Nothing has revolutionized my crochet life more than mastering this super simple technique – the chainless foundation. I am not one that enjoys crocheting into a chain. To me, it is tedious work. So when I learned how to make a crochet chain AND the first row of single (or double, or half double!) crochet AT THE SAME TIME, my mind was blown. Learn how to save time and tears in this video tutorial about how to make a chainless foundation single crochet.
WHY THE CHAINLESS FOUNDATION SINGLE CROCHET STITCH IS SO AMAZING:
Have you ever panicked when you read the beginning of a pattern that included chaining any more than 20, followed by crocheting all the way back down that chain? I know.
My heart rate is increasing even now as I think about it.
it. is. just. so. FIDDLY. Not to mention how long it takes!
Well fear no more, my friend. Your solution has arrived. The chainless foundation stitch makes the chain AND the first row of SINGLE crochet AT THE SAME TIME.
I’m going to give you a moment to just sit with that and take in the beauty of it.
No matter how fast you crochet, the fiddlyness of crocheting back into a chain adds so much time. Even though you’re adding an extra yarn-over when you’re making a chainless foundation, it’s just so much easier to get into flow just as if you were working on your 3rd or 4th row of a repeat.
Deep breath out. Ahhh. That is why I describe this stitch as revolutionary to my crochet life. I was so relieved. Like “where, oh where, chainless foundation, have you been all my life?” And this magical technique can be used with NOT ONLY single crochet, but half double, double and treble stitches as well.
So alas, let me begin by introducing you to some of the important characteristics of the chainless foundation single crochet stitch.
In a pattern, the chainless foundation single crochet stitch is abbreviated FSC.
The chainless foundation single crochet stitch is slightly taller than the traditional technique of chaining and then crocheting back into that chain. But only slightly taller.
The characteristic that I love the most about this stitch is it’s beautiful stretch and flexibility. Often times a foundation row of single crochet that has been made by crocheting into a chain is tight and shorter than the rest of the project. When this happens with, a sweater, for example, the resulting comfort level and flex is NO BUENO.
Another annoying thing about crocheting into a chain is often times it can leave unsightly gaps between the stitches. Albeit, crocheting into the back bump of a chain almost completely eliminates this, there is still a look and feel to the chainless foundation that starts the flow of the project off perfectly.
Slip knot knot your hook
Insert your hook into the second chain from the hook
Yarn over and pull up a loop (you now have 2 loops on your hook)
Yarn over again and pull through ONE loop on your hook
Yarn over and pull through the TWO loops on your hook
Insert your hook into the bottom of that stitch (under both strands) and repeat steps 4-6
Mastering the single crochet stitch is the best place to start when learning how to crochet. The techniques and finger + wrist movements that you learn when working through the single crochet will become the familiar foundation of all the crochet stitches and techniques you will learn afterwards. In this written + video tutorial you will learn how to make a single crochet stitch.
This tutorial is given using US terms. If your pattern is written in anything other than that, I’ve made a printable term conversion chart that you can reference so this all makes sense!
I’ll give you the written steps for how to make a single crochet stitch below, but it might be quicker to just watch my quick video tutorial which I’ve included below as well!
Let me begin by introducing you to some of the important characteristics of the single crochet stitch.
ABBREVIATION & CHART SYMBOL:
In a pattern, the single crochet stitch is abbreviated SC (uppercase or lowercase). On a crochet chart, the symbol for single crochet is a “+” or an “X”.
HEIGHT & WEIGHT:
The single crochet stitch is short. It isn’t as short as a slip stitch, but it’s the next shortest basic stitch. Your project will not grow in height as quickly as using the taller half double crochet, double crochet or treble crochet. Because it is a nice stout stitch, the fabric it creates is tight and dense with very little drape and no gaps between stitches or rows. This is why it is the most common stitch used in amigurumi.
Although it is one of the most basic stitches in the art of crochet, it is also super versatile. It can be used when crocheting rows, rounds and crocheted in any number of the 3 loops or the post of a stitch to create ribbing and other textures to your project.
