The following are basic knowledge and tips that I have learned over the last 60+ years of crocheting. If I have missed something you know about, please feel free to leave your expertise or ask a question in the comments area.
A great afghan is one that has a color theme with similar pattern designs done in the same size squares. You can sew these together for a very unique and beautiful blanket done your way. No matter what you are crocheting, it is important to keep your stitches consistent. Crochet stitches should not be too tight nor too loose. Practice for a while and you will find your own groove.
- Any pattern you follow be sure to locate the hidden stitch. The hidden stitch is the one that is so close to a cluster of stitches that you cannot see the top of the stitch unless you physically move the stitches over to reveal its top. For instance, if you are working corner stitches like 3 dc, ch 2, 3 dc and are instructed to put a stitch in the next stitch after the last 3 dc's of the corner grouping, the top of the next stitch can be hidden. Move the grouping over a tad and you will clearly see the next stitch top or you can follow the post up to the top. When doing a dc crochet stitch, for example, the post of the stitch is prominent. The top of the stitch is then the small v shape it forms and the post is the underlying stitches of that v.
- When you are making anything that begins with a ring, here will be a hole in the middle. The larger your beginning chain that you use to create your ring, the larger the hole even if you put a lot of stitches in the ring. Often the pattern will call for the use of a magic ring. There is an easier way to do a magic ring. If you are doing sc in the ring start with a chain 2 and then work all your stitches in the second chain from the hook and then after you join the end, pull the tail tight and the hole will disappear. Just sew it in securely when finished. To do a dc in the circle you can chain up 4 and work all your dcs in the 4th chain from the hook. For half-double chain up 3 and work all the stitches in the third chain from the hook and so on.
- Chainless double crochet foundation stitch is a great way to begin any project. This will eliminate the need to do a chain first and the double crochet stitches will have more give to them so your project will not pull from the foundation chain. Follow the link to the tutorial. I thought this one was easiest to follow. There are several tutorials on youtube.
- When a pattern gives a stitch count at the end of a row or round, be sure that your stitches match. In fact, it never hurts to check back at the stitch count of your row or round to be sure you have not accidentally added or deleted a required stitch. If you are not paying close attention while crocheting mistakes in stitch count happen. When you get into the more advanced patterns, stitch count is really important or you will end up pulling out stitches and starting again. It is easier to keep count.
- When doing long stitches like triple, double triple and so on, holding the base of the stitch while you work through the stitch will make the top v much tighter. If the top of the stitch ends up really loose it can make your work look a little sloppy.
- Sadly, each pattern will vary in the way the instructions are written. Terminology can make a pattern difficult to understand and follow. Hopefully there will be an accompanying photo of the project. Study this photo against your work. This should help you understand the instructions. If your stitch count does not match the pattern instructions you have misunderstood something along the way. Read it again and check the photo again. If you are following along with a pattern that is on your computer it is easy to miss things. If your pattern allows you can use the background color tool to highlight your place and then when finished you can remove the highlight. This way your eye will not land on the wrong spot.
- Quick way to join new yarn in crochet tutorial. It is very frustrating when you are working on a project and in a very inconvenient place you run out of yarn. There are ways to continue working by joining a new skein of yarn without leaving a loose tail. Here is another method tutorial. This can be used for different colored yarn too. Quite brilliant actually. Here is another tutorial on joining with no tails.
- Leaving ends as you work, especially when you need to change colors often, can be a real pain to weave in if you don't clean up your work as you go. Work over the ends as much as possible. Working over your ends just means laying the loose end over or on top of the work as you crochet. This will trap in the loose end and hide it automatically. However, it will work with most stitches but you need to be working in the same color or it will show up and look messy. When you sew in the ends, make sure to run your end through the same color and go at least two different directions before cutting the excess. Pull the yarn a little, cut it close to the project being careful not to cut other stitches and then pull the project a little. This will make the end disappear. When the pattern tells you to fasten off the color, make sure to leave a long enough tail to be able to work through stitches a couple different ways after it is threaded on your needle.
- Carrying your yarn up the side of the project. If you are doing rows of different colors you can carry the yarn along the edge of the project to save fastening off on each row and then having loose ends to weave into the work. This works best when you have two or three colors repeated rows. instead of fastening off your first row just leave a long loop and attach the next yarn. Later you can grab this loop and continue working. if you are using three colors you may want to pull your carried yarn up and trap it into the last stitch of the row. This will keep it handy and keep it from becoming a loop along your edge. You can watch this video (click here) to see a tutorial on this technique.
