Learn to crochet
Here's just the help you need when trying to decipher crochet diagrams and written instructions, as well as detailed instructions for constructing of these topics have links to other relevant topics, too—so be sure to explore!
Choose a technique:
2. * Yarn over and draw yarn through, pulling up a loop.
3. Yarn over and pull yarn through only the first two loops on the hook.
4. Yarn over and pull yarn through the last two loops on the hook.
5. One double crochet made. Yarn over, insert hook into next stitch; repeat from * in step 2.
Below: LW4005 Organizer Pouch Crochet Pattern
1. Yarn over and insert the hook into the work (third chain from hook on the starting chain).
2. * Yarn over and draw through pulling up a loop.
3. Yarn over again and pull yarn through all three loops on the hook.
4. One half-double crochet made. Yarn over, insert hook into next stitch; repeat from * in step 2.
Below: LW4779 Easy Shadows Cowl Crochet Pattern
Almost all crochet begins with a foundation chain, which is a series of chain stitches beginning with a slip knot. You then work the first row of other stitches into the chain to start making crochet fabric. The foundation chain is also called a base chain or starting chain.
When working into the starting chain, you may work under one or two strands of chain loops as shown in the illustration. Either of these methods forms an even, firm bottom edge.
Some people like to work into the "bump" on the back of the chain. This forms an even, stretchy bottom edge that is ideal for garments. It also produces an edge that looks more similar to the final edge of your project, making it useful for projects where both ends are exposed, such as scarves.
Whichever method of working into the foundation you choose, be consistent. Work all the pieces of a project in the same manner.
Below: LW4779 Easy Shadows Cowl Crochet Pattern
by Kathryn Vercillo
Crochet cluster stitch is very similar to bobble stitch in that you will crochet a series of stitches, one after the other, leaving the last loop of each unfinished until the very end, when you will secure it all closed to create a single stitch. The difference is that bobble stitches are all worked into the same stitch whereas cluster stitches are worked into individual, usually subsequent stitches. Be sure to read the instructions carefully to see how and where the hook should be inserted for each "leg" of the cluster. The "legs" can be worked over adjacent stitches, or stitches can be skipped in between the "legs". Here is how to work a 5 dc cluster stitch:
Double crochet into the stitch where you are going to start your cluster BUT leave the final loop on the hook. The steps to do this are: Yarn over, insert hook into stitch, yarn over and pull through (three loops on hook), yarn over and pull through 2 of the loops. Note that to complete the double crochet you would yarn over again and pull through the last two loops, but you are skipping that step here.
Repeat the sequence into each of the next four stitches.
Yarn over and pull through all five stitches.
Note: in many of the other stitch variations, there is now the option to chain one to further secure the stitch closed. This is almost never used in cluster stitch but check your pattern instructions to be sure.
Once you work a cluster stitch, you may notice that it seems familiar. That's because clusters are used for decreasing. A 2 dc cluster is the exact same thing as a standard double crochet decrease, also called double crochet 2 together or dc2tog. A cluster may, therefore, sometimes be abbreviated as "cluster stitch" but may be abbreviated "dc5tog" (or however many stitches you are working together). Cluster stitches are used for the decreasing in Chevron Crochet.
Cluster made of 5 sc
Cluster made of 5 dtr
Double Woven Throw uses a 2 hdc cluster
Cluster Stitch Wrap is a great example of how a designer might have different names for the stitch than you're used to. This pattern uses dc2tog and dc3tog, which are clusters. It also has what is called a cluster, but all of the stitches are worked in the same space so it's really a bobble!
Any combination of stitches may be joined into a cluster by leaving the last loop of each stitch on the hook until they are worked off together at the end. Working stitches together in this way can also be a method of decreasing.
Three Double Crochet Cluster
(Work over adjacent number of stitches specified in instruction.)
1. Work a double crochet into each of the next three stitches, holding the last loop of each double crochet on the hook.
2. Yarn over and pull the yarn through all four loops on the hook.
Below: LW4887 Flower Cloche Free Crochet Pattern
by Kathryn Vercillo
Bobble crochet stitch is similar to popcorn stitch in that you work all of the stitches into the same loop and secure them at the top. However, the stitches will not be fully complete as you work, and you will join them at the end without removing your hook from the work (in contrast to what would be done in popcorn stitch). Below are photographs and some illustrations for how to work a 5 dc bobble stitch.
