At this point, you've learned all the basic crochet stitches. These stitches allow you to create solid blocks of crochet, but what if you want to crochet in circles or add angles to your pieces? To do those things, you need to know how to increase and decrease stitches, and how to crochet in the round.
Increasing crochet stitches
If you want to crochet in the round or make triangle patterns, you need to know how to increase stitches. First, I'll talk about how to do a basic single crochet increase. I'll discuss this process more later, when I talk about crocheting in the round.
How to do a single crochet increase
Crochet 17 chain stitches. This step forms the foundation chain. You'll work your first row of stitches into this chain.
Insert the hook into the second chain from the hook from front to back. Make sure the correct side of the foundation chain is facing you and your yarn hand is holding the foundation chain.
Wrap the yarn from front to back with your yarn hand.
Rotate the hook toward you and pull the hook with the wrapped yarn through the stitch.
With your yarn hand, wrap the yarn from front to back over the hook.
Rotate the hook toward you with your hook hand and draw the hook with the wrapped yarn through both loops of the hook. You've now completed one single crochet, and there should still be a loop on your hook.
To work the next single crochet stitch and continue the row, insert your hook into the next chain stitch. This starts the next row of stitches.
Repeat the above steps.
Work one single crochet stitch into each chain stitch across the foundation chain. You should have 16 chain stitches when you finish - remember that the first single crochet is worked in the second chain stitch. The first chain stitch will be a turning chain.
To increase the successive rows, you'll work two stitches into each stitch in the previous row. So, in row two, you'll work two stitches into each row in row 1. In row three, you'll work two stitches into each row in row two, etc.
In some projects, you may need to decrease the number of stitches in a row. You can do this easily by skipping stitches in every row, however it leaves a hole in the fabric. Using the single crochet decrease won't do that.
How to do a single crochet decrease
Insert the hook into the next stitch and yarn over.
Pull a loop through so you now have two loops on the hook.
Insert the hook into the next stitch and yarn over. Pull a loop through so that there are now three loops on the hook.
Yarn over again and pull the look through all three loops on the hook.
Continue the steps above for each row you want to decrease.
Crocheting in the round
Crocheting in the round is just what it sounds like; crocheting in a circle. It's useful for making hats, baby bonnets, and other things that have round parts to them. Here, I'll discuss the basic steps for doing single crochet in the round, and by how many stitches you should increase your successive rows.
Chain six stitches.
Put your hook in the first chain stitch, forming a ring.
Yarn over the hook, then draw it through the stitch and through the loop on your hook.
Insert your hook into the center ring.
Yarn over the hook and draw the yarn through the ring.
Yarn over the hook and draw the yarn through the two loops on your hook.
Continue to work single crochet stitches into the ring until you can't fit anymore.
Put your hook under the top two loops of the first single crochet stitch you made.
Yarn over the hook and draw the yarn through the stitch and the loop on your hook to complete one slip stitch.
Here's how many stitches you should increase in each additional round of single crochet:
Round 2 - 24 stitches - two stitches worked into each stitch of round 1.
Round 3 - 36 stitches - 2 stitches worked into the first stitch; 1 stitch worked into the next - repeat that pattern all the way around.
Round 4 - 48 stitches - 2 stitches worked into the first stitch, 1 worked into the next stitch, repeated all the way around.
Round 5 - 60 stitches - 2 stitches worked into the first stitch, 1 worked into the next two stitches, repeated all the way around.
Round 6 - 72 stitches - 2 stitches worked into the first stitch, 1 stitch worked into the next 4 stitches, repeated all the way around.
For each additional round, you would increase the "into the next X number of stitches" by 1 each time. If you begin with six, your stitch count will increase by six each time. If you begin with eight stitches, your stitch count will increase by eight each time. Following this formula ensures you'll have a flat circle every time.
Note: Since crocheting in the round can get confusing, at least in the beginning rounds, you may want to use a stitch marker or something small to mark where your rounds begin and end!
That's it for this post. In the next post, we'll discuss how to change yarn colors, how to crochet in the round using a magic ring, how to attach crocheted pieces to one another, and how to block your work.