Crochet can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be. You start out by learning the easiest, most basic stitches and putting them together in simple projects. It doesn’t have to get any more complicated than that. On the other hand, if you want to get fancy with crochet, there’s a world of possibilities to explore.
It is this vast array of fascinating possibilities that enables me to remain interested in this artform. I hope you’ll share this interest too.
I think one of the most interesting things you can do is take any of the basic crochet stitches, like single crochet, and start playing around with them to make small variations. These small variations are simple to execute, but they can make a massive impact on the outcome of your crochet project’s look, feel, performance, style and drape.
Let’s explore some of the different possibilities for creating fabric using variations of the humble single crochet stitch. The following is a list of 7 different ways to do single crochet:
If you haven’t yet learned how to do the standard single crochet stitch, this is by far the most important option to master out of all the options included on this list. This version is the one you’re likely to need most frequently.
To work each standard single crochet stitch, you’ll insert your hook into both loops of the stitch in the row or round below. This creates a firm, sturdy fabric that’s about as smooth as a crocheted fabric gets — but it’s still pleasantly textured.
2. Long Single Crochet Stitch, AKA Spike Stitch
In the picture above, you can see green stitches and tan stitches. The tan stitches are standard single crochet stitches. The green stitches are a mix of single crochet stitches and long single crochet stitches, which are also sometimes called spike stitches.
You work the long single crochet stitches just like a single crochet stitch, but instead of inserting your hook in the usual spot, you insert it at least one row or round below the spot you ordinarily would.
To make the best use of the long single crochet stitch, it’s fun to incorporate it into different stitch patterns, perhaps varying the rows you insert your hook into to create jagged stripes or other sorts of designs. You can use it to create interesting edgings, as pictured here; or you can incorporate it into interesting patterns to create entire fabrics. In the photo below, you can see an example of a fabric I designed using standard single crochet with accents of long single crochet stitch to add extra visual interest to the fabric:
3. Front Loop Single Crochet
What happens if you insert your crochet hook into ONLY the front loops of the stitches instead of both loops? Surprisingly, you’ll end up with a fabric that drapes, feels and looks subtly different than the fabric comprised of standard single crochet stitches. The resulting fabric drapes a little better. It feels slightly less stiff and a bit more pliable. It also has a more interesting look, thanks to the presence of little horizontal ridges that are created by those back loops you leave unworked. This creates a bit of additional texture that has a more decorative appearance than standard single crochet.
If you’re confused about what exactly I mean by “front loops” and “back loops” here, take a look at this explanation of loops in crochet.
4. Back Loop Single Crochet
Inserting your crochet hook into the back loops of each stitch gives you a dramatically different fabric than the ones we’ve discussed thus far. I’ve been crocheting for more than 30 years, and I have yet to wrap my head around exactly why the back loop single crochet stitch is so different from the front loop and standard versions. At this point, I’ve given up on wondering why, and I just take it for granted that working through the back loops will produce a stretchy, pliable fabric that looks ribbed.
You can see some of the differences clearly if you compare the swatch pictured here with the other two above; they’re obvious even on the computer screen. If you were able to hold these actual swatches in your hands and compare them, you’d be able to appreciate the differences even more.
This variation has textured horizontal ridges that are much more prominent than the ones created by crocheting through the front loops.
Much like a knitted ribbing, the fabric you create with this stitch is stretchy/ It is more resilient than a standard single crocheted fabric. You can use it in much the same way that you would use a knitted rib. (Note: there are other possible ways to make crocheted ribbing as well.)
To get the most effective ribbed effect, you’ll want to turn the piece on its side when you’re finished crocheting it.
5. Single Crochet Worked Through Alternating Front and Back Loops
Here’s another swatch comprised totally of single crochet stitches.
I created this variation by crocheting through alternating front loops and back loops. This produces a dense fabric with an interesting textural effect. When using a kitchen cotton yarn such as Knitpicks’ Dishie to crochet this stitch, the surface of the fabric turns out a bit rough and bumpy. This stitch and yarn combination is probably not what you’d want to use to make baby clothes, but it’s fantastic for using in projects like scrubbies and dishcloths.
My gauge here is noticeably different; the finished swatch is significantly narrower than the other swatches shown above.
Want to try a free crochet pattern using this single crochet stitch variation? Click here to get the single crochet sampler washcloth pattern.
To work shallow single crochet, you basically crochet into the center of a single crochet stitch instead of the top. If you work your first sample in rounds, you can finish your piece with a zipper and turn it into a change purse. If you want to give this a try, I invite you to check out our free instructions for shallow single crochet stitch.
Please be aware that I found this stitch to be more challenging than ordinary single crochet, and I wouldn’t recommend it to new, or impatient, crocheters. Blocking is necessary for good results, so I also wouldn’t recommend this project to anyone who is unwilling to block their project as part of the finishing process.
I designed this project to be a change purse, as I mentioned above; however, my cats had some other ideas about what it should be. They decided that it is definitely NOT a change purse, but rather, it’s a cat toy. So if you want to make one of these, you can decide which purpose you’d rather use it for.
7. Single Crochet Join
You can use single crochet to join two crocheted pieces together; this makes an attractive textured ridge where the pieces connect. Sounds simple, don’t you think? It is! Beyond the single crochet stitch, you just need to know a couple of quick tricks for getting started and then the technique is a no-brainer.
So that’s our roundup of 7 interesting ways to do single crochet. If you haven’t already tried these variations, we hope you’ll enjoy experimenting with them to experience all the nuances of each variation for yourself.
This page was last updated on 10/27/2018.