Top Tech Tips – the perfect crochet circle

Top tech tips - perfect crochet circles

You know the score. You’ve been making crochet circles the same way since I Don’t Know When, but they are never quite right – the seam, having to smooth out the corners… I’ve been trying to find a way of improving on the basic crochet circle where you close off each round with a slip stitch. This is easy to work and easy to count, but the slip stitch at the end of the round creates a visible seam, and you also need to stagger the increases to stop the ‘corners’ becoming obvious.

The second way of doing it is the spiral. This has the advantage of losing the seam, but it is more tricky to keep track of the stitch count (stitch markers may be needed!), and when you have finished there is a visible ‘step’ at the end which needs smoothing out. It also doesn’t work if you want to work a different colour for each round.

circles-comparison.jpg

What I’ve come up with combines the advantages of working in closed off rounds with those of the spiral:

  • It is easier to count
  • It has a less visible seam,
  • It can be worked in coloured stripes
  • It is a much smoother circle than the traditional ‘closed off’ method.

It has probably been done before at some point, and although I couldn’t find anything like it when I searched, it may be lurking somewhere!

Method

When you work a circle, you will usually have 6 evenly spaced increases in each round, either by putting the increase first and then the required number of plain stitches, or the plain stitches followed by the increase, for example:

Round 4 Ch1 (does not count as stitch), (2dc in next st, 4dc) repeat to end of round.

OR

Round 4 Ch1 (does not count as stitch), (4dc, 2dc in next st) repeat to end of round.

There will be an increase stitch either at the beginning or the end of the round unless you are staggering the increases.

This ‘perfect circle’ method requires the increase stitch to always be the first stitch of the round, but instead of working both of those increase stitches in the first stitch at the same time, you will work one of those stitches at the beginning of the round, complete the round, and then work the second of those increase stitches in the same stitch as the first stitch to close off the round.

I’ve written out the pattern below, and then the walkthrough photographs explain each step in detail.

Pattern

UK terms used throughout.

Make a magic loop or other foundation ring.

Round 1 Ch1, 6dc into the loop, do not close off with a slip stitch.

Round 2 Ch1, 1dc into first st, 2dc into each of next 5 sts, 1dc into same st as first st of round. [12 sts]

Round 3 Ch1, skip first st of last round, (1dc into next st) twice, (2dc in next st, 1dc) 5 times, working the last dc in the beginning ch-1 sp, 1dc into same st as first st of round. [18 sts]

Round 4 Ch1, skip first st of last round, 3dc, (2dc in next st, 2dc) 5 times, working the last dc in the beginning ch-1 sp, 1dc into same st as first st of round. [24 sts]

Round 5 Ch1, skip first st of last round, 4dc, (2dc in next st, 3dc) 5 times, working the last dc in the beginning ch-1 sp, 1dc into same st as first st of round. [30 sts]

Continue in the same fashion, increasing 6 sts evenly every round, splitting the first increase over the beginning and end of the round, and working in the beginning ch-1 sp.

Before fastening off, slip stitch in the next stitch.

Step-by-step

Perfect circle 1

Step 1

Work 6dc into a magic loop as you would do usually for a circle.

Perfect circle 2

Step 2

Ch1, 1dc into first st, 2dc into each of next 5 sts.

Perfect circle 3

 Step 3

You will now have worked 11 stitches out of 12, so work the last dc of the round in the same stitch as the first st of the round to complete it. You will see that what would have been 2dc in the first stitch of a conventional circle has been ‘split’, so that 1 of those 2 dc has been worked at the beginning of the round, and 1 at the end of the round.

Step 4

At this point you will have 12dc worked for the second round, but you may notice that the first stitch of the round is more or less covered up by the last stitch. You will skip this covered first stitch at the beginning of the next round, which will mean that there are only 11 stitches numbered on the photo for the next round. When you ch1 at the start of the next round, it will provide an extra stitch in which to work.

