The Past Impressions blog has now been going for over two years, and in that time we've produced a number of guides and walk-throughs to help you weave your way through cross stitch kits, tapestry sets and more besides. Astonishingly, in all that time we've never paid due attention to one of the most widely practised forms of needlework: crocheting. Well today we're going to take it that extra level by answering the five 'why's' in our own guide on how to crochet!


What is Crocheting?

Crocheting is much akin to knitting, but with several key differences that help define the yarn or crochet thread. It consists of the same method of pulling loops of material through other loops, but often only has one stitch active at a time, with its own system of symbols to represent the various stitch types. The essential eight crocheting stitches can be arranged in a wide array of effects, including lacy or solid, patterned or plain.

Like most needlework, one can use a pattern guide or chart to show how to make certain pieces, so long as the crocheter has knowledge of the various abbreviations used. Don't let this intimidate you into thinking crocheting is for the crafting elite; everyone young, old, male, female of all different backgrounds can and do crochet. It's a very affordable hobby, indeed all it requires is a little patience, a bit of basic math now and then and some...



What Will I Need?


The name 'crochet' is derived from the Old French word meaning 'hook'. This will be your tool of choice; typically made of wood, plastic, casein or aluminium. There are various ways of holding the hooks, and different sizes that correspond to the thickness of the needle. For the first time crocheting, going by the hook size that the label on your yarn recommends is best, and as a general rule of thumb the thicker the hooker, the thicker your yarn will need to be.

The type of material that can be crocheted are your standard fair of yarn or thread. For crochet you will need to buy your yarn in balls, or skeisns, though it may also be found found on spools or cones. For your crochet debut you can't go wrong with simple, soft acrylic yarn, and later on you can experiment with 100% cotton yarn, soft wool, ribbons or even metal wire.

What Are The Basics?

First, choose a way of holding the hook that works best for you. There's no right or wrong way to do so, but the two most common methods are:
  • Taking the hook in your hand like a pencil or chopstick, with your hand under the hook and your thumb and forefinger lying on the thumb rest (the indentation in the handle).
  • Holding the hook in a way so that the handle is resting against your palm. You hand should hover over the hook, with your thumb and index finger pressing on the thumb rest.

Whether you're doing your first bit of crocheting or just trying out a new stitch, always do a test 'swatch' so you can practice getting comfortable with the technique and determining how light or loose you want it to be. For every new venture, take 10-15 minutes a day to get good at winding stitch chains, up until you're able to do so without the yarn becoming too loose or too tight.

Form your initial slipknot by winding the yarn around your finger, pinching the end with your other fingers. To crochet a simple chain, take the end and push it through to make a loop. Guide the hook through the loop, under the tail and back out again. By pulling the tail, you will tighten the yarn around the hook, creating a slipknot.

Here's a list of some of the other stitches to strive for after you get the initial hang of crocheting:

  • Slip Stitch: Used to join your work, bind off stitches, reinforce edges or carry yarn over to a different starting point without adding unnecessary height.
  • Single Crochet: Pulling a new loop of yarn through two loops on the hook. This is great for making more closely stitched material.
  • Double Crochet: A loose stitch made by pulling the yarn through stitches in a typical pattern of 1, 2 & 2. Great for making comfy sweaters and scarves.

What Can I Make?

Once you've got basic stitches done and dusted, you can work your way up to full projects by mastering different technique like turning chains, 'crocheting in the round', granny square etc. From there you can go from small projects like bags, cushions, doilies, table cloths, rag rugs, pot scrubbers, bibs, dolls, wearable chains, wrist warmers and much more.

In many cases, it's best to just inspire yourself! Pick a random object, whether it be a flower, a small animal, dress up item - so long as you have the basic techniques down and an eye for colour, you should be able to conceive of some clever items to work on.

What Next?

If you want to delve more in depth into crocheting, more than we could possibly outline here, we have to excellent instruction books: 'Learn To Crochet The Easy Way' & 'I Can't Believe I'm Crocheting!'

Once you're into the crocheting craze, then it's time to hook others in - figuratively speaking! Start your own group or find an already thriving community, and start yarn bombing some crazy and creative projects with your fellow needleworkers. Past Impressions has some interesting plans for the next coming months involving knitting and crocheting, and we'll definitely want you along when they begin to go under way.

If you have any crochet accomplishments you want to share with us, pop a link to a picture in the comments, or send it to us over at our Facebook page, Twitter and Google+! Just so you don't think we've also forgotten our treasured pastime of embroidery, here's a link to our ever growing cross stitch community.

Post By Graham Ashton