- Get to know how you crochet. The suggested hook size may not work for you if your stitches are tighter or looser than the way the designer creates theirs. This is where the gauge for the pattern comes in handy. After a while you will know how you tend to crochet and know to adjust your hook size to get the right pattern dimensions. If the size is no big deal then just make sure everything you do is consistent. For instance, if the pattern states the finished square will be 9" and you do not care what size you get then use the hook you prefer. You may get an 8" square or a 10" square. If you are making duplicate squares than just keep them all consistently 8" or 10"s.
Every written pattern should have a chart of abbreviations for stitches and directions within the pattern. The follow are pretty generic unless you find a pattern created for the UK crocheter. The following are US terms. A normal chart will look much like this. The stitches included in the pattern will vary of course but here are the most popular.sc: single crochetdc: double crochettrc: triple crochetbeg: beginning (this indicates the beginning of a row/round or a special stitch)sl st: slip stitchlp/s: loop/s (this refers to the loops on your hook, as in you will always have one loop on your hook but when you do a yarn-over you will then have two loops on your hook)YO: yarn over (this refers to wrapping your hook with your working yarn)sk: skip (refers to skipping a stitch or whatever is called for in the pattern, as in skip one double crochet would be written sk dc or sk next dc)sk st: skipped stitch, st stands for stitchRS: right side—front side of workWS: wrong side—back or non front side of work Every pattern should give a list of materials like the type of yarn required (worsted weight, fingering weight, sport weight, etc.), hook size to obtain gauge, colors needed, afghan, square or project completed size, stitch gauge and special instructions or notes. For example:H hook (5.0 mm)tapestry needle Yarn: Vanna’s Choice or similararan/worstedColor A: dusty blueColor B: honeyColor C: brickColor D: beige
MOSTLY TIPS FOR THE BEGINNER:How to hold your yarn (for the beginner) tutorial.
COMMON STITCHES: There are some stitches that will appear and reappear in patterns. If you know their basic properties it will speed things up in deciphering your pattern instructions or just coping from a photo. This is sometimes called a Bobble Stitch. The cluster is 3, 4 or 5 dcs in the same space holding the last stitch on the hook. For the 3 dc cluster you will end up with 4 loops on the hook. Yarn over and pull through all the loops..usually a ch 1 will secure the cluster. Clusters may be in triple sts or even double-triple. Here is a different version you might like. It is taller than the normal dc cluster stitch because it is made with an extended double crochet. Alternative Cluster stitchPuff Stitch: The puff stitch is usually the height of a dc but could be the height of a hdc or a tr...whatever the called for in the pattern. Usually you will yarn over and pull up a loop the height of a dc and keep the loop on the hook. Draw up 2 or 3 or 4 more loops and then yarn over and pull through all the loops on the hook. A ch 1 will secure the stitch.Popcorn stitch: The simplest is merely a sc and a triple in the same space or right next to each other. This forces the longer stitch to double over and creates the popcorn look. It is done on the wrong side of the piece as the stitch will naturally pop out on the right side. The classic popcorn stitch is done by crocheting 5 dc in the same stitch, drop the loop on the hook and insert the hook through the top of the first dc of the group and pull the dropped loop through the stitch. Usually you will ch 1 to secure the stitch.Shell stitch: A shell stitch can be a variety of sizes according to the number of stitches done together and the type of stitches used will determine the height. For instance, a very common shell will be five dcs all in the same space. Usually there is a skipped stitch before and after the grouping of stitches which gives it the shell shape. A petal stitch is usually done to create a flower petal. It is like a shell stitch but it will begin with a sl st or a sc and then work up in size to the middle of the petal and then the reverse working down from the tallest center stitch to a sc or a sl st. This creates the look of a petal. A common petal would be sc, hdc, dc, tr, dc, hdc, sc. This is very simple and usually done in dc. Skip the first stitch and dc in the next st. Go back to the skipped stitch and cross over or in front of the dc you just made and do a dc. Usually this stitch is a dc, ch 1, dc in the same st. This creates a V shape. This uses a 3 dc shell in the same space. So simple. The post is the vertical part of the stitch. There is the bottom of a stitch, the post and the top of a stitch.
