In a world where we learn new things by starting with something simple and easy, then moving on to something more challenging, crochet is counter-intuitive by starting with the difficult stuff. One of the trickiest instructions in crochet is : "Chain 3, slip stitch in last chain from hook to form a ring." Then the first round of stitches is worked into the space of the ch3 ring. Motifs can start this way, as can baskets and hats and doilies and anything else that starts at a point in the middle. Sounds easy, right?
As an aside: It works better if you lay the tail along the ring and enclose it in the first round. That way, when you do the finishing, pull the tail before weaving it in, to make the center/starting hole as small as possible.
Starting without a slipknot - it helps to do all this loosely - here's what the starting chain 3 looks like:
Insert hook in 3rd chain from the hook (the first chain), like this:
Yarnover and pull through everything to make a slip stitch - and that closes the ring. This is where it gets existential:
Oh, bleep! What 'ring'?! There's no ring! Deep breath. Trust me.
Chain 1, to snug up and define the slip stitch that joined and made the ring. It still looks like not-a-ring, but have faith. Insert hook into the middle of what is there:
Once you start stitching into what might be the center of the ring, it starts to make sense, maybe. As you make each stitch, slide it over next to the previous stitch:
Here is the ring, with 7 single crochets made into it:
Of course, the hole in the center is obvious, now. The tail is enclosed in this first round of stitching so when I go to do the finishing, the hole can be closed up.
The number of stitches crammed into that first round limits how small the hole can be closed in finishing: more stitches, bigger hole.
I like this way of doing things for several reasons:
1. The ring is solid enough that it won't loosen or break over time.
2. It gets me to focus to start the project. Being able to follow an instruction, as given, makes me more confident as I move on to the next instruction.
3. But also, I've been doing it this way for a long time, so I'm used to it.
But there are different ways. Here's one: Chain 2, single crochet as indicated into the 2nd chain from the hook. Again, enclosing the tail makes finishing easier later. Here are 6 single crochets made into the 2nd chain from the hook.
Looks pretty much the same. Which leads to the point: Just starting is the important thing. How you do it is up to you.
While we're at it, here's another way: wrap the yarn twice around a finger - that makes a ring. Insert hook into the ring and lift the ring off the finger. Yarnover, draw up loop through ring:
Chain 1, single crochet as indicated into that big loop. Here are 6 sc made into that big loop, also incidentally enclosing the tail, which is important:
Pull the tail to tighten the loop:
Again, looks pretty much the same in the final analysis. The only weakness here is that the loop can break over time, or loosen up. It can also break while you are tightening it, so do that gently but firmly.
Finally, another option is to take some other thread or yarn or something (I used about 12 inches of black buttonhole thread here), make a slip knot with that, making a biggish loop. Then, insert the crochet hook into the slip knot loop, using the yarn you want to crochet with, draw up a loop, and start stitching as indicated - ch1, sc6 in this case. Notice the starting tail is loose-looking, but don't stress about that. The important thing is to start stitching. I didn't even bother to enclose the yarn tail:
Pull the tail of the buttonhole thread to tighten the starting slip knot. Again, looks the same. And later, I can snug up the loose beginning.
The whole process is to get started on the project. If you can get started on your project, you did just fine.