Friday, May 30, 2014

How to: Bobbles, Clusters and Popcorn

  Popcorn, clusters, and bobbles, oh my! All of these stitches are close in nature, and have a similar effect, but what's the difference? Each one is typically made with a combination of five stitches. Besides yarn weight and gauge having a factor in the size of the bumps, extra stitches can be added to create more texture in each stitch. The placement of the stitches are what change the result. Follow along to learn how to create each of these three-dimensional stitches, or maybe just to brush up on your technique.

  Have you ever been confused by the names of each of these stitches? I'm guilty of it myself. When creating variations of these stitches, I often label them incorrectly. The single crochet "bobble" I used for the Bobble and Chain baby blanket is actually a cluster!

  So, this is my attempt at redemption for my mistake. Forgive me and accept your new knowledge with my humblest of apologies.

This tutorial will:

  • Teach you the differences between the bobble, cluster, and popcorn stitches.

  • Help you understand which stitch to use in your own patterns.

  • Guide you with step-by-step photos of how to make each stitch.

  • Show you how to use each stitch in your own patterns.

  • Provide an extra lesson on the "Ball" stitch

  Let's begin! Use whatever size hook and yarn will be most comfortable for you, or if you are practicing for a specific project, use the materials your pattern calls for.

  I'm using the same amount of stitches for every practice piece, so if you would like to begin again for the next example, you won't have to redo your starting chain. Each piece begins and ends every row with a double crochet (chain 3 for beginning dc).
  Chain 17 for the number of stitches, plus 3 for the first double crochet. Begin in the fourth (4th) chain from the hook.

Bobble stitch (bo):

Worked all in one space, this stitch creates a nearly symmetrical bump almost like a half-sphere in your fabric. Commonly five double crochet are combined to complete the stitch; more stitches can be added for a bump with more density.

Regardless of the number used to make a bobble, it will only equal one (1) stitch when complete.

For bobbles to stand in the same direction, a return row will need to be made. A bobble can be made every row when working in the round, or in rows for a double-sided fabric.

To begin, yarn over, insert hook in next st. Yarn over, pull up a loop.

Yarn over, pull through 2 loops (1 half-closed dc).

(Yarn over, insert hook in same st, pull up a loop. Yarn over, pull through 2 loops) 4 more times

(5 half-closed dc).

Yarn over, pull through all loops on hook.

To complete the row, I made (one dc in the next st, beginning the next bobble in the following st) 7 more times, 1 dc in the last st.

Cluster stitch (CL):

Very similar to how the bobble is made, this stitch is worked across multiple stitches, creating a triangular or teardrop-shaped raised area. Like the bobble, the cluster is usually completed with five double crochet.

This is another one-direction stitch. A return row will need to be worked, unless making a double-sided project or working in the round.

The cluster will reduce your stitch count by four (4) for each stitch made, becoming one (1) stitch when complete. To continue without a count reduction, four (4) stitches need to be added for each cluster made.

To begin: Yarn over, insert hook in next st, pull up a loop,

yarn over, pull through 2 loops (1 half-closed dc).

(Yarn over, insert hook in next st, pull up a loop, yarn over, pull through 2 loops.) 4 more times.

(5 half-closed double crochet)

Yarn over, pull through all loops on hook.

Popcorn stitch (pc):

The most versatile of all, the popcorn stitch can be worked backwards, so that it can be used every row when crocheting back and forth. This creates a bump very similar to the bobble, but with much more definition.

When worked with five (5) stitches, the three (3) middle double crochet of the stitch will be hidden, making it difficult (almost impossible) to work into. The first and last of the double crochet are workable, meaning the popcorn equals two (2) stitches.

See later how to turn this stitch into a free-standing ball by adding more double crochet.

To begin, make 5 dc in the next stitch.

Remove hook, insert in top loops of 4th st from dropped loop (first of 5 dc) from front to back.

Pick up dropped loop, pull through.

To finish the row, make one popcorn in every other stitch (skip 1, 1 pc). End with one (1) dc.
To make the stitch "pop" to the back of the fabric, after removing the hook, insert from back to front in the 4th st from dropped loop (1st of 5 dc).