To do a FPDC (Front Post Double Crochet) you work your dc as usual but not in the top of the stitch but rather around the post of the stitch. Yarn over and insert your hook next to the post from the front to the back, wrap the hook around the back of the post and insert to come out out to the front from the back which makes the post lay on top of the hook. Yarn over and pull up a loop, then finish as a normal dc stitch. The BPDC (Back Post Double Crochet) is done like the FPDC only this time you yarn over, insert the hook from the back to the front and then over the post and insert to the back again. This makes the hook lay on top of the post. Yarn over and draw up a loop, finish like a regular dc.
ROW VS ROUND:
A row is when you crochet from the beginning stitched across to the last stitch. A round is when you start with a ring and keep building your stitches in a continuous round pattern. You will either end each round with a slip stitch to the top of the beginning chain or stitch or you will keep going in a continuous round (usually when you make the crown of a hat or work a circular pattern).
WORKING IN THE ROUND:
When working in the round your stitches will end off each round with a chain to step up to the next round. The step chain will be visible in your work. To avoid this you can chain up and then not count this step-up chain as a stitch. When you connect your round to start the next you will not slip stitch to the top of the beginning chain (step-up chain) but instead to the top of the first actual stitch. This makes the join invisible. If you do not do this there will be a rather irritating ridge created by each beginning of a round.
WORKING IN A CONTINUOUS ROUND OR A SPIRAL:
When doing this type of pattern you will not have a stepping up chain for each round but will continuously work the round. This is great except it is very easy to loose track of where your round begins. Finding the beginning is difficult so to make life easier simply put a marker of some sort in the first stitch of each round. Problem solved. A marker can be a small scrap of contrasting yarn pulled through the stitch, a small plastic marker that acts like a kind of safety pin or even a bobby pin. It does not matter. It is all personal preference. I prefer the plastic safety pin type as they are so easy to use and you can buy a hundred of them online for almost nothing. They are very easy to loose so keep them in a special container.
TAKING CARE OF LOOSE ENDS OR TAILS:
Here are a couple tutorials with good suggestions for weaving in your loose ends just using your crochet hook.All Free CrochetChanging Colors and Weaving in Loose Ends by Crochet Crowd (*This last video is part of a course you can access for free for those who are just starting the process of learning to crochet.) In this video you are told there will be no knots...? Don't think this is true. No matter what method you use, you will need a knot to tie off or fasten off. It is no big deal in how the project looks. The way I do it is draw up a long, long loop to the point I have about 4" and then cut the top of the loop leaving a 4" length after cutting the yarn. Everyone you watch seems to cut the yarn first and then pull it through the stitch to make a knot at the fasten off point. I have tried this but it is too hard to tell just how much of a tail I am leaving. I think my way is easier.How to Weave Ends into Crochet Granny Square by crochet hooks youChanging Colors & Drawing in Yarn Tails As You Go by Bethintx1 (These the two above videos are about weaving in tails when doing a crochet square. Sewing in the loose ends of your project is probably no-one's favorite part of the creation. It is almost always the best idea to sew them in often as you work on your piece. There is nothing worse than dozens of loose ends to sew in after the crocheting is done.
Leave a tail that is long enough to get the yarn through the needle and into the project working through a few stitches in three different directions. I am always conscious of saving money and saving supplies but having a long enough tail can make your project more securely fastened and your life a lot easier. So, do not skimp on the length of the tail you leave both at the beginning and when you fasten off. Once you have sewn or woven in your tails sufficiently, you can just snip it off close the yarn. Be careful not to cut too close or you could damage the stitches. Pull hard on the piece, cut it and then pull the piece a little. This makes the tail disappear and should not reappear with use. If it does, just snip it again. There will be plenty of yarn caught in the stitches to keep things from unraveling. Although sewing in the tails as you go is by are easier than leaving them all to the end, be aware that when you do hide your tails properly they really do disappear.
