Learning to crochet

Of all the things that I have done in my life.. the smartest I believe is learning to crochet. I crocheted myself out of boredom, breezed myself through the most depressing times in my life and I have surprised and charmed those around me (they thought I were too bookish)... so much so that I can't consider myself complete if I don't have a Work in Progress(WIP) that is some crochet.
 Here is what I am working on. Recognise the pattern?
 Since this is a blog about 'words' too, I must tell you a story.
How it all began: In 2006, my sister in law was getting married. I was a new bride myself and had recently moved to the Sharqiyyah. I had too much time and nothing to do (just like most newly wed brides) and she was moving out of the country. She couldn't take all her crafty stuff with her and was just giving it away. She asked me if I crochet. I didn't, but I did Knit and I was willing to try my hand at anything new. She hurriedly taught me a stitch or two in under 10minutes and gave me a bag of 20-30 balls of wool and a hook. It somehow travelled with me and months later when I had oil painted, glass painted, made paper roses and had tired off roasting and grilling chickens and kabobs, they caught my eye.
For two days I was in knots and tangles and then dear Hubby said his very famous line," You can learn anything on the internet or from books." For days, I surfed and searched and then the only place I learnt was at About. They have the best tutorials that I could find. Easy, clear, concise and exact. They have slides and pictures and videos. There is a whole web waiting to teach you anything you want. The internet is filled with information but nothing makes sense unless you sit down and seriously put yourself in a learning mode.
For those eager to learn crochet, I am posting the links and details of how I learnt it. I hope it helps and I hope you embark on a new adventure.
Q. What do I need?
A yarn and a hook is all you need
A. You only need a hook and a yarn. I am not going to confuse you with sizes; just go and buy a hook that feels comfortable. It shouldn't be too thin and it shouldn't be too fat. Same goes for the thead. You can find a lot of different type of yarn, so choose something that is soft to touch and comfortably thick. Don't buy anything too fine. I prefer wool... the regular chunky is just fine. You can buy Crochet thread too. A light colour is better. You get to see the stitches as you make them.
For those who have never ever seen a crochet hook and have no idea what I am talking about, here is what crochet needles look like.
Crochet Hooks
The steel needles are for the threads and the coloured ones are for softer and thicker yarn like wool or cotton. The U shaped hook is a Hair Pin Loop. Someday, I'll write about that form of crochet too but for now, just remember that it is a type of crochet hook too.
They are numbered
 This is what is written on them. They are numbered and have sizes in mm on them. The steel needles/hooks are the smaller ones and they can be so thin that you can't even see the needle (you can only prick yourself). They are used to work threads that are very fine and small.
The grey needles are what you use to work wool or cotton or thicker yarns. I personally prefer to use a 3mm or size 11 needle. That is the best learning to crochet but you can use a thicker or thinner one too. The higher the number, the smaller the needle size will be.
Yarns: You can get a lot of different type of yarn and threads. For those who have never noticed, here is a picture of some type of threads that you get.
 There are cotton threads, silk, polyester, embroidery floss and all. The cone of threads to the left of the picture are silk. The skeins of thread to the bottom right is embroidery floss. The rest is all different sizes of crochet cotton.
 Embroidery floss, is used for embroidery. It is easy to recognise it because it comes in skeins. There are other types of embroidery threads too but if they come in balls you can use it for crochet but it will be very fine. But skeins, you should not use because for one, they will never be enough for a project and two you'll get into trouble.
Cotton and Wool Yarns
Size 10 crochet cotton
Wool
The best yarn for learning crochet is wool or crochet cotton. When choosing wool, it is wise to use the ordinary,chunky type. This is the cheapest you can find and the easiest to use. You get it at most craft supplies and some stationaries or school needs have them too. If you choose to use a steel needle then you will need a thread. it comes in sizes of 5,8, 10, 20,30, 40, 80 and 100. Size 5 is the thickest and 100 is the smallest. Nobody uses 100 for crochet, I am sure. Sizes 5,8 and 10 are used in embroidery too.
 
Sizes 20 and 40
 (The reason the pictures are all over the place is because I just started using the new version of Blogger and I am having trouble aligning them!) 
 Q. What next?
A. Take your yarn and hook and scissors and sit down. It is not easy to do it standing and definitely not lying down. Next,you need to learn to make a slip knot. Most people know how to make slip knots but there are some of us who have never held a needle in all our lives. Also, it can be a little bit tricky working with a hook.
Making a SlipStitch
A slip stitch
You can learn to make a slip stitch here. Slip stitch is the first stitch you make in every project. You'll need to know it well if you really believe in 'well begun is half done'... well, if you don't believe in it, go practice it because if it is loose, you'll run into tangles, if it is too tight, you'll be stuck on it forever. Practice making slip stitches and opening them a couple of times.
Making A Chain
A chain
Next you'll have to make a chain. A chain is a group of slip stitches all in a line. Atleast, that is what I think of them. They are easiest thing to know and most of us have been doing them since childhood. Here is how to make a chain stitch. This again forms the base to all the crochet that you do so practice it well. Keep making Chains and undoing them till you are sure you can do them well. Here is a video link to making chains and holding the yarn.
Single Crochet Stitch(sc):
Single Crochet Stitch
After you make a chain, you need to start making stitches on them. Now, there are just a few crochet stitches that a beginner needs to know. Single Crochet Stitch (sc), Half Double crochet (hdc), Double crochet Stitch (dc), Treble Crochet stitch (trc) and a slip stitch (sl). There are more but they are the fancy stuff that is just formed by mixing these up.  You can learn to make a single crochet here. This is the most important stitch so you'll need to practice it well. Many projects can be worked by just repeating this one stitch. Try making a single coloured bookmark or band to practice. Make 6-8 chains, and keep making single stitch in each stitch. Most tutorials or pattern don't tell you this but remember that when you begin a new row, the first single crochet is made by just making one chain. (that is, 1chain =1sc) You will have to work the next single crochet in the next stitch. Here is the video link
Double crochet(dc): Double crochet is made by including a YO(yarn over) hook before inserting the needle into the stitch to be worked. That is, you take yarn over your needle and then insert the needle into the stitch to be worked. Pull out the thread. You will have three stitches on the hook. YO and pull thread from only two stitches. YO again and pull thread from remaining two. Here is how to make a double crochet. Most patterns call for the use of this stitch and it is one of the most versatile stitch. Many stitches use Double crochet to make secondary stitches. Practice this well. You will notice that this stitch is taller than single crochet stitch. It is 3chains long, actually and so remember whenever you have a pattern which starts with a double crochet, unless otherwise mentioned, the first double crochet will be 3chains. Work the next stitch as normal dc.
Double crochet stitch
This is what a YO looks like.
 
Half Double Crochet: This stitch is similar to Double Crochet. It is a derivative, you can say. Hdc is made by yo over hook then insert hook, pull out thread and then Yo and pull out thread from all three chains on hook. it will be shorter than a double crochet and is 2chains tall. That is if you are to make a hdc at the beginning of a row, make 2chains and consider it the first hdc.
Pictures for hdc later. I hope you followed Lesson number 1. Next lesson will have more stitches and how to read patterns. If you have any question do ask in the comments and do tell me how you liked it or if there are any mistakes.

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