How to Work Reverse Single Crochet (Crab Stitch)

Completed reverse single crochet/crab stitch

Reverse single crochet, also known as crab stitch, creates a decorative cord-like effect. But if you’ve never done it, it can be tricky to understand exactly what the instructions are asking you to do.

The most important thing to understand is that you are going to be working in the opposite direction from ordinary crochet. If you are right-handed, you normally crochet from the right to the left.

Direction of normal crochet for right-handers
Right-handed crocheters usually work in this direction.

If you are left-handed, you normally crochet from the left to the right.

Direction of normal crochet for left-handers
Left-handed crocheters usually work in this direction.

But in reverse single crochet, you are going the other way!

Follow the instructions below, referring to the right-handed or left-handed images to for additional help. I’ve also included a helpful video which you’ll find at the bottom of the post.

Step-by-Step Instructions

At the end of the last row, chain 1, but do not turn the work.

As you crochet this row, keep your hook headed in the same direction that you have been working. (Pointed to the left for right-handers and to the right for left-handers.)

Keep your index finger on the stitch on the hook so that it doesn’t jump off the hook. Insert the hook into the first stitch.

Reverse single crochet: Insert hook into first stitch; right-handed
Right-handed
Reverse single crochet: Insert hook into first stitch; left-handed
Left-handed

Yarn over and pull up a loop. Remember to keep the hook pointing to the left or right as described above.

Reverse single crochet: Yarn over and pull up a loop; right-handed
Right-handed
Reverse single crochet: Yarn over and pull up a loop; left-handed
Left-handed

Now yarn over and pull through both loops on the hook to complete the first single crochet.

Reverse single crochet: Yarn over and pull through two loops; right-handed
Right-handed
Reverse single crochet: Yarn over and pull through two loops; left-handed
Left-handed

Holding the loop on the hook, insert the hook into the next stitch and complete a single crochet.

Reverse single crochet: Insert hook into next stitch and complete the next single crochet; right-handed
Right-handed
Reverse single crochet: Insert hook into next stitch and complete the next single crochet; left-handed
Left-handed

Continue working all the way across the row. Remember to keep your hook pointing to the left if it’s in your right hand, or to the right if it’s in your left hand. Use your index finger to keep the loops on the hook when they want to jump off.

And relax! Breathe! You’ve got this!

Completed reverse single crochet/crab stitch edging
A completed crab stitch edging

Watch Crab Stitch in Action

The following may contain affiliate links. If you buy something when you use one of those links, I may get a small income, but it won’t cost you anything extra.

You’ll find edgings that incorporate crab stitch/reverse single crochet in Around the Corner Crochet Borders and Every Which Way Crochet Borders. For more crochet tips and techniques, subscribe to my YouTube channel.

I’ve got more links to crochet resources at Crochet: Basics & Beyond.

The yarn I used in the photos and videos is Red Heart Chic Sheep. The crochet hook is Clover Amour, size 5 mm.

How to Knit Intarsia in Garter Stitch

Garter Stitch Intarsia
Garter Stitch Intarsia Swatch

Intarsia knitting can be a fun color knitting technique! The trick is in understanding how to prevent holes at the color changes. While a lot of intarsia projects are knitted in stockinette stitch, it’s easy to do in garter stitch if you know how.

Let’s work through this simple intarsia sample together, and I’ll show you how wonderful it can be to knit intarsia in garter stitch. Scroll down to the bottom of the post for a video.

This post may contain affiliate links which may provide a small income to me if you buy something, but don’t cost you anything.

What is Intarsia Knitting?

Intarsia is a color knitting technique that uses one yarn color at a time to create blocks of color. You work across stitches in one color, then drop the old color and pick up the new color to begin working the next stitches.

The yarns are twisted around each other at the color change to prevent holes.

Compare this to stranded knitting techniques where you hold multiple colors across a row, or slip stitch techniques which use just one yarn and just one color across the entire row.

yarn balls and yarn butterfly
I’m using three colors. The pink is wound into a yarn butterfly.

You can use separate full balls of yarn, or wind your yarn into yarn butterflies or yarn bobbins.

In this sample I used full balls for the blue and the green and a yarn butterfly for the pink. I’m using Marly Bird’s Chic Sheep from Red Heart, and Clover Takumi bamboo knitting needles, size 5 mm.

Intarsia in Stockinette Stitch vs. Garter Stitch

If you’ve never done intarsia before, it can seem intimidating. Just remember that you are only holding one strand of yarn at a time, so how hard can it really be?

There’s a simple rule for remembering how to twist the yarns at the color change:

  • Hold the old color to the left
  • Pick up the new color from underneath (and to the right of) the old color
  • Begin working with the new color.

The trick is to cross the yarns on the wrong side at each color change to prevent a hole. In stockinette stitch this becomes intuitive, because the yarn is just where it needs to be, at the front or back of the knitting, as you come to it. In garter stitch, however, when you are knitting wrong side rows, you have to bring the yarn forward between the needles to allow that yarn crossing to happen on the wrong side.

Confused? Me too. I’d rather show you.

Reading a Chart

Garter stitch is usually worked from a chart. While there are different ways of presenting the information for a garter stitch chart, we’ll be working from this one.

Intarsia in Garter Stitch chart

I’ve made a printable pdf of the chart available to make it easier for you to follow along.

Download the PDF for chart Button

This chart is read in the ordinary way, with each rectangle representing a stitch. Right side (odd-numbered) rows are worked from right to left and wrong side (even-numbered) rows are worked from left to right. Note that all the rows are knit.

Intarsia in Garter Stitch chart

Cast On and Row 1

Garter Stitch Intarsia Cast on and Row 1
Cast on 10 stitches in each color.

