So, you've learned the very basics of crochet. How to chain. How to single crochet and double crochet. You want to make hats, round potholders, rugs, round blankets, shawls, and dishcloths. How do you do it?
There are four basic ways to begin a circle.
First - the chain loop. The more you chain, the bigger the hole in the middle. 4 Chains is typical for a minimal hole in the middle. If you actually want a hole in the middle, then the sky's the limit.
Begin by chaining 4. Then, insert your hook in the first chain you made, yarn over, pull through the chain and the loop on your hook.
To work single crochet into your chain loop, ch 1 to start. If you plan to work double crochet into your loop, you can chain 2 or 3.
Second - working into a slip knot. Begin by making a slip knot and placing it on your hook. Loosen it up a little, yarn over, pull that yarnover through the slip knot. Chain 1 for single crochet, chain 2 or 3 for double crochet. Then you insert your hook back into the slip knot to work your stitches.
When you have finished working all the stitches of your first round, you can pull your beginning tail tight to close up the hole in the middle. Technically you aren't supposed to tie knots in your crochet, but I always knot the beginning tail as close to the project as possible, so that the center doesn't loosen up. (Shame on me!)
Third - the adjustable ring. This one is fairly popular lately. Begin by wrapping your yarn around the first one or two fingers of your hook hand, leaving at least a 6 in./15cm tail. holding the ring closed with your other hand, slide it off your fingers.
Insert the hook through the ring where the tail and ring overlap. Wrap the yarn around your hook and pull up a loop through the adjustable ring. Chain 1 for single crochet, chain 2 or 3 for double crochet.
Work stitches by inserting hook into ring so that you work each stitch over both the ring and the tail. When you have finished all the stitches of your first round, pull the tail to close up the center. Again, I tie a "forbidden" knot here to hold it closed.
Fourth - working into your first chain. You can chain 2 if you plan to work in single crochet, or chain 3 or 4 if you plan to work in double crochet. Then insert your hook into the first chain you made and work your stitches all into that chain. As with using a slip knot or an adjustable ring, you can pull your tail to tighten this up. (I don't have a video or picture tutorial for this one yet. I'll post here when it's available, but it will be at least a week).
If you want your circle to lay flat, as opposed to ruffling or making a cone shape, then work 6 single crochet or 12 double crochet in the first round, at the end you can insert your hook back into your first stitch, or your turning chain, and work a slip stitch to join them into a circle. You can work in spirals without joining by just putting the next stitch directly into the top of your first stitch. I recommend following a pattern on how many and how/if to join at the end of the round if you are not an intermediate to advanced crocheter. Or if you just want to play around, experiment, or otherwise walk on the wild side with your crochet, do whatever your fiber-loving heart desires!
Enjoy going in circles!