There are a few things you can do do crochet straight(er) edges in your projects.
In this guide we’ll show you the fundamentals as well as a few tricks so your scarves, blankets or any other projects in your future have straight edges.
Welcome to the Beginner’s Guide to Crochet Straight Edges!
You’ll get the most out of this guide if you struggle to crochet straight edges in projects like scarves, blankets or any other project crocheted in rows. If you’re willing to invest a little time learning the skills within, we’re confident your edges will improve.
This guide is designed to describe best practices of crocheting in rows, the result of which is straighter edges. We’ll cover things like how to identify the first and last stitch, how to know if a turning chain counts as a stitch or not and a little ninja trick to make those chains a little neater.
Combine this information with a little practice and you’ll crochet straight edges in all of your projects, we’re sure of it!
There are two reasons your edges may be uneven.
One reason, is the stitch count is off in one or possibly a few rows. If you look at the work and notice one little blip where it protrudes out or dips in, the stitch count was probably incorrect for a single row or perhaps a few rows.
However, if you notice a gradual change in one or both edges and it looks more like an angle leaning one way or the other, you’re probably crocheting too many or too few stitches every row.
So that’s the first potential problem: stitch count
The other reason your edges may not be straight has to do with the turning chain and the first and last stitch of each row. If you notice little holes or bumps every other row, this is probably the case.
That’s the second potential problem: turning chain and/or the first or last stitch
So you have a little protrusion or indention in your edge. What happened?
It’s pretty safe to say the stitch count was off in one or a few rows. You can verifying this by counting the stitches where the anomaly starts. It goes without saying, the more the count is off the more obvious it’ll look.
Too many stitches and it’ll protrude outward. Too few and it’ll sink in.
A single stitch may not be that noticeable by itself but let’s say you made the same mistake more than once adding up to a few stitches. That will be noticeable.
Your (supposed to be straight) edge looks more like an angle. Why?
If the edge leans outward and continues to do so as you work, there’s a consistent increase in stitches on that side of the work. If both edges lean outward (and continue to do so as you work), it’s safe to say there is a steady increase on both edges.
In other words, what you’re identifying as the first or last stitch isn’t right.
Alternatively, if the one or both of the edges lean inward, there’s a consistent decrease in the number of stitches. More often than not, this is caused by not working the last stitch.
Count the stitches. Always.
That is until you really understand what the first and last stitch are. We’ll get to that in just a moment but for now, go ahead and settle on the habit of counting stitches in your row often.
It’s tedious and boring (especially for large projects) but it’s really the best way to have straight crochet edges as a beginner. You won’t have to do it forever though.
Is there anything you can do to correct these mistakes (without ripping it all out)?
Unfortunately, we don’t have good news if you find yourself in this situation. There really isn’t a good way to make a dip or a bulge from incorrect stitch count look straight without ripping back to that point and starting again (with the correct stitch count).
However, if the thought of ripping back potentially hundreds of stitches makes you want to toss it out the window or give up crocheting altogether, don’t.
Here are a few suggestions to conceal the mishap:
- If it’s not too obvious, block it, forcing the stitches into a straighter position. Check out our guide here if that’s a new topic for you.
- Crochet a border around it in the same color. For slight dips, use a taller stitch. For slight protrusions, use a shorter stitch.
These aren’t perfect fixes but they’ll do in a pinch. The only way to make it look perfect, unfortunately, is ripping back. Whether you choose to rip it out or accept it and keep going, it’ll be a hard lesson learned.
Let’s make sure you don’t make the same mistake again.
Knowing which stitch is the first and which stitch is last
That’s the sweet spot. The secret. The ah-ha moment when you no longer have to count stitches every row or worry about crooked edges and it all comes down to that little turning chain.
If the turning chain counts as a stitch, the turning chain is the first stitch of the row and the last stitch of the row will be worked in the turning chain from the previous row.
If the turning chain doesn’t count as a stitch, the first stitch is crocheted in the same placement as the turning chain and the last stitch of the row will be worked in the first stitch of the previous row.
That begs the question…
How do you know if the turning chain counts as a stitch?
This information is usually found in one of two places:
- In the pattern notes section. (It will say something like, “ch 3 at beginning of row counts as dc)
- Directly after the turning chain instruction for the row. (It’ll look something like this, “Ch 3 (counts as dc)…”)
However, in some instances this information may be missing altogether. If that’s the case, choose for yourself and stick with it throughout the pattern.
The turning chain, whether a stitch or not, can make or break the edge.
First, a little turning chain review. Without them, the beginning of every row would look a little squished because the row needs to start at the same height as the stitch in the same row. But when you finish a row and turn, the hook is still at the height of the previous row. The turning chain gets you to the right height so the rest of the row can be even. In general,
- Single Crochet = one turning chain
- Half Double Crochet = two turning chains
- Double Crochet = three turning chains
- Treble Crochet = four turning chains
This is with one big caveat – the stitch really is the same height as the turning chain. If it’s not, the edge will be bumpy or have holes (or both).
Customize the turning chain to match your crochet style to crochet straight edges.
People who naturally crochet with a tighter tension have shorter stitches compared to people who naturally crochet with a more loose tension. This means the “one size fits all” turning chain approach is flawed. Specifically, by leaving holes.
What it looks like when two turning chains are too tall for a half double crochet stitch.
What it looks like when 3 turning chains are too tall for a double crochet.
The next time you have a little swatch of work in front of you, test it out to customize the turning chain to match your tension.
Make 2 chains and a half double crochet right next to it. Is the chain taller than the stitch? If so, rip out the stitch and the chain. Start over with one chain and a half double crochet next to it. Do the heights match up better? If so, you should use one turning chain for a half double crochet instead of two.
While you’re at it, repeat those steps for a double crochet stitch comparing the height of 3 turning chains and 2 turning chains to the stitch. Whichever turning chain number matches the height of your actual stitch better is what you should use.
What it looks like when the same person uses one turning chain for a half double crochet stitch.
What it looks like when the same person uses two turning chains for a double crochet stitch.
If subtracting a chain from the standard in our list above is best and reduces the size of the hole on the edge, take note of that and apply it to any pattern where the stitch is used. You’ll crochet straighter edges as a result.
The single crochet is a little different.
It’s not all that easy to locate and crochet into a single turning chain. Because of this, the single crochet follows the same rule no matter your tension.
You will always make one turning chain for a row of single crochet stitches, but that chain will never count as a stitch.
Therefore, the first and last stitch will always be the same. We have them highlighted in blue.
If you flip the work and look at it from the top, you’ll see a “v” in each place.
When you make a row of single crochet stitches, this will always be the first and last stitch.
So what if after all of this your edges still look a little bumpy?
Taller stitches will never have perfectly straight edges. That’s just the nature of crochet and the nature of certain stitches. That’s why a border is always the perfect finishing touch.
When you crochet a project in rows and that square or rectangular piece won’t be stitched to another piece (a sweater for instance), get in the habit of crocheting a single crochet border around the entire panel with the same yarn.
Make one single crochet in each stitch along the top edge and one single crochet in each chain of the foundation when you get to the bottom. As a general rule of thumb, make the same number of single crochets in each row as the turning chain (2 turning chains = 2 single crochets). This isn’t a perfect science but it’ll get you pretty close.