Do you remember high school chemistry? Remember when you had to MEMORIZE the periodic table of elements? I’m getting PTSD even know as I think about it. Well, that’s how I felt the first time I flipped over a ball of yarn to see what the label said. It all just looked like a gibberish mess of numbers and symbols. Reading a yarn label can be confusing and intimidating. I’m going to help you learn how to read a yarn label so you never have to feel that way again.
If you’d rather watch than read, I cover everything you need to know about how to read a yarn label in a video tutorial further on in this post.
I’ve also created a free printable quick reference postcard so you can have this info handy when you’re at the store. You can download and print it, or just pull it up on your phone so it’ll be ready when you need it! Find it in the Quick Reference Guide section of the resource library.
Why does it matter?
Your pattern tells you exactly what yarn to use for the project, so why does knowing what the label means even matter? Well, what if you show up at the yarn shop and see a skein of yarn you love 100 times more? You are about to invest time, money, and physical and emotional energy into this project – you better darn well LOVE the fiber you’re using. But how do you know the project will turn out right if you switch up the yarn?
This is why knowing how to read a yarn label matters.
And once you figure it out, it really does become intuitive.
There are 6 important things to interpret from a yarn label. There may be more than that, but here are the 6 you will use every time.
1) CYC WEIGHT
The Craft Yarn Council (CYC) has created a standard “weight” system that specifies the thickness of yarn on a scale from 0 (Lace) to 7 (Jumbo). The thicker the yarn, the bigger the number. If you want to switch up a yarn for your pattern, this is the component you want to match. If you switch up the yarn weight, your finished project will be a different size than the pattern specifies.
This is the physical weight (in ounces and/or grams) of the yarn ball, skein or hank. I rarely use this piece of information, but it’s there if you need it.
The length of the ball of yarn will be given in yards and/or meters. This is another really helpful piece of information if you’re choosing a different yarn than your pattern calls for – you can match yardage just in case.
4) CARE INSTRUCTIONS
It can be easy to forget to pay attention to the laundering and care instructions, but you probably want to take note of this! If you’re making a mop cover, you want to be sure it can be washed, right? Sometimes the yarn label only has the symbols with no written interpretation, so it can be helpful to memorize the main symbols or pull up a guide when you’re headed to the store.
The gauge information gives you the recommended hook or needle size to use with the yarn. It will also usually give you the number of stitches and rows it will make with that recommended hook size in a 4-inch square. If you use a larger hook, your project will be larger. If you use a smaller hook, your project will be smaller.
The fiber content tells you what the yarn is made of, whether it’s 100% or a blend.
Other information on the label:
Country of origin
Yarn color and dye lot – the color of the yarn varies slightly between dye lots – especially with natural yarns. Be sure you get enough yarn for your project from the same dye lot. Believe me, I’ve learned the hard way with this one! I always play it safe and buy more than I think I’ll need. I return any unused yarn after I’m done with my project.
There are as many ways to hold a crochet hook and yarn as there are hooks themselves. And no matter which one you try, they’re all going to feel super awkward at first. But somehow, there will be one that feels more right than all the rest. Once you get the hang of it and find your flow, your concerns about how to hold a crochet hook and yarn will go out the window. And soon, your yarn and hook will be dancing to the beat of your stitches.
In this article we will talk about the six main ways to hold a hook (two of them are BY FAR the most common), and the two main ways to hold your yarn (including 2 additional variations to solve tension issues). After crocheting for a while with your perfect pairing of these, doing anything different will feel as weird as writing with your non-dominant hand.
How to hold a crochet hook
There are two categories of grip: overhand and underhand. Within those two categories there are three common grips, with two of them being the FAR most common. The goal, is that with a little practice, the one you choose becomes super comfortable and easy for you.
For absolute beginners, here are the six most common ways to hold your hook. Give them a try and see what feels best for you!
Overhand crochet hook positions grip the hook inside of the palm, with the hand OVER the hook. Here are the 3 most common overhand grips:
Knife Grip: This is one of the two most common holds, and the most common hold of all of the overhand grips. You hold the hook just like you would a knife – index finger on top with the hook being held securely between the middle finger and the thumb. The head is controlled with the index finger.
