In this guide I am going to help you in understanding basic crochet techniques and stitches. I’ll start right at the beginning, by sharing how to attach your yarn to your hook. Then we’ll move on to holding the hook and giving tension to your yarn. After that, I will take you through some initial techniques and basic stitches that will help you to get off on the right foot. When we have established these basics, I will point you in the right direction to continue your crocheting journey.
- Attaching yarn to your hook
- Different ways to grip your hook
- Holding the yarn and creating tension
- Basic crochet techniques and stitches
Yarn attachment crochet techniques
Attaching the yarn to your crochet hook is achieved by making a slip knot. Often known as ‘casting on’, it’s basically a way of tightening a slip knot around your hook, using your fingers as a starting point.
There are several ways of doing this but my favourite is as follows.
Wrap the yarn twice around your finger
Pull the back loop 1 over loop 2
Then pull loop 2 over loop 1 and continue on and over the end of your finger
Push your hook through the loose gap
Tug on the end of the yarn that is attached to the yarn ball
That’s it! You have cast on. You can now practice manipulating the hook and yarn, before we move on to making some basic stitches.
How should I hold my crochet hook?
You should hold your crochet hook in the hand that you use to write with, so for most people this will be their right hand. Every one of the crochet techniques you’ll learn on this site requires a hook, so holding it in a way that works for you is really important.
There are a few possible ways of holding your crochet hook, and it will depend upon the type of hook you are using and what feels the most comfortable to you.
You might have noticed that some crochet hooks have a flat panel near the hooked end.
The hook size is often embossed in this area, but this isn’t why it’s here.
It is to give you some extra traction for your finger, if you choose to use it.
A couple of the commonly used grips are named, but I have to admit the names don’t really work for me.
They are known as the pencil grip and the knife grip.
The pencil grip sort of makes sense for most people. I hold my pens a bit oddly, but this does resemble how you are ‘supposed’ to hold one.
Let’s take a look at this one first.
The crochet hook ‘pencil grip’
A popular way to hold your crochet hook is with what is known as a pencil grip.
Your thumb and first finger will hold onto your hook. The thumb gripping on the flattened panel on the hooked side, your first finger gripping on the other side of the same panel. Your middle finger should rest lightly just below the head of the hook.
When using this grip your thumb and first finger will hold the hook steady and move it back and forth, your middle finger will by applying and releasing pressure give you movement up and down.
The crochet hook ‘knife grip’
I have a real problem with this term, because it’s misleading. It could perhaps more accurately be described as a scalpel grip or a stanley knife grip. Because these are the only sharp implements you should hold in this manner.
Your thumb will need to be placed as previously, gripping against the flattened panel on the hooked side. The first finger will run from there along the length of the hook, stretching towards the head. Your middle finger will be bent and sit at the far side of the hook from you.
This grip works in essence like a pool cue. Your thumb provides the back and forth motion, your first finger the angulation and your middle finger the rest.
How I grip my crochet hook
Perhaps related to the unusual way in which I hold pens, my crochet hook grip differs a little from the two above. I thought I would share it with you here because it not only provides another option for you to try, but if you watch any of my youtube tutorials will be the way you see me holding the hook most of the time anyway!
Most comparable to the pencil grip, I hold my hook with one addition finger. In much the same way I hold an actual pencil.
Your thumb, first and middle finger will hold onto your hook. The thumb gripping on the flattened panel on the hooked side, your first and second fingers gripping on the other side of the same panel. Your ring finger should rest lightly just below the head of the hook.
How do I decide which crochet hook grip is right for me?
With several grips to choose from, picking the right one for you can seem stressful. But you will quickly find that your fingers help you along. You could spend hours trailing and copying different positions, watching videos demonstrating them in detail and getting mega cramps in your hand. But you won’t need to.
Hold and wiggle your hand around in approximations of each of the grips shown above. After you have established the one that feels the least weird, most comfortable and easiest to manipulate, try to stop thinking about it. You will find that your fingers sit themselves where they work best once you have begun.
Holding and getting tension in the yarn is something you will need to concentrate a little more on.
How do I put tension in my yarn when crocheting?
In order to produce a stitch, you will need to learn how to hold your yarn tight.
The learning curve will come when you work out how to make the yarn tense, then move on to establish exactly how much tension is appropriate for your stitching.
