Crochet Yarn Overs and Yarn Unders: What’s the Difference?

Are you using yarn under graphic

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.

Neutral "Ready" position for right hand
Neutral “ready” position for right hand

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.

Neutral "ready" position for left hand
Neutral “ready” position for left hand

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.

Yarn over for right-handed crocheters
Yarn over for right-handed crocheters
Yarn over for left-handed crocheters
Yarn over for left-handed crocheters

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.

Yarn under for right-handed crocheters
Yarn under for right-handed crocheters
Yarn under for left-handed crocheters
Yarn under for left-handed crocheters

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.

regular sc compared to crossed sc
The stitch circled in red is crossed, while the stitch circled in green is straight.

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?

double crochet with parallel legs made with yarn over
The strands on the base of this 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.

Twisted double crochet stitches made with yarn under
The base of these double crochets are twisted.

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.

The following affiliate links might provide a small income to me if you buy something, but don’t cost you anything extra.

The yarn I’m using in the photos and video is Marly Bird’s Chic Sheep from Red Heart. The crochet hook is Clover Amour, size 5.5 mm.

Keep Learning

Want to know more about crochet? I’ve got resources and links to up your skill level.

Crochet Technique: Crossover Slip Stitch

Closeup of Crossover Slip Stitch

Crossover Slip Stitch allows you to cross your crochet hook over a chain. It keeps the chain looking smooth and right-facing, while allowing you to do some fancy stitch patterning.

The exact location of the slip stitch—that is, what the slip stitch is crossing—will depend on your pattern and the purpose of the crossover slip stitch.

Crochet a Decorative Chain

Crochet a Decorative Chain with Crossover Slip Stitch graphic

Let’s look at a little decorative chain as an example. The “pattern” for this chain is:

*Chain 8, crossover slip stitch in 4th chain from hook; repeat from * for desired length.

Scroll on down to see a video of this in action.

How to Crochet Crossover Slip Stitch

Step 1. Insert hook into designated stitch

Step 1. Insert hook into designated stitch.


Step 2A Cross chain over working yarn

Step 2. Cross chain over working yarn. Alternately, you can cross the yarn ball under the work in progress.

Step 2B Cross chain over working yarn

Step 3 Yarn over and pull through to complete slip stitch

Step 3. Yarn over, pull through everything on your hook to complete the slip stitch.

When to Use Crossover Slip Stitch

Crossover slip stitch bit of a hidden technique, in that I don’t know that it has a widely accepted name. It’s long been my argument that crochet suffers from a lack of nomenclature that would help us share knowledge easily. When I coined the term standing stitches, somehow people started “discovering” the technique. I hope that by naming this technique crossover slip stitch and using the technique in my patterns, more crocheters will learn about it and spread the word!

You can find crossover slip stitch in Connect the Shapes Crochet Motifs. It’s all over the Eulerian Triangles Shawl. And watch for it in an upcoming free pattern right here on the blog!

5 Tips for Beautiful Crochet Borders

A crochet border provides a polished touch to your crocheted or knit project. No matter what type of crochet border design you choose, follow these 5 tips to set a solid foundation for beautiful crochet borders.

Tip #1: Start with a Base Row/Round

Tip #1 showing base row worked with main color and with constrasting color
The base row worked in the main color blends in, while the base row worked in a contrasting color highlights uneven stitches.

Start with a base row or round of single crochet in the same color as your main fabric. Using the same color makes the base row blend into the fabric and hides any uneven stitches. You can use a contrasting color on the next row, and the stitches will look nice and even.

Tip #2 Work Stitches Evenly Spaced

Tip #2 showing arrows evenly spaced

The base row stitches should be evenly spaced along each edge. This may be one stitch in every stitch across, or some other ratio, like 2 stitches out of every 3. Along a selvedge (side edge) the ratio may be one single crochet in each single crochet row-end, 2 single crochets in each double-crochet row-end, or some other ratio. You’ll have to play with those ratios to get them just right for your situation.

Tip #3 Put Your Hook Into Selvedge Stitches

Tip #3 showing stitches worked into selvedge correctly and incorrectly
Working the base row stitches around the post or chain creates a hole.

It’s tempting to put your hook into the nice chain space or post stitch along the vertical edges. Resist the temptation! Instead, put the hook into the “meat” of the stitch: the actual chain stitch or post of the stitch.

Tip #4 Increase at Corners

3 single crochets in each corner allows the edge to lie flat.

If you are working all the way around around a square or rectangle, you’ll need to increase at the corners to ensure the edging stays flat. Put 3 single crochet stitches into each corner stitch. On later rounds, you’ll need to increase in pattern to allow the border to lie flat.

Tip #5 Assess Your Work

Tip #5 showing too many stitches on a base row
On this swatch, there are slightly too many stitches for the base row, causing the edge to flare out slightly. This subtle excess will cause the edging to ripple and flare more as you work additional rows.

