Half double crochet is a beautiful crochet stitch; it's simple but versatile. It is definitely one of the basic crochet stitches that a beginner should master when learning how to crochet. As the name suggests, hdc is taller than single crochet, but shorter than double crochet. It is a foundational crochet stitch, worked similarly to those two basic stitches, but with a slight difference that creates a unique third loop that can be used for texture in advanced crochet.
This guide shows you how to crochet the hdc stitch, along with variations on half double crochet, tips for understanding the stitch better and resources for making the most of half double crochet. Beginners who have already mastered single crochet and double crochet would do well to try this stitch next.
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Understanding Half Double Crochet
Before we begin with the instructions, it's important to understand this crochet stitch. When first learning to crochet, most people will learn a single crochet stitch and will then follow up by learning a double crochet stitch.
Half double crochet is half the height of the double crochet and is, in fact, exactly between the single crochet and double crochet in height. So, if you know how to do those two stitches, you already know how to do the half double crochet stitch, even if you haven't learned the details of making it yet!
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Your Materials: Yarn and Crochet Hook
The half double crochet stitch is used in all different types of projects, so you can use any yarn and any crochet hook to work on hdc. If you are working with a crochet pattern, the pattern will tell you what precise materials to use.
If you aren't working from a pattern, choose your yarn then look at the yarn label to find out what hook size you need for that yarn. Beginners may want to try a worsted weight yarn and size H crochet hook as a good starting point, adjusting from there if that doesn't work well for learning.
Tip: Smooth, worsted weight yarn in a light color is often the best choice for learning new crochet stitches.
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Start With a Slip Knot
All crochet projects begin with a slip knot, which you already know how to do if you've learned how to single crochet and how to double crochet. Learn how to crochet a slip knot here.
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Crochet a Foundation Chain
You will be working your half double crochet stitches into rows so you need to create a foundation chain to work the first row into. You can crochet a foundation chain, also known as a starting chain, of any length. If you are working with a crochet pattern, use the chain length specified in that pattern.Continue to 5 of 12 below.
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A Note On First Stitches and Turning Chains
When you crochet in rows, you begin the row with a turning chain. The height of the turning chain depends on the height of the crochet stitch. In single crochet, you chain one for your turning chain. In double crochet, you chain three. So, as you might guess, in half double crochet, which is taller than single crochet but shorter than double crochet, you will chain two.
However, when you begin the first row, you don't need to chain more because you're already working into a chain. What you'll do is work your first half double crochet into the foundation chain so that the number of chains you skip is one more than the number of chains a turning chain would be. So in half double crochet, a turning chain is two, so you will crochet your first half double crochet into the chain that is three chains away from your hook.
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Yarn Over and Insert Your Crochet Hook
To make your first half double crochet stitch, yarn over and insert your crochet hook into the stitch. (As described in step five, it's in the third chain away from the hook to start the row; it will be in each subsequent stitch thereafter.)
Note that if you were making a double crochet, you would also do this step. If you were making a single crochet, you would not yarn over before inserting the crochet hook. We remind you of this in case you are a beginner who is just getting a feel for the different stitches. The yarn over is what adds the height to the stitch, making it taller than the single crochet.
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Yarn Over and Pull Through Loops
Yarn over one more time. You will see three loops on your crochet hook. Pull the yarn through all three loops. That's your first half double crochet stitch. That's really all there is to the hdc: yarn over, insert hook, yarn over and pull through, yarn over and pull through all loops.
Note that if you were doing a double crochet, you would pull the yarn through only two loops, yarn over again and pull through the final two loops. What makes this the half double crochet is that you shorten that step by pulling the yarn through all three loops at once, and this shortens the height to smaller than the dc.Continue to 9 of 12 below.
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Complete The Row
At the end of step 8, you've made one half double crochet stitch. To complete the row of hdc stitches, repeat steps 6-8 across the row.
To recap, each half double crochet will consist of:
- Yarn over.
- Insert hook into next stitch.
- Yarn over.
- Pull through.
- Yarn over and pull through all three loops on hook.
To begin your new row, you'll turn your work, chain two for your turning chain and make hdc stitches in the next stitch and all of the subsequent stitches from the row before.
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Increasing and Decreasing in Half Double Crochet
Once you've completed the steps above, you can crochet any half double crochet pattern that's worked in consistent rows, such as scarves or even blankets made in half double crochet. But if you want to crochet anything that has shape, you may need to know how to increase and decrease in half double crochet. Don't worry; it's easy.
How to Increase HDC
Increasing is especially easy, because all that you'll do is make an extra half double crochet stitch where you've already made one. Your crochet patterns will tell you how to do this. But, for example, let's say that you want to increase at the end of the row in the final stitch of the row, then you will crochet two hdc stitches in the final stitch instead of just the one you would usually work.
How to Decrease HDC
Decreasing is a little more difficult but it's still easy. Here are the steps:
- Yarn over (as normal)
- Insert hook into stitch (as normal)
- Yarn over and pull through (as normal)
- Repeat those three steps into the next stitch. Notice that what you're doing here is leaving the top of the first hdc unfinished, starting the next hdc in the next stitch and finishing both together in the next stitch. So, you're going to have three loops on the hook, you'll yarn over again and insert the crochet hook into the next stitch, then yarn over and pull through.
- Yarn over one more time, so that you have five loops on the hook, and pull through all of the five loops.
That's the half double crochet decrease, worked over two subsequent stitches to bring the two stitches together at the top into one stitch. You might see it abbreviated as hdc2tog (half double crochet two together) or dec hdc (decrease half double crochet).
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FLO, BLO and Third Loop in Half Double Crochet
You can change the appearance of a basic stitch like half double crochet by working into only one of the loops instead of into both of them. Half double crochet looks really great worked into the back loop only for a ribbed design, but you can also work into the front loop only. Learn about crocheting through the loops here.
Third Loop HDC
You can work front loop only and back loop only crochet with almost any crochet stitch. What is really interesting with half double crochet is that it actually has a third loop because of the way that it's constructed (when you pulled the yarn through all three loops instead of the usual two). This means that you have to understand the anatomy of the loops better to make sure that you're correctly crocheting into the front loop or back loop. It also means that you can work into the third loop instead, a technique that creates a great knit-like fabric. Moogly has great instructions about the third loop in half double crochet.
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Extra HDC Tips and Info
Here are some other things you might want to know or learn about half double crochet:
- Half double crochet is a US crochet term; it's called half treble crochet in UK crochet patterns.
- You can replace the double crochet stitch in many patterns with a half double crochet stitch for a shorter design that looks the same. For example, you can make a v-stitch, normally done in double crochet, as a hdc v-stitch instead.
- When a half double crochet replaces a single crochet in a stitch pattern, it's often considered the "extended" version of the stitch; for example, the extended seed stitch uses alternating hdc and tr stitches instead of alternating sc and dc stitches.
- Half double crochet shell stitches make really beautiful edging for blankets.