Sometimes, prominent thumb rests aren’t preferred by those who use this hold because, depending on the position of your wrist, it can cause the hook to face an undesirable direction (down). Generally, the fingers stay in the same place on the hook and don’t shift position much.
Saber Grip: This hold leads with the thumb, similar to how you might hold a sword. The other four fingers curl around and grip the hook while the handle rests inside the palm. This hold requires more wrist work (usually side-to-side) than finger work so if you have trouble with pain, this might not be the one for you.
Just like with knife grip, most crocheters using this hold, don’t significantly change the position of their hand on the hook while they work. However, unlike the knife hold, crocheters who use the saber hold, generally like thumb rests since most of the hook stability in this hold is coming from the thumb.
Claw Grip: This grip is also referred to as the “piano” because it is similar to how fingers are placed upon the keys. Rather than gripping the hook with fingers wrapping around like the saber hold, this one places all 5 fingertips on the hook.
There’s a rolling action that happens with this hold – rolling the hook beneath the fingertips to maneuver it. Thumb-rests generally not preferred because they inhibit the smooth rolling motion. This grip normally involves a significant amount of wrist, finger and arm movement.
Underhand crochet hook positions grip the hook where the handle sticks outside of the palm near the index finger, the knuckle or the pad between the index finger and thumb. The hand remains UNDER the hook. Here are the 3 most common underhand crochet grips:
Pencil Grip: This is the second of the two most common holds, and the most common underhand grip. You hold the hook just as you have been taught to hold a pencil when writing which is where it got its appropriate name.
This grip requires you to hold the hook tighter to remain in control, so a lot of crocheters that use this grip really like a thumb rest. This grip uses quite a bit of wrist work – up and down. So, if you’re experiencing wrist pain or finger fatigue it might be because of the tighter grip and the significant amount of wrist work as well. If you hurt, try a different hold.
Pinky FlyGrip: The pinky fly eliminates the use of both the ring finger and pinky finger – although the ring finger likes to stay somewhat involved. Stability is found using the middle finger.
Some like to use this hold temporarily when some finger relief is needed, but there is a definite emphasis on the middle finger, so you may begin to feel pain in that finger during extended crochet sessions. There may be a rolling action from predominantly using just two fingers for control – the thumb and middle finger.
Chopstick grip: Again, appropriately named, this grip is held similarly to how you would hold chopsticks – clamped between the index finger and thumb. The motion is back and forth, with a lot of involvement of other fingers for supporting the hook or even holding part of the working project. There is also a rolling action that is used.
This is a very relaxed grip and allows for the hook to be held loosely. It also allows quite a bit of flexibility between which finger is used dominantly.
How to hold crochet yarn
You hear a lot about “tension” when talking about crochet. Tension is the stress that we apply to the yarn as we use it. It’s critical to have proper tension when you crochet because if you don’t your project will turn out all wonky. It won’t be the right size, the edges won’t be clean – it’ll just look like a proper mess. If you are constantly battling tension issues you will struggle to find a nice free flow which will leave you feeling frustrated and hating crochet.
And we don’t want that now, do we?
That is why figuring out what works for you in terms of holding your yarn is critical. One way of knowing what to try when holding yarn is to identify whether you crochet tightly or loosely.
Here are some hints to look for if you’re struggling with tension
If you crochet tightly, you might find:
You have a hard time pulling your yarn through as you complete a stitch
You have a hard time pushing your hook under your stitches as you go along
Your hands quickly become crampy and sore
Your projects always end up too small
You find you’re having to grip your hook tighter than comfortable
If you crochet loosely, you might find:
Your stitches have unpredictable and uneven gaps and spacing
You struggle when trying to grab your yarn when you’re yarning over
Your edges aren’t straight and clean
Your projects always end up too big
The most common way to correct tension issues is to adjust the way you hold your yarn. If you crochet tightly, you want to hold the yarn in a way where it can flow more readily. If you crochet loosely, you’ll want to wrap your yarn an extra time around your finger so it will be harder for it to slide as freely through your fingers.