Pick up dropped loop, pull through.

"Ball" Stitch:
I know I've seen this somewhere before, but after much searching, I still can't find a name for it, so I label it for the shape it makes. Maybe I'm not searching correctly. Maybe it really is called the "ball" stitch. Whatever it is, enjoy learning it.

This is simply the popcorn stitch made with ten (10) double crochet, then joined with a slip stitch. Use for jewelry and button making.

Chain a desired number of stitches (I made 17), plus 3 more for first double crochet.

Yarn over, double crochet in 4th chain from hook,

Make 8 more dc in same st.

Remove hook, insert in 9th stitch from hook, from back to front.

Pick up dropped loop,

pull through stitch.

Slip stitch in stitch or around post space directly across from current loop.

You can continue with the chain to create as many more as you like by repeating the steps.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Free Pattern: Deca-stitch Lacy Cowl

  A light, lacy cowl can be a great accessory for your Spring and Summer wardrobe. Made with cotton crochet thread, this light and breezy cowl could be a bright addition to a blouse and jacket, or worn to dress up a simple tank.

  Using the "deca-stitch", an extended stitch, this pattern creates a uniquely lacy fabric while simply working in straight rows. A few turns and a twist change a rectangle into an infinity cowl while adding the border. 

  Pattern before joining is about 37 inches (94 cm) wide, 4 inches (10 cm) tall, as worked. Finished size after joining, as worn is 17 1/2 inches (44.5 cm) long, 4 inches (10 cm) wide. Simply add more rows to the pattern for a bulkier cowl.

Skill level:


DMC Traditions size 10 crochet thread color 5109, or any size 10 crochet thread in your choice of color.
Steel crochet hook size  7 US (4 UK)
Needle or smaller hook to weave in ends


4" x 4" (10 cm x 10 cm) = 4 rows, 16 sts


Need help with the deca-stitch? Click here for step-by-step photos.


Chain (ch)
Single crochet (sc)
Deca-stitch - Yarn over 8 times, insert hook into stitch, pull up a loop.(Yarn over, pull through 2 loops) 9 times.


To begin, chain 140.

Row 1:

Yarn over 8 times, complete deca-stitch in 11th ch from hook. 1 deca-stitch in each of remaining 128 chs. (130 deca-stitches)

Row 2:

Ch 10, turn. 1 deca-stitch in each of next 129 sts. (130 deca-stitches)

Rows 3 and 4:

Repeat row 2. Do not bind off.


Sl st into post sp after last st, turn. Ch 2 (counts as 1 sc, ch-1). (1 sc, ch 1) in each of next 128 post spaces. With work flat, flip 1 time. (1 sc, ch 1) in each of next 129 bottom post spaces. Bind off, leaving enough tail to weave gap closed. Weave in ends.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

How to: Taller crochet stitches

  Most lists of the basic crochet stitches end with the triple crochet. Call it a new technique, or call it breaking the rules: I'm tired of being limited to the height of a triple crochet, and I'm not going to take it anymore! 

  Why isn't there a taller stitch? I've received varying answers from many crocheters, but I've never heard the suggestion "try it".

  There are two basic points of view I've heard about the subject: It doesn't exist, or, there's no purpose for it. With all due respect, I have two responses: I've made it exist, and there is a purpose. The purpose is to create whatever you want, without the limitations. 

  This tutorial will teach you how to make a stitch of whatever height is physically possible for you to make. Beginning with an explanation of what the basic stitches consist of and how they work, we will move on to understanding how to use this knowledge to create stitches taller than the triple crochet.

  As a bonus, I'm using a variegated yarn to show you the interesting results you can achieve with taller stitches. For practice, use whatever size yarn and hook is most comfortable for you.

For beginners:

  There is a solid rule of how a crochet stitch is made. For a moment, forget what stitch you are making, and consider what makes it happen
  All basic crochet stitches (excluding half-stitches) are created by pulling up a loop through a stitch, then you yarn over, pull through two loops, until there is only one loop left on the hook. The amount of times you yarn over before you begin the stitch determines what height it will be. 

We'll cover the three most common basic stitches quickly:

Single crochet (sc) - 1 chain high. Do not yarn over. Insert hook into stitch, pull up one loop, yarn over, pull through both loops on hook.

