How to crochet for beginners

All crochet begins with the chain stitch, abbreviated ch in instructions. Chains form the foundation row and are also incorporated into many pattern stitches. Keep the tension even and slightly loose; if chains are too tight, the work will pull.

Form a loose slipknot about 6 inches from the yarn end; insert the hook in the loop from right to left. Tighten the loop by pulling both yarn ends. Wrap the ball end of the yarn around the little finger of the left hand, under the fourth and third fingers, and over the top of the index finger. Leave about 2 inches of yarn between the index finger and the hook and keep it taut as you work.

Holding the slipknot between the thumb and middle finger of your left hand, slide the hook forward, catch the yarn and draw it back through the chain to form a loop. Repeat for the desired number of chains. (The loop on the hook is not counted as part of the foundation row.) Try to keep the chains uniform in size.

Single crochet (sc) is the shortest stitch; it forms a firm, compact fabric. Insert the hook in the second chain from the hook, catch the yam and draw up a loop; two loops are on the hook. Catch the yarn again; draw it through both loops; one loop remains on the hook. Repeat in each chain across the row. At the end of the row, chain one; turn. Begin a new row by inserting the hook in the first stitch.

Half-doublecrochet (hdc) is slightly taller than single crochet. Make a yarn over (bring yarn once around the hook from back to front), insert the hook in the third chain, and draw up a loop; three loops are on the hook. Yarn over, draw a loop through all three loops; one loop is on the hook. Repeat in each chain across the row. At the end of the row, chain two; turn. To begin a new row, yarn over and insert the hook in the first stitch.

Double crochet (dc), which is twice the height of single crochet, provides the basis for many pattern stitches. Yarn over, insert the hook in the fourth chain, catch the yarn, draw up a loop; three loops are on the hook. Yarn over, draw the yarn through two loops, yarn over and draw the yarn through the last two loops. Repeat in each chain across the row. At the end of the row, chain three and turn. To begin a new row, yarn over and insert the hook in the second stitch.

Triple, or treble, crochet (tr) makes an airier fabric than any of the previous stitches. Yarn over twice, insert hook in the fifth chain (K), catch the yarn, and draw up a loop; four loops are on the hook. Yarn over, draw through two loops, yarn over, draw through two more loops, yarn over, draw through the last two loops.

Repeat in each chain across the row. At the end of the row, chain four; turn. To begin a new row, yarn over twice; insert hook in the second stitch.

The slipstitch (sl st) is used for joining rounds of crocheted motifs, also for seaming and as an edge for finished crochet or knitting. Insert the hook in a stitch, catch the yarn and draw a loop through the stitch as well as the loop on the hook.

Up to 10 people can play this lawn game, competing singly or in teams. Each player has a colored wooden ball and a mallet striped with the same color. The object is to drive your ball through a course of nine wire wickets and two wooden posts. One post marks the start of the course, the other the turning point. Each post must be hit with a separate stroke after the nearest wicket has been cleared.