Here are four ways to try holding your crochet yarn (it’s really two ways, but each alternative with an added finger wrap for those that need more tension)
Wrap your yarn under your middle finger (or pinky finger or ring finger) and over your pointer finger. Control the tension by squeezing your fingers together as you work a stitch and pull more yarn into your project. The tighter you squeeze, the tighter the tension, the smaller the stitches. Less squeezing pressure will result in looser tension and looser stitches.
And if you want a little built-in yarn muzzle…
Alternatively, rather than squeezing pressure, you can wrap the yarn an extra time around your pointer finger (or pinky finger) which provides a built-in way of adding more tension. This is how I hold my yarn, by wrapping it twice around my pointer finger. It allows for longer crocheting sessions without the hand becoming fatigued from all the squeezing.
When I’m using heavier yarns like bulky weight or heavier, the second wrap ends up causing too much tension so I stick with the single wrap when I’m working with that yarn. How to hold a crochet hook and yarn can change up a bit based on what yarn and hook you’re using, but making those adjustments will be no big deal once your typical hold and grip become second nature.
Although it can seem daunting at first, I hope you feel a lot better about how to hold a crochet hook and yarn. And I’m SOOO glad you started here to learn how to do it! Thank you! Please let me know if you have more questions about how to hold your hook and yarn – or anything else crochet related for that matter.
You might also be interested in these related articles. And all of them have free printable quick reference guides for you to download and save or print to be yours forever!
What am I supposed to do? Get out a scale to figure out what “weight” of yarn I’m using? Whoever got to decide how to describe yarn in this way needs a good talking to. Why not just like – really thick, thick, medium thick, thin, thinner and thinnest? That makes more sense to my brain. So, in this here article, you will finally have yarn weights explained + a quick reference guide so you’ll never have to wonder again!
Now, understanding yarn weight is super important no matter what kind of fiber art you’re into. Here, we crochet, but whether you knit or crochet or whatnot, you’ll want to know this stuff. Here are the main reasons why understanding yarn weight is important:
If you’re following a pattern and you use the wrong yarn weight, you’re finished product will be ALL WRONG.
You need to understand how the size of your hook matched with the weight of your yarn will affect your finished product
Because understanding yarn weight expands the knowledge in your brain and makes you cooler
So, in this article, we will cover the following:
What is yarn weight?
Common names for any given yarn weight
The recommended hook size to use with any given yarn weight (emphasis on RECOMMENDED)
How to determine the weight of your yarn if it’s missing the label
How to create the weight you need with the yarn you have
A downloadable quick reference guide that summarizes all of the above
So let’s get to it!
What is yarn weight?
Yarn weight is simply the thickness of the yarn. The thicker the yarn, the “heavier” it is. There are 8 standard yarn weights which are specified with numbers – zero through seven – with zero being the thinnest/lightest and seven being the thickest/heaviest. They also have common names. For example, size four (4) is called “Medium” and is commonly named “worsted” weight. Here are the weights with their common names:
I love this depiction from the Craft Yarn Council (full photo credit to them!) which illustrates the yarn weights side by side:
Recommended hook sizes to use with any given yarn weight
When you approach a pattern, the designer will indicate which size of yarn to use and which size of hook to use. And if you want the pattern to turn out just like the pattern specifies, it is extremely important to follow their instruction on these sizes. If you don’t, your finished product will be a totally different size because the hook dictates the size of the stitches and the yarn weight will affect the bulk of your finished product. So, while we are having yarn weights explained, let’s also explore how to match those yarn weights with the appropriate hook size.
There is a standard given which recommends how to match the yarn weight to the hook size. This standard BY NO MEANS is the only “right” way to do it. For example, it is recommended that you use a size 5.50 mm hook when using yarn weight 4 (Medium/Worsted). However, if you want more breathability, drape, flexibility, gaps, etc, in your finished product, you can use a larger hook with weight 4, which will make your stitches larger. Alternatively, it is common (and almost guaranteed) that when making Amigurumi, you use at least one size smaller crochet hook than the standard recommends to ensure you have a super tight stitch with no gaps for stuffing to show through.
