Monday, March 2, 2015

Learn to Crochet Lesson Three: How to Single Crochet

Today I am continuing on with my series for beginning crocheters. So far we've learned how to tie a slip knot and how to work a base chain. It's time to tackle our first major crochet stitch, single crochet. The most basic of all crochet stitches are single crochet, half double crochet, double crochet, and triple crochet. Single crochet is the shortest of these. It is roughly as wide as it is tall. The boxy nature of single crochet makes it great for detailed colorwork. Single crochet is also dense, making it good for items that need stiffness and structure like purses, toys, and household items.

Don't worry too much about making a particular item while you learn. Later there will be a CAL (that means crochet-a-long) that will help you to reinforce the skills you're learning as you create a finished project. For now, just practice a bit and get acquainted with your yarn and hook as you work. Here we go!

Start by chaining any number of stitches between about 10 and 15. I chained 11. 

You will now be working from right to left on your chain stitches. Skip the first chain stitch. Remember how I said that single crochet is about as tall as it is wide? That skipped chain stitch will be your first turning chain. A turning chain moves you up vertically for each new row and ensures that your work has even edges. This means that if I chain 11 for my base chain and I'm working single crochet, I will actually end up with 10 stitches in each row. That last chain stitch became by turning chain.

Now, insert your hook into the back loop of the second chain stitch from the hook. See the purple "v's" in the picture above? Each stitch has a front and back loop. You can insert your hook under either or both of these loops on your base chain depending on what your project calls for. Today, simply insert your hook into the back loop.

Here is another view of my hook under the back loop. Now it's time to yarn over as we did when chaining. See my yarn over under my hook tip?

Time to pull the yarn over through that back loop. Depending on how you hold your hook you may twist it in your fingers slightly as you work. It might be hard at first but you will soon develop a rhythm and pulling through will be no big deal. If you become tangled up or frustrated you can always pull out your stitches and start over when you're ready to try again.

Here I have pulled through. Now I have two loops on my hook. We are almost done with 1 single crochet stitch.

Yarn over once more just as you did before. 

Finally, pull through both of the loops on your hook. That's it! Your first single crochet stitch. There is one loop left on your hook. This is your working loop that will remain as you continue. 

Here's another view of your first stitch. Notice the "v"? You will work into those loops again when you're crocheting your second row. You're ready for the next stitch!

Here I am inserting my hook into the back loop of the next chain stitch.

By following the same steps as above (insert hook, yarn over, pull through one, yarn over, pull through two), you will soon have your second single crochet stitch completed.

Here is that top view once more. See the two stitches?

Continue on in the manner until you have worked into the back loop of every chain stitch. You should now have ten single crochet stitches (or one less than your base chain). 

Let's recall what I said about turning chains. They give us the height we need for the next row. Since we are ready to start row two of single crochet, we need a turning chain of 1. Yarn over.

Pull through. You've made a sole chain stitch and your turning chain is complete. Now it's time to turn. Turning allows us to work into the stitches of the previous row from right to left.

Turning basically means flipping your item. Hold one end in each hand and rotate it horizontally 180 degrees until it looks like the picture above. 

Hey, look! There's a whole row of "v's" just waiting to be crocheted into. From now on, insert your hook under both loops of each stitch as shown in the picture above. No need to skip the first stitch, either. We already have our turning chain for height. Your first and second rows should have the same number of stitches.

Here I have worked one single crochet into the first stitch of row two.

Here is what my second row looks like when it's complete. I'm ready to work up row three! I simply need to chain 1 for my turning chain and then turn my work as before.

Here's a swatch, or small sample, of single crochet. My swatch has 12 rows. It's okay if your stitches are uneven at first. Practice makes perfect! Just keep going until you feel comfortable with single crochet.

We've covered a lot in this lesson. If you have any questions about crochet and the process I've outlined, please don't be afraid to ask them in the comments! I'd love to hear from you. Next up will be half double crochet.

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