Getting Started: Slip Knot, Holding the Hook and Chain

Ok, so we know know something about yarn and hooks.  Today, we are putting the two together. But, before we begin, a quick note on terminology.

Tail: the cut end of the yarn

Working yarn: the end of the yarn that is attached to the ball of yarn.

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20130715-IMG_1456-Edit

Slip Knot:

Its time to channel your inner Scout and make a slip knot.  Most of the time in crochet, you will start your work with this clever little adjustable knot.  There are a number of techniques to make one and if you use a different method, its not a big deal...as long as the knot is adjustable, you will be fine.

1. Start with a loop as above. Bring the cut end in front of your loop.  You need a decent sized tail, but not too long so it gets in the way.  6"/15cm is about right for most things, unless the pattern tells you otherwise.

2. Flip the loop down over your working yarn.

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20130716-IMG_1527

3. Pull the working yarn through the loop you made.

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20130716-IMG_1527-Edit
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20130715-IMG_1459

4. Pull the ends to tighten.

5. Insert your hook into the loop. Pull the working end of the yarn to tighten it on your hook. Not too tight, leave a bit of space between the hook and the knot.

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20130715-IMG_1464

Holding Your Hook:

You should hold the hook in your dominant hand.  Most people hold their crochet hook either like a pencil

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20130715-IMG_1508-2
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20130715-IMG_1500-2

or a knife.

Its up to you how you choose to do it, but you need to find a way to feel comfortable.

Usually, the yarn is held in the opposite hand to the hook.  You need to create some tension on your working yarn by wrapping it around your forefinger, wrapping it through your fingers, or another method you feel comfortable with.

Holding the hook in your dominant hand and the yarn in your non-dominant hand, you then should pinch the end of the slip knot in your non-dominant hand.  This helps give you control of the work.  I hold my work very close to the hook.

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20130716-IMG_1522

Note:

Those who have knit in the English style before learning to crochet often feel more comfortable holding the yarn in the same hand as their hook and bring the yarn over the hook.  If this works for you, great. I usually encourage people though to bring their yarn over their hook from back to front, rather than wrapping it around from front to back as in knitting.  This makes stitches later on slightly easier.

Chain:

1. Place your yarn over your hook from back to front, either by moving your yarn or by moving your hook around the yarn.

The yarn you just placed over the hook is called a yarn over.

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20130715-IMG_1466-Edit
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20130715-IMG_1468

2. Use your hook to pull the yarn over through the loop already on your hook. It helps to twist your hook to point downward to catch the yarn as you pull through. One chain stitch made.

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20130715-IMG_1472-Edit

3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 until you make as many chains as required in the pattern.  You count your chains by counting the "V"s you made, but do not count the loop on your hook and make sure you don't mistake the knot for a stitch.

The back of your chain will look like this:

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20130716-IMG_1511-Edit

Working into your chain:

most of the time, you will work into one loop at the side of your chain.

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20130715-IMG_1474-Edit
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20130715-IMG_1475

This is the easiest way of working into a chain. At other times,  patterns will as you to"work into the back bumps/back bar of the chain". In this case, this is where you should be placing the stitches.

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20130716-IMG_1517

Some tips and trouble shooting:

Holding your hook and yarn and getting your hands working together is often the hardest part of crochet.  It takes practice!!  Work on getting your hands to co-operate.  Chain a lot of stitches before you start on a pattern and work on getting the chain made in one fluid movement.

If your chain doesn't look like mine, there are a couple of things that could be happening.

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20130716-IMG_1513-Edit

1. Tension. We will go into this with more detail later, but not everyone crochets the same.  Some people are looser, some are tighter.  Someone with very loose tension will have a chain that looks like the one on the left. There is nothing wrong with this chain as such, its just that the looseness means that you can see the underside of the chain through the gap between the stitches. It can look slightly loose at the bottom of the stitches once you work into your chain and make it harder to tell where you put your stitches.

2. Twisting: the other common problem with chains is that they can twist as you work on them.  This isn't a show stopper, but it can be solved by holding the yarn closer to the end of the crochet hook, moving your fingers up with each chain. A similar problem happens if your hook comes out of your work and you start working on the back of the chain.  Always aim to have the "V"s of the chain facing you.

Tomorrow, we will look at actually making our stitches into the chain and working evenly in rows to make a square.

Experienced crocheters: anything else I am missing?  Any tips on getting started?

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