Tuesday, January 29, 2013

How to Crochet 10: Working in the Round

Though I love nothing more than finishing a project, the actual "finishing" of crochet is my least favorite thing. I just don't like weaving in all the ends and seaming the pieces. Whenever I follow a pattern, or design one of my own, I try to reduce the number of places for breaking the yarn and attaching new yarn to cut down on the literal loose ends. I also love patterns that are worked "in the round" because it means less seaming, and sometimes seamless!

Not only does it save time, but the result is often more comfortable to wear (this is especially true of sweaters). Hooray! Working in the round is just like it sounds: rather than working back and forth in rows you work in a circular pattern to create a shape that is either flat, like a disc (think hot pad or doily), or tubular (think cowl), or conical (think booties or hat or baby bonnet). It is typically the way you create crochet flowers--one of my favorite embellishments. Ironically, you also need to work in the round to make a granny square.

Hopefully just these few project mentions have persuaded you to give it a try. It's easy, and it opens up the possibilities of things you can do with yarn and a hook.

Click to view the photo tutorial for crocheting in the round.

Working in the round starts with a chain that you join with a slip stitch (abbreviated sl st) to form a loop. A pattern will direct you to chain a certain number, let's say 5 for instance... (don't count your initial slip knot or the loop on your hook)

 ...and then slip stitch into the first chain (the one next to your slip knot) to form a loop. (To slip stitch, insert your hook into the chain stitch as you would with a single crochet, yarn over, and then pull the yarn through both loops on your hook at once. You will be left with one loop, the working loop on your hook.)

You will have a little loop of chain stitches like this:

To begin your first row, or "round," you will need to start with a turning chain. A pattern will direct you to chain 1 or chain 2 or even 3 depending on which stitch comes next (sc, dc, or tc). It will also tell you whether or not to count this chain as the first stitch in the round.

In this example I am using single crochet, so chain 1, and then instead of working into the individual chain stitches, you will work into the center of your loop.

Insert your hook through this center and work the number of stitches the pattern calls for to complete the round. I am showing you what this looks like after one single crochet:

And here is the first round after I've completed eight single crochet stitches:

The stitches will slide along this loop a bit, and you will want to move them to the side as you increase the number of stitches in the circle. Once you add rounds this first round of stitches will stabilize.

I always crochet right over the initial slip knot, burying the tail of the yarn a bit, as it will be woven in later anyway.

You will complete the first round, and every subsequent one with a slip stitch into the top of the first stitch in the row or round, as directed by the pattern. There is an exception to this and that is for patterns that work in a spiral.

Joining a chain to form a loop is the most popular way of starting crochet in the round, but there is another method called an adjustable or "magic" ring. I'll share that soon.

FYI: A disc-shaped project will increase stitches in a regular interval on each round to keep the project flat. A tubular project (such as a cowl) will start with a longer chain for a bigger loop and maintain the same, or close to the same, number of stitches on each round. A conical shaped project will increase for a bit to get the desired circumference and then maintain the stitch count to add length (think hat). Of course you don't really need to remember this as a pattern will direct your increases and stitch count on each row, but I think it's fun and helpful when it comes to troubleshooting (or pattern designing!) to understand how this shaping "in the round" works.

Hope that helps! If you want to give working in the round a try, this Snowflake Applique tutorial or Pretty Posie tutorial would be a great place to start.

How-to tutorials, patterns, giveaways, reviews and interviews to make certain you are smitten.

Click on the "HOH in Crochet" label or button to view all the content in this series.
Here's a quick list of all the "How to Crochet" posts:

How to Crochet 1: The Slip Knot
How to Crochet 2: Holding the Yarn
How to Crochet 3: The Chain Stitch
How to Crochet 4: The Single Crochet
How to Crochet 5: Seaming Your Work
How to Crochet 6: The Double Crochet
How to Crochet 7: Weaving in the Ends  
How to Crochet 8: The Half Double Crochet
How to Crochet 9: The Triple Crochet
How to Crochet 10: Working in the Round
How to Crochet 11: Understanding Gauge


SuzyMcQ said...

Beautiful, well-illustrated photography. Thanks so much for your efforts, you did an amazing job!

Crafted by Carly said...

I just stumbled upon your blog. And what a treasure trove of amazing craftiness and colourfulness it is!!! SO many fantastic tutorials too!!! If only I were small enough to fit into all those GORGEOUS little girls' dress!!!
I'm now your newest follower, and look forward to my next visit very much indeed.....

Kelly P said...

Oh, I', so glad you've resumed this series! Thank you for your clear directions -- this is exactly what I need!

Erica @ wrapped up kids said...

I love working in the round. When I work in rows my work lacks a certain "squareness." my mother loved the double layer crocheted potholders my grandmother had made. Unfortunately, she was no longer around to teach me how to make them. Once I decoded and discovered they were worked in the round I was thrilled. They are my favorite "busy fingers" thing to do.

Bev said...

Can you give any hints to avoid the slanted seam when working in the round? Thank-you so much for ALL of your hard work and clear directions!

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