Here is what the standard match recommends:
0: Lace (aka – thread, light, fingering) / crochet hook size 0.75-2.00 mm 1: Super Fine (aka – fingering, sock, baby) / crochet hook size 2.25-3.50 mm (US B-1 to E-4) 2: Fine (aka – sport, baby) / crochet hook size 3.50mm-4.50mm (US E-4 to 7) 3: Light (aka – DK, light worsted) / crochet hook size 4.50mm-5.50mm (US 7 to I-9) 4: Medium (aka – worsted, aran, afghan) / crochet hook size 5.50mm-6.50mm (I-9 to K-10.5) 5: Bulky (aka – chunky, rug, craft) / crochet hook size 6.5mm-9.0mm (K-10.5 to N-13) 6: Super Bulky (aka – roving, bulky) / crochet hook size 9.0mm-15mm (US N-13 to P,Q) 7: Jumbo (aka – roving) / crochet hook size 15 mm+ (US P,Q to Y)
How to determine the weight of your yarn if it’s missing the label – WPI
If you pick up a great bag of yarn at a second hand store or garage sale (score!), there’s a good chance it will be missing the original ball band label. Or, if you toss the label on a skein but don’t use it up, you’re going to want to know what weight it is the next time you go to use it. Don’t fret! There’s a way to accurately determine what weigh it is. Its called WRAPS PER INCH, or WPI.
Each weight will consistently give the same number of WPI, when wrapping the yarn around any given tool. I use a ruler because I can quickly see when I’ve filled up an inch – but you can use any tool (hook, pencil, etc). Just make sure you can measure an accurate inch. There is a small range for each because not everyone will wrap with the exact same tension. Just hold your yarn averagely loose and wrap with an average tension – not too loose, not too tight. Wrap the yarn around your tool, allowing the strands to touch each other, but don’t overlap them or squish them together.
This photo shows an example of a measurement I took of an unlabeled yarn ball I have. There are 10 wraps per the inch. So, kids, what yarn weight do we have? That’s correct – Medium/Worsted!
How to create the weight you need with the yarn you have (if you don’t have what you need)
Just to top off this Yarn Weights Explained article for fun, here’s a quick tip on a way you can create the weight you need if you don’t have it on hand, but have LOTS of another weight on hand. In short – double it up! This isn’t an exact science, so I definitely recommend making a gauge swatch based on the results your pattern is calling for. But, in general, here are the acceptable recipes for making a heavier weight yarn, by doubling up on a lighter weight yarn:
2 strands of lace (0) = 1 strand of super fine (1)
2 strands of super fine (1) = 1 strand of fine (2)
2 strands of fine (2) = 1 strand of light (3)
2 strands of light (3) = 1 strand of medium (4)
2 strands of medium (4) = 1 strand of bulky (5)
2 strands of bulky (5) = 1 strand of super bulky (6)
Yarn Weight Quick Reference Guide
To sum it all up, I’ve created this free downloadable Yarn Weight Quick Reference Guide which includes all the info you will need to be a yarn weight expert! Just click on the image below to be taken to the access page for my Free Resource Library. Enter in your email address and you’ll have instant access to not only this guide, but many more guides, crochet patterns and other resources!
Please let me know in the comments if this was helpful, and what other resources you’d love to have!
One of the things I LOVE about crochet is it is one of the most inexpensive hobbies to have. You can make beautiful and intricate things by hand on an incredibly small budget. But, when you start looking around online or at craft stores, it can get super overwhelming with all the crochet tools and supplies available. Take heart – there are literally only 5 essential crochet tools for beginners – and 2 of them you will have lying around the house already!
