Thursday, March 1, 2012

How to Crochet 4: The Single Crochet (Tutorial)

Yarn: Stitch Nation Full o' Sheep Passionfruit   Fabric: Kathy Hall for Andover Fabrics

The great thing about crochet is that every stitch you make is based on the same actions you did when forming a chain stitch. So if you are feeling comfortable with the chain stitch you are most of the way there! Truly! The rest is just a matter of keeping track of the number of times you "yarn over" and pull the yarn through the working loop (or loops). 

If you are just learning to crochet I would recommend yards and yards of chain stitches, which you can pull out and remake, and inches of single crochet rows. I wouldn’t recommend picking out a pattern and starting there. However, if you are like I am, in that you aren’t very fond of pure practice and instead need something to show for all the work, then think “washcloths.” Washcloths are a perfect practice project. You can work on basic stitches and end up with something for scrubbing dishes, or exfoliating your face. Cotton crochet washcloths are fantastic, a bit of a luxury actually, but they don’t need to be a specific size, gauge or perfectly square. I have a step-by-step tutorial for some ribbed washcloths right here.

So whether you practice and tear out and practice again, or take a run at a washcloth, get ready to single crochet!

Click to view the photo and video tutorial.

Before we begin with the how-to for a single crochet we need to go over how to count your chain stitches because you'll work your first row of single crochet into your "foundation chain" (the series of chain stitches you create as the first step for any project). Patterns will indicate how many stitches you should create in your foundation chain, but if you are inventing your own pattern you will want your foundation chain to be one chain stitch longer that the number of single crochet stitches you will be making (more on why below...). When counting, don't count the slip knot, and don't count the "working loop" on the hook. I've chained six stitches below:

The single crochet stitch (abbreviated “sc”) is worked into your foundation chain by inserting your hook into your chain stitch. When you are working a single crochet, rather than inserting the hook into the chain next to your hook (number "6" above), skip that first chain and insert your hook into the second chain from your hook (number "5" above). The skipped chain stitch acts as a "turning chain" to lift your single crochet stitch so it isn't squished on the end of the row.

(The chain stitch, if you look closely, is composed of three strands--I always insert my hook under the back"loop" of each chain stitch. I think it's easier and there's no right or wrong way to do it--you just need to be consistent. You can also just think of inserting your hook in the center of each chain.)

Now yarn over (by hooking the working yarn) and pull it back through that chain stitch,...

...creating two loops on your hook.

Now yarn over again and pulling it through both loops at once.

You’ve just completed one single crochet! You'll have just one loop--your working loop--on your hook and you are ready to go again. To work some more, insert your hook into the next chain stitch and repeat... In this example I will have a total of five single crochet stitches when I am finished (one less than my foundation chain because the chain next to the hook is skipped).

When you come to the end of a row you are crocheting (you will know you are there when you reach your slip knot) you typically turn your work and crochet back the opposite direction. As you turn, a “turning chain” lifts your first stitch on the next row so that the ends of the rows don’t get squished. A turning chain is simply a chain stitch that you work at the end of the row before turning. The number of chain stitches varies depending on the type of crochet stitch (single, double, half-double, or triple) you are working. A pattern will usually specify “chain 1” (abbreviated "ch1") or “chain 2” ("ch2") or whatever number is appropriate. It is typical to make a 1-chain turning chain when working single crochet.

So here is the end of that first row of single crochet:

Now you will chain 1 to create your turning chain...

...and "turn your work" by flipping that first row around (I do this by spinning the row clockwise) so your hook is now at the right of the work again:

To create your second row of single crochet you will work into the first single crochet from the first row. This is actually the last single crochet you created before your turning chain and turning your work. It is closest to your hook now (not counting your turning chain)--you don't skip that first stitch when working single crochet into a row of single crochet because you've created a turning chain. Insert the hook under both of the loops at the top of the single crochet stitch into which you are working. They look like chain stitches along the top of the row. (Note that some patterns will direct you to work into the "back loop" or "front loop" only--you can see an illustration of working "back loops only" in my ribbed washcloth pattern.)

The actions are always the same for single crochet: you will then yarn over and pull the yarn through the stitch creating two loops on your hook...

...yarn over again and pull the yarn through the two loops creating a single crochet stitch and leaving just the working loop on your hook. You know you are ready to move onto the next stitch when just one loop is left.

