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

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