If you hold the yarn too loosely your stitch will not come together and will hang messily.
If you hold it too tight, you will struggle to get your hook through the stitches when it comes to the next row.
How do I hold my yarn when crocheting?
Holding the hook in your right hand, let the yarn dangle down.
Put your hand palm up, and pick up the yarn with your little finger and wrap it around.
Bring the hook with the yarn attached around the back of your fingers and over your first finger.
Take your thumb and ring finger, and pinch your yarn just below the crochet hook.
The tension in your yarn will be dictated by the movement of your first finger.
The higher you lift your first finger, the tighter the stitch will be.
How do I make my crochet stitches even?
This might sound annoying right now, but even crochet stitches are simply something that comes with time and practice.
In order for your stitches to match each other and even up, all you need to do is consistently hold your yarn at the same level of tension. At first your tension will undoubtedly vary, because you will be thinking about what you are doing and trying out different levels of tension.
Once your left hand is doing the work for you, you will find holding an even level of tension continuously is something that comes naturally.
So now you are happy with how to hold your hook and keep tension in your yarn, we can start to make some simple stitches!
The first stitch you will need to practice is the crochet chain.
How do you crochet a chain?
Chains are a great first crochet stitch to practice. They form the beginning row of so many crochet patterns. If you fall for crochet like I hope you will, you will be making an awful lot of chains in your time.
To make a chain you will first need to cast your yarn onto your hook. Then hold the hook in your right hand and give tension to the yarn with your left.
From here, take the hooked head of your hook and pick up the yarn.
Then pull it through the loop of yarn on your hook.
This video will give you a hand making your first chain:
Now that you have made a chain, you are ready to start stitching into it. The most simple stitch is the Single Crochet US (also known as the Double Crochet in the UK). Already confused? Take a quick look at my US vs UK article for an explanation!
Basic Crochet Techniques
I have put together a quick video tutorial of the next couple of stitches to help you practice. The written instructions can be found below
How do I make a single crochet?
To practice your Single Crochets (US) you will first need to make a chain of 22 stitches.
In a pattern this would be referred to as ch 20 + 2, because the last two chains will make up the first stitch for the next row. Here’s how it works:
Take your crochet hook and insert it into the back and front loops of the third stitch from the hook.
Pick up the yarn with your hook
Pull the yarn through the loop.
There will now be two loops of yarn on your hook.
Pick up the yarn again and pull it through both of the remaining loops.
And that’s it! You have made a single crochet.
Continue along the chain putting a single crochet into each back loop until you reach the end. Then make a chain of three stitches, in preparation for practicing your next stitch – the double crochet
How do I make a double crochet?
A double crochet is very similar to a single crochet.
Take your crochet hook, and wrap the yarn once over the hook.
Push your hook through the next stitch (this will be the forth stitch along if you are starting a new row).
There will be four loops on your hook.The original casting loop, one from the yarn over, and two loops from the stitch you entered.
Pick up the yarn again and pull it through the first two loops. There are now three loops on your hook.
Pick up the yarn again and pull it through the first two stitches on the hook.
Pick up the yarn and pull it through the remaining two stitches on the hook.
You will now have a finished double crochet!
Repeat this process for each subsequent stitch in the row.
How do I practice my crochet techniques?
A great way to practice your crochet techniques and stitches is to continue in the pattern you have just made, alternating rows of single and double crochet.
If you do it for a few rows you will end up with a sweet little doll blanket too!
Learning more crochet techniques
To continue your crochet journey you will now want to find some simple tutorials to follow along with. I have lots of recommendations of great places to check outonline , and ways to advance your skills, in my How Do I Learn to Crochet article.
Another basic skill that you will find coming up a lot in crochet patterns is the Magic Circle. Check out my simple way to learn and understand them in this article.
Remember, learning a new skill isn’t always easy. You will need to learn to use your hands in a new way, how to work the yarn and move the hook. At first it will seem disjointed, and you will make mistakes. The important thing is not to be disheartened, and to push onwards regardless.
I guarantee that in no time at all, you will be creating your own crochet techniques like a pro.
Maggie Carlin says
Very helpful very clear thank you
Thanks Maggie, I am pleased to hear that you found it useful 🙂
Sandra Robson says
That’s brilliant Lucy. You may have persuaded me to give it another go!
Thank you very much, it’s very helpful for me to learn how to crochet.