chapter 4: The Ultimate Guide to Crochet in the Round
Principles of Crochet Squares
Welcome to Chapter 4 of The Ultimate Guide to Crochet Guide to Crochet in the Round! In this chapter you’ll learn the fundamentals of crochet squares and find answers to some of the biggest questions on your mind: Why is my square curling? Why do my corners look round? Why is it spiraling?
On the surface, a square doesn’t seem to be the foundation of all sorts of projects like a circle but truthfully, they can be the foundation of just about any project.
Whether you plan to make a granny square blanket or not, knowing how to crochet a square is a very valuable skill. Squares when pieced together can put a unique twist on projects that are usually worked in rows like scarves or shawls, bags and even garments. The good news is there’s little extra to learn once you’ve mastered the circle, and, you can use what you learned in Chapter 2, to begin your square.
Generally speaking, the first round of most squares are the same.
Four sides of three stitches and four corners of two chains are a perfect first round for crochet squares. It’s what you’ll see for many patterns, especially those here at B.Hooked.
Another memorizable fact is this…
The first round of a square will usually begin and end in a corner.
We say usually because you may encounter a pattern where the join occurs in one of the four sides. But it’s much less common because the join is very obvious and most crocheters don’t like the way it looks.
There are two main ways of starting a square round.
- The foundation chain is the first stitch of the round
- The foundation chain is the last stitch of the round
Here’s how a pattern might look when the foundation chain is the first stitch:
Round 1: Ch 3 and join with a slst to the first ch. Ch 3. 2 dc in center of ring. Ch 2. [3 dc, ch 2] 3 times in center of ring. Join with a slst to 3rd ch.
Alternatively, here’s how a pattern might look when the foundation chain is the last stitch:
Round 1: Ch 3 and join with a slst to the first ch. Ch 5 (counts as dc and ch 2). [3 dc, ch 2] 3 times in center of ring. 2 more dc in center of ring and join with a slst to 3rd ch.
In either case, the biggest takeaway is that each side is made up of three stitches and each corner is made up of two chains.
For a square with to remain flat, in subsequent rounds, increase in the four corners of each round.
When crocheting a square with basic stitches (half double crochet, double crochet and so on), remember the basic “corner formula” is this:
2 stitches, chain 2, 2 stitches.
Doing so will increase your stitch count by sixteen every round; four in each of the four corners. Something else to remember about corners, they’re worked in the chain two space from the previous round.
Let’s look at an example…
If you crochet a square with double crochet stitches, the corner pattern will look like this:
in next ch-2 space (2 dc, ch 2, 2dc)
Collectively, these four stitches add to the sides of the square, making them longer as well as increase the stitch count keeping it flat.
Just remember, increase by four stitches every corner (16 stitches every round).
A few words about curling
Just like a circle will curl upward when you stop increasing, a square will do the same thing if the increases aren’t right. So if you find your square curling upward, there’s probably something wrong with the corners.
Increasing by 16 stitches (four stitches per corner) in each square round creates a flat square that continues to get bigger the more rounds you add.
The exceptions here are patterns with specialty stitches or groups of stitches where, usually the group itself is big enough to be the increase.
That being said…
The corner formula is a little different with more intricate stitch patterns.
However, it’s very similar. The formula would look something like this:
1 group, chain 2, 1 group
Take the granny square for example, where a group of three double crochets makes up much of the pattern. The corner for a granny square looks like this:
in the ch-2 space (3 dc, ch 2, 3 dc).
In other words, you have one group, two chains and another group. The increase going on here is a little more difficult to explain. Just know in most cases, a group is usually big enough to crochet a square that continues to grow and stay flat.
What about turning chains?
Even though you never turn your square when crocheting in the round, the turning chain is important. In crochet squares, the turning chain matches the height of the other stitches in the round and, in most cases, counts as a stitch.
You saw earlier that some patterns use the turning chain as the first stitch of the round while others use it as the last stitch of the round.
For all patterns here at B.Hooked, the turning chain is the last stitch of the round.
We believe this way looks much cleaner as the chain is usually hidden under another stitch. The seam is less visible. Alternatively, when the turning chain is the first stitch of the round, the seam is more visible as it “travels” from the corner to the side.
When the turning chain is the last stitch it must also include the two corner chains.
So rather than…
- 2 turning chains for half double crochets
- 3 turning chains for double crochets
- 4 turning chains for treble crochets
We add the two corner chains so it now becomes:
- 4 turning chains for half double crochets (2 = a stitch, 2 = corner chain)
- 5 turning chains for double crochets (3 = a stitch, 2 = corner chain)
- 6 turning chains for treble crochets (4 = a stitch, 2 = corner chain)
No matter how you start crochet squares you will join in the same place…
In the turning chain.
Now which turning chain is determined by the stitch. For squares with half double crochets, join in the second chain. For double crochets, join in the third chain. For treble crochets, in the fourth.
Remember if the turning chain is the last stitch, the remaining two chains are corner chains.
It’s not just you. The two corner chains usually look more round than pointed.
If your square looks like someone chiseled down the corners, don’t worry. You’re not doing anything wrong. The best way to make your square look square, and your corners more pointy, is to block it.
Blocking in a nutshell is pinning it down in the exact shape you want and “training” the stitches to take a certain shape by soaking it and allowing it to dry in that position.
A single pin in each corner and a few along the sides is enough to do the trick. It’s the closest way to achieve a perfectly square, square.
Beware of continuous crochet squares
There’s a little quirk to large squares that earned itself the name “granny lean” although it looks more like a spiral than a lean.
Because the square is never flipped like when you crochet rows, each corner leans ever so slightly in the opposite direction of your dominant hand.
This lean isn’t that noticeable for squares with say six or seven rounds but it’s very noticeable for squares with more rounds and, especially squares with stripes. They draw your eye right to it!
To avoid the granny lean, flip your work at the beginning of every round
just as if you were crocheting rows.
The best way for all of this to sink in is with a little practice. Try your hand at crochet squares with our granny square tutorial here.
When you’re ready, in Chapter 5 we’ll look at the fundamentals of another basic shape, the triangle.