Welcome to the first crochet tutorial at Amanda Makes 🙂 I’m so glad you are going to give it a go. The first thing we are going to look at are the different ways you can hold your crochet hook and your yarn. To start all you will need is a 4mm crochet hook and some double-knitting yarn. Bit confused about the relationship between hook and yarn? Take a peek at the crochet basics page.
Holding the hook
There are two main ways to hold your crochet hook – as you would hold a pencil or the ‘over the hook’ position where you hand dominates over the hook. I find the pencil hold more comfortable, but I’d like you to just pick up your crochet hook and see what happens. Don’t try to force your hand into a particular hold. Just pick it up and go with what your hand does. Sometimes I will use both, so don’t worry about it!
To help with your understanding and to determine what kind of hold you prefer, here’s a couple of photos.
Here’s the pencil hold…
… and here’s the ‘over the hook’ hold.
Whatever way you are holding the hook isn’t that crucial. What’s important is that you are comfortable in the way you hold your hook. If your wrist feels strained or it just feels unnatural, put the hook down and pick it up again.
When you start to crochet, you will probably find that you wrist aches, your fingers ache and the tendons along the back of your hand ache. This is all normal (for me anyway, as was back ache!) and as you practice it will fade. The more relaxed your hand is, the more even your stitches will be. A tense hand can often lead to tense stitches! So get comfy before we add the yarn. You might even find your hand naturally sits in a different position to those above, perhaps a hybrid of the two, or something totally new. Don’t worry. Every person crochets differently.
Feel the weight of your hook – are you using a plastic hook, a metal hook or a beautiful wooden hook? I like metal as I love the cold feeling of it! But alot of people prefer wood, as it warms as you use it. Totally up to you.
If you are left handed you just need to mirror these photos to see how you can hold the hook. Here’s a link that’ll help you to visualise.
Holding the yarn
Holding the yarn is a contentious subject for me because I have always struggled with the ‘accepted’ ways to hold yarn and the way special way that I hold it! Here’s a clear diagram of one of the more popular ways to hold the yarn. The most important thing is you find the way that YOU hold the yarn. This will be comfortable for YOU and being comfortable is one of the most crucial things to maintaining good tension in your yarn and your work. Bad tension can lead to crochet that is too tight, curls over or under or even has a distorted shape. Equally, bad tension can make your crochet sloppy and too loose. So as we progress with learning to crochet, see how YOU are holding the yarn and if your crochet is looking uniform and you have no problems with misshapen rows or squares, or baggy rows and sloppy looking results, you are holding it right for you.
Just to help you along, here’s a photo of me making a foundation chain (don’t worry, we are going to cover this in a tutorial soon).
To the left of the image is where my ball of wool is. It comes up inside my slightly curled hand and loops over my index finger. I keep my index finger pinched in, and this gives me a good tension on my yarn. I use the working space between that loop you can see on the shaft of my crochet hook and my index finger to pick up the yarn onto the hook. My thumb is holding the already worked foundation row, which is also giving me good tension. You might like to come back to this photo when we start looking at the foundation chain, as it’ll make more sense to you once you have started to practice making the foundation chain. So do not worry too much for now. What is important at this point is that you start to get a feel for your tools.
Making a slip knot
Some people find making a slip knot easy to pick up, some people find it hard. I was one of those people that found it hard! Here’s some photos to help you. You might find it easier to try the first few times with your yarn on a surface in front of you. Then you can start to make the slipknot holding the yarn (as you will see in the video below).
With the ball of yarn to the left, loop the end of the yarn up and over itself, so you get a loop like the one to the right. The tail end of the yarn sits on top of the ball end.
Now, take that tail end of the yarn and put it behind the loop, so it hangs down behind. It should look a bit like a pretzel.
With your hook (or your fingers, whatever you prefer), pick up that tail end of the yarn that is sitting in the middle of your pretzel.
Grab onto the ball end of the yarn and the tail end of the yarn, the lengths of which should be hanging free of the preztel. Pull up with your crochet hook and the slip knot should start to tighten!
Pull up with your hook until the slip knot sits nice and snug on the shaft of your hook. You don’t want it to be tight, it should have a little bit of give in it. You should be able to slide it up and down the hook easily with your fingers.
I hope that has been helpful. Practice making a slip knot until you can do it easily. Once you get the hang of it, you will find a quick and easy way of doing all the above steps that is just ‘your way’, so keep practising. Different people have different ways of doing it and within a few sessions you’ll be making a slip knot without even looking at your yarn or your hook!
If you’d like to see a video of me creating a slip knot, click here.