Decrease Stitches Like a Pro

Decreasing basic stitches in crochet is easier than you might expect.

The process may have always been relatively easy, but it has not always been written in a manner that was universal in understanding in patterns. The current term I see most is the type of stitch (single or double crochet) followed by a number, then followed by “tog”, and it is all just one little abbreviation; such as sc4tog.

Breaking it down a bit helps you to better understand it, so sc4tog, is essentially “single crochet 4 stitches together”. Patterns will usually list this process in its special stitches section, but with some further understanding you will not have to find this “Special Stitch” description. 

This stitch decrease process is one that I describe as a “monster with 1 head and multiple legs”, meaning when you are finished there will only be 1 stitch (the classic “V” top and back loop section of a stitch at the top) while working over multiple stitches. It makes a solid fabric, without any holes that can be created in other decrease methods that have you simply skip the next stitch.

If you keep in mind this simple rule, than you will be able to work this technique no matter what the notations. You work the indicated type of stitch until you are only 1 yarn over and pull through away from completing, then you start the next stitch.

So if you were working the sc4tog, you would insert your hook into the next stitch, yarn over, pull through a loop-STOP. You now have 2 loops on the hook, and one more yarn over and pull through will finish the stitch, so this is when you begin the next stitch. So you insert your hook into the next stitch, yarn over and pull through a loop- STOP. To finish a single crochet you would perform one more yarn over and pull through, but you are still decreasing. You currently have 3 loops on you hook (1 more than the number of stitch “parts” you have worked). Repeat the process of inserting your hook, yarning over, pulling through a loop until you have 1 more loop on your hook then the number indicated in the abbreviation, in this case, until you have 5 loops.

Now, you yarn over and pull through all 5 loops on your hook.

Basically you are working 4 stitches part way, and then completing them all together.

This same principal applies in you are working a decrease in double crochet, such as dc3tog. You would begin a double crochet in the next stitch, stopping when you only have one more yarn over and pull through to finish the stitch. You then begin the next stitch, and repeat the process.

By understanding the basic concept, it has helped me be more independent in work a pattern, I don’t feel like I need to work the explicit directions of the special stitch section, I am more free to enjoy the process. Other tips that help, are understanding and recognizing your stitches….find more information here.

Corded Edges-A Great Finish

Often times it is the small details that can really cause your crochet work to shine. One of those details can be found in the edging.

There are many times that I finish off a piece of fabric with a Reverse Single Crochet stitch, also known by the name “Crab Stitch”, but in my time teaching I have found that this stitch can be a bit to trying for some students. It requires a good sense of adjusting your yarns tension and working in the opposite direction (I discuss how to work the stitch here). However there is another stitch, The Corded Edge stitch.

The Corded Edge stitch looks very similar to the Reverse Single Crochet, but is easier to work. It is not quite a stitch as much as a technique that creates a braided or cabled look. It is worked in the last row of the fabric and is worked by rotating the two loops on the hook 360 degrees, and then finish the stitch.

Unlike a Reverse Single crochet, this technique can be used with any stitch. Below I have demonstrated this technique with a Corded Single Crochet and a Corded Double Crochet stitch.

To work a Corded Single crochet, you begin a single crochet just as you always do: Insert hook in indicated stitch, Yarn over and pull through a loop. Now with 2 loops on your hook, you rotate your hook 360 degrees. It is not crucial as to which direction you make this turn as long as you are consistent with each stitch. There is a slight difference in the appearance depending which way you rotate, so sample each and see which you prefer. I typically rotate in the direction it feels most comfortable for my hand to work.

Now you yarn over and pull through the 2 twisted loops on your hook. This completes the stitch, and you repeat it in the next stitch.

To work this technique as a Corded Double Crochet, you begin the Double crochet as normal: Yarn over, insert hook into indicated stitch, Yarn over, pull through a loop, Yarn over, pull through 2 loops. Now with the last 2 loops on the hook you rotate your hook 360 degrees, yarn over and pull through the 2 twisted loops.

It is pretty simple, yet results in an edge that is very finished.

Berry for a Bit of Texture

Often it is just a subtle texture that can give a great effect on a fabric. This little stitch, which I refer to as a berry stitch, is quite effective in this regards.

This stitch is essentially a single crochet and a chain 3 loop. The chain 3 loop is worked between the stitches, then pushed to one side of the fabric. This enables the fabric to have a little more stretch, and a very gentle little “bump” of texture. The chain loops can also be worked between larger stitches, however the loose a bit of their “bump” effect as it basically squeezes the loop in the space between the tall stitches. The single crochet is a shorter stitch so the chain loop is pushed outward.

