Crochet 101: A Few More Basics

Now that you have the basic stitches down, let’s talk about some of the other things you’ll run across in basic crochet.

One of the first things crocheters see as beginners is the “Granny Square.” This does not mean that you need to be a Granny (or Grampy) to make it, but rather is an affectionate term given to a style of in the round, coarse lace that was popular in the 1970’s (it was called a Granny Square then too). There are about a zillion ways to pattern a granny square, and they can be as big or as small as you’d like. They also only require basic stitches to make, so you can see why they’re great for beginner projects.

Sometimes Granny squares are made small, in 3-4 rounds or so, and tied together like this scarf:

1420820086994_1483979528770

Other times, one square can become a whole blanket of any size. You just keep working round the square until you’ve reached the size you want. Granny Squares are WONDERFUL for using up scrap yarn from other projects, because they don’t really have a large yardage requirement and multiple styles, weights, and colors can be tied together with a common color (tan, grey, or black all work well) to create a patchwork. Depending on how many squares you have, they can become a scarf, blanket, purse, shirt, shorts, or anything else you can think of. They’re kind of like Willy Wonka’s glass elevator in the crochet world.

So, how do you make this wonderful, versatile, crazy thing? That depends.

Older patterns will call for you to chain–usually–6 and join the loop with a slip stitch like so:

Newer patterns may call for you to make our another thing you may come across in basic crochet, the magic loop.

Especially in Amigurumi crochet (which has become quite popular in the last few years), the magic ring is a good way to make an almost invisible starting point. To make a magic loop, first take your yarn and wrap it around two or three fingers (depending on the size of your fingers). You’ll want about a two inch loop, so if you’re not sure, measure your finger span and see how wide it is. You don’t need a perfect two inches, just get close. Holding the tail with your thumb, wrap the yarn around the back of your fingers and bring it back around across the tail so that the part attached to the ball lays over the tail.

magic-loop-step-1

Lay the working yarn (the part attached to the ball) across the back of your hand again so you have two parallel strands

magic-loop-back

Then insert your hook UNDER the strand closer to your fingernails and grab the strand closer to  your wrist. Notice that the hook is down, facing the palm of my hand.

insert-hook

Pull the yarn under and turn your hook face up to create a small loop on your hook. (This is NOT your first chain stitch, just a loop to help us get going).

If you were to slide the loop off your hand at this point you would see the magic loop. Being as I can’t take pictures of the loop and chain that the same time, that’s what I did. You should be able to loose the working yarn from your pinky and use that to do the next step with the loop STILL ON YOUR HAND. There is NOTHING holding this loop together right now, so if you slide it off, you risk losing it and starting over.

magic-loop-off-hand

chain-3-loop

 

 

Read the first row of your pattern and chain as many as it calls for to begin ROUND 1 (NOT the foundation chain). I am chaining three because I’ll be working double crochets from here. NOW you can take the loop off your hand that first chain holds the loop in place. Still take care though, that tail will pull the loop out.

 

 

Next make the rest of the stitches for Round 1 in the “magic loop.” I have 12 double crochets (including my chain three) in my loop.

work-stitches

Once you’ve made all of your stitches, gently pull the tail of the loop to bring your stitches together.

Slip stitch into your first stitch (the top of the chain three in my case) and you have a nice little round with almost no hole in the center.

magic-loop-slst-round

For those of you who look at all that and say “Wow, that’s complicated…” there is an easier way! Tie your slip knot like normal and chain one. Then work the first round of your pattern in the chain 1 rather than the magic loop. I have done the same 12 double crochets using this method so you can see the difference.

ch-1-round

Yeah, they’re virtually identical. The chain one method can be a little harder to work (especially with a LOT of stitches or a larger hook), but usually it does just fine. You decide which is easier and which you like better.

Alright, enough off topic rambling right? Back to granny squares. I am going to use the chain one method for this granny square, but if you would prefer to make a ring, chain six and join the chain with a slip stitch. If you prefer the magic loop, make your loop.

Chain three to count as your first double crochet. Then make two double crochets in your loop, giving you three total at this point. For those of you using the ring, do NOT crochet into the chains, but into the center of the loop, wrapping your yarn AROUND the chains (as though it were the loop for your magic loop).

3-dc-granny

Now we’re going to make a corner. Chain three.

ch3-corner

Make three more double crochets, chain three, three more double crochets, chain three, three more double crochets, chain three and slip stitch into the chain three that makes your first double crochet. You should have a cute little square with 12 double crochets and 12 chains.

round-1-granny

To make the next round, chain 3 for your first double crochet and TURN your work. Make two more double crochets in the chain space, chain three (for your corner), and make three more double crochets (sound familiar?).

When you hit a set of three double crochets, chain one, skip the double crochets and get back to work in the chain three space that makes the next corner.

skip-3-dc

Continue like that around and join with a slip stitch.

round-2-granny

Ready for round three? Just do the same thing you did for round two. Working  three double crochets in all the gaps and chaining one to bridge the sets of three double crochet.

round-3-granny

Keep going like that until you’re happy with it and then stop. Like I said, Granny Squares can be used in just about any shape and size.

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