Learn to Crochet: Lesson 1

Headshot of Stacey rainbow

I’m going to teach you to crochet!

Yes, you. Really.


Hi there! Maybe we haven’t met before, so I’ll introduce myself. I’m Stacey, and I’m going to help you learn to crochet!

I’m the designer & teacher behind FreshStitches, author and blogger. No matter which hat I’m wearing, I’m most well-known for my step-by-step tutorials and videos.

I have 4 crochet classes on Craftsy and teach internationally… I just LOVE teaching! There’s no such thing as a silly question, we all have to start at the start, right?

So whether you’re totally new to crocheting, or maybe you learned some stitches from a relative but feel completely confused when it comes to reading a pattern, I’m here for you!

Join me on this series and learn to crochet!

Are you ready? Yeah! Let’s do this!

But before we get started, you’ll want to sign up for my newsletter. I’m going to get you started crocheting today, but you don’t want to miss the next lesson!

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Crochet hook from FreshStitches

What are we going to make?

This adorable penguin!

I hear that you’re skeptical. A penguin? Shouldn’t we start with something ‘easy’ like a scarf?

No scarves. Not yet. And here’s why: if you’ve tried learning to crochet before, you’ve started to make a square. Except it turned out to be a trapezoid. The sides started going diagonal.

Why is that? Because making a square is actually kinda hard. It’s that turning and going back and forth you have to do. It’s really easy to lose or gain extra stitches. Which makes your piece all wonky. Boo.

So we’re going to start by making a circle. It’s way easier. And before you know it, you’ll have a penguin. Then you can go do a scarf. If you want.

Download your guide + penguin pattern using the link below. It’s your best reference! Don’t worry if you can’t crochet. Don’t worry if you can’t read patterns. I’m here for you.

Howie the Penguin, FREE crochet pattern & guide to amigurumi

Get started! Download your FREE 28-page guide, now!

So many people have loved this e-book! Here is what just a few people are saying:

Thank you so very much for “A Beginner’s Guide To Amigurumi”. I have done some of these little cuties from a book my daughter had by Paula Rimoli… The Polar Bear turned out to be the best one I had done. I did not have any pointers to fall back on so at these times I turned to the internet to find the answers. I wished I had come across your guide at the beginning! It has helped me to make better ami’s. Thanks again, Lanie

Thanks so much for the ebook!! It’s amazing! So many techniques I thought were difficult made simple right there. Thank you! -Jodi

And you can learn too! Really!

yarn and crochet hook

Get Started: choose your yarn

There are a lot of yarns available, and to begin, you don’t want to invest too much. You’ll develop your own preferences and favorites as you become more advanced. For starting, I recommend you find a wool or acrylic (or blend) yarn in a medium weight.

I don’t recommend that you use ‘dishcloth’ cotton (or any other cotton, really). It’s not very easy for beginners to work with.

If you don’t have a craft shop nearby, I recommend Knit Picks. Their Comfy Worsted is affordable and lovely!

Get Started: choose your hook

My hook advice is similar to my yarn advice. As you practice more, you’ll develop preferences and find a favorite hook. To get started, pretty much any brand will do.

As for size (written in either millimeters or a number/letter combo), begin with a size smaller than the hook that is recommended on your yarn. This will usually be a G (4.0mm) or H (5.0mm) on a medium weight yarn.

More details in your Beginner’s Guide!

Don’t forget eyes!

Craft eyes can be difficult to find in shops, but you can purchase them online from my eyes shop!

Eyes from FreshStitches

Start Crocheting: the chain stitch

Every piece of crochet begins with the chain stitch. Even circles (although, it’s a very small number of chains, only 2!)

I highly recommend that you spend a significant amount of time practicing your chain stitch. You should feel 80% comfortable with chaining before moving onto the next skill, because it’s the foundation of all future stitches. Like, at least 15 minutes two days in a row.

Boring? Yeah, kinda. But you’re developing muscle memory. You didn’t learn to write letters on the first day you picked up a pencil, did you?

Once you’ve done a lot of chaining, you’re ready to get started on your penguin! Follow the instructions in the Beginner’s Guide, and use these videos as a supplement!

Chain Stitch

Start Crocheting: the sloppy slip knot

When you’re just starting, feel free to use a regular slip knot to begin your crocheted chains.

When crocheting circles, it’s helpful to use a less-knotty-knot to get started, so that you don’t develop a little hole in the center of your circle.

Here is a link to a photo tutorial, which some folks find more helpful than a video.

Seriously, though, don’t let this stop your progress. If it’s holding you up, just move on (and do a normal slip knot).


Sloppy Slip Knot

Start Crocheting: 2nd chain from hook

Where is that mysterious ‘2nd chain from hook’?

No worries, I’ve got you covered. Check out this blog post.

The most important thing to notice is that if you lay your chain flat, you can see little ‘v’s that look like they’ve fallen over (timber!).

The loop on your hook never counts as a stitch. Count the v’s.

2nd chain from hook crochet

Wait... you're following along in the Beginner's Guide, right?

This page and the links and videos are super helpful… but don’t forget that it’s the Beginner’s Guide (the download at the start of this page) that tells you the actual instructions for crocheting your penguin!

Start Crocheting: single crochet

The single crochet is the stitch you’ll use most often when you’re getting started.

I should tell you, I’m American.

I’m not telling you that because I have an affinity for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (even though I do), but because Americans and well… the rest of the world, call crochet stitches different names.

So, watch my video, and know that’s what Americans call a single crochet. If you’re from the commonwealth, I encourage you to just plow ahead using my terminology. Then, once you have one animal under your belt, go ahead and look at this conversion guide.

Single Crochet

Ta da!

If you’ve completed round 1 of the pattern (sc 6 times in 2nd ch from hook), you should pat yourself on the back!


first round of crochet

What? You thought you’d finish a penguin in one day?

I hear you. I hear it from my students all the time.

But here’s the deal, you’re learning something entirely new. Your fingers are doing things they’ve never done before. Look at all you’ve done. You’ve:

  • tackled the overwhelming number of yarn choices available and picked one to work with
  • found a crochet hook (again, probably amid oodles of choices)
  • bought some adorable craft eyes
  • practiced your chain stitches until you can do them in your sleep
  • learned to do a sloppy slip knot
  • learned how to count chain stitches (no small feat!)
  • learned to single crochet
  • AND started reading real, written patterns

Wow! That’s amazing!

In the next lesson, I’ll show you the steps you need to continue crocheting your penguin! If you’re feeling adventurous, feel free to continue working your way through the Beginner’s Guide!

I’ll see you next time!

If you aren’t ready to take the next step, but want to keep practicing, then I recommend that you rip out your work (remove the hook and pull on the yarn so that it unravels) and start again. And again.

Practice really does make perfect!

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