Almost every crochet stitch includes the instruction “yarn over”. But what is a yarn over and how is it different from a yarn under? Does it really make a difference in your crochet?
Yes, it does make a difference. Let me explain. Read all the way to the bottom of the post, then watch the video.
I’m using American crochet terminology.
How to Yarn Over
Start with your hands in the ready position, as shown in the photos. The hook is in front of the working yarn.
Your dominant hand holds the hook and your non-dominant hand controls the yarn, with the working yarn coming over your index finger. This means that if you are right-handed, the hook is in your right hand and the yarn in your left. If you are left-handed, the hook is in your left hand and the yarn is in your right.
Press back with the hook and at the same time bring the yarn over the hook from back to front. The yarn will be crossing the front of the hook from upper right to lower left if you are right-handed, and from upper left to lower right if you are left-handed.
How to Yarn Under
Start in the ready position as described above, but bring the hook over the top of the working yarn, so that the yarn crosses the front of the hook from lower right to upper left for right-handers, or from lower left to upper right for left-handers.
Single Crochet: Yarn Over and Yarn Under
To work a regular single crochet, insert the hook into the stitch, yarn over — notice the position of the yarn — and pull up a loop, then yarn over and pull through two loops on the hook.
Some crocheters work a yarn under instead of a yarn over at a crucial point. Often they don’t even know they are doing a yarn under! Here’s what typically happens:
Insert the hook into the stitch, yarn under — notice the position of the yarn — and pull up a loop, then yarn over and pull through two loops on the hook.
Why Does It Matter?
Take a look at the photo below. In the first few rows, I crocheted a regular single crochet, made with yarn overs. The two legs of these single crochet are parallel to one another.
Then I switched techniques on the last row. On that row, after I inserted the hook into the stitch, I did a yarn under then finished off the second step with a yarn over. In this example, the two legs of the single crochet are crossed.
The yarn unders create twisted stitches, but they also change the gauge and the drape of the fabric. Chances are, if you’ve been working unintended yarn unders, you’ve been having trouble matching the pattern gauge! Try it yourself and see the difference.
Some people like to use yarn under single crochet stitches for amigurumi projects. That’s fine, as long as it is intentional!
Double Crochet: Yarn Over and Yarn Under
Double crochet has three yarn overs, and thus three opportunities to make yarn unders. However, let’s concentrate on what happens when you do a yarn under right after you insert your hook into the fabric, as above.
Here’s a regular double crochet: Yarn over, insert the hook into the stitch, yarn over and pull up a loop, (yarn over, pull through 2 loops) two times.
See how the legs at the base of the double crochet are parallel?
Here’s a twisted double crochet: Yarn over, insert the hook into the stitch, yarn under and pull up a loop, (yarn over, pull through 2 loops) two times.
This time, the legs at the base of the double crochet are twisted.
Know the Difference
If you are just learning to crochet, pay attention to the way you are wrapping the yarn over the hook. Get into the habit of checking that you are working a yarn over (unless the pattern says otherwise).
If you have been crocheting for a while and have only just discovered that you are doing unintentional yarn unders, it’s not too late to change!
Take time to study what you have been doing, then practice working yarn overs instead of yarn unders. It may feel strange at first, but you will eventually find that it is easier to get the yarn through the fabric with a yarn over.
Has this post been eye-opening to you? Have you discovered that you were yarn undering when you should have been yarn overing? Let me know in the comments.
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