify the start of a round
What does ‘tension’ mean?
- Tension refers to how tightly or loosely you crochet and it is important to get this right as it will affect the size of your finished piece. If you crochet tightly, your project might end up too small; if you crochet loosely, your project might end up too big.
- Tip: Always make a tension square before you start a project to find out if you should be using the size of needles or hook suggested in the pattern you are following.
1) Holding a crochet hook
Hold the hook in your right hand. You’ll need your left hand to hold your work and the yarn. Get the positioning right, as the way you hold the yarn controls the tension and keeps it even.
Practice both of the following methods to see which works best for you:
Two-finger grip: Take the working strand of yarn (the one attached to the ball) loosely around the back of the index and middle fingers on your left hand. Grip the yarn firmly with your last two fingers against your hand.
One-finger grip: Take the working strand of the yarn around the back of the first three fingers on your left hand. Bring it in front of your little finger and wrap it right around that finger again. You can tighten your grip on the yarn by pressing your little finger against your ring finger.
2) Basic techniques
Hold the working strand of the yarn secure and then take tight hold of your work with your left thumb and index finger close to the hook.
Tip: Don’t hold the hook too tight or your tension will be tight!
The first thing you need to learn is how to make a foundation chain – this provides the basis for the rest of the crocheted item.
First make a slip knot
1. To start a foundation chain, leave a short tail of yarn and make a slip knot by winding the yarn twice around two fingers on your left hand. Hold the loose end of yarn secure with your thumb and take the second loop behind the first.
2. Pull the second loop of yarn through the first loop either with the crochet hook or your right-hand fingers.
3. Slip the new loop onto the crochet hook and tighten it up by gently pulling on the loose end of yarn. Remember not to make the slip knot too tight – you can slacken it off again by gently pulling on the working end of the yarn.
Making a foundation chain
1. Firmly hold the slip knot with your left index finger and thumb. Hold the crochet hook in your right hand. Lifting your left middle finger to tension the yarn, slide the hook over the working yarn from above. Rotating the hook slightly, secure the yarn under the hook end.
2. Pull the hook back through the slip knot. Repeat this process, continually adjusting your left-hand grip to hold the work near the hook, until the required number of chain stitches have been made.
Counting chain stitches
1. Count your chains before you begin the next row to ensure you create the right width of fabric. Make sure the foundation chain is not twisted and that the fronts of the chains are facing you.
2. Count the number of loops – each one counts as one chain stitch. When you count, always ignore the initial slip knot and the loop on your hook.
3. With the right length of foundation chain, you are ready to work the first row. This can be quite tricky if the foundation chain is tight and it can be hard to see each chain stitch.
Credit: Rachel Henderson, author of Animal Hats