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How to crochet in the round 2 How to Crochet in the Round:  Spiral vs Joining

There are a few ways to crochet in the round.  I want to touch on three of those in this post:

  • working in a spiral
  • joining in the round starting in the same stitch as the joining stitch
  • joining in the round starting in the stitch after the joining stitch

If you are required to (or choose to) turn at the end of each round, futuregirl’s seamless single crochet tutorial is an excellent photo-laden tutorial.

This photo tutorial will show you how to accomplish each of these three methods.  I also hope to shed some light on the differences between the methods.  Lastly I will touch on interchanging methods and what would happen if you use one method where another one is required by a pattern.

How to crochet in the round 1 How to Crochet in the Round:  Spiral vs Joining

How to crochet in the Round

A Guide to Working in a Spiral and Joining in the Round

If you do not want to read the whole article, you can skip to the relevant section by clicking on the bullet points below.

Please note that I use US terminology throughout.  Why?  Because that’s just how I roll.

I have used running stitch markers throughout to make it easier to see the seam.  I am a massive advocate for using running stitch markers.  They take a split second to flick back and forth over your work and can save you A LOT of headache.

Working in a spiral

For illustration purposes I have started with a 15-ch foundation chain.  This method applies to absolutely anything that needs to be worked in a spiral.  What that means is that you won’t join the beginning and end of each round.  Rather you will continue around, making the first st of each round in the first st of the previous round.

Recommendations

I strongly recommend using a running stitch marker when you work in a spiral as you won’t have any other prompts/cues to remind you where the end of the round should fall.  If you are just working a tube, this doesn’t really matter.  If you are making something shaped, like a head or a body, this can be detrimental!

An example of a pattern written for crocheting in a spiral would be:

  1. Ch 15.  Don’t turn and don’t join.  Just continue around, working the first st of the next round in the first st of this round.
  2. 15 x sc.  {15}
  3. 15 x sc.  {15}

Method

After you have worked your foundation chain (the first row/round of any crochet pattern – see photo 1), insert your hook into the first ch st (the one furthest away from your hook – photo 2) and make a sc  (photo 3).

Picture121 How to Crochet in the Round:  Spiral vs Joining

If you are working in a spiral and you want to use a piece of yarn as a running st marker, you can only start doing it from the end of round 2 as there is nothing to hold the yarn in place at the end of round 1.  So continue to work each st of round 2 as required by the pattern.  Your last st of round 2 should fall in the last st of the foundation chain (photo 4).

Before starting the next round, lay a piece of scrap yarn over your work (photo 5).  Now crochet the next round, starting in the next available stitch, which will be the first st of round 2.

Picture13 How to Crochet in the Round:  Spiral vs Joining

Continue working your rounds, making the first st of every round in the first st of the previous round and flicking your stitch marker back and forth before the first st of each round (photos 7 and 8).  If you ARE using a running st marker it will serve as a visual cue that you are still on the right track.  The last st of the round should should fall in the st to the right of the st marker (photo 6).

Picture14 How to Crochet in the Round:  Spiral vs Joining

When you work in a spiral you will not have a seam at all.  The running stitch marker below shows you where each round started.  You can see that it creeps slightly to the right as your crochet item progresses.

Picture151 How to Crochet in the Round:  Spiral vs Joining

 Pros

Working in a spiral is ridiculously easy.  No joining and no fussing.  As long as you keep an eye on where your rounds need to start and finish you will be fine!

Cons

The down-side to working in a spiral is that you have a bump at the beginning and the end of your work.  This does not make a difference when the piece is sewn onto another piece.

Remedy

I usually just take a yarn needle and thread the initial tail of yarn through both remaining loops of the last chain stitch.  This flattens the bump out almost as if you had made a sl st.

To get rid of the bump at the end of your work most patterns will inform you to sl st in the next st and then bind off, making the bump less noticeable.

Joining in the round – starting in the same st as the sl st join

For the most part, this method is completely interchangeable with working in a spiral as the first st of each round creeps to the right in both of these methods.  So if you have a pattern that calls for joining in the round, you can just as easily ignore the sl st join at the end of each round and the ch-1 at the beginning of each round and just continue working in a spiral.

For illustration purposes I have started with a 15-ch foundation chain.  This method applies to absolutely anything that requires you to join in the round starting in the same stitch as the sl st join.

An example of a pattern written for crocheting in the round in this way would be:

  1. Ch 15.  Join to the first st with a sl st.  {15}
  2. Ch 1.  Sc in the same st as the sl st join and the next 14 st’s.  Join to the first st with a sl st.  {15}
  3. Ch 1.  Sc in the same st as the sl st join and the next 14 st’s.  Join to the first st with a sl st.  {15}

Method

After you have worked your foundation chain (the first row/round of any crochet pattern – see photo 1), insert your hook into the first ch st (the one furthest away from your hook – photo 2) and make a sl st (photo 3).