1. Crochet Hook
I have a particular passion about finding the best crochet hook for your style. This would include how you hold your hook, the type of projects you typically do and if you have any pain or health concerns. But these are things that will work themselves out as you go along, so definitely don’t worry about them right away. If you want to become an absolute Crochet Hook PRO, you can download and ready my free ULTIMATE GUIDE TO CROCHET HOOKS from my resource library – a 17-page downloadable PDF that goes through absolutely everything you will ever need to know about the incredible hook.
But for starters, I recommend buying one of the many affordable crochet hook sets that come with all the common hook sizes. I recommend choosing from a basic aluminum set or an ergonomic/comfort grip set with aluminum heads. The emphasis here, is to choose a hook with an aluminum head (versus plastic or wood) which will give you a better experience as a beginner since the yarn moves more freely on an aluminum head. Here are two inexpensive sets I would direct you to that include ALL the crochet tools I recommend for beginners, minus the yarn, for UNDER $15:
If you’d rather just go for ONE hook to begin, start with a size 5.5 mm, also called I-9. This will match well with a worsted/medium weight yarn (which we will talk about next). Single hooks are also quite inexpensive, starting at $3 or $4. But, if you also need to acquire the rest of the tools (stitch markers, scissors, etc), I recommend just going with one of the above sets since you get the whole shebang together.
Yarn and crochet hook come in at a tie for 2 of the 5 most essential crochet tools for beginners. You cannot make anything, of course, without these two. If you really get into crochet, or any fiber art, it’s highly likely that yarn will become a sub-passion because it is the material that brings your project to life! There are endless colors and so many different fibers and blends of fibers. It does become really fun as you get to know yarn and all the many different ways to choose the best yarn for your project.
BUT FOR STARTERS…
Go for a WORSTED weight yarn (also called MEDIUM weight, with the number 4 on the label), in a color that you LOVE. Choose a fiber that feels nice to you. Start it all off right by choosing a sustainable yarn which fortunately are more accessible these days. I’d recommend you head to a hobby store like JoAnn Fabrics, Michaels, Hobby Lobby or Walmart. You will find yarn at any of these stores.
Any scissors will do, but just make sure they’re sharp! I recommend a pair of small scissors that are designed for fiber or sewing. I love these detail scissors by Singer. I also use these Fiskars scissor snips which are amazing and quick because you can just grab them and snip your yarn – you don’t even have to poke your fingers through any holes! Of course, feel free just to start with the scissors you have laying around at home. Any scissor will work, but as you crochet more you will be super thankful for a small, SUPER SHARP pair of scissors.
4. Tapestry Needle/Darning Needle
You will need a tapestry needle for weaving in your yarn ends at the beginning, end, and within your project. These needles come in plastic and steel. I like steel because they’re sturdy and don’t bend. These are the ones I use but it really doesn’t matter. Mine came with some crochet hook set I got ages ago and I’ve never had to buy more. These are not standard sewing needles – they are much larger and have a large eye opening for threading yarn through (versus skinny thread). Again, the sets I recommended above when we talked about hook sets, come with tapestry needles as well.
5. Stitch Markers
Finally, the last essential crochet tool is stitch markers! Stitch markers will keep the place you left off at when you set your project down for the day. They will mark the beginning and end of rounds and rows. They will keep your place as you count stitches by tens or twenties or whatnot. You must have stitch markers.
I love the locking plastic kind because they don’t fall off your project like the non-locking kind. This is one of the two items I referred to as a tool you may have lying around your house because you absolutely don’t have to buy special stitch markers. You can use: safety pins, paper clips, or a small strand of scrap thread that you can thread through your project using your crochet hook. I use these plastic locking stitch markers which commonly come with crochet hook sets, or that you can buy separately when you need more (like when you have small kids that like to play with them!!).
I hope you’ve found some relief after reading this and realizing there are literally only 5 essential crochet tools for beginners! I’ll have a separate article on fun, optional gadgets that I love and use but are absolutely not necessary. I’ll link to that post when I have it completed!
All in all, crochet really is a super inexpensive hobby and one that is well worth trying! So to wrap it up, I’ll include the links again to two great starter kits that come in under $15 and will give you all these essential tools minus the yarn: