Crochet Lyceum: Crochet 101 – Class 2/6: First Stitches

Welcome to Week 2 of Crochet 101, the first CAL/class in the Crochet Lyceum with Underground Crafter series.

Visit this post for the full course outline and more information about how to participate.

Week 2: First Stitches

This week, we will focus on the most basic crochet stitches.  Our outline for today’s post:

  • Anatomy of the crochet hook
  • Forming the slip knot
  • Chain and single crochet stitches (Note: slip stitch will be covered next week)
  • Working into the front loop
  • Homework

Today’s post includes text and a link to my first ever video.  The video is muted because I wasn’t able to sync up the sound.  I recommend reading through the post first before watching the video.

Anatomy of the crochet hook

Before you get started stitching, you’ll need to learn more about how to use your crochet hook. Point: This is the part of the hook you insert into your stitches and use to bring yarn through to create stitches. Throat: This part is where the yarn gets “caught” under the point.  When choosing a hook for the yarn you are working with, consider whether the throat is large enough to hold the yarn easily, without letting the loop on the hook slide off. Shaft: The shaft is the part of the hook that has the most impact on the size of your stitches. Thumb rest: On some hooks, this will be flat; on others, it will just be thinner than the shaft. This is where your thumb and middle finger should be placed. This will help you control the hook easily while also reducing hand, wrist, and/or elbow pain from an overly firm grip. Handle: This is the remaining length of the hook.  It helps to control the balance.  Each type of hook (plastic, aluminum, steel, bamboo) has a specific handle length. Always hold the crochet hook in your dominant hand (right hand if you are a righty, left hand if you are a lefty).  Don’t worry, your other hand won’t be lonely.  The job of your other hand is to control the yarn :).

Forming the slip knot

There are several methods for forming the slip knot, an adjustable knot which starts off your crochet projects.  I will show one method using illustrations and an alternative method on the video.

(c) 1984, The National Needlework Association.

Start by forming a “pretzel” shape with the yarn.  You should leave about 5 inches of extra yarn.  (More on this in future lessons!)

(c) 1984, The National Needlework Association.

Insert your hook into the “pretzel” of yarn as pictured.

(c) 1984, The National Needlework Association.

Adjust the size of your slip knot by pulling the yarn strands in opposite directions.  The final slip knot should fit comfortably on the hook with a bit of “wiggle room.”

Chain and Single Crochet Stitches

Chain

With the slip knot on your hook, you are now ready to create a chain.

A series of chain stitches.

You can hold your crochet hook using the pencil grip or the knife hold.  Both methods work well, so you should try both and do what is comfortable for you.  (If you also want to learn Tunisian crochet, you should know that you will probably use the knife hold for that as well, so you may want to try that method.)

(c) 1984, The National Needlework Association.  Pencil grip (left) and knife hold (right).

Use your left hand to hold the yarn from the ball/skein, which is called the working yarn.  The working yarn should be behind the hook (away from you).

(c) 1984, The National Needlework Association.

Bring the yarn over the hook, from the back towards the front (towards you).  Turn the hook point down to capture the yarn, and pull it through the loop on the hook.

(c) 1984, The National Needlework Association.

Repeat these steps (yarn over hook from back to front, hook up, hook down, and through the loop) until you have the number of chains for your project. For today’s practice swatch, make at least 11 chains. The loop on the hook does not count as a chain.

(c) 1984, The National Needlework Association.

The first set of chains you make at the beginning of your crochet project is called the foundation chain. Beginner’s Tip: Some people find that if you hold the chain in your left hand while forming the stitches, you will keep it from twisting.

Single Crochet

The single crochet is one of the basic stitches of crochet.  It is one of the shorter stitches and tends to have less drape than the other crochet stitches.  It is often used for edgings and is the main stitch you use for amigurumi.  Its stiffness and shortness make it an excellent choice for bags or purses as well, since it is less likely that things will slip through the stitches.

Five rows of single crochet stitches.

Download this handout to see how to form the single crochet stitch.

Once you’ve read through this week’s post and materials, watch my very first video.  Remember, I haven’t figured out sound yet :), so unless you are a 100% visual learning, you will want to refer to the handouts and this post since there is no voiceover.

Working into the front loop

After reading this week’s materials and watching the video, you are ready to get started.

  • Form a slip knot.
  • Make at least 11 chains.
  • Turn your work like a book page.  Skip your first chain, and then work a row of single crochet stitches.
  • Turn your work.  Chain once, and then skip that chain.
  • Now you are ready to work another row of single crochet stitches, into the front loop.

(c) 1984, The National Needlework Association.

A view of your first row of single crochet stitches from the top. Work the next row of stitches into the front loop. (This is demonstrated in the video as well.)

Homework

Your assignment this week is to practice your slip knot, chain stitch, and single crochet stitch.  Once you feel comfortable with the slip knot and chain, keep working rows of single crochet in the front loop.  At first, your stitches may be uneven, but don’t rip them out :).  Just keep working until it feels more comfortable. You can post a reply here, on Flickr, or my Ravelry group if you have any questions or want to share your pictures of your single crochet stitches.

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