Perfect circle 4

Step 5

This image shows the ch1 and first st of the next round. You will see that there are now 12sts in which to work the next round. The first stitch of this round counts as the first increase stitch, which will be completed at the end of the round. The pattern for this round in a conventional circle is (2dc in next st, 1dc), and as we have already worked what counts as the increase st, work 1dc in the next st, before 2dc in the following stitch. Continue around until the last 4 stitches of the round, and the following image will show where to work the last 4 stitches of the round.

Perfect circle 6

Step 6

The last 4 stitches of the round (marked in red and yet to be worked on the image) will be an increase, a dc worked in the ch1 at the beginning of the round, and a dc in the same stitch as the first dc of the round to complete the increase stitch.

Perfect circle 7

Step 7

This round is now complete.

Things to remember…

If you try and count the stitches once you have finished the round by counting the top ‘bumps’ of the stitches you will always appear to have one less stitch than you should have, but it’s ok – it’s just because the beginning and end stitches aren’t joined that it appears this way. This confused me no end when I was working this out!

If you are fastening off, you can slip stitch in the next stitch. Otherwise continue to work the following rounds as for the pattern of a conventional circle, remembering the following points:

  • Ch1 at the start of the round
  • Split the first increase stitch at the beginning and end of the round
  • The last 2 stitches of each round are 1dc in the beginning ch1 and 1dc in the same stitch as the first stitch of the round

Crochet Nativity pattern on Newsstand

Crochet Nativity Set
Crochet Nativity Set

My crochet nativity set is now available for download on Apple Newsstand! There are 12 patterns included, for Mary and Joseph, the crib with Baby Jesus, 2 shepherds, 3 wise men, an angel, a sheep, camel and donkey. There are more images over on the Simply Crochet blog, and if you’d like a free taster, the angel pattern is posted there too.

Crochet Nativity Collage

To download the pattern from Newsstand, search for and download the Simply Crochet app, and it is available from within the app. It’s also available within the Simply Knitting, The Knitter and Mollie Makes apps.

Crochet Nativity Apple Newsstand
Download the Crochet Nativity pattern from Apple Newsstand

If you make it, please do let me know, and send me some pics – I’d love to see them!

Free Mollie Makes Crochet Kindle Cover

Waterstones Craft Project Download
Click on the image for a direct link to the project pdf

Waterstones have put a free project download from the Mollie Makes Crochet book on their website, and it just happens to be the monster Kindle cover I designed – yay! It turns out that Waterstones have a hidden treasure-trove of craft projects hidden away in the ‘Waterstones Card’ section of their website. For a direct link to the project pdf, click on the image above.

I love this little guy, he was such fun to make! He is one of a set of three monster gadget covers and some Russian dolls I made for the book – see my previous post, Mollie Makes Crochet Book.

Crochet edgings the easy way

Simply Crochet edgings

I love crochet edgings! They’re quick and easy to do and add a lovely hand-made touch to something a little bit ordinary. When I was designing these edgings for Issue 11 of Simply Crochet magazine, I was mindful of the fact that edgings are sometimes a bit of a faff to do. Very often you know how long the edging needs to be, but if you’re following an edging pattern that starts with a foundation chain, the chain itself isn’t a very reliable guide to how long the finished edging piece will turn out. Foundation chains are notoriously fickle, and once you’ve worked a few rows, the finished piece can turn out quite a different length from the original chain because the tension of the chain, and the tension of rows of stitches, varies quite a bit.

One of the solutions to this problem is to work a foundation chain quite a bit longer than you think you will need, because it’s a relatively easy job to unpick the extra chains that aren’t needed after you’ve worked a couple of rows. This was the instruction I gave for a couple of the edgings above, but the one on the outside of the image is worked using a different method. Instead of making a chain as long as the edging needs to be, the pattern is written to be worked back and forth in short rows, so you can adjust the length to fit as you work.

I thought I’d try and come up with some more patterns like this that are ‘back and forth’ edgings, worked in short rows. Here are three more designs, with the most straightforward one at the top.

Crochet Edgings

Edging Patterns

For all of these edgings I used DMC Petra #3, and a 2.5mm (US B/1 or C/2 hook). UK crochet terms are used throughout.

