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Now on to today’s tutorial!
Crocheting In Rounds
Many beginning crocheters choose patterns that are worked flat (in rows), such as scarves, afghans, and dishcloths. These are all wonderful projects and great beginner choices, but you don’t have to be limited to working in rows even if you’ve only mastered the basic stitches.
Crocheting in the round is not as difficult has it may seem at first and opens up a lot of project possibilities. Once you know how to crochet in rounds you can easily create mittens, hats, booties, pot holders, and more… the list goes on and on.
You may even find that you prefer crocheting in the round because after you understand how to do it, it can actually be easier than crocheting in rows. This is because when you crochet flat, you need to master the turning chain and remember to turn your work. However, when crocheting in the round you don’t turn your work. You simply keep crocheting in the same direction!
Before I begin the details of how to crochet in the round, let me give you a quick outline of the process:
When you begin a crochet design worked in the round, you start by creating a center ring/loop.
Then you crochet your first round into that ring/loop.
After you complete the number of stitches needed for the first round, you then join the first and last stitches of the round to complete the circle.
Then, finally, you grow your circle by adding more rounds. This is like adding rows when working on a flat crochet piece.
Sounds easy enough, right? Sure it is! Now let’s get into the nitty-gritty. Before you go on, make sure you are familiar with the following stitches: chain stitch (ch), single crochet (sc), and slip stitch (slp st).
If you need a refresher, be sure to subscribe to the blog and download the free ebook, How to Crochet: A Quick-Start Guide for Beginners.
If you are already comfortable with these three basics then subscribe to the blog anyway for more great tips, guides, and tutorials, download the handy ebook, grab a hook & some yarn and get started!
There are two ways to crochet in the round. One involves crocheting in a spiral and the other uses joining methods. Each of these techniques deserves their own tutorial.
Today’s tutorial will focus on crocheting in the round using joining methods because they are ones most commonly used.
Create a Center Ring/Loop
There are multiple ways to do this. The method I prefer is to make a magic ring (also called the magic circle) because it does not leave a hole in the center of your round. You can learn how to do the magic ring using the tutorial, How to Crochet the Magic Ring.
However, most tutorials and/or patterns will instruct you to start by chaining four or six stitches. The more stitches you start with, the bigger a hole there will be in the center of your round. Since this is the most common technique found for creating a center ring/loop, this is the method I will show in this tutorial.
- Begin by chaining (ch) 4 stitches.
I chose 4 stitches because this is the most common number you will find in patterns when crocheting in the round.
- Make a slip stitch (slip st) into your first chain.
This joins your stitches and creates the foundation loop or center loop/ring.
Create Your First Round of Stitches
- Chain (ch) 1 stitch.
This is like making a turning chain at the end of your work when crocheting in rows (flat), except you don’t actually turn your work like you do when crocheting flat. The point of these extra chains is to give the distance between the center loop/round of stitches and the next round of stitches.
Since we are working single crochets, you only chain one, unless your pattern states otherwise.
- Insert your hook through the center ring. Be sure not to insert it into an individual stitch.
- Yarn over (yo) and pull a loop through. There should now be 2 loops on your hook.
- Yarn over and pull through both loops on your hook. This makes one single crochet through the center ring.
- Work 6 more single crochets (sc) in the same way.
Note: The number of stitches worked in the step actually depends on your pattern instructions. If I am designing a pattern, I try to make my stitch count an even number. When making your stitch count, remember that you made 1 single crochet in step 2 and 6 single crochets in step 3 for a total of 7 single crochets if you don’t count the chain 1 as a stitch.
As you add stitches, the center ring will stretch and you may find it surprising how many stitches can actually fit!
Joining the Rounds
This is where I think a lot of crocheters, particularly those who are new to the art, become confused. I am not ashamed to admit that, in the beginning, this step was confusing for me as well.
Then I realized something. There are two methods for joining the rounds!
One method counts the chain 1 made prior to the stitches (in this case single crochets) as a stitch and the other one doesn’t. The method you need to use depends on your pattern, but I prefer the one in which the chain 1 does count as a stitch. I think it makes it easier to keep your stitch count correct.
It is vitally important that you understand which method your instructions call for because it can greatly affect your stitch count, which affects your entire project.
