What is crochet? Beginner Crochet Basics

For some time now I’ve been wanting to put together a short series on the basics of crochet – mainly because Jay and Little Sister Sue, as well as others, have asked if I could teach them to crochet. In the next few posts I will show you the basics of crochet, with a strong focus on working in the round or continuous spiral (for making amigurumi/cute stuffed toys) and once I’ve shown you the basics I will share a simple crochet pattern of a Jack-o’-lantern to practice what you’ve learned.

Rather than writing an incredibly long blog post about everything there is to know about crochet, I thought instead I would ask Jay what he would like to know to get started with crochet – he was really curious about yarn. And then it turned into a sort of Crochet Basics Q&A. So, here goes:

What exactly is crochet? And how is it different from knitting?

Crochet comes from the French word for “hook” and the fiber art was used mainly for making lace work. The main concept of crochet, no matter what size hook or yarn you use, is: wrap yarn over hook, pull through loop. It may seem like it’s the same as knitting but knitting uses two pointed needles and crochet uses one hook to make a patterned fabric. With crochet there is usually only one working loop on the hook, whereas knitting will have multiple loops on a needle. Here you can see that the stitches are different in each of the samples:

Crochet sample of single crochet stitch:

Knit sample of basic knit stitch:

What are the main types of yarn and when would I want to use each of them?

Yarns are categorized by weight with a number:

(1) super fine/fingering/3 ply – recommended hook sizes 2.25mm to 3.50mm. Very light weight yarn used to make baby clothing or intricate detailed work like lace.

(2) fine/sport/4 ply – recommended hook sizes 3.5mm to 4.5mm. Light weight yarn used for making socks, sweaters, or fabric with drape, ie. for clothing.

(3) light/light worsted/DK (double knit) – recommended hook sizes 4.5mm to 5.5mm. Used for clothing, like sweaters, and accessories.

(4) medium/worsted/aran – recommended hook sizes 5.5mm to 6.5mm. Used for hats, scarves, blankets, stuffed toys. This is also the yarn weight of choice for most crochet and knit projects.

(5) heavy/bulky/chunky – recommended hook sizes 6.5mm to 9mm. Used for hats, scarves, blankets, baskets, bags.

(6) very heavy/extra bulky/super chunky – recommended hook sizes 9mm and larger. Used for blankets, mats, baskets.

Which hook should I use?

The size of hook you use will depend on the pattern you’re working on but the type you use is a personal preference. There are a variety of hooks out there – some are ergonomic, some are made of curved wood, and some are made of steel (or plastic). Try different kinds to see which is more comfortable and easy to work with.

Are some yarns better for crochet than knitting?

Crochet and knitting can both use the same yarn for projects but it’s the stitches that are different and that will create very distinct objects. For example, I might use cotton yarn to crochet and knit a wash cloth but the crochet wash cloth will feel thicker and stiff (great for washing dishes and cleaning) than the knit version which will feel softer and stretchy (great for baby wash cloths). So it’s not necessarily the yarn that is “better” for crochet or knitting but the project at hand. Additionally, if I used different sized hooks with the same yarn I would get different results in fabric.

Can I crochet things just as fast as knitting?

Typically, crochet is a bit faster, unless you’re a really fast knitter! I’m a very slow knitter so I’m sure others would have a different opinion on this.

Do people crochet clothing or is that more of a knitting domain?

Crochet tends to make a thicker fabric that’s perfect for hats and warm blankets. Or adorable stuffed creatures. People do crochet clothing as well but the fabric can sometimes be dense without the stretch and drape of knit fabric. Again, it all depends on the project at hand. For example, if I use a worsted weight yarn with a small hook to make a flowy dress, I will create a fabric that is very tightly woven and impossible to wear. But if I use a much thinner yarn or crochet thread with a smaller hook, I will create a more delicate crochet pattern that has the same stretch and drape as knit fabric. For example, this crochet bolero I made that is soft and stretchy.

In the next post I will show you how to make a slip knot and a chain so grab a hook and some yarn – if this is your first time crocheting I would recommend using a hook size between 4.00 to 6.00 mm and worsted to bulky weight yarn (Little Sister Sue found it easier to work with thicker yarn and a larger hook).

For the Crochet Beginner Basics follow the links below:

Crochet Basics – Slip knot and chain.

Crochet Basics – Single crochet stitch.

Crochet Basics – Working in the round part 1.

Crochet Basics – Working in the round part 2.

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