Edging One

This first one’s nice and simple to work. It would be an interesting way of starting off a piece of work too, because you could then rotate the edging and work into the row of chain spaces along the long edge:

Crochet edging1

Edging1chart
The grey highlighted area shows the pattern repeat

Ch6 and ss into the first ch to join into a ring.

Row 1 (RS) Ch4 (counts as first dtr), 3dtr into ring, ch4, 4dtr into ring, turn. [8 dtr, ch-4 sp]

Row 2 Ch3 (counts as first tr), (3tr, ch3, 3tr) into ch-4 sp, tr into top of beg ch-4, turn. [8 tr, ch-4 sp]

Row 3 Ch4 (counts as first dtr), (4dtr into ring, ch4, 4dtr) into ch-4 sp, turn. [9 dtr, ch-4 sp]

Repeat Rows 2 and 3 until your edging is the desired length, fasten off and weave in ends.

Edging Two

You could add more colours to this edging by threading lengths of chain through the spaces along the long straight edge, or do the same with narrow ribbon:

Crochet Edging2

Edging 2 chart
The grey highlighted area shows the pattern repeat

Ch5.

Row 1 (RS) 4dc beg in second ch from hook, turn. [4 dc]

Row 2 Ch1 (does not count as st), 4dc, turn.

Row 3 Ch4 (counts as tr, ch1), skip st at base of ch, tr in next st, ch1, skip next st, tr in next st, ch3, rotate 90 degrees to work in sp created by tr just worked, tr4tog with first 3 ‘legs’ in space created by tr, and last leg in end of last row of dc, turn. [3 tr, 2 ch-1 sp, ch3, tr4tog]

Row 4 Ch3, ss in top of tr4tog from previous row, ch4, skip ch-3 from previous row, (dc in next tr, dc in next ch-1 sp) twice, turn leaving top of turning ch unworked. [ch-3 picot, ch-4, 4 dc]

Row 5  Ch4 (counts as tr, ch1), skip st at base of ch, tr in next st, ch1, skip next st, tr in next st, turn. [5 sts]

Row 6 Ch1 (does not count as st), dc in each of next 4 sts, turn, leaving top of turning ch unworked. [4 sts]

Rows 7 and 8 As Rows 3 and 4.

Repeat Rows 5-8 until edging is the desired length, fasten off and weave in ends.

Edging Three

This is my favourite because it’s so well behaved! I like the way the trebles without any turning chain make a neat firm edge along the top, and of the three this one is most suited to working around curves like a neckline because there is a bit of ‘give’ in it. Incidentally, in the first image above I shot it from the wrong side, so I’ve flipped the image below to match the chart and the direction of working.

Crochet edging 3

Edging 3 chart
The grey highlighted area shows the pattern repeat

Ch5.

Row 1 (WS) 4dc beginning in second ch from hook, turn. [4 dc]

Row 2 (RS) Ch1 (does not count as st), 2dc, ch4, tr in next dc, ch4, tr around post of last tr worked, turn. [2 dc, 2 tr, 2 ch-4 sp]

Row 3 Ss into first ch-4 sp, ch4, ss into same ch-4 sp, ch4, dc in next ch-4 sp, ch1, tr in each of next 2 dc, turn. [2 ch-4 sp, dc, ch-1 sp, 2 tr]

Row 4 Ch1 (does not count as st), 2dc, ch4, tr in ch-1 sp, ch4, tr around post of last tr worked, turn. [2 dc, 2 tr, 2 ch-4 sp]

Row 5 Ss into first ch-4 sp, ch4, ss into same ch-4 sp, ch4, dc in next ch-4 sp, ch1, tr in each of next 2 dc, turn. [2 ch-4 sp, dc, ch-1 sp, 2 tr]

Repeat Rows 4 and 5 until edging is desired length, fasten off and weave in ends.

Top Tech Tips – shaping Amigurumi

This post is otherwise known as ‘getting a bit further beyond trial and error’! Whenever I sit down to start shaping part of an amigurumi figure, there is always a certain amount of undoing and re-doing that goes on. I have in mind the shape I am trying to achieve, but there is often more luck than judgement involved as to whether it will turn out as I expected on the first attempt, and sometimes even the second, or third….

