Crochet shell stitch is not actually a specific stitch. Instead, it refers to a variety of different crochet stitch patterns. What they have in common is that they featured multiple stitches (typically basic crochet stitches such as double crochet) that are worked together into a single stitch to create a shape that resembles a shell. By shell, the look that is meant is a shape that is narrow at the bottom (where the stitches are worked) and fans out and becomes wider at the top.
Shell stitches are beautiful crochet stitches. Entire crochet blankets can be made in just shell stitch for a great textured product. But crochet stitches are also often combined with other stitches, offering the opportunity to create unlimited different textures and effects. The options are increased even more when you consider how many different shell stitch variations there are - each of them beautiful and useful in its own right!
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Learn to work a basic shell stitch with this step-by-step photo tutorial. This is a crochet shell stitch that is worked in double crochet stitches with five dc making one shell. This is one of the most common shell stitches in crochet and is often the one that people are talking about when referring generally to the crochet shell stitch. The instructions for this crochet stitch pattern show how to work it in rows of four different colors but you can work it in more or fewer colors if you choose. Working each row in a different color allows the shells to really stand out so that you can see their pretty pattern.
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This is an easy variation on the classic double crochet shell stitch. It is worked with treble crochet and half double crochet stitches. This makes the stitch taller than the double crochet stitch and also wider, too. It is a dramatic variation that is great to try, especially if you have already mastered the basic double crochet shell and want to challenge yourself with something different that is not too difficult.
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The lacy treble shell stitch is a variation on the basic treble crochet stitch. The basic treble, like the double, consists of five stitches worked into one stitch from the row below. In this lacy version, you work only four stitches instead of five and use a chain space to create the openness of the stitch. The chains open up the pattern quite a lot, making it lighter, lacier, and quicker to crochet. Whereas the closed treble crochet is a great choice for thick blankets, this open version is a nice option for shawls.
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This is the same idea as the lacy treble crochet shell except that it is worked in double crochet stitches. So, in that way, it is also the same as the basic crochet shell but it is worked with a chain stitch in the center of each V for a lacier-looking design.Continue to 5 of 6 below.
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Once you have mastered all of the "normal" crochet shell stitches, you can challenge yourself with a squared-off variation called the crazy shell (or just "crazy stitch"). It is worked in a more advanced manner and has a block-style graphic appearance. This is a really fun one for making scarves, rectangular shawls and blankets.
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Using Shell Stitch for Edgings and Borders
Once you have learned how to crochet different variations of the shell stitch, you might be curious about different ways to use the pattern. You can repeat the shells across rows over and over for blankets and other square / rectangular patterns. That is a perfect way to really practice and get the hang of the stitch variations.
Another good use for shell stitches is for the borders of your crochet projects. Crochet blankets, especially, look best with an interesting finished edge. All different types of projects can incorporate a shell edging, though, and you can be liberal with how you choose to use them. The basic idea is that you will crochet a row of shell on one or more edges of the finished project to give it a fancier look.
Shell stitch crochet borders have been around for quite some time. There are patterns dating back to at least 1855 that feature this kind of stitch pattern as a border option.
You can use any of the variations of crochet shell stitch to create borders. For example, the treble crochet shell can be combined with surface crochet slip stitches to create a great shell edging pattern. If you are seeking something shorter and simpler, the half double crochet shell edging pattern is a good choice for nearly any project. The pattern includes information about how to create corners so that you can work this shell stitch around the entire project.