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Why I’d Want to Learn How to Crochet

Crocheted honeycomb slots of the Big Hook Bucket seen from the top.
Pictured: Honeycomb-top Big Hook Bucket!


After decades of crocheting and writing about it, I’ve reconsidered the essential character and fundamentals of crochet. I’m an even bigger fan than I already was! Consider what is remarkable about crochet with me:

Why I’d Want to Learn How to Crochet

Easy Control

Terms like easy and simple come up often about crochet. They usually imply not complicated, but I think that’s misleading. What’s easy about crochet is that you have a lot of built-in control. The hook provides it, and the logical structure of one “locked down” loop at a time does it.

Irresistible Rhythm

Crocheting has a wonderfully rejuvenating rhythm. It’s comforting to frayed nerves and reassuring in difficult times. I would want to learn how to crochet just to have this experience.

The Textures Look Complex

The result is a textured fabric that looks more complex than it is. I also appreciate how the inter-looped structure reinforces the material used. It can take the form of diaphanous, seemingly two-dimensional weightless fabrics, a stretchy wind-proof covering, a luxe pearl strand, or a big free-standing figure.


The whole piece is easily “unzipped.” Crocheters call it frogging (because you “rip-it”). The yarn can then be reused, unlike with macramé, for example, which requires you to use several cut pieces instead of one continuous length.

Experience Every Color & Fiber

Stack of sparkling crocheted Solstice Bangles.
Crocheted wire, fancy embroidery braids, and metallic flosses: Solstice Bangles.

If I didn’t already know how, I’d want to learn how to crochet just to try crocheting with yarns of different fibers, colors, and thicknessesIt’s a new experience each time. I’m in control of what I spend, too: each crochet project can be as economical or expensive as I want it to be.

I’d say that anything based on manipulating several yards (meters) of stringy stuff will not be easy initially for some folks, but the small challenge is so worth it. Wielding that crochet hook gives you the edge you need to control the yarn while it flows through your fingers at a good rate. It takes just a bit of practice to get up to speed.

As Fast & Portable As Needed

Crochet is as fast, lightweight, and portable as you want it to be. You’re in control there too. No bulky or heavy frames or looms to manage with crochet. Even hairpin lace, a crochet lace technique that uses a type of “loom,” is portable. Most of these mitts were crocheted in one day during a road trip!

I learned how to play the piano, and how to weave, and neither of these was very portable. I’d want to learn how to crochet like some people want to learn guitar: so that they can play anywhere.

Varied & Versatile

Finally, I’d want to learn how to crochet because it adapts to every phase of my life. It’s a distinctly useful, accessible, and versatile construction method. As a child I crocheted things for my sister’s dolls, and for my teachers and friends. As an expectant mother I crocheted things for the baby and to help me wait. I’ve crocheted trendy accessories, toys, Halloween props, protective shields for tech items, educational aids, and the best thing I’ve ever worn to a memorial service.

Double-stranded Lovelace swatch: sport weight Lotus and lace weight glittery mohair.
I designed Lovelace to see a northern stitch & southern stitch together in a project!

Historically, crochet developed in several places worldwide. Too bad the specifics of when, and in relation to where, are under-researched and inconclusive.

Given that crochet is a dramatically responsive technique, its development is likely to show marks of time, place, and purpose. For example, doesn’t it seem likely that crochet used in icy climates would develop different stitch patterns, methods, and materials from crochet that developed in tropical climates?

About the Name Crochet

It’s French and means small hook. It’s properly pronounced cro-shay. (Many crochet how-to books don’t give the pronunciation, so I thought I should.) Occasionally I see it spelled crotchet, so perhaps some people pronounce it that way.

All of us English speakers use the French term. In other languages, to crochet is called:

  • tejer in Spanish,
  • häkeln in German,
  • szydelkowac in Polish,
  • Gōu biān in Chinese,
  • virkning in Swedish,
  • hekle in Norwegian, and
  • haken in Dutch.

Defining Crochet

Crochet how-to books start out with some kind of introductory description of crochet. I started to write that for this post, then remembered that I did this for the launch of my website! I still like what I wrote there, so please have a look.

Update: In 2018 I suggested this definition of crochet to the Center for Knit and Crochet. As a starting point the group has been using The Getty’s indexing description:

Textile construction involving the interlocking of looped stitches, employing a single cord or strand of yarn and a single hooked needle.

