chapter 3: The Ultimate Guide to Crochet in the Round
How to Crochet Circles
Welcome to Chapter 3 of The Ultimate Guide to Crochet in the Round! In this chapter you’ll learn how to crochet circles and find answers to some of your burning questions: How do I increase? Why is my circle uneven? Where do I join at the end?
A circle is the foundation of many project types like hats, amigurumi, bags, even socks. You can use what you learned in Chapter 2, starting with a chain or Chapter 3, starting with a magic ring to begin your circle.
A perfect circle begins with the perfect number of stitches.
It’s as simple as this…
A crochet circle with single crochet stitches should have 6 stitches in the first round.
A crochet circle with half double crochet stitches should have 8 stitches in the first round.
A crochet circle with double crochet stitches should have 10 stitches in the first round.
Start your circle with the 6-8-10 rule for the perfect foundation. Six for single crochets, eight for half double crochets or ten for double crochets.
This simple rule makes crocheting the first round of your circle a breeze. The stitch you plan to use will determine the number of stitches needed in the first round to crochet a circle that’s round and flat.
This is the first “constant” to take note of. This will never change, no matter what size yarn or hook you use.
Another crochet circle constant to remember…
No matter which stitch you’re using and how many stitches are in your first round, on round two you will always increase in every stitch.
A quick note about the word “increase”
The term increase means to make two stitches into one. By doing so, you increase your stitch count by one.
So in round two of any crochet circle with any yarn, any stitch or any hook, you will always make two stitches in every one of your first round stitches. This brings up a very important point:
the number of stitches you start with is how many stitches you need to increase by every round.
Let’s look at a couple examples…
A double crochet circle begins with 10 double crochet stitches in the first round. At the end of the second round, that circle will have 20 double crochet stitches.
10 + 10 = 20
A single crochet circle begins with 6 single crochet stitches in the first round. At the end of the second round, that circle will have 12 single crochet stitches.
6 + 6 = 12
In order for crochet circles to remain flat, evenly space increases throughout each round.
Fortunately, that’s easily accomplished by remembering yet another crochet circle constant – for each subsequent round, the number of stitches between each increase increases by one.
In round 2 of any crochet circle, there are no stitches in between increases because you increase every stitch. So we pick up with this constant on the third round of any circle.
Because this is a constant, you can use this chart to guide where you increase to make a flat circle as you progress from one round to the next.
- round 3 → 1 stitch between increases
- round 4 → 2 stitches between increases
- round 5 → 3 stitches between increases
- round 6 → 4 stitches between increases
- round 7 → 5 stitches between increases
- round 8 → 6 stitches between increases
- round 9 → 7 stitches between increases
- round 10 → 8 stitches between increases
- round 11 → 9 stitches between increases
- round 12 → 10 stitches between increases
- round 13 → 11 stitches between increases
- round 14 → 12 stitches between increases
- round 15 → 13 stitches between increases
- round 16 → 14 stitches between increases
- round 17 → 15 stitches between increases
- round 18 → 16 stitches between increases
- round 19 → 17 stitches between increases
- round 20 → 18 stitches between increases
If you plan to crochet a circle that’s more than 20 rounds, add one more stitch in between each increase every additional round.
Don’t feel like counting stitches?
Each increase will take place in the second stitch of the increase from the previous round. Knowing this makes things even easier. You don’t even need to count.
A few words about stitch count
When you evenly space increases in each round, something very important is going on. This even distribution keeps the circle round and flat but it also means
the stitch count at the end of every round increases by the number of stitches you started with.
Let’s pull in that double crochet example once again. We started with 10 double crochets in round one and increased to 20 stitches in round two. Following the even distribution of increases raises our stitch count to 30 at the end of round 3; 40 at the end of round 4; 50 at the end of round 5 and so on.
What about turning chains?
Even though you never actually turn your work when crocheting in the round, the turning chain plays a critical role. In crochet circles, the turning chain is matching the height of your stitches and, in many cases, counts as a stitch.
As a general rule of thumb:
- 1 turning chain for single crochets does not count as a stitch
- 2 turning chains for half double crochets counts as a stitch
- 3 turning chains for double crochets counts as a stitch
That means the first stitch of every round in circles with half double crochet stitches and double crochet stitches will be a turning chain.
Some patterns may vary so always pay close attention to the instructions but this is most often the case, especially in the patterns you find here at B.Hooked.
This raises another question…
What is the first stitch and the last stitch of each round in crochet circles?
When following a pattern there is a very important clue that’ll tell you whether that turning chain at the beginning of each round should count as a stitch or not; in other words, be included in your total stitch count for every round.
If your pattern says…
“join with a slst to the (first/second/third) chain”, the chain counts as a stitch and the chain is the first stitch of the round.
Or if your pattern says…
“join with a slst to the first stitch”, the chain does NOT count as a stitch and your first stitch of the round will be the first one you crochet.
The last stitch of the round is determined easiest by counting the stitches in that round as you go and ending on the number you know to be last. For example, in our third round double crochet circle example, we know there will be 30 stitches total so the 30th stitch will be the last.
This leads us to one last question…
Where do I join?
Knowing where to join with a slip stitch to finish each round in your crochet circles goes back to your turning chain.
As long as you continue increasing, your circle will continue to grow.
But what happens if you stop increasing or better yet, change where you increase within each round?
When you stop increasing altogether, your circle will transform from flat circle to tube, exactly the way you see a basic top-down crochet hat made. It’s important to note, however, that just because you stop increasing doesn’t mean you’ll see immediate results. The shorter the stitch, the more rounds it will take to notice a change in shape.
Although gauge will effect the results you see when you stop increasing altogether, this is a good reference point:
- when working in single crochet stitches, stop increasing approximately 6 rounds before you want the shape to change.
- when working in half double crochet stitches, stop increasing approximately 3 rounds before you want the shape to change.
- when working in double crochet stitches, stop increasing about 1 round before you want the shape to change.
When you change the placement of increases, you’ll change the shape of the circle.
An uneven placement of increases in a circle leads to a circle that’s not perfectly round. You’ll see this quite often in amigurumi projects during the shaping of certain elements.
Fewer increases in a circle leads to a conical-shape. If you find your circle isn’t laying perfectly flat, leaving out an increase or two (or three!) is likely the cause.
As you master the basics of crochet circles and begin to improve your skills and confidence, play with the placement and number of increases in each round. This is the best way to see first hand how these changes will effect your project.
To supplement this chapter, have a look at this episode of B.Hooked TV where the topic is starting and ending crochet rounds. In Chapter 4 we’ll look at the fundamentals of another basic shape, the square.