Getting started with this fun, relaxing hobby is quite simple and inexpensive since all you need is a crochet hook and some yarn. But where to go from here? Knowing where to start as a crochet beginner can seem daunting but you only need a few solid tips to get the ball rolling (so to speak!)
Some top crochet tips for beginners are things like: learning the terminology (what pattern abbreviations mean); watching step-by-step video tutorials; practicing your crochet hook hold; using tools like stitch markers to help you count; making a granny square, and more.
Whether you’ve literally just picked up your first hook and yarn ball or have already started and find yourself struggling, we hope the following hints and tips will steer you in the right direction. (I wish I’d known some of these when I first started!).
10 Crochet Tips for Beginners
1. Start with Beginner Tutorials on YouTube
We all have preferred ways of learning crochet and over time you may find you prefer to read written patterns or follow diagrams/charts. However, the best place to start if you don’t know where to start is by watching video tutorials on YouTube.
Watching a crocheter’s hands up close as they guide you through each movement helps you visualize how a stitch is created, and the more you practice along with these videos, the sooner you’ll develop muscle memory and improve your coordination until – eureka! – things start falling into place.
Another huge pro of watching video tutorials is that you’re able to pause and rewind the video as much as you like or slow down the video speed until the action sinks in. And if you struggle with the technique, leave a comment under the video asking for help – crocheters are very friendly and if the video host doesn’t reply to you, another experienced crocheter in the comments likely will!
2. Practice Holding Your Hook in Different Ways
There are two main ways of holding a crochet hook – the ‘pencil’ hold and the ‘knife’ hold. There is absolutely no true ‘correct’ way out of these two grip styles. You will simply need to practice the two holds to see which feels most comfortable for you.
As the names suggest, the pencil hold involves gripping at the lower end of your hook as you would a pen or pencil whilst the knife hold has the length of the hook resting in your palm.
Some crocheters feel the enclosed knife hold gives them more control whilst pencil holders love the looser swivel in the wrist that this provides. In my own experience, for example, I found it impossible to keep the yarn on my hook with the pencil hold, let alone attempt any stitches (picture a wriggling water hose out of control!), so it was the knife hold for me.
The rigidity of the knife hold may work like a charm for me, but you may find this too restricting, so try each hook holding style while you follow along with a tutorial until you sense which one feels right.
3. Make Granny Squares!
The humble Granny square is something you’ll see a lot of on YouTube, Pinterest, and most of the crochet blogs you come across, and with good reason. Granny squares are often the first piece beginners are recommended to try because they’re repetitive and incredibly versatile (you can sew many together to make bags, blankets, toys, clothing, and more!)
I made my first ever granny square nearly 10 years ago now – it was very wonky but I just fell in love with the soothing stitch repeat and imagined all the color combos I could try. Granny squares are something I still love making to this day (in fact, I made my most recent square last week!).
4. Get to Know the Abbreviations
When reading a pattern online or in a crochet magazine, you’ll notice that a list of abbreviations is often included at the top such as ‘sc’, ‘dc’, ‘tr’, slp st’, and ‘YO’. This will seem like an alien language at first, but don’t worry we’ve all been there!
These are simply shorthand terms for the stitches and directions you’ll use in a given pattern. ‘Sc’ for example refers to a ‘single crochet’ stitch and ‘YO’ stands for ‘yarn over’. These terms quickly become second nature to you as you practice more techniques.
In the meantime though, it helps to study what each of these terms mean (even if you haven’t used them yet) to help you become more fluent in crochet – here’s a handy guide to the most common abbreviations.
5. Count Your Stitches by Counting the ‘V’ Shapes
When you’ve just completed a crochet stitch, look at the top of the finished stitch – you’ll probably notice two lines resembling the letter ‘V’. When it comes to counting stitches in a project, many crocheters find it much easier to count these top-down V’s instead of counting stitches from the side view.
When you first start, it can be very tricky to see exactly how many stitches you’ve done, causing you to add one too many/too few which causes your work to become misshapen. But once you know that one ‘V’ shape = 1 stitch, counting becomes a lot easier and you’re less likely to make mistakes.
6. Use Stitch Markers
To prevent adding too many or too few stitches in your work when working on a pattern repeat, you need to keep count of how many stitches you’ve worked in a row/round, and while you can do this manually by “counting the V’s”, you will make things so much easier if you use stitch markers.
