Learning the Chain Stitch

My instructions are right-handed.  If you need to adjust the instructions to left-handed, just reverse everything.

How do I hold the crochet hook?

The first thing to learn about crocheting is how to hold the crochet hook.  Hold the crochet hook however is most comfortable for you.  There are technically two correct ways to hold it, either right-handed or left-handed.  You can hold the hook sort of like the way you would hold a pencil,This is kind of like holding a pencil, right? or you can hold it more like you would hold a table knife.This is how I like to hold the hook!  I like to hold it the way you would hold a table knife, so that’s what all my crochet pictures and videos will show.  But what is most important is to do what is easiest for you.  I think the reason why it took so many tries for me to finally learn crochet is because I was trying to hold the hook in a way that didn’t work for me.  Once I figured out how my hand wanted to grasp the hook, learning was a breeze.

How do I start off the skein of yarn?

There are to ends to a skein of yarn (obviously).  You want to make sure you use the end from the center of the skein, not the one from the outside.  Yarn skeins are designed to not tangle as they are pulled from the center.This is the center pull.  SomeThis is the outside pull. skeins have instructions for finding this elusive ‘center pull,’ and sometimes you just have to reach in, grab a hank of yarn, and hope you finally find it.  And sometimes, you just have to give up and use the outside pull.  That’s okay too, but it can make it more difficult to keep your tension even.  I’ve noticed recently that Caron has gotten very good at helping crafters find the center pull.  They leave a tail sticking out that’s an inch or two long.

I like to keep the paper wrapped around the skein.  There’s no real reason to remove it, and if you leave it on, it keeps the outside pull from unraveling.

How do I put the yarn to the crochet hook?

Next, make a starting loop, or slip knot.  Again, whatever is the easiest way for you is the best way for you to do it.  I like to wrap the yarn around Wrap the yarn around your fingersYou can make a slip knot any way you like, but this is my way.Slide the yarn to the shaft of the hook.Pull the yarn snug on the hookmy left index finger and thumb, insert the hook into the loop, catch the back strand of yarn, and pull.  Some patterns differ, but you should leave about 4 or 5 inches of ‘tail’ or end of yarn not attached to the skein or yarn ball.  Then put the loop around the crochet hook and pull it snug, not tight.  There should still be room to slip the end of the hook through the loop.

Now you’re ready to start making a chain.  All crochet projects start with a chain, whether the chain is very short or very long.  Even circles and squares start with a small chain.  The abbreviation for the chain stitch is ch.  Sometimes you will need to make a chain stitch in the middle of a project in order to create spaces or lace-like patterns.

How do I hold the yarn?

Holding the yarn and the project in your left hand, the hook in your right hand, and keeping the correct tension in the yarn, all takes practice. You also have to be careful that you are not holding on to the project too far away from where you are working.  When I’m making a chain, I can usually only chain about 4 stitches before I have to move my hand, and I have pretty long fingers.

So, you have your starting loop on your crochet hook and you’re ready to go.  Put the yarn in between your pinky and ring finger, then bring it around the pinky and between the middle and index finger.  There should only be one wrap of yarn around the pinky.  When that feels comfortable, bring the yarn over the top of index finger. You only want about 2 or 2 1/2 inches of yarn between your index finger and your crochet hook.  When you get more practiced this step will be second nature.Bring the yarn up across your fingersBring the yarn over the top of your index fingerKeep your index finger extended and grab the tail with your thumb and middle fingerRemember that tail I talked about?  You also have to hold onto that as you begin your chain to make sure you keep the right tension.  Since you’ll need to be able to move and adjust your index finger to keep the tension as you work, hold onto the tail with your thumb and middle finger.

How do I make a chain stitch?

While most other crochet stitches work right to left, a chain is worked left to right.

To make the chain, bring the yarn over the top of the crochet hook, and using the hook, pull the yarn through the loop on the hook.  Continue until you have a small chainPull the new loop through the loop on the hookThat is one chain stitch.Catch the yarn on the hook  Repeat the stitch until you have the number of chain stitches required for your pattern or project.  Like I said, you will probably need to move your left hand up the chain every 4 stitches or so.

What should my chain look like?

Chain 10 or 15 stitches, and then take a look at your work.  Hold the chain so that the tail end is to the left.  One side will have a sort of V pattern.  This is the front side of the chainThe top loops are the back loops and the bottom loops are the front loops.  On the other side, you will see a row of bumps down the middle.  These are called the back bumps.  This is the back side of the chainDepending on the project, you might work your first row of stitches into any of those three parts.

What do I do next?

If you feel comfortable working with the yarn and crochet hook, feel free to look around for some patterns to try!  I’ll post some of my favorite patterns on this blog, but you can also find lots of other free patterns.  Interweave has a lot of nice resources.  If you register your email (it’s free), you can download free ebooks and patterns.  This is a good one to get started with.

What kinds of patterns and projects would you like to see on this blog?

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