Double crochet (dc) - 3 chains high. Yarn over, insert hook into stitch, pull up a loop, yarn over, pull through two loops, yarn over, pull through remaining two loops.

Triple crochet (tr) - 4 chains high. Yarn over twice, insert hook into stitch, pull up a loop. (Yarn over, pull through two loops)  three times.

Then there is the less common five chain-high Double triple crochet (dtr), which requires three yarn overs. Although its use has been documented, this stitch is often left off the list of basic stitches.

As you can see, each basic stitch increases one chain in height with each extra yarn over. So what is stopping us from making a stitch any height we want?

The formula:

  Get out your calculator, you'll have to do some complicated math to figure this out... 
I'm kidding, relax. The simple, magical formula to make a stitch in any height is:

(Number of chains high - 2) = Number of yarn overs.

How do you figure the starting chain? Once you have worked the number of chains needed, chain the amount equal to the number of chains the stitch is high. This counts as your first stitch. Add one to the number you just chained, and that is how many chains away from the hook you will begin.

(Starting chain + stitch height) = Total number to chain 

(Stitch height + 1) = Number of chains to skip for beginning stitch

And to make sure you are completing the stitch correctly, count the number of steps you make to complete the stitch, beginning with the first loop pulled up. The number of steps will be the same as the number of chains high the stitch is.

So, if you wanted to make a stitch 100 chains high, you would yarn over 98 times before inserting your hook in the 101st chain away from the hook. Starting the count with the first loop pulled up, the stitch would take 100 steps to complete.

I would love to complete such a stitch, just to say "I did it", but I don't have room to yarn over so many times on a regular hook.

I just finished designing a cowl using a stitch 10 chains high, but I don't know what to call the stitch in the pattern. I considered using metric prefixes, calling it the "deca-stitch", but then what would you call a stitch 20 chains high? A double-deca? Spoken aloud, it sounds silly to me. Maybe you can help me decide. 

What is the tallest stitch you can accomplish? Would you give these stitches names or just label them by height? I would love to hear comments or see pictures of your results.

To make a stitch 10 chains high:

The formula is 10 - 2 = 8, so you will yarn over 8 times.

Insert hook into designated stitch, pull up a loop.
(Step 1)

*Yarn over, pull through 2 loops*
(Step 2)

*2 times
(Step 3) 

* 3 times
(Step 4)

 *4 times
(Step 5)

*5 times
(Step 6)

 *6 times
(Step 7)

 *7 times
(Step 8)

 *8 times
(Step 9)

*9 times
(Step 10)

Now you've completed a stitch 10 chains tall, twice the height of the double triple.

Ready to push the limits? This one is 20 chains high. Lacking a longer hook, I was unable to yarn over any more times without losing the loops off the back of the hook while working the stitch. It would also be an awful lot of pictures. Do you have a longer hook? Go for it!

20 - 2 = Yarn over 18 times.

Yarn over, insert hook, pull up a loop.
(Step 1)

*Yarn over, pull through 2 loops*
(Step 2)

*2 times
(Step 3)

 *3 times
(Step 4)

 *4 times
(Step 5)

 *5 times
(Step 6)

*6 times
(Step 7)

 *7 times
(Step 8)

 *8 times
(Step 9)

 *9 times
(Step 10)

 *10 times
(Step 11)

*11 times
(Step 12)

*12 times
(Step 13)

*13 times
(Step 14)

*14 times
(Step 15)

 *15 times
(Step 16)

*16 times
(Step 17)

*17 times
(Step 18)

*18 times
(Step 19)

*19 times
(Step 20)

It takes some practice, especially for a beginner. When I first began experimenting with these stitches, the top of the stitch would be twice as wide as the bottom, because the loops at the back of the hook would loosen as I worked the stitch. Originally, I assumed tighter tension would be better, but I was wrong. I found it best to keep my tension slightly loose when I yarn over, which becomes more difficult with each additional loop. Experiment, practice, hone your skills, and change the way you think of crochet. 

Can these stitches be utilized in everyday crochet? Would you use taller stitches in a project? What would you make?

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