Crochet Basics: Tools, Tension & Technique


Choosing the right materials when starting a new hobby can be quite overwhelming. You may be unsure what to look for, what’s good, bad, helpful etc. Crochet is a great skill to learn as it’s extremely versatile and you can make so many different things plus the initial start up cost is fairly cheap which is a definite win.

In this post I’m going to give you an overview on the three Ts of crochet – Tools, Tension and Technique.


TOOLS

All you need to get started is a crochet hook and a ball of yarn. Other helpful tools are: stitch markers, yarn needle and scissors.

YARN
I recommend worsted weight acrylic yarn as it’s generally the cheapest option. Stay away from any fuzzy/fancy yarns and avoid dark colours or anything too bright as it will make it hard to see your stitches.

HOOK
Check your yarn label to find the recommended hook size for the yarn that you’ve chosen. I wouldn’t use anything smaller than a 5mm hook as you want to be able to easily see your stitches. At this stage the type of hook is not super important. I started with a plain straight handled Boye hook and it wasn’t until I started crocheting a lot that I invested in a set of hooks with comfortable grips. I would however recommend aluminium hooks over plastic.

STITCH MARKERS
Stitch markers can be extremely useful for beginners as you can use them to mark the ends of your rows. When you’re still figuring out what different stitches look like and how to count them, it can be easy to miss the very end stitches.

YARN NEEDLES
Yarn needles (also known as darning or tapestry needles) are large blunt needles with a large eye for threading the yarn through. You’ll want these so you can weave in your ends once you have completed a project. They come in both plastic and metal but I would recommend the metal needles as they are a lot more durable.

SCISSORS
Eventually you may want to invest in a good sharp pair but for now any old scissors will do.


TENSION

One of the most challenging things about learning to crochet is tension or gauge. Tension affects the size of a finished project and is particularly important when making wearable items where size matters. A lot of beginner crocheters start out with really tight tension and there is no simple fix other than practice and patience. Tension can be influenced by a few different things – the way you sit, the way you hold your hook and yarn, even your surroundings and mood. Try and find a comfortable place to work, away from distractions and take time to get used to the repetitive motion of your hands. If you are really struggling you can adjust your hook size as necessary – bigger or smaller depending on how tight or loose your stitches are. You can even use a slightly larger hook for your starting chain if you are finding the stitches hard to get into.


TECHNIQUE

There are a few different ways that you can hold your hook/yarn and a big part of the process is discovering what works best for you.

Below are two ways of holding your crochet hook. As their names suggest, the knife hold is similar to holding a knife and the pencil hold is similar to holding a pencil.

KNIFE HOLD

PENCIL HOLD


THERE IS NO RIGHT OR WRONG WAY TO CROCHET

If it’s not clicking, try something different. There’s a huge amount of knowledge available on YouTube and Google so you’re sure to find something that works for you.

I hope this has given you some things to think about and a bit of a starting point. I’ll go into more detail on how to actually get started and what stitches to practice in an upcoming post.