How to crochet in the round 3 How to Crochet in the Round:  Spiral vs Joining

Ch 1 to begin the next round.  Each round will start with a ch-1 to get you up to the height you need (if you are using hdc or dc’s, each round will start with a ch-2 or a ch-3 as applicable).  This chain stitch does not count as a stitch! (Or chain stitches if applicable)

If you are going to use a running stitch marker, lay it over your work after making the ch-1 but before making the first stitch of the round (photo 4).  Now make the first sc in the same st as the sl st join (photo 5).  Continue working the rest of your stitches.  When you get to end of the round, you should have what looks like one stitch left.  This is not a stitch, but rather the back-end of the slip stitch join.  Skip this stitch AND the initial ch-1 and join to the first st (sc) with a sl st (photo 6).

How to crochet in the round 4 How to Crochet in the Round:  Spiral vs Joining

Continue working each subsequent round in the same way, making your first st in the same st as the sl st join and skipping the join st and the initial ch-1 when joining at the end of the round.

Remember to flick your running stitch marker backwards and forwards after each initial ch-1.  Using a running stitch marker makes it easier to distinguish which stitch is the initial ch-1 as it will fall directly over the st marker.  So if you have any trouble determining which st to join to, make sure that you don’t join to the stitch on top of the stitch marker as that will be the ch st.  Join to the st AFTER the st marker, which will be the first st.

When you join in the round like this you will get quite a visible seam that will creep slightly to the right as your item progresses.  Because you are skipping the join and the initial ch-1, your seam will be gappy, with visible bumps.

How to crochet in the round 5 How to Crochet in the Round:  Spiral vs Joining

Pros

Joining in the round like this makes it easy to keep track of your stitch counts.  At the end of each round you should have a st left before the st marker (this will be the joining st).  If you don’t have a st left, or you have 2 st’s left, it immediately flags up the fact that you have made an error, either in this round or the previous.

Cons

The seam is clearly visible and can be an eyesore, especially if you change colours at the end of each round.

Remedy

If you are only making a tube or something where the placement of your increases is not particularly important, you can consider using futuregirl’s method for seamless single crochet.  This method involves turning the work at the end of every round though, so is only suitable for things where the placement of the increases is not important!  You cannot turn your work on things like a shaped head unless the pattern specifically calls for the work to be turned.

Joining in the round – starting in the st after the sl st join

This is the method my granny taught me and I prefer it for various reasons.  It is NOT interchangeable with the other two methods AT ALL, unless you are only working a tube or a flat circle where the placement of the increases  don’t matter.

I use this method for my Amamani (Amigurumi Amish Puzzle Animals), specifically the rhinosaur, the elephant, the dinosaur, the horse and the giraffe.

For illustration purposes I have started with a 15-ch foundation chain.  This method applies to patterns where the designer specifically expresses that the first stitch should not be worked in the same st as the sl st join.

An example of a pattern written for this method would be:

Please note:  for the purposes of this pattern, do not make your first st in the same st as the sl st join.  This will mean that your last st will fall in the back end of the sl st join, which is quite tight.

  1. Ch 15.  Join to the first st with a sl st.  {15}
  2. Ch 1.  Sc x 15.  Join to the first st with a sl st.  Remember that you should not make your first st in the same st as the sl st join.  {15}
  3. Ch 1.  Sc x 15.  Join to the first st with a sl st.  {15}

Method

After you have worked your foundation chain (the first row/round of any crochet pattern – see photo 1), insert your hook into the first ch st (the one furthest away from your hook – photo 2) and make a sl st (photo 3).

How to crochet in the round 3 How to Crochet in the Round:  Spiral vs Joining

Ch 1 to begin the next round.  Each round will start with a ch-1 to get you up to the height you need (if you are using hdc or dc’s, each round will start with a ch-2 or a ch-3 as applicable).  This chain stitch does not count as a stitch! (Or chain stitches if applicable)

If you are going to use a running stitch marker, lay it over your work after making the ch-1 but before making the first stitch of the round (photo 4).  Now make the first sc in the st AFTER the sl st join, so the first open st (photo 5).  Continue working the rest of your stitches.  The last st of the round should be quite tight to get into as it is the back end of the sl st join.  (Photo 6 shows the last st that you will need to work into.  Photo 7 shows the last stitch of the round already made).

How to crochet in the round 6 How to Crochet in the Round:  Spiral vs Joining

This should bring you to the initial ch-1 of the round, which will fall directly over the running stitch marker (photo 7).  Skip this initial ch-1 and join to the first st (sc) with a sl st (photo 8).

If you are using a running stitch marker, remember to flick it backwards and forwards at the beginning of each round (photo 9).  Using a st marker will make it easier for you to identify the initial ch-1.