You’ll read the chart beginning with Row 1, a right side row. If you use a long-tail cast on, you can count the cast on as Row 1. This is what I like to do when working garter stitch.

Using a long-tail cast on, cast on 10 stitches in blue, then 10 stitches in green. At this point, the cast ons will not be connected to each other.

Row 2

Row 2 is a wrong side row, read from left to right. Knit 10 stitches in green.

Garter Stitch Intarsia Row 2, photo 1
Bring old color between needles to the front.

Now that you’ve finished with the green for this row, it’s time to change to blue, but you need to twist the yarns to prevent a hole. This twist needs to happen on the wrong side. Since this is a wrong side row, that means that the twist needs to happen on the side closest to you.

Garter Stitch Intarsia, Row 2, photo 2
Pick up new color from underneath so that the old color crosses over the new color.

Bring the old color (green) to the front between the needles. Hold it to the left. Pick up the new color (blue) from underneath the old color and bring it between the needles to the back.


Bring new color to the back and knit with new color.

Begin knitting with the new color, and knit to the end of the row.

Row 3

Garter Stitch Intarsia, hold old color to the left
On right side rows, hold old color to the left.

This is a right side row, and the color change will happen on the back (wrong side). Knit 10 with blue, then hold the old color (blue) to the left


Garter Stitch Intarsia Pick up new color from underneath old color.
Pick up new color from underneath old color.

and pick up the new color (green) from underneath the old color. Knit 10 with green.


Row 4

Once more on a wrong side row, for good measure: Knit 10 blue, bring yarn forward between the needles. Hold the blue to the left. Pick up the green from underneath the blue and bring the green to the back. Knit 10 with green.

Row 5

Garter Stitch Intarsia Add pink on Row 5
Add pink on Row 5.

It’s time to add a third color! Knit 9 stitches in blue. Leaving a long tail, knit 2 stitches in pink. Hold the pink to the left and pick up the green from underneath, knit 9 stitches in green.

Rows 6-24

Work in pattern according to the chart, crossing the yarns when the colors change.

Bind Off and Weaving In Ends

Garter Stitch Intarsia Bind off closeup
Knit the last stitch of the blue with green yarn.

Bind off on a right side row, using the following trick to make sure you maintain a clean color transition. Beginning with blue, bind off until there is 1 blue stitch on your right needle and 1 blue stitch on your left needle.



Garter Stitch Intarsia completed bind off
This bind-off method prevents the blue from creeping into the green section.

Knit the next stitch in green (turning the blue stitch into a green stitch). Continue binding off in green.


Garter Stitch Intarsia Weave in ends.
Weave in ends.

Use the remaining pink tails to close up the holes at the beginning and end of the diamond, then weave in those ends on the wrong side of the pink section. Weave in remaining ends.

What are you going to knit next? Will you give garter stitch intarsia a try?

Skill-Builder Crochet Blanket Crochet Along

Plan now to join me in the Skill-Builder Crochet Blanket Crochet Along. Whether you’ve mastered all the basic crochet stitches, or you just know how to chain and single crochet, you’ll learn new skills with each square you complete.

The Crochet Along (CAL) runs February 4-March 19 on Ravelry, but you can join anytime. Pattern clues will be released on Mondays and Thursdays; each will contain both text and charted instructions, and most will contain video technique lessons. 

The Construction

Red Crocheted Square Skill-Builder Crochet Blanket

The Skill-Builder Crochet Blanket is made up of 12 pieces crocheted separately. You’ll use a different stitch pattern for each square, and along with each stitch pattern you’ll learn a new skill. You’ll also pick up tips and tricks for making your crochet look its best.

When the squares are complete, you’ll block them, join them using a crocheted seam, then add an edging.

Skills Built

The list is long! You’ll learn to:

  • Crochet into the back bump of a chain
  • Understand the use of turning chains
  • Pick up stitches evenly along an edge
  • Read pattern instructions
  • Understand crochet symbol charts
  • Understand stitch multiples
  • Crochet twelve stitch patterns
  • Create linked stitches
  • Work rows without turning
  • AND MORE!

Crochet Blanket in 2 Sizes

Diagonal view of large blanket
  • 7″ squares for a baby blanket measuring about  24″ [61 cm] wide  by 33″ [84 cm] long, using three colors
  • 13″ squares for a large blanket measuring about 42″ [107 cm] wide by 57″ [145 cm] long, using four colors

The Yarn

Grey ball of Encore yarn Skill-Builder Crochet blanket

I recommend using Plymouth Encore, a worsted-weight blend of 75% acrylic/25% wool. The wool content allows the yarn to be blocked nicely, and this yarn holds up to washing! Each skein of Plymouth Encore contains about 200 yards [182 m].

You’ll need a total of about 4 balls for the small size and 13 balls for the large size. Details about yarn colors and amounts are included in the pattern introduction.

Plymouth Encore is available at your local yarn shop. However, to make it extra easy to find the yarn, you can order kits directly from The Knitter’s Edge, a full-service yarn shop in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Email or call 610-419-9276 to order the yarn kit. You can choose the colors I used, or let them help you decide on colors that fit your decor. Order now, and they’ll have the yarn to you in plenty of time to start crocheting on February 4.

How to Crochet Along With Us

Buy the pattern on Ravelry. You’ll receive the preliminary pattern information you need right away. Discussion will take place in my Ravelry group.

On February 4, and every Monday and Thursday through March 19, you’ll receive an updated pattern with the instructions for the next installment. The pattern price will go up when the CAL is over, so get it now and crochet along with us!

Be sure to check into the Ravelry group thread to ask questions and share your progress. #SkillbuilderCAL

Join the CAL button

To brush up on your crochet skills, check out Crochet: Basics & Beyond.