Annette Petavy Design – Newsletter October 2009 – Crochet in the round … but back and forth

In the round … but back and forth:

Very often it will be convenient to work a crochet project in the round (a hat, a skirt, a glove, a doily…). However, when working in the round, the very nature of crochet stitches may play tricks on you.

As I think you know, a crochet stitch is slightly asymmetrical. If you make a double crochet and study it closely, you will see that the top part of the stitch, into which you will work another stitch in the next row, is slightly offset to the right compared to the « body » or « stem » of the stitch.

If you work back and forth, this is not really a problem, since this tendency will be balanced by the alternating rows.

If you work in the round using a stitch pattern in which each new row is worked into a chain-space in the previous row (this would be the case for example when you work shells containing a center chain), it is not a problem either – the chain-space will be well centered, and the stitches will line up neatly in vertical columns.

However, if you work in the round using a stitch pattern in which you work each row into the stitches of the previous row, each new row will be slightly offset to the right, creating a skewed effect.

It might not matter. In a hat worked in all sc, this is hardly noticeable and not much to fuss about. But then again, it might matter. You might dislike the diagonal « seam » created when you change colours (whether you close each round with a slip stitch or not). You might want to balance a lace pattern in your circular project, or simply to create vertical lines instead of slightly diagonal ones.

Then it might be useful to know how to work in the round … but still back and forth.

I will use the following stitch pattern to illustrate this technique:

In charted form, it looks like this:

It’s a multiple of 5 stitches + 1.

As you can see, the flowerlike shapes are formed by 3 clusters of 2 dc each (2-dc clusters are one of my current obsessions).  They are all worked on odd-numbered rows. On even-numbered rows single crochets and chain arches « travel » back over the work.

When working back and forth, the single crochet worked into the top of the center 2-dc cluster balances the asymmetry of the stitch, and the stitches line up vertically without a problem.

Now, let’s take a look at the same stitch pattern worked in the round:

If you can’t see the difference, look closely at the edges and see how the pattern slants.

This swatch is worked round and round in the traditional way, working all rows (or rounds) from the right side of the work. Here, the single crochet doesn’t balance the stitch in the row/round below. lnstead, since it is worked in the same direction, it reinforces the asymmetry of the stitch and contributes to the slanting of all stitches.

What can we do about this? One simple little thing:

Just when we’ve closed the odd-numbered round with a slip stitch, and before starting the even-numbered round, we turn the work over so that we work from the inside of the tube.

The picture above shows a project in another stitch pattern, but the idea is just the same. In the picture, the work has just been turned over, and the even-numbered round will start. We will work with the inside of the tube facing us, on the back/wrong side of the work. When this round is finished, we will turn the work over again and work the odd-numbered row from the outside of the tube.

And does that change the look of the stitch pattern? Yes, indeed it does!

This swatch is worked in the round, but every other row is worked from the inside of the tube as described above. Can you see how neatly the stitches line up?

Which makes me think that a good subject for a future newsletter could be how to transform a flat stitch pattern so it can be worked in the round …

But for this month, I think I’ve given you enough food for thought!

See you soon!

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