Beginning crocheters are often guided toward choosing patterns that are worked flat in rows. Scarves, baby blankets, and washcloths are a few of the more common items beginners make first. These are all wonderful projects, but you don’t have to be limited to working in rows, even if you’ve only mastered a few stitches. Crocheting in the round is easily achievable and will open you up to a broader range of possible projects such as hats, mittens, and booties, to name just a few. There is even a chance that once you get going, you will find you are more comfortable working in the round because you never need to stop and turn your work!
Consult a guide for crochet terms and abbreviations for more information on the abbreviations below.
- ch = chain
- sc = single crochet
- sl = slip
- sp = space
- st(s) = stitch(es)
- [ ] = repeat instructions within brackets as directed
Before you go on, make sure you are familiar with chain stitch, single crochet, and slip stitch. If you’re comfortable with these three basics then you are ready to grab some yarn and a hook, and start crocheting in the round!
This is a tutorial so materials are not critical. However, a smooth worsted weight yarn and size H/5mm or I/5.5mm hook are recommended for ease. The tutorial gives an example for creating simple coasters or trivets. For this project, you would need 100% cotton worsted weight yarn.
Equipment / Tools
- US H/8 (5.0 mm) or I/9 (5.5 mm) crochet hook
- Smooth worsted weight yarn in light or bright color for practicing
Get Started With a Ring
The first step to working in the round is creating a loop, or center ring, into which our first round of stitches will be made. There are a few different ways of making this loop, but for now we will discuss the most common.
This joins your stitches and creates the needed foundation for building stitches. From now on we will refer to this loop as our center ring.
- Chain 1 stitch.
This "build up" chain gives you some distance between the hook and the center ring and is equivalent to the turning chain when you’re working flat. Since you will be working your first round in single crochet, you have made one chain stitch.
The First Round
The next step is to create your first round of stitches. For this practice swatch, we will be making single crochet stitches.
- Insert your hook through the center of the ring, not into an individual stitch, yarn around the hook, and pull a loop through—2 loops of yarn on your hook.
- Yarn over and pull through both loops on the hook.
You have just worked one single crochet through the center ring. Continuing to work into the ring, make 6 more single crochets in the same manner—7 sc total.
Finishing the Round
After you’ve completed seven total single crochet stitches through the center ring, slip stitch into the chain 1 you made at the beginning of the round. This slip stitch joins your first and last stitches and finishes the round.
We will count the first chain of every round as one single crochet, which means your completed first round consists of 8 stitches.
Not all center rings will begin with 4 chains before joining. The original number of chain stitches will vary by project, pattern, and yarn weight. The more stitches you start with, the bigger a hole there will be in the center of your round.
Now that you have this round of stitches, what happens next? How does the piece grow, and what can you do with it?
If you were to continually chain up one stitch, work one single crochet in every stitch around, and slip stitch to finish the round, you would find that your work begins to curl at the edge. A round is simply a circle of stitches. If all your rounds are the same size—if they all have the same circumference—they can only stack on top of one another, not encircle one another. The work has nowhere to go but up.
In some instances, this is what you want, for example, to make a hat or basket that requires sides. However, for these and many other projects you'll want your work to lie flat and your rounds to be concentric, each one slightly larger than the previous. To make your rounds continue to grow in size, you will need to add stitches at regular intervals. Increasing stitches will add length to the circumference of the round and allows it to continue to spread out and grow larger without curling in on itself.
Let's continue with our tutorial swatch.
A good rule of thumb is to increase in every stitch in round 2, every other stitch in round 3, in every third stitch in round 4, and so on.
Increase Round 1: chain 1, work 2 single crochets in every st around, slip stitch to join—16 sts.
The number of stitches in your round has doubled, one stitch added for every original stitch.
Increase Round 2: chain 1, [1 single crochet in the next st, 2 single crochets in next st] 8 times, slip stitch to join—24 sts.
This increases your last round by your original number of stitches. The increases in the following rounds will do the same.
Increase Round 3: chain 1, [1 single crochet in each of the next 2 sts, 2 single crochets in next st] 8 times slip stitch to join—32 sts.
Increase Round 4: chain 1, [1 single crochet in each of the next 3 sts, 2 single crochets in next st] 8 times, slip stitch to join—40 sts.
Continue in this manner, working one more stitch before making an increase and adding 8 stitches every round, until your crochet circle reaches the desired diameter.
For a fun practice project, use worsted weight cotton (try Lily Sugar’n Cream or Lion Cotton by Lion Brand Yarns) and an H or I crochet hook to make your rounds. These sample pieces can become coasters (4 to 5 inches diameter) or trivets (5 to 9 inches diameter). Sew two rounds of the same size on top of each other for double thickness and protection.