Double crochet into the stitch where you are going to make your popcorn BUT leave the final loop on the hook. The steps to do this are: Yarn over, insert hook into stitch, yarn over and pull through (three loops on hook), yarn over and pull through 2 of the loops. Note that to complete the double crochet you would yarn over again and pull through the last two loops, but you are skipping that step here.
Repeat the previous step four more times so that you have five not-quite-complete dc stitches worked into the same stitch. There will be six loops on the hook.
Yarn over and pull through all six loops. This closes your bobble crochet stitch.
Optional: Chain one. This step is used to secure the top of the bobble closed. Not all patterns call for this so be sure to check your instructions.
Bobble made with 5 dtr
Dottie Throw uses a 3 sc bobble
Below: LW4183 Just Like Mom Cowl Crochet Pattern
To increase the width of a basic crochet fabric, 2 or more stitches have to be worked into 1 stitch at the point specified in the project instructions.
There is no specific abbreviation for a crochet increase. Patterns will usually give instructions similar to "2 sc in the next sc", to indicate you will work two single crochet stitches in the next single crochet stitch, and thereby increase.
Single Crochet Increase
1. Work a single crochet into the specified stitch.
2. Work a second single crochet into the same stitch.
Double Crochet Increase
Work a double crochet increase in the same way you work a single crochet increase.
Below: LW4811 Daisy Garden Blanket Crochet Pattern
The project instructions will specify if you are to work into the front or back loop of the stitch in the row below. Unless otherwise stated, always work under two strands of the top of the stitch in the row below.
Below: LW5046 Charming Camo Cowl Free Crochet Pattern
To make a flat crocheted fabric worked in rows, you must begin with a starting chain. The length of the starting chain is the number of stitches needed for the first row of fabric plus the number of chains needed to get to the correct height of the first stitch used in the first row.
When working in rows, right-handers work from right to left and left-handers work from left to right, turning the work at the end of each row.
One or more chains are worked at the beginning of each row (or joined round) to bring the hook up to the height of the first stitch in the row. The number of chains used for turning (called a turning chain in patterns) will depend upon the height of the stitch they are to match.
single crochet = 1 chain
half double crochet = 2 chains
double crochet = 3 chains
treble crochet = 4 chains
When working half double crochet or other longer stitches, the turning chain usually counts as the first stitch (the project instructions will let you know if the turning chains are not considered a stitch). When one chain is worked at the beginning of a row starting with a single crochet stitch, it is usually for height only and is made in addition to the first stitch.
Below: LW4773 Cabled Hat with Pompom Free Crochet Pattern
Gauge is the number of stitches and rows per inch (or centimeter) in a pattern. If the gauge does not match the gauge given in a pattern, the item you're making will not end up the correct size.
A gauge swatch is a small sample of your pattern that you make before starting the main item. It allows you to measure the gauge, so you can make sure that you will not run out of yarn and the finished item will be the size you want it to be. Not matching gauge isn't as important for something like a dishcloth or a bag, but for garments and accessories the wrong gauge could mean the finished item is too small to put on or fit for giant.
How to Crochet a Gauge Swatch
When crocheting a gauge swatch, always work with the same yarn you're using for the main item. Chain enough stitches for your swatch to be 5-6 inches [12.5-15.25 cm] across, and crochet enough rows to make a square. Work in the same pattern that the gauge calls for. If different gauges are given for different stitch patterns, make sure you make a swatch for each stitch pattern. If no pattern is given for the gauge, work in whatever the main stitch for the item is. If the pattern calls for multiple sizes of hooks, use the size mentioned in the gauge.
Sometimes the gauge is given in pattern repeats. For example, for a ripple pattern, the gauge may say that from one point to another point of the ripple is 5" [12.5 cm].
For patterns made of individual pieces, the gauge might be given as the size of a finished piece. For example, a throw made of squares might give the gauge as the finished size of a square.
Other times, instead of a gauge, there may just be a note that the gauge is not important for the project. If you're making a Scrubby dishcloth for example, it doesn't matter if the finished item is exactly the correct size, or uses slightly more of the ball of Scrubby.
How to Measure a Gauge Swatch
After completing your gauge swatch, place it on a flat, hard surface with good lighting. Use a ruler or gauge measuring device like the Susan Bates® Knit-Chek or Susan Bates® Gauge Grabbers to count the number of rows and stitches in the number of inches given in the pattern gauge. The best practice is to count over 4", but some gauges call for 2" or 1", especially if the yarn is very thin. The gauge swatch should be larger than the area you need to measure, so you can just use the interior stitches to measure your gauge. Remember, half-stitches count too!
What if my gauge doesn’t match the pattern gauge?
Unless you crochet with the exact same tension as the designer, your gauge won’t exactly match up with the pattern gauge using the same yarn and hook or needle size. This is normal! To make your gauge match, choose a different hook size.
If you have more stitches and rows per inch than the pattern calls for, use a larger size hook.
If you have fewer stitches and rows per inch than the pattern calls for, use a smaller size hook.
Example: Love-to-Wear Sweater
For this sweater, the gauge is 15 dc = 4” [10 cm] and 12 rows = 4” [10 cm] in single crochet and double crochet pattern. Consider size Medium, which has a finished bust measurement of 40”. If you have 14 stitches in 4” [10 cm], instead of the 15 called for by the pattern, you will end up with a finished sweater with a bust measurement of almost 43” – much too big! Conversely, if you have 16 stitches in 4” [10 cm], you will have a finished sweater measuring 37 1/2” – way too tight!
Uses for Gauge Swatch
Treat your gauge swatch the way you would treat your finished item: block it and wash it to make sure you know how to take care of your work when it is complete. You may find that wants to stretch some when washed, for example, and you must carefully lay it flat to dry.
When you’ve finished your item and don’t need the gauge swatch anymore, recycle it! Combine it with other swatches to make pillows, bags, afghans….whatever you can envision! Make sure you only use it in projects with similar yarns, so the care instructions will be the same throughout all parts of the project.
To fasten off the yarn permanently, cut the yarn leaving an 8" end (longer if you need to sew pieces together). Pull the end of the yarn through the loop on the hook and pull gently to tighten.
Below: LW3276 By the Sea Throw Crochet Pattern
by Kathryn Vercillo
Once you learn the basic crochet shell stitch, you are well on your way to being able to make popcorn stitches. The process starts the same: you crochet all of the stitches into the same stitch. The difference is that you will join them at the top. Here's how it's done, using the 5 dc popcorn stitch as an example. If you prefer illustrations to photographs, the last two steps of this sequence also have illustrations of the same steps.
Double crochet into the stitch where you are going to make your popcorn.
4 more dc into the same stitch. Note that at this stage you have created a 5 dc shell stitch.
Now, remove the hook from the working loop that is at the top of the last double crochet stitch.
Re-insert the hook from front to back into the top of the first double crochet in the group.
Pick up the working loop that you left on the 5th double crochet stitch.
Pull it through the top of the 1st double crochet stitch to close the entire group.
Optional: Chain one. This step is used to secure the top of the popcorn closed. Not all patterns call for this so be sure to check your instructions.
Popcorn made with 6 hdc
Popcorn made with 3 dtr stitches
The Popcorn Square in the Checkerboard Textures Throw uses 4 dc
The Aran Hearts Throw uses a popcorn of 4 sc
Below: LW2998 Forever Flowers Crochet Pattern
After you fasten off, you will want to finish your crochet project to create a polished appearance. The time and care it takes to knit a project will be wasted if the finishing is sloopy; good finishing is the difference between "homemade" and "hand-made". Finishing methods depend largely on the end purpose of the project (pillow, afghan, garment) and the yarn you use to create the piece.
Almost all crochet projects will require the ends of the yarn to be woven in securely so the project will not come undone. There are multiple methods depending on the project type and the yarn used.
Depending on the yarn, you may need to block your work. Unless otherwise instructed in the pattern, you should always weave in your ends before you block, and block before you assemble the finished item. Blocking is less necessary with man-made fibers than with natural fibers.
Projects that were made in pieces will need to be assembled. For example, you may attach the sleeves on a sweater or add a a flower applique to a hat. While the assembly can be done as you make the project on some patterns, on others you will need to attach the pieces together at the end either through sewing or crocheting them together.
Other finishing steps that may be taken include adding borders, adding buttons or ties, or working embroidery on the piece.
Below: LW4616 April Showers Throw Free Crochet Pattern
There are multiple ways to attach crocheted pieces together. You may need to attach pieces of a sweater, for example, or attach blocks together to make a throw.
The three common ways to attach crochet pieces are sewn seams, crocheted seams, and Join-As-You-Go techniques. You can go to the Ultimte Guide to Join-As-You-Go Crochet to learn more about those techniques.
Assembling a project has two components: placing the pieces together so they are correctly lined up, and attaching them. Patterns may give instructions on the suggested way to attach pieces together, but often will not give detailed notes on lining them up.
If you are attaching pieces that are the same size and stitch count, you can line up the stitches so they are in pairs, and then attach each stitch to its paired stitch. If you are attaching pieces that are slightly different, such as a flat piece and a curved piece, or the end of a piece to the side of another piece, you may want to pin the pieces together before you start so they line up neatly. Pinning pieces is also recommended for larger pieces. Pinning helps keep on side from being stretched out or the seam from being uneven.
A pattern may call for a particular method of attaching pieces together, or it may just say to attach them or to sew them. Use whichever method you are comfortable with and that gives you a seam you are happy with. You may want the seam to be invisible, or you may decide you like it as a design feature and want it to be obvious. Using the same color yarn as the project is made in will help the seam to be invisible. Generally projects are sewn together using the same yarn they were made with. If a yarn is very bulky or textured, use a finer, smooth yarn in a matching color to attach them.
In this video Marly Bird shows you three ways to sew crochet seams with variations of crochet mattress stitch.
Another way to seam crochet is to whipstitch pieces together. This technique is especially suited for attaching the ends of two pieces together. Place the pieces edge to edge with the wrong sides facing up, and go from one side to the other side repeatedly, always in the same direction. Working in the front loop of one side and the back loop of the other side, as shown in the picture, will help make the seam more invisible.
Below: LW4629 Squared Side Throw Free Crochet Pattern
by Janice Ogata and Margaret Eckman
Have you ever truly wanted to feel like a magician with your crochet hooks? Well now you can! Get ready to amaze your friends, and family when you play with variegated yarn. Red Heart Super Saver comes in a vast array of colors to try out this technique. Color pooling (also called yarn pooling) has taken the internet by storm! There are videos, a group on Facebook completely dedicated to it, and it seems everyone is trying it. So jump on this bandwagon, get out your favorite multicolored yarn, and give it a try.
Here's what you will need:
- Multicolored yarn without super-short repeats -- view below for suggested yarns
- A crochet hook that works with the yarn -- 4mm/US G-6, 4.5mm/US 7, 5mm/US H-8, 5.5mm/US I-9 are common sizes that work with worsted weight yarn
- A darning needle
- Some scissors
Here you can see the color 784 Bonbon Print on the left, the color 3944 Macaw in the middle, and the color 3955 Wildflower on the right. Since Bonbon Print changes color every stitch, you can't get the pooling effect. Since Macaw has a random color repeat and the colors are different lengths, pooling doesn't happen. Wildflower pools because it has several inches of each color, each color is about the same length as the color next to it, and has a consistent color repeat.
The magic happens when you use a multiple of 2 and the moss stitch (also called the linen stitch). Here's where the fun begins! Since each person is unique and crochets with a different tension, you'll have to play with your hooks and yarn to get a pattern to emerge. Don't give up! These samples took me 4 days and many attempts, but you can see there are patterns within the colors. For all the samples I used a size H hook.
This is such a neat technique that you'll want to go out and buy all the variegated yarn you can find, just to discover the patterns. Have fun, and remember all you have to do is use a multiple of 2 for your chain, and play with your tension, and hooks, and make the magic happen!
The basic pattern is the same for all of the swatches, but the number of the starting chain changes. You will need to experiment to find the hook size and starting chain that gives you the yarn pooling pattern plus a fabric you are happy with.
- Always chain an even number, or the moss stitch will not work properly.
- You will make two chains at the end of each row instead of one chain. One of the two chains is a turning chain as normal and does not count as a stitch, while the other chain counts as the first stitch.
