My boyfriend always calls my craft “knitting” – before quickly correcting himself. He’s not the only one. Knitting is in fashion, it would seem. People of all ages – from those in their early 20’s to those in their 80’s seem to think that if you are making something with yarn, you are knitting.

If you are here, you probably know a little about crochet. If not, I am happy to help you learn more. To do so, we’ll start with the basics. First, what is crochet? Crochet is a process of looping yarn so that it creates a usable (or decorative) object.

To make these yarn loops we use a crochet hook. There are two main categories of crochet hooks: tapered (Boye brand) or in-line (Bates brand). I prefer tapered because they make it easier to work the yarn and let it slide along the hook as needed. I suggest trying out both types of hooks to see what works best for you.

Hooks come in different materials as well. There are aluminum, plastic, wood, steel (for very small hooks) and I’ve even seen ceramic hooks. As with tapered or inline, you will need to decide what material works best for you. Aluminum is my favorite. Plastic seems to stick a little bit and it’s harder to maneuver the hook through the yarn, the wooden hooks that I have move smoothly but tend to split the yarn if I am not paying 100% attention. I also prefer aluminum because they are easy to clean. As you crochet, hooks will get grimy from oils on your hands and whatever is sticking to your yarn. You should wash them at least between each project. (Warm water works just fine for me.)

There are many different sizes of hooks, measured in millimeters and labeled with letters. your average size hooks are H, I, and J. Large hooks like O, P, and Q are excellent for bulky yarn or big, loose stitches. The tiny steel crochet hooks are used for thread crochet.

Yarn is, obviously, the most important material. (After all, you can crochet using your fingers or hands if you don’t have a hook!) There are many different types of yarn (and other options, like cut-up clothes, thread, ribbon, etc). The following is a quick run-down of the most important pieces of information you may need to know.

Weight: the weight of a yarn is how thick it is. Sport-weight is lighter, think yarn for a baby-blanket. Worsted-weight is your average yarn, probably what you’ve seen blankets or pillows made out of. Then there is bulky or chunky weight yarn. There is also special crochet thread which is thinner than sport-weight, but not soft. And some yarns are lace weight – yarns which are very fine and used for lacy patterns.

Brand: there are so many different brands to choose from ranging from the relatively cheap Red Heart yarn, to middle of the road Lion’s Brand, all the way up to your artisan yarns that are sold in specialty shops. The brand you choose will likely be a result of what colors and softness you are drawn to.

Type: acrylic, wool, cotton, hemp, bamboo (yep – it’s out there). What type of yarn you get is dependent on your personal preferences, and on the pattern you are working from. I usually work with acrylic, which is made in a variety of weights, brands, and colors, but I’m trying to branch out into more sustainable and vegan yarns. Each type of yarn has specific care instructions, so if you are giving a finished project as a gift be sure to include the details of care!.

Now that you know a little more about the materials, you will be prepared to start learning to crochet with my next Crochet 101 post.

Until then,