Preparing to Crochet

Before you even attempt your first stitch, you need to master some basic skills. First, you need to know how to hold the hook and yarn, and second, you need to know how to get the yarn on the hook.

Are you a lefty or a righty?

Your dominant hand — the one that you write with, eat with, and do just about everything else with — is the hand that you should hold your hook in. This is the hand that does most of the action, while the other hand guides the yarn and holds the work that's already been completed. Although most crochet patterns are written for right-handed people, those of you that are lefties shouldn't be discouraged. Your motions are exactly the same. You just do it with your left hand instead of your right.

Getting a grip

Even though you crochet with only one hook, both hands are kept busy. Your dominant hand holds the hook, and your other hand holds the yarn.

Holding your crochet hook is pretty simple. You just need to get a nice hold on your hook. If your hand isn't comfortable, it can cramp up, and your stitches won't go with the flow. Crocheting should be relaxing, not a continuous fight with the hook and yarn. Experiment with each of the following positions to see which one feels the most comfortable for you.

  • Over-the-hook position: Position your hand over the hook with the handle resting against your palm and your thumb and middle finger grasping the thumb rest.
  • Under-the-hook position: Hold the hook as you would a pencil with the thumb rest between your forefinger and thumb.

Both are common ways of holding the crochet hook — for lefties and righties. Both work just fine.

When you first start working with yarn, it's best to use a light to medium, solid color worsted-weight yarn. You'll be able to see the stitches more clearly and manipulate the yarn easier, thus eliminating any potential problems that may occur if you used a textured or variegated yarn.

After you know what to do with the hook, you need to grab hold of the yarn. Like holding the hook, holding the yarn properly may seem simple. It may also seem like your fingers have to be contortionists to achieve the proper position, but don't worry, they can do it. Your yarn hand — the hand not holding your hook — has an important job. Not only does it feed the yarn to your crochet hook, but it also controls the tension of the yarn. Remember that right-handed crocheters wrap the yarn over their left hand, and left-handed people wrap the yarn over their right hand. The following steps offer one common method for wrapping the yarn around your hand.

1. Starting from underneath your hand, bring the yarn up between your little finger and ring finger.

2. Wrap the yarn around your little finger to form a loop.

3. Draw the yarn under your ring finger and middle finger.

4. Bring the yarn up to the top of your hand between your middle finger and forefinger.

5. Finally, lay the yarn over your forefinger.

To keep the yarn in place, grasp the end of the yarn between your middle finger and thumb. By raising or lowering your forefinger, you can control the yarn tension.

Practice wrapping and rewrapping the yarn around your yarn hand. Whenever you feel that your working yarn is too loose or too tight, stop and rewrap to get the proper tension. This motion will soon become an ingrained habit.

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