- Start with a 5mm/US H-8 or a 5.5mm/US I-9 hook and adjust as necessary for the pooling to happen. Keep in mind what you're using your project for, and along with the color make sure your fabric isn't too stiff or loose for the intended purpose.
- If your project requires multiple skeins, make sure you use the same dye lot.
Chain an even number.
Row 1: Single crochet (sc) into the 4th chain from hook, *chain (ch) 1, skip one ch, sc into the next ch. Repeat from * across.
Row 2: Ch 2 to turn. Sc into the first ch space, ch 1, skip one sc, sc into the next ch space. Repeat from * across.
Repeat Row 2 until the piece is as long as you would like.
Each of the following swatches are made in Super Saver.
928 Earth and Sky 979 Mistletoe 972 Pink Camo
Planned pooling can be done with other stitches as well!
Marly Bird features instructions on her site on Granny Stitch Planned Pooling Crochet, written by Rocky from RockinLola.
To design your own larger planned pooling project, or to work a project such as the Planned Pooling Argyle Throw or Blanket, you'll need to have multiple instances of the color sequence in one row. Brenda-Leigh explains how to manage this with her article Multiple Sequence Planned Pooling Crochet on Marly's website.
Patterns featured in the book include:
Planned Pooling Argyle Poncho
Planned Pooling Scarf
Planned Pooling Argyle Throw or Blanket
Planned Pooling Pullover
Planned Pooling Argyle Wristers
Planned Pooling Argyle Hat
Planned Pooling Argyle Cowl
Planned Pooling Argyle Pillow
Planned Pooling Argyle Table Runner
Additional Resources and Colors
Here are some additional resources on color pooling. These are not a definitive list, but some other pages that might be useful to you.
Glamour 4 You post
ELK Studio post about color pooling in the round
Naztazia's planned pooling blanket and scarf, with written pattern and video
Marly Bird's Facebook Live video
Planned Pooling with Crochet Facebook group
Planned Color Pooling Pinterest board
Here are some of our colors that often work for planned pooling. You will have to experiment with the yarn to find what works; just because a yarn is on this list does not automatically mean you will be able to have it pool the way you want to.
- 301 Mirage
- 392 Wedgewood
- 3934 Day Glow
- 3943 Americana
- 3947 Bright Mix
- 3949 Reef
- 3952 Icelandic
- 3955 Wildflower
- 3957 Neon Stripes
- 3958 Antique
- 3985 Sunrise
- 906 Heartfelt
- 928 Earth & Sky
- 932 Zebra
- 938 Stars & Stripes
- 940 Plum Pudding
- 950 Mexicana
- 961 Woodsy
- 972 Pink Camo
- 979 Mistletoe
- 981 Fall
- 984 Shaded Dusk
- 988 Platoon
- 995 Ocean
- 996 French Country
- 1816 Waterlily
- 1933 Echo
- 1934 Autumn
- 1937 Deep Blues
- 1938 Beachy
- 1942 Plum Jam
- 1944 Fruit Punch
- 1948 Lavender Ivy
- 1957 Lemon Drop
- 1968 Delightful
Diagrams are read exactly as the crochet is worked. Each stitch is represented by a symbol that has been drawn to resemble its crocheted equivalent. The position of the symbol shows where the stitch should be placed and worked.
Stitch symbols are drawn and laid out as realistically as possible, but there are times when they have to be distorted for the sake of clarity. For example, stitches may look extra long to show clearly where they are to be placed, but you should not try to match the chart by making elongated stitches. Crochet each stitch as you normally would.
The number of strokes crossing the stems of stitches longer than a half double crochet represents the number of times the yarn is wrapped over the hook before the hook is inserted into the work.
Right Side and Wrong Side Rows
Where the work is turned after each row, only alternate rows are worked with the right side of the work facing. These "right side rows" are printed in black on stitch diagrams and read from right to left. Wrong side rows are printed in a different color (usually blue) and read from left to right. Row numbers are shown at the side of the diagrams at the beginning of the row.
Patterns worked in rounds have right side rows facing on every round—alternate rounds are printed in blue and black.
Diagram source: Craft Yarn Council's www.YarnStandards.com
Download the Sidewalk Shawl pattern to see a written pattern and its matching diagram, then use the video below if you need any help understanding it.
Below: LW4705 Sidewalk Shawl Free Crochet Pattern