Stop from time to time and look critically at what you’ve done so far. Is it lying flat? Does it curve in or out, even a little bit? Does it ripple or draw in?


Tip #5 showing edges drawing inward.
Although it may not be noticeable at first, this row is drawing the fabric inward. See how the side edges curve in toward the top? They didn’t do that before the purple row was added.

If it’s not entirely flat, rip it out and adjust your stitches until it does lie absolutely flat. Taking the time to set up your first row or round perfectly will the the main ingredient in the success of your crocheted border.


More Tips for Beautiful Crochet Borders

Crocheted edgings are one of my favorite topics! I’ve developed lots of ideas on how to enhance your projects with edgings both plan and fancy.

Together, Around the Corner Crochet Borders and Every Which Way Crochet Borders offer more than 289 border patterns designed to flow around 90-degree corners. You can work them back-and-forth, as well. You are sure to find a border that is just right for your next project.

http://shrsl.com/qmrz

If you prefer video instruction, watch Fantastic Finishes: Edgings & Borders on Bluprint.

For more crochet tips, go to Crochet: Basics & Beyond.





Crafting A New Family Holiday Tradition

crochet lesson on the sofa

This year the Eckman family started a new family holiday tradition: crafting together. Over Christmas week, both my 20-something children were home for a visit at the same time.

This post contains affiliate links.

Daughter Meg had brought a variety of left-over yarns to crochet flowers for a Spring Wreath.  Charles, visiting from far-away California, had in mind that he wanted to crochet a Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) dice bag. He asked if I’d teach him to crochet.  How could I possibly refuse?

A Crochet Lesson

Crochet hook in jeans pocket

I grabbed a ball of Meg’s green yarn (conveniently sitting on the coffee table in front of us), a 5 mm crochet hook (conveniently within reach on my rolling cart), and demonstrated holding the hook and yarn.

A bag is a great first project. We covered the skills of slip knot, chain, slip stitch, chain-1 build-up chains, working into a ring, and single crochet in the first five minutes. Charles was a quick study, understanding the concepts right away. It was just a matter of his becoming comfortable manipulating the yarn and hook.

Wreath with crocheted flowers
Meg’s wreath with crocheted flowers

With the basic skills in place, we went back to our respective projects. I worked on my Crochet Skill-Builder Afghan (Crochet Along coming very soon!), Meg grew an entire garden of blooming flowers, and Charles worked out his own way of holding yarn and hook. And husband Bill? He joined in by helping untangle and re-wind a mess of yarn. It really was a family affair!

After a while, I demonstrated double crochet, so the bag-in-progress got a round of taller stitches here and there. When the bag was the right size, he added a drawstring chain in a contrasting color. By the end of the day, the bag was complete, and it was a rousing success!

Outfitting the Newbie

Crocheted Drawstring Bag with Teal accent

Of course, our next step was to go shopping in the Yarn Room (AKA “the attic”) for yarn for the next bag. Mountain Colors Weaver’s Wool Quarters in color Glacier Teal was the winner, with a bit of odd-ball teal of unknown origin for accent. This bag is a bit larger. It’s designated as a project bag, to hold not only a WIP (Work in Progress), but also the small collection of stitch markers, scissors, and other necessities that every crocheter needs.

Over several days, we worked on various projects. Instead of staring at our individual device screens, we worked with nice yarn, created beautiful things and (gasp!) talked to one another.

He’s Hooked

Charles crocheting

We now have a Crochet Convert. Between stitching sessions, Charles polled members of his D&D campaign to ask what two colors would best represent their characters. He headed back to California with enough yarn to make custom dice bags for all the players in the campaign, along with hooks in varying sizes, and a copy of The Crochet Answer Book. (I’m assuming that none of them read this blog, so a spoiler alert wasn’t necessary there.)

Planning for Next Year

Crocheting together was a lovely way to spend time together as a family. I think we’ve crafted a new holiday tradition! This year it was crochet. I wonder what we’ll do next year?

Next week, I’ll share the pattern for the Crochet Bag for Beginners (AKA D&D Dice Bag).

For a bit of perspective, check out Teach a Young Child to Knit. These same two “children” appear with yarn there, too.


Knit Socks For Those You Love - 11 Original Designs By Edie Eckman

Front Post & Back Post Double Crochet

Path of hook for front post dc

FPdc and BPdc symbolsWhen a pattern calls for working a front post double crochet or a back post double crochet, what do you do? Working around the post of the stitch can be quite easy, but you have to bend your brain a bit at first to understand the concept. Read the instructions below for how to work front and back post double crochet, then scroll down for a video tutorial.

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Identify the Posts

Post of stitch circledBefore you can work a post stitch, you need to know what a “post” is. A post is the vertical part of a stitch. Double crochet is a tall-ish stitch, which makes the double crochet post easy to recognize.

For both front post and back post double crochet, use a chain-2 turning chain at the beginning of a row and a half double crochet in the last stitch of the row.