How to crochet in the round 7 How to Crochet in the Round:  Spiral vs Joining

If you are used to crocheting in the round your eye is most likely well trained.  But for most people (and definitely for myself when I started!) it is quite difficult to tell which st to skip and which one to join to.  If you are using a st marker, it will fall directly under the ch-1.  So do NOT join to the st directly above the st marker.  Join to the st after the st marker, which will be your first st (see photo below).

How to crochet in the round 8 How to Crochet in the Round:  Spiral vs Joining

When you join in the round like this, you will end up with a seam that creeps significantly to the LEFT.

BUT

The resulting seam will be a lot neater than if you had started in the same st as the sl st join.

How to crochet in the round 9 How to Crochet in the Round:  Spiral vs Joining

Pros

Joining in the round like this is NEAT!  The resulting seam is visible but smooth and not ugly.

The tightness of the last st you work into acts as an extra prompt that you have indeed worked all your stitches correctly.  If the last st I work into is not tight, it prompts me to check all the stitches in my round.  It can be indicative of a mistake in the current round or the previous one.

Cons

This method is not interchangeable with the other two methods (unless you are purely working a tube or a flat circle).  Because the first st of every round creeps to the left in this method and to the right in the others, it will cause massive problems if you are working a shaped object like a horse’s head.  If a pattern is written to be worked in a spiral or calls for the first st to be made in the same st as the sl st join, using this method instead will place the increases in a completely different spot.  This won’t be so noticeable on the first round, but the more rounds you have, the more your increases will be offset from where they should be.

It can get ugly very fast!

Remedy

None, unfortunately.  Use this method only if a pattern calls for it specifically!

Interchanging methods

As I have already mentioned, the spiral technique and the first technique for joining in the round (making your first st in the same st as the sl st join) are completely interchangeable as the first st of each round for both of these creeps steadily to the right at the same angle.

If you want a completely straight seam, futuregirl’s seamless single crochet tutorial offers you the best choice, but you will have to turn at the end of each round.  This means that you cannot interchange this method with any of the three I mentioned, UNLESS you are only working a tube (like an octopus tentacle) or a flat circle (like a coaster or a Round Rag Rug) where the position of the increases doesn’t matter as much.

My favourite by far is the second method for joining in the round where you make your first st in the st after the sl st join.  But this method, like future girl’s method, is not interchangeable with any of the other methods if there is any shaping involved.  Like I have already said, the seam for this method creeps significantly to the left.  So if you used this method where any of the other methods were called for, you’ll end up with a very lopsided item.  You can, however, use it in patterns where there are no increases or the placement of the increases doesn’t matter as much.

Phew!  What a mouth full.

I hope you have found this tutorial helpful and would love to hear from you if you have (or if you haven’t).  Do you have a different approach to joining in the round?  Or maybe you have a hint that makes working in the round easier.

Remember to subscribe to my newsletter if you would like to be kept in the loop.  You can also like my facebook page.

Take care

xxx dedri


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24 Responses to How to Crochet in the Round: Spiral vs Joining

  1. […] You can read more about running stitch markers and working in a spiral in here. […]

  2. Thank you so very much for a simple explanation. I’m sharing this on my blog as I think it is invaluable!

  3. Nina says:

    Such a headache-saving blog post!! xx

  4. […] How to work in the round in a spiral […]

  5. MarĂ­a Cecilia says:

    Thank you so much for posting this!
    It was really helpful for me, I finaly understood why some ended everything with a sl st and some didn’t.

  6. Michelle says:

    Incredibly helpful, thank you. I don’t know anyone IRL who crochets so am learning all of this stuff online, I’ve got the basics down but sometimes there are things like this that I didn’t even know needed learning!

  7. I stumbled on your blog this morning while looking for help on crocheting in the round. I wrestled with a cuff for 2.5 hours last night before giving up, and your blog post today helped clarify things for me, and I’m happy to say that, using your method, I just completed the cuff, at last! So thank you for this great tutorial – I’ll return to it again and again!

  8. Renee says:

    Great information!!! Thanks for posting this!!

  9. Regina says:

    Using the 2nd method (starting in the same st as the sl st join) do you count the slip stitch as a stitch in the round? The pattern I’m working calls for 18 sts to complete each rnd. Is the sl st one of those 18?
    Thanks!

    • Dedri Uys says:

      Hi Regina. It depends on what the designer has stipulated. If nothing has been said about the sl st’s, this is the general rule:

      If a round has 18 st’s, that will be 18 st’s NOT COUNTING the sl st (as the sl st in just a join). It is true that by joining to one st with a sl st and then not counting the sl st it sounds like you are losing a st, but because you then make your first stitch in the same st that you joined to, you