If you need to tear out some of the stitches for one reason or another it is almost impossible to find the end so that you can tear out a stitch. If you leave the tails until you are sure you have done everything correctly, you can find the end and easily unravel the stitches. So, do not do a finish weave on your tails unless you are very sure your project has been done correctly! Sew squares or pieces together using the weave stitch. You can lay the pieces flat and sew the back loops only together on both pieces going back and forth between the squares matching stitches as you go. You can hold the squares together with RS showing and WS facing, then alternating between the stitches sew the back loops together. Weaving is when you go through just one loop to join two pieces and whip stitch is when you go through both of the top loops to join the pieces. To figure a length of sewing yarn I take the yarn and measure across the pieces twice and a half times. Join-As-You-Go Solid Granny Squares
DC, LDC, AND EXDC and STANDING DC What is the difference between standard double crochet stitch, long double crochet stitch, and extended double crochet stitch. There is also what is referred to as a standing double crochet stitch which is used as an alternative to a joining or turning chain. The DC (double crochet) is the most basic of all stitches. It is one of the first stitches a beginner learns because it is so basic. It is a single crochet but done by wrapping the yarn over the hook before inserting into the stitch to be worked so that there are 3 loops on the hook. Yarn over and draw through 2 loops and then again yarn over and draw through 2 loops...DC made. A LDC (long double crochet) is mostly used when working a double crochet into a row below the work. The first loop is drawn up to match the working row and finished the same as a regular DC. It just makes the regular DC stitch taller. The EXDC (extended double crochet) is also worked like the normal DC but to extend it to be a higher stitch instead of drawing through 2 loops as usual you draw through only one, then yarn over and finish as a regular DC. It is almost as tall as a triple stitch but taller than a double. A standing DC is used as an alternative stitch to replace the normal chain 3 used to simulate a DC at the beginning of your work. Instead of wrapping the yarn over the hook once to begin, the yarn is wrapped twice and completed as a normal double crochet making sure to keep tension on the end of the yarn. After working a second stitch the yarn is secured and will come out of the top of the stitch rather than the bottom. Its value is that it looks like a regular double crochet stitch. A chain 3 will show up in the work as a chain even though it is intended to count as a double crochet. It looks nicer.
BEGINNING OF A ROW OR GROUPING OF STITCHES:
Most rows will begin with a specified number of chains that will represent the first stitch of the row. For a single crochet you will be asked to chain up one, for a half double crochet you will chain up 2, for a double crochet you will chain up 3, for a triple you will chain up 4 and so on. Sometimes you will chain up 4 because it will represent the first double crochet stitch of the row plus a chain 1. It will depend on what the pattern calls for but most patterns use the chain not only to represent a first stitch but to bring your yarn up to the needed level to continue your stitches. For instance, the double crochet stitch is taller than the single crochet, and the triple crochet stitch is taller than the double crochet and so on. The number of chains represents the height of the stitch. If you were start a row of triple crochet stitches with a single chain up the work would not be straight across the top of the stitches. If you start with a chain 4 then all of the triple crochet stitches will be the same height across the row. NOTICE: Some special stitches are described as BegPuff, or Beg CL which means that the special stitch, say the puff stitch, will be slightly different when it begins a row or a grouping. The first stitch will be a chain representing the first stitch of the special stitch. For instance, with the BegPuff mentioned here the first stitch is a chain 3 representing the first double crochet of the grouping. Once a row or grouping is established, the rest of the special stitches or the puff stitches will begin with a double crochet and will not need the chain 3 to get it started.
BegPuff: pull up lp from sl st to height of a dc, (YO, insert hook in same st as join, pullup lp to height of a dc) x 4, YO, pull through all lps on hookPuff: (YO, insert hook into same st, pull up lp to height of a dc) x 4, YO, pull through all9 lps on hookBegCL: beginning cluster. Sl st in designated stitch or space, ch 3 as first dc, work nextdc until there are two lps on hook, work next dc until there are 3 lps on hook, YO, drawthrough 3 lpsCL: 3 dc cluster. In same st or space, work 3 dcs each to their last 2 lps, 4 lps on hook,YO, draw through 4 lpsfphdc: front post half double crochet. YO, insert hook from front to back to front againaround post of indicated stitch, YO, pull through two lpsscallop: sl st in designated st, ch 4, trc in same st, skip 4 sts, sl st in next stADVANCED TIPS:I found these tutorials that would be useful for every crocheter to understand. However, if you are a beginner they may just confuse you. They are about perfecting your craft.
- How to make a chainless foundation for double crochet.
- How to make a chainless starting double crochet.