Front Post Double Crochet

Path of hook for front post dcTo work a front post double crochet (FPdc or fpdc), yarn over, insert the hook from front to back to front around the post of the stitch, yarn over and pull up a loop, then (yarn over and pull through 2 loops) twice.

FPdc is simply a double crochet worked by inserting your hook around the post from front to back to front, rather than into the top two loops of a stitch as you normally would.

A front post stitch sits up in front of the fabric, creating a raised stitch that “pops” toward you.

Back Post Double Crochet

Path of hook for back post dcTo work a back post double crochet (BPdc or bpdc), yarn over, insert the hook from back to front to back around the post of the stitch, yarn over and pull up a loop, then (yarn over and pull through 2 loops) twice.

BPdc is simply a double crochet worked by inserting your hook around the post from back to front to back, rather than into the top two loops of a stitch as you normally would.

A back post stitch recedes behind the fabric, creating a stitch that hides behind the others, away from you. Keep this in mind, because when you turn the work, that back post double crochet that was hiding on the first row is now sitting up in front of the fabric and appears as a front post stitch.

Double Crochet Rib

Double Crochet RibTo make double crochet rib, work one front post double crochet and one back post double crochet, alternating across the row. On the following row, work front post double crochet around the front post stitches and back post double crochet around the back post stitches. After a few rows, you’ll see a vertically-textured pattern appear.

Check out the video to see these stitches in action.

Crochet Answer Book 2nd edition
The Crochet Answer Book

For answers to all your crochet questions, read The Crochet Answer Book. For more online resources, check out Crochet: Basics & Beyond.


Crochet Pattern: Tower Stitch Granny Square

Tower Stitch Granny SquareHere’s a new take on the classic granny square. Use it wherever you would use a regular granny square.

(This post contains affiliate links.)

The pattern is written for four colors (A, B, C & D), but use as many colors as you like. I used Lion Brand Vanna’s Choice for this square. It’s a great way to use up small amounts of yarn!

If you’ve never crocheted a Tower Stitch before, check out this blog post or watch the video.

Tower Stitch Granny Square

Tower Stitch Granny Square chart

Abbreviations & Special Stitches

Ch: chain

Dc: double crochet

Edc (extended double crochet): Yarn over, insert hook into next stitch, yarn over hook and pull up a loop, yarn over, pull through 1 loop on hook, (yarn over, pull through 2 loops) 2 times.

Partial Tower St: Complete 1 edc, dc into base of edc as follows:  yarn over, insert hook under both strands at base of edc, yarn over and pull up a loop, (yarn over and pull through 2 loops) 2 times.

Rep: repeat

Rnd(s): round(s)

St(s): stitch(es)

Tower St: Complete 1 edc,  2 dcs in base of previous edc as follows:  *yarn over, insert hook under both strands at base of edc, yarn over hook and pull up a loop, (yarn over and pull through 2 loops) 2 times; rep from * once more.

 Instructions

With A, ch 4, join with slip st to form a ring OR begin with an adjustable ring/Magic Ring..

Rnd 1: Ch 3 (counts as dc), 11 dc in ring, join with sl st to top of ch-3—12 dc. Fasten off.

Rnd 2: Join B in any space between 2 dcs, ch 3, Tower st in same space, *sk 2 dc, 2 Tower sts in space between next 2 dc; rep from * 2 more times, sk 3 dc, partial Tower st in beginning space, join with sl st to top of ch-3. Fasten off.

Rnd 3: Join C in corner space between 2 Tower sts, ch 3, Tower st in same space, *Tower st in space between next 2 Tower sts, 2 Tower sts in space between next 2 Tower sts; rep from * 2 more times, Tower st in space between next 2 Tower sts, partial Tower st in beginning space, join with slip st to top of ch-3. Fasten off.

Rnd 4: Join A in corner space between 2 Tower sts, ch 3, Tower st in same space, *(Tower st in space between next 2 Tower sts) 2 times, 2 Tower sts in space between next 2 Tower sts; rep from * around, ending last rep partial Tower st in beginning space, join with slip st to top of ch-3. Fasten off.

Rnd 5: Join B in corner space between 2 Tower sts, ch 3, Tower st in same sp, *(Tower st in space between next 2 Tower sts) 3 times, 2 Tower sts in space between next 2 Tower sts; rep from * around, ending last rep partial Tower st in beginning space, join with slip st to top of ch-3. Fasten off.

Weave in ends.

What Will You Do Next?

To learn some almost-painless ways to join these squares to make a blanket or other item, watch one of my Craftsy videos, or read Connect the Shapes Crochet Motifs.

Or work along with me in the Baby Blanket Crochet Along.

There are SO many things you can do with a granny square, and SO many ways to put them together!

Crochet Answer Book 2nd edition
The Crochet Answer Book

For answers to all your crochet questions, read The Crochet Answer Book. For more online resources, check out Crochet: Basics & Beyond.