The basic technical points are these, as will be familiar to anyone who has done a little amigurumi-type crochet. If you start working in the round with double crochet (US single crochet), and increase by 6 stitches evenly every round, then you will end up with a flat circle. If you start with 6 stitches and work evenly on those 6 stitches without any increasing or decreasing, you will have a tube. In between those two extremes, if you increase by the same number of stitches every round, choosing a number between 1 and 5, you will get a cone. So if you increase by only 1 stitch every round you will get a narrower cone (closer to the tube), and if you increase by 5 stitches every round you will get a much wider cone (closer to the flat circle). If you need to brush up on the basics, try this Basic Guide to Amigurumi Part 1, and Basic Guide to Amigurumi Part 2.

I know this in theory, but what I want to be able to do is to visualise what a ‘1-stitch’ cone looks like, and what a ‘3-stitch’ cone looks like. In my mind they always translate into various kinds of hat, as that is often what I am making when I want to form a cone! Is this a wizard hat (narrow and pointy), a gnome hat (slightly less pointy), or an Asian-style rice hat (altogether much flatter)? Now this isn’t rocket science, but it occurred to me that if I make versions of all these cones then I can use them for reference later, and I will be able to judge what kind of gradient each number of increases will give me.

For each cone I worked 8 rounds. For the 1-stitch cone I started with 6 sts into a magic loop. You could always start with fewer stitches than this for a more pointy-ended cone, but any fewer than 4 is tricky to work with. Each round is listed on the picture, with the total number of stitches at the end of the round in red.

1-stitch increase Amigurumi coneHere’s the 2-stitch cone. Where the section is shown in brackets (), you repeat this again to complete the round, so for each round the section in brackets is worked twice:

2-stitch increase Amigurumi coneAnd the 3-stitch. The maths tells me that this should be half-way between the tube and the flat circle. If you folded a flat circle in half you would get a semi-circle with 180 degrees angle at the top, and the 3-stitch cone, being half way to this has an angle of approx. 90 degrees at the top:

3-stitch increase Amigurumi coneThese are the three I think I would use most often for ‘hat-type’ shapes, so these are the ones I have written out in full. Here are all the cones from 1-stitch to 5-stitch together. Looking at the gradients for the larger cones could help in trying to judge increases on more complicated shapes, even if they weren’t used as often as cones. A note about the 4-stitch and 5-stitch cones; it’s difficult to start a 4-stitch and a 5-stitch increase round from a base of 6 sts, as I used for the others. Guess what? Start with 4 stitches in the first round of the 4-stitch cone and 5 stitches for the first round of the 5-stitch cone. Easy!

Amigurumi cones of various shapesAnd finally, this is what happens when you start playing around! My son picked up 2, 3 and 4 and put them inside one another. The beginnings of a Christmas tree, perhaps?

Amigurumi cones to make Christmas tree

Hedgehog and friends

Well, Part 2 was a little longer coming than I had hoped for, but better late than never! I posted a pattern for a Hedgehog purse last week, based on the pattern I had used in Simply Crochet magazine. This was for the basic hedgehog, but I thought it would be fun to come up with a few alternatives. Here is girly hedgehog, complete with fetching ribbon and bow:

Hedgehog girlAnd this is Grandpa hedgehog, with two brass curtain rings for spectacles:

Grandpa hedgehog

I used some Gold DMC embroidery thread – all six strands, and worked some double crochet stitches half way around one ring, a few chain stitches and then the same in the other ring. A bit of red felt gives him a bow tie.

I also had an idea that the flap for the purse could be used as a flap for a pocket, say on a child’s garment. And it would be easy to turn the purse into a slightly bigger bag by attaching a longer chain and double crochet cord on the top:

Hedgehog pocketIf you were using the button loop method of fastening you’d have to remember to attach the button to the pocket, and put a loop on the end of the hedgehog’s nose. TTFN!

Hedgehog quartet