Shift the Stitch

There are some subtle differences in the way each of crochets that can create drastic overall differences. One such thing is where exactly you are working your stitches.

We have all been taught that if a pattern does not specify that the stitch is worked under the top 2 loops of the stitch below. While this is correct, there are times you might want to move you hook down just a bit and insert it under the back bar and the top 2 loops.

First let me explain a bit about stitch construction. The last loop of your hook is always the top loop of the stitch, and just by this simple nature it means that the top loop is not exactly centered directly over the all the yarn over and pull through loops below in the post of the stitch. Sometimes this shift is very minimal and not really recognized at all.

So essentially crochet stitches are stacked just slightly to one side of the stitches below, when you turn our work and work back they stack to the other side, resulting in an overall straight piece of fabric. However this is same reason why when working in a round that your seam starts drifting to one side, because you are not turning the work, the stick up of the stitches stay to the same side of the stitches.

Stitches to the Left are worked only under 2 loops, the last 2 stitches on the right have been worked under the back loop and the 2 top loops.

This “Stack” can sometimes be recognized in simple fabric like a double crochet, chain 1, pattern, as is worked in Filet crochet.

The left stitches are worked under the 2 top loops only, the Right stitch has been worked under the Back Bar and top 2 loops.

There is a little trick to help this stack become less obvious, that is by working through the not only the top to loops, but including the back bar of the stitch. If working in the round, this means you would need to bring your hook down a little lower in the post of the stitch and then insert it.

Traditional inserting of hook, under the top 2 loops

Working through this back bar of the stitch, or sometimes called “third loop”, is the loop in the back of the post that is directly below the top loops, is shifted to the opposite of the post then the bigger opening created only the 2 loops. This slight shift of position of the loop helps to keep the stick more centered.

Inserting the hook under the back bar and top 2 loops.

Granted the difference is subtle for most people, it might be exactly what you need to take you stitching to a new level.

Stitch Order Can Make All the Difference

Simple stitch switches can create a very different appearance. Sometimes these “switches” happen by mistake…I speak from experience, and sometimes they are thoroughly thought out.

Often my students look at me with a bit of “sure, that is true” look whenever I explain that crochet essentially has only 3 stitches, everything else is just variations. They think I am even crazier when I explain, it is all about stitch location that causes all the different looks.

I happened to reinforce this for myself just the other day. I was working up a pattern, and looking at my notes it stated “sc, dc” stitches. Pretty straight forward and I thought I knew what I meant, however when working up my fabric is was not looking like the sample swatch.

I had to go back and study my sample swatch…I was working my stitches in the single crochet on both fabrics so why were they so different in appearance? I finally found my answer….I worked the stitches in the opposite order. I was working a single crochet then a double crochet in the next single crochet stitch in the swatch sample, but in the fabric I was working a double crochet then a single crochet in the next single crochet stitch. Wow, I was surprised by the difference it caused.

One swatch looks like little blocks turned slightly aside, while the other looks a bit lacy, and almost like a stacked “v”. They are both worked with the same hook, the same yarn, the same number of stitches, yet the simple error of working the stitches in the opposite order caused a very different look.

I plan on playing around more with “switching” my stitches, you never know where I new idea can be generated and maybe by intentionally changing the stitch order I might find something truly fabulous…I will have to keep you posted.


The Touch of Crochet, Reading Stitches

ScannedImageMany people who believe that they can’t read a pattern, really just have a different learning style. This last pattern reading technique I want to discuss is probably the most difficult for most people to grasp, reading stitches. I don’t mean that is too difficult for people to understand, but it is not the most effective way for most people to read a pattern, but there are some that this is a needed style. It reminds me of playing music by ear; you know the melody and are finding the write notes. This is a tactical way of learning, by using your hands and touch, whereas traditionally written patterns are good for oral learners (reading it our loud and it makes perfect sense), and charts are great for visual learners. This doesn’t mean that you only have one learning style, most of use learn effectively from a combination, it is just that tactical instruction is a little less apparent and some people believe they can’t understand a pattern when really they haven’t given themselves permission to realize that they may understand the craft of crochet in a different way than others.

To begin with you won’t really find these patterns in any book, at least not formally. But close up photos lend to assisting in this style. Often this style is worked by directly copying an already completed project.

To read stitches, you have to recognize what your stitches really look like. If you’re like me, you probably never really look at how your stitches. I plug right along and only notice the special stitches like shells or bobbles, but never really pay a lot of attention to a double or single crochet stitch appearance. But there have been times when I have been presented with some old handmade item and asked if I knew the pattern. (Sometimes the item is not crocheted, so I attempt to decipher the creation manner, such as tatting or bobbin lace most often). To recreate this masterpieces, or for those that learn better from this example, you must know what the stitch looks like a know how to recreate it. So let’s take a look at some common stitches.

First you need to identify the top of the work, this can be a little challenging dependent upon the type of work, and you may need to pull out a hook and yarn to see if you can duplicate what you can to determine direction (but once you recognize various stitches you can easily discern the direction, it may take you a little practice).

Chains are usually obvious, but the slip stitch can be a little difficult to locate and recognize without some practice, (as it doesn’t photograph well for me, I recommend you play with some slip stitches and see how they look for yourself.


Right Side Single Crochet


Wrong Side Single Crochet

The Right Side(RS) of a single crochet (sc) row looks like a row of little “v”, while the Wrong Side(WS) look like upside down “v” wearing a flat hat, or maybe even a belt with two little legs.


Right Side Double Crochet


Wrong Side Double Crochet

For the RS of a  double crochet (dc), if you are right handed (left will be opposite)you will see two diagonal bars, one beginning in the upper left of the stitch and  continuing to the right  where it reaches the second diagonal bar that continues in the same direction appearing to wrap around to the back of the post. While the WS has one horizontal bar at the top and one diagonal bar from the upper right, just under the horizontal bar, down to the left ending at the middle of post and appearing to go between the base of the stitch (I love the description Vashti Braha uses for this part of the stitch as “feet” since they appear to be like ballet slippers at point).

This style of pattern reading is one that lends itself well to expanding your creative side, as it gives you a better understanding of stitch construction. Even if this is not the easiest method for you to follow or understand I recommend that you work up some sample and really look at you stitches, it is amazing how improving your techniques at this basic level can really improve the overall appearance of your work, not to mention help you greatly when you are approached with the question; “I love the doily my great-great grandmother made, can you show me how to make one like it?”