So, at this point, I am going to split this tutorial into two and show both methods.
Joining Method One: Chain 1 Does Count as a Stitch
In this method, once you have completed a total of 7 single crochets through the center ring, slip stitch into the chain 1 you made before working your single crochets. This joins your first and last stitches and finishes the round.
Since the chain 1 made before working the single crochets counts as one single crochet. This means that your completed first round consists of 8 stitches.
This is the joining method I use and recommend as it keeps your project neat and there is little stitch count confusion.
Joining Method Two: Chain 1 does NOT count as a stitch
In this method, the chain 1 does not count as a stitch so you ignore it (skip over it) and slip stitch into the top of the first single crochet.
You do this by inserting your hook under the top 2 loops of the first single crochet. Then yarn over (yo) and draw the yarn through the stitch and the loop on your hook to complete 1 slip stitch (sl st).
Note: In this method, you only have 7 single crochets.
If this method works for you, then by all means, do it. However, this is not my preferred method as it can make growing the round quite confusing and you can have some problems keeping track of your stitch count.
Making the Round Grow
You can continually chain 1 stitch, work 1 single crochet in every stitch around, and then slip stitch to finish the round. If you do this, you will find that your work begins to curl at the edge. If you do not increase the surface area by increasing the number of stitches, you leave nowhere for the work to go but up.
The circumference of your work will curl in on itself, reaching toward the center. This is exactly what you want when crocheting something that requires sides, like a hat, basket, or booties. Generally, however, the base of these pieces needs to be larger than 8 stitches.
To increase the circumference of your work, in other words, make your round continue to grow, you will need to add stitches at regular intervals. Increasing stitches adds more surface area allowing the round to continue to spread out and grow larger without curling in on itself.
You can increase the number of stitches by doubling the number of single crochets per stitch or in every other stitch or in every third stitch, and so on. The interval at which you add stitches depends on your pattern/project.
When designing your own pattern, I have found it best to follow a particular formula for increasing that can be applied to any number of stitches. Let me share this formula with you.
To start the formula, I will assume you have chained 4, joined your center ring/loop, worked stitches into the ring, and now have 8 single crochet stitches joined in a round.
Note: If you used the joining method in which the chain 1 does not count as a single crochet you will have to add an extra single crochet when you make your first round so that your end count will be 8 stitches.
Increase Round 1:
- Chain 1, work 2 single crochets in every stitch around, slip stitch to join.
This doubles the number of stitches in your round. (If you began with 8, you now have 16.)
Increase Round 2:
- Chain 1, *1 single crochet in the next stitch, 2 single crochets in next stitch (1 stitch increased); repeat from * to end of the round, slip stitch to join.
This increases your last round by your original stitch number. (If you began with 8, you now have 24.)
Increase Round 3:
- Chain 1, *1 single crochet in each of the next 2 stitches, 2 single crochets in next stitch (1 stitch increased); repeat from * to end of the round, slip stitch to join.
This increases your round again by your original stitch number. (If you began with 8, you now have 32.)
Increase Round 4:
- Chain 1, *1 single crochet in each of the next 3 stitches, 2 single crochets in next stitch (1 stitch increased); repeat from * to end of round, slip stitch to join.
This increases your round again by your original number. (If you began with 8, you now have 40.)
Have you noticed a pattern to the placement of increases? On every round you work 1 extra stitch before making an increase.
If you were to continue on with an Increase Round 5 , you would single crochet into 4 stitches before increasing by working 2 single crochets into the next stitch. You continue growing your round in this way until your project reaches the desired diameter.
There you have it. Easy Peasy! At this point you should be ready to start your first crochet in the round project. I actually designed an owl appliqué using these techniques. You can find it at How to Crochet an Owl Appliqué if you want to give it a try.
I believe the owl appliqué uses the double crochet instead of the single crochet when making the round, which brings me to a good point. You can use many stitches when crocheting in the round, not just the single crochet.
I used the single crochet in this tutorial for demonstration purposes only as it is usually the first basic stitch new crocheters learn. Truth be told, I actually prefer using the double crochet when making rounds. However, the stitch you use should be noted in your pattern instructions.
Have questions or a tutorial request?
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Until next time… Happy Crocheting!