If you'd like to see a video of single crochet you can view this:

Here is what my swatch of five single crochet stitches looks like after completing the second row, making a turning chain, and turning the work to start the third row. I'm counting the top row of stitches so you can see them. When you are just starting out it is helpful to count the number of stitches after each row to be sure you haven't missed a stitch or added an extra. This will ensure your work has nice straight edges.

And this is what the swatch looks like after ten rows of single crochet. Single crochet makes the tightest "fabric" meaning that all the little holes are smaller than with double crochet or triple crochet or combinations of those stitches.

I hope you enjoy the work! After a bit of practice you'll be ready to tackle a pattern (I'll explain how to read them in a future post) with single crochet, or simply chain a row the width of a scarf you like and then work single crochet row after row until it's the length you like. One of the things I love about crochet is it's WYSIWYG--what you see is what you get.

(After watching my husband shoot this video--thanks to him for being my camera man for this series--my five year old insisted I teach her immediately--and she did it. She was chaining and single-crocheting (with some assistance of course). I couldn't believe it! Just think where she'll be if she practices a bit. I think perhaps children have an easier time learning something brand new because they are always learning something new.)

Next up is how to seam your work.

How-to tutorials, patterns, giveaways, reviews and interviews to make certain you are smitten.

Click on the "HOH in Crochet" label or button to view all the content in this series.
Here's a quick list of all the "How to Crochet" posts:

How to Crochet 1: The Slip Knot
How to Crochet 2: Holding the Yarn
How to Crochet 3: The Chain Stitch
How to Crochet 4: The Single Crochet
How to Crochet 5: Seaming Your Work
How to Crochet 6: The Double Crochet
How to Crochet 7: Weaving in the Ends  
How to Crochet 8: The Half Double Crochet
How to Crochet 9: The Triple Crochet
How to Crochet 10: Working in the Round
How to Crochet 11: Understanding Gauge


me said...

So have you been reading my mind? I've been thinking of looking around to join some kind of crochet/knitting group because I need demonstrations!Thank you so much for your tutorials! LOVE IT! So far, I already know what you have taught, but I can't wait to reach other stuff I don't know. You think we can group make something? while teaching us what the abbreviations mean, etc.? I'M SO EXCITED! Oh, and will you then teach us how to knit?

Jamie said...

Hmm, where do you click for the video?

Anneliese said...

@Jamie: The video is embedded in the blog post. You should see a little square with the video player and an arrow button you can push to play it. If you can't see the video (it's a smaller square than all the pictures) maybe there is a browser problem?

Kim@Snug Harbor said...

I'm confused about the skipping the first stitch thing. Why do you do that the very first row and then not again?

Also, is the first row (usually) going to be 1 less stitch than the foundation chain?

Bari Jo said...

Wonderful instruction! Thank you! I am enjoying this series! I cannot wait to see what your daughter is crocheting! Tell her we would love to see her work when she is ready! Imagine what she will be doing if she keeps practicing! How wonderful you two can share this! Tell hubby thanks for the videos!

Anneliese said...

@Kim: Yes, the foundation chain will always be more chain stitches than your subsequent rows. It actually varies depending on the type of stitch you make next (single crochet, double crochet....). The reason you skip the first chain (or more) for the first row is because it will act as your turning chain, lifting your stitches so they aren't squished on the edge. The reason you don't skip the first single crochet on subsequent rows is because you make a chain stitch at the end of each row as your turning chain. I hope that is more clear!

Misty said...

What a fantastic tutorial! Your directions and photos are so clear and now I know what I have been doing wrong this past year! Can't wait to make something that is even on the edges!!! Misty

margo@fitzysews said...

Thank you so much, Anneliese! This is such an awesome tutorial and since each one is in bite sized pieces I really feel like I'm learning. Thanks!!

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for this! Its a really great series (I'm actually here going back over some earlier posts) My Grandmother taught me the basics of crochet but I often forget how to get started. And she never taught me what anything was called or what its abbreviation might be so that stuff is really helpful! I feel like I might be able to tackle a pattern one day with all your help here! Thanks again!

Unknown said...

Thank you so much for this page! You manage to actually lay out everything that I was having issues with and that other sites just didn't seem to feel was worth covering... even videos haven't been as clear as this series!

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