This chain loop can be worked between every stitch, as I did in my sample, it can be worked every few stitches. Working every stitch creates a row that reminds me of little pearls, but this stitch can be worked so that it would be a staggered bead of these little pearls instead of a row. These loops are typically worked in one row and the next row is worked without the loops. This results in a fabric that only has bumps on one side. There is nothing that forbids working this stitch on every row, I just find that in my purposes I prefer it only on one side.

I have used this stitch several times, often I use it in floor mats or the soles of slippers. I also find that I really like it in baby blankets. One of the things that I find nice with this stitch is that for slippers and mats, is that the extra stretch in the stitch gives it a very soft, fluffy, almost pillow like quality. That then is not only attractive to look at, but it is also very functional.

Titter Tat a Stitch that Breaks the Rules

There are times when you can come across a crochet stitch that breaks all the rules, for me the stitch I refer to as Titter Tat does just that. This stitch creates an open stretchy pattern whose stitches appear to be sideways, and you do not chain at the beginning of a row, you simply begin working your stitches.

I have used this stitch in the Wine Country Throw that is found in the October 2016 issue of Crochet World, it does have a bit of stretch, which can be deceiving when attempting to get a desired size, but I really love the affect.

Titter Tat Stitch www.lindareancrochet.com

Titter Tat Stitch

Begin with a chain that is a multiple of 4, then add 2 more chains. Single crochet in the second chain from the hook, [chain 4, skip 3 chains, single crochet in next chain] repeat everything in the brackets across, then turn. Do not chain anything, and simply work (2 double crochet, chain 3, single crochet) in all chain 4 loops across, and then turn your work. This can be a little awkward with the first stitch as it seems a bit distorted as it is pulled over, this is the correct approach as it will set the first stitches up the match the rest. All subsequent rows are worked the same, no beginning chain, working (2 double crochet, chain 3, single crochet) in all chain 3 spaces across. You work this until you have the desired length. This stitch can really benefit from blocking, but the type of yarn can influence how well this works.

The more formal written pattern looks like this:

Ch a multiple of 4 +2

Row 1: Sc in 2nd ch from hook, [ch 4, sk 3, sc in next ch] across, turn.

Row 2: [(2dc, ch 3, sc) in ch-4 sp] across, turn.

Row 3-desired length: [(2dc, ch 3, sc in each ch-3 sp] across, turn.

You may want to add a solid border to the stitch to limit the stretch, but that is a personal choice. If you are seeking to practice this stitch and create a throw for charity you may want to consider your local foster youth programs. Often foster kids in any community have limited personal belongings, and upon during 18 are now legal adults with in many cases nothing to begin their own households. Foster youth programs try an ease this transition.

Crocheting the Mark

The other day I was going through an old box and I stumbled across some “early to me” crochet. I recall, about the time I was learning to crochet at age 10, at school I received a crocheted bookmark. My teacher had a friend who crocheted and she had created a bookmark with a “curly q”. My teacher gave them as prizes to students that had met her reading goal, I cannot recall exactly what the goal was but I remember the prize.

Curly Q bookmark in use

I remember being in awe of how it was made. Being a new crocheter I had no idea how the twists were created. I used that bookmark for years, and several years later, after becoming more proficient in crochet, figuring out how it was made. I have since recreated this bookmark for teachers of my children. They have used them in much the same way as my teacher years ago, meeting a goal and getting a reward.

I am sharing this stitch pattern for this bookmark in the hopes that you might make a few and share them with teachers or your local library, helping sharing the gift of reading. I know that many think that all books are going digital, but there is something about holding a book and moving your bookmark through the pages that has a gratification that can’t be completely explained.

More of the Curly Q bookmark in use

This is a really loose pattern, I don’t know if I should even all it a pattern, I am basically sharing how I create mine, and none of the stitch counts are really important. The gauge does not matter, it doesn’t matter what yarn or hook your use. To begin you chain anywhere between 6 and 8, slip stitching to the first chain to create a ring. I then chain 1 and place about 12 single crochets in the ring, slip stitch to the beginning single crochet. Now create a chain of about 18” to 24”, then double crochet in the 4th chain from the hook, add 2 more double crochets to the same stitch as the last, work 3 double crochets in each of the next several chains, working until you feel the “curl” you are making is long enough. Finish off, and weave in all ends.

That is all there is to it. The chain section lays in between the pages while the “curly q” can slip through the ring to secure around the book binding. This is a simple scrap project, and one I find fun and fast.