Stitch makers are little metal or plastic devices that clip on to or attach to a stitch (often in the form of a paper clip or hinge clip). These are inserted into the beginning stitch of a new row or round so you don’t have to count how many stitches you’ll need to complete the round.
Stitch markers are helpful to beginner and experienced crocheters alike since they prevent the tedium of recounting stitches and reduce your chances of making an error that will cost you later – I’m never without them!
7. Use a Different Hook Size for Your Foundation Chain
The majority of crochet patterns start with a foundation chain. This is the building block of many projects as you will work your first row of stitches into these chain spaces. It’s very common for beginners to crochet their foundation chain too tightly (leaving very small chain spaces) or work up the chain too loosely (leaving large chain spaces).
As you can probably guess, making a foundation chain too tight or too loose has an impact on the shape and look of the finished item since loose chains will make loose stitches, creating an unnecessarily large piece whilst tight chains will make it very difficult to insert your stitches, forcing you to make tight stitches, causing your work to curve and fan out like so.
This is perfectly normal when you begin crocheting as achieving the right tension takes practice. A good way to help your work look neater is to simply use a different hook size for your foundation chain.
For example, if you tend to work tight chains, go up a hook size from the one the pattern/video tutorial recommends (i.e. from a 4mm to a 5mm) – this will make the chain spaces much wider and allow you to work the next row of stitches in with greater ease when you switch back to the smaller hook. Likewise, loose crocheters should try going down one hook size to help cinch in their overly gaping foundation chains before switching back to the larger hook size.
8. Leave a Long Enough Yarn Tail to Weave In
This is something I can’t stress enough to beginners (I know because I was guilty of this all the time when I started!). Whenever you start and finish your work, always leave a long yarn tail for weaving in later. Most crocheters will recommend a length of at least 6 inches, but a couple of inches longer is even better.
The longer your tail ends are, the less likely they’ll come out of your work and cause your stitches to unravel at a later date. With a long yarn tail, you have more length to weave intricately in and out of your stitches (Hooked by Robin has a great technique for weaving in your ends securely).
After years of wear and tear from being stretched and put in the washing machine, it’s normal for some stitches to become loose and need repairing, but short yarn tails may cause your hard work to unravel in a matter of weeks, not years so always be sure to be generous with your yarn tails and keep them long!
9. Do Gauge Swatches to Observe & Improve your Tension
You’ll notice that some crochet patterns ask you to do a gauge swatch (this is normally a 4×4-inch sample of the project, demonstrating how many rows and stitches should fit within a 4×4 square). Some may skip this step but this is very helpful in ensuring your finished piece resembles the item in the pattern and is a great way to remain aware of your tension.
Say you want to crochet a plain scarf, for example. The designer may assert that, to get the right width, approx 10 rows of 13 stitches should be within a 4×4-inch square using a 5.5mm hook. If your square results in more than 13 stitches within this square, you’ll know you are crocheting too tightly. If your square has less than 13 stitches appearing in each row, your tension is too loose.
Not all patterns require a gauge swatch (they are most important for clothing items to ensure the fit is just right), but taking the time to do a gauge swatch is a quick way to check whether your tension needs fine-tuning.
10. Buy a Few Crochet Books & Get inspired!
The web may be filled with free patterns and guides, but a crochet book normally delves into the techniques and tricks in much more detail. You’ll find countless beginner-friendly books that contain clear step-by-step patterns with pictures throughout, on everything from making amigurumi (mini figures/toys) to stitch bibles demonstrating hundreds of stitch types.
There’s something special about having a crochet book you can take anywhere without worrying about the internet connection and it may introduce you to a project you never would have searched for online.
We hope these 10 tips have been helpful for you. Remember to go easy on yourself – crochet should be a source of relaxation not stress so take your time and enjoy the process!
You Might Also Like:
- Are There Different Types of Crochet Hooks? (for Beginners)
- Is Crocheting a Good Hobby? (Reasons and Costs)
- Is Crochet Hard? (Explained for Beginners)
- Does Crochet Shrink? (Explained and Quick Facts)
- Are Metal or Wooden Crochet Hooks Better? (Helpful Guide)
- Are Crochet Hooks Allowed on Planes? (Read This First!)
- Are Ergonomic Crochet Hooks Better? (for Beginners)
- What is the Best Crochet Yarn for Beginners? (Reviewed)