My preference:

Textile construction involving the continual loosening, tightening, wrapping, and interlocking of adjustable loops to form a range of stitch types. A fabric can be built in any direction by adding new stitches anywhere, including “in the air” to add a foundation for new stitches. This freeform property distinguishes crochet from linear grid-based textiles such as weaving (and perhaps nålbinding and knitting). Usually, a single strand of cord or yarn is employed at a time. More than one strand may be held together and used as one, or alternated in use (such as to change colors frequently).

The primary tool is a crochet hook, which resembles a dowel of any diameter with a hook at one end (sometimes at both ends). Stainless steel is the preferred material for the crochet hooks of extremely small diameters (typically 1.75 mm down to .5 mm, for use with superfine threads) for greatest strength and durability. This is probably why the crochet hook may still be referred to with the outdated term “needle”.

This page was updated November 2018. It’s part of an experimental blog post series: Vashti’s How to Crochet Book. Next post: Start Crocheting From Scratch.
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Introducing: Vashti’s How to Crochet Book!

Crochet chain stitches in different colors, combined to look like a cabled braid. Full size:
A compound braid of simple crochet stitches. View full size.

I invite you to join me as I try an experiment: what is it like to write an in-depth crochet book, post by post, right here on this blog?

I’m excited to show you what I’ve come up with! The working title is Vashti’s How to Crochet Book. I don’t see it as being a typical how-to-crochet guide.

My vision for it is that it goes step by step, more deeply and thoroughly than any other I know of. (I’ve read a hundred or so.) It’s for beginning crocheters and the rest of us. It could even be for aliens. Surely there’s an extraterrestrial who’s trying to learn how to crochet.

What’s the Rush?

Sometimes I feel kind of rushed along when reading about how to crochet basic stitches. I have lots of why questions, including why do I feel rushed? Rushed toward what? taller stitches? Finished projects? Maybe it’s just that no book can be big enough for what is really going on with crochet loops.

New to Crocheting?

May this be the place for beginners to get solid answers to how to crochet at each step. Stuck at the beginner level? Surely there’s a way to explain things that finally clears up confusion. Here’s an example: I’ve noticed that crochet relies on simple terms like loop or chain that actually have multiple meanings. This can confuse some folks when they’re not spelled out. Please let me know in the comments how I can do even better.

If you already own a crochet how-to book, great! Some of them are designed to be sweet portable project companions. Come back here to fill in the gaps, answer your why questions, or just to see if a different point of view enriches your understanding.

Know How to Crochet Already?

This book is for us too. What can be said about the most basic elements of crochet that’s worth saying AND hasn’t already been said? As it turns out, a lot in my humble opinion. I keep discovering important things about crochet when I take nothing for granted. What I find about the chain stitch alone could fill a small book. (As you probably know, crochet books typically devote about a page to it.)

Can’t Know Too Much!

Knowing what’s in the usual how to crochet book won’t make any of us crochet experts. Crochet is too big to fit in a book; it’s even too big for one person to master 100% of it! Another way I think of it is, every crocheter is a beginner at some part of crochet. This is why I see the standard crochet skill levels as more of a spiral than ranked levels.

Why I Want to Blog This

  • A how to crochet book has not yet been blogged and I can’t resist a good experiment.
  • A blog allows me all the room I need. It’s ambitious. To avoid getting overwhelmed, I’m blogging a section at a time. This first section is all about initial fundamentals, which are often taken for granted the most.
  • I want to write crochet books and not disappear from my online crochet communities while I do so. This way the book gets written publicly. I also want it to be interactive. Please leave comments!

Other Book Titles I’ve Considered

Secret Lives of the Great Crochet Stitches (because when I gave the Chain Stitch room to speak, it did…)

How to Crochet Like a Geek (because geeks love to get granular instead of skipping the juicy stuff. I found kindred crochet spirits in CGOA’s crochet geek seminar last year.)

How to Crochet: Vashti’s Missing Manual (So much is missing in the official crochet how-to books.)

Vashti’s Deluxe How to Crochet Guide (This is my ultimate way to celebrate my beloved art and hobby.)

This page was updated November 2018. It’s the first post of an experimental blog post series: Vashti’s How to Crochet Book. Next post: Why I’d Want to Learn How to Crochet.