WEEK 1: THE START
Are you LEFT stranded or LEFT alone because nobody can help you or assist you in learning to crochet? Welcome to my past.
For many years I was so frustrated because I am LEFT-handed and all the tutorials, family members, friends, experts and the world out there are RIGHT-handed.
No mirrors or mirror images could help me. So I decided to learn a way to crochet RIGHT -handed although I am LEFT-handed. I really do not want to sweat patterns or to flip diagrams in order to accommodate my LEFT normality. So I decided to watch how the stitch is made instead of sweating hand positions and yarn tension. Although the hook is in the right hand, the technique I am using is more left-handfriendly. My philosophy regarding lefties is that our brain is not merely a mirror image of a right handed person, but that the whole process of learning a certain skill differs from right-hand people. Did you ever watch a left-handed sportsman? His whole technique differs from a right-handed sportsperson.
I am a crochet machine right now – by hook or by crook. I have an awkward way of crochet. Many people commented: “It looks as if you knit with one needle.” It is fine. I get results. I figured that there are a lot of people out there LEFT with lots of crochet problems. That is why I want to share basic beginner crochet lessons to lefties. If I can change one Lefty’s life, I will be really happy.
Please note: I follow American crochet terminology to accommodate Afrikaans people so that there is no confusion in translation.The beauty of my lessons is that right hand people will also benefit from the lessons as the crochet basics are the same. It is only later on when learning to form the stitches that lefties will benefit from the movement of the hands. Initially all the information is standard as for right-hande people.
Yes, beginners, there are UK crochet terminology as well – you can use a conversion table when you stumble upon a UK pattern.
Lesson 1: Hand position, slip knot and chain stitches
PLEASE NOTE LEARNERS:
- Do not try to learn crochet with a yarn thinner than double knit (see label) or a hook thinner than 3 mm (3,5 – 4 mm hook is the best for double knit or DK).
- Do not use yarn that splits.
- Do not use yarn with uneven texture or thickness.
- Do not use variegated yarn.
- Do not use novelty yarn with bobbles or knots or beads or anything that will confuse you in counting your stitches of even seeing the stitches.
As soon as you have mastered the basic stitches you are more than welcome to experiment with the lovely yarn available out there.
There are plenty of hooks with different grips available. There are also no prescription in which one to use. You will find your match as you go along and as your crochet skills develop. Start off by using a simple metal one, maybe with a soft grip and move on from there. At first your fingers might be sore after a day’s practise, but it will get better as they get more exercise.
In any crochet you have to start with a base chain. It is a chain formed by loops which forms the foundation of the work. You need it in order to anchor your next row as well as the following rows. With crochet patterns, you can either work in ROWS e.g. scarves, blankets, shawls, etc. or in ROUNDs e.g. squares, motifs, rugs, etc. We will now focus on rows and later move to rounds.
But first let us look on hand position. With every stitch I will include a video as well as step by step photos. You can then print you lesson and/or follow the video.
1.1 Hand Position (do not sweat it now as you will get the hang of it when watching the videos)
The right hand
Hold the hook in the right hand as if you would hold a knife. The hook is resting slightly on the ring finger and pinkie. The index finger keeps the loop(s) in position and the thumb and middle finger holds the work.
The left hand
The left hand holds the yarn so that the strand goes over the index finger, under the middle and ring finger and is slightly pinched by the pinkie. The index finger and pinkie controls the tension. The thumb holds the work in position.
1.2 Slip knot
To start a base chain, you need to make a slip knot on you hook.
- Make a loop with the ball end of the yarn over the tail end of the yarn.
2. With the ball end of the yarn, push a loop through from beneath.
3. Insert the hook through the loop and tighten the short end of the yarn carefully. If the yarn is too tight, you won’t be able to make the first stitch. The yarn from the ball is used to from the stitches in the next rows. The tail will be darned away later.
1.3 The Base chain
You need a series of chain stitches to form the foundation row for all types of crocheting.
- Be careful not to make your foundation row too tight.
- Keep the chains the same size.
- It is advisable to use a hook one size larger for the foundation row.
- Wrap the yarn from back to front over the hook. This is called ‘yarn over hook’ (yoh) and it is used in all stitches unless the pattern indicates otherwise.
- Catch the yarn with the hook and draw it through the loop on the hook. The second chain is made. Use the left hand’s thumb and index finger to control the tension.
3. Continue until you have made the number of stitches required for the pattern.
The right side of the chain looks like this:
The wrong side has and extra loop and looks like this:
On a crochet diagram, it looks like this:
When working the next row, you work in the loops of the right side.
To make the next row, you have to make a turning chain or chains depending on the height of the stitch.
1.4 Turning chains
There are different stitches that varies in height, from the shortest – the slip stitch to long stitches like the double treble stitch.
They all vary in height which can be measured in chain lengths.
0 chains = slip stitch (this stitch has no height, but it is used to get distance over your work – mostly used in joining)
1 chain = single crochet stitch
2 chains = half double crochet stitch
3 chains = double crochet stitch
4 chains = treble crochet stitch
5 chains = double treble stitch
Thus, when you want to start your next row, you have to keep in mind in what chain you have to make the stitch so that the skipped chains are equal to the stitch height. There are small holes in the chains. Each stitch in the next row is formed in these holes.
Next week we will look at how the different stitches are formed and this is where the lefties can practise my method.