Crochet tips for complete beginners

At the risk of sounding dramatic, learning how to crochet has been one of the best decisions I made the last couple of years. I started crocheting while in quarantine in 2020 and haven’t put down my crochet hook since. It’s brought down my screen time significantly, and I love how I’ve replaced a habit that can be a bit mind-numbing with one that’s challenging and creative, and makes me feel somewhat productive.

Learning how to make your own clothing, accessories and other stuff is SO rewarding, and it’s great to have a creative outlet which has a pretty steep learning curve. Crocheting is a craft that requires minimal materials – all you need to get started is a crochet hook, a ball of yarn, scissors and a tapestry needle.

If you’re a complete beginner to crochet, it can be a bit overwhelming to get started. To help you out, I’ve compiled some useful tips that’ll make the start of your crochet journey a bit smoother.

1. Choosing the Right Yarn and Hook

When you’re learning how to crochet, choosing the right yarn and hook is super important. Yarn is generally divided into seven different yarn weight categories. Yarn weights refer to the thickness of the strand of yarn, not its actual scale weight (as in grams or pounds). These categories are labeled with the numbers 0 through 7 (see below).

Once you get more used to your materials and different crochet techniques, start experimenting with mismatched yarn and hooks. Messing around with different materials can be super fun, and experimenting is what it’s all about!

List of yarn weights and suggested needle size:

Yarn weight category Also known as… Suggested needle size* What can I make with it?**
0 Lace thread, light fingering 1.4-2.5 mm Doilies, shawls, intricate lace patterns. Micro crochet if you have the patience!
1 Super Fine sock, fingering, baby 2.25-3.5 mm Socks, baby clothes
2 Fine sport, baby 3-4 mm Sweaters, hats
3 Light DK (double knit), light worsted 3.5-5 mm Sweaters, hats, scarves, baby clothes
4 Medium worsted, aran 4-6 mm Pretty much everything! Medium weight yarn is a great one to use if you’re just starting out as it’s very versatile and accessible.
5 Bulky chunky 5.5-9 mm Autumn/winter clothing and accessories, blankets
6 Super Bulky super chunky, roving 9-15 mm Autumn/winter clothing. It’s a great one to use when you’re learning how to crochet, since it’s so easy to see the individual stitches.
7 Jumbo ultra, roving > 15 mm Chunky bags, home decor, arm-knitting

*The recommended hook size can usually be found on the label of the yarn – be sure to look at the recommendation for crochet hook, not for knitting needles.
**Again, please keep in mind these are just recommendations – feel free to use any yarn for any project.

As a beginner, I’d recommend starting with a medium weight yarn and a 5 mm hook: this weight is big enough for you to be able to properly see your stitches, and it’s very versatile and accessible as well, making it a great yarn to start with.

Material-wise, cotton and acrylic yarns are especially easy to work with. I’d avoid using mohair as a beginner – even though it’s a popular and beautiful material to work with, it can be equally frustrating as it barely has any stretch, it’s quick to tangle and difficult to frog (frogging = undoing stitches by tugging on your yarn).

On a final note, please consider buying your crochet materials at your local craft or thrift store instead of ordering from major online businesses like Amazon or Wish. Support your locals <3

2. Learn the Basic Stitches

There are a few basic stitches you’ll need to learn to get started with crochet: chain, single crochet, half double crochet, double crochet, and slip stitch. There’s an abundance of tutorials to be found online for these stitches – if you’re a visual learner like me, I’d recommend scouring Youtube to find a creator you like. Emma P’s videos really helped me learn while making (her V Neck Sweater Vest was the first thing I ever made!).

After learning these basic stitches, try out treble crochet and other, more complicated stitches. I’ve found Pinterest to be a great source to find new interesting stitches.

3. Keep Your Tension Consistent

One of the most common problems beginners face when crocheting is inconsistent tension. Tension refers to how tight or loose you hold your yarn when making stitches. If your tension is inconsistent, your stitches will be uneven, which can make your finished project look wonky.

When learning a new stitch, people generally tend to hold their hook quite tightly. Try to be aware of this; take a deep breath and keep your stitches relaxed and loose. The looser the stitches, the easier it’ll be to insert your hook, which’ll make for a smooth process.

Perfecting your tension is definitely something you’ll learn with time. Practice is very important here – consider crocheting a rectangle in your preferred stitch over and over again, then frogging and starting over. It won’t take long before you’ll understand exactly what the yarn sliding through your hand is supposed to feel like.

4. Practice, Practice, Practice

Like any skill, crochet takes practice to master. Don't be discouraged if your first few projects don't turn out the way you want them to. My first project (the sweater vest I mentioned before) came out WAY too big the first time round, extremely tiny the second time, and just right the third. Keep practicing and you’ll get better with time – promise!

Making patterns which contain a lot of repetition can be a great way to practice while working on a project (these scarves, for example). You can also try making small practice swatches before starting a bigger project to get a feel for the stitches.

5. Use Stitch Markers

A stitch marker is a small piece of yarn or plastic that you can place in your work to mark where to change colours, start a new type of stitch, or to keep count of rows or individual stitches. Using stitch markers can help you keep track of where you are in your work and prevent mistakes – I only recently started using them and they’ve already saved on a lot of frustrations and miscalculations. Little eco tip for ya: instead of buying plastic ones, consider using pieces of scrap yarn or other materials you have lying around the house.

6. Weave in Your Ends as You Go Along

Nothing’s worse than finishing a project, turning it inside out and seeing what feels like a million loose ends you still need to weave in. I ended up not looking twice at some of my first projects for this very reason. To save on frustrations, weave in as many ends as you can as you go along. Simply pick them up, carry them through for 4-6 stitches, and snip off the ends.

7. Don't Be Afraid to Ask for Help

Finally, don't be afraid to ask for help if you get stuck! There are plenty of online communities and forums where you can ask for advice or share your progress. Ravelry and Ribblr are two examples of yarn and pattern databases, but there are huge crochet communities on Instagram, TikTok and Pinterest, too. If you want to take your crafting community offline, start chatting with people at local yarn shops or try to find a public crochet/knit/craft event (I’m lucky enough to have quite a few regular ones in Amsterdam). It’s a great way to meet likeminded people and learn from them, and, in my experience, there’s nothing a crocheter likes more than chatting about their craft :-)

Looking for an easy project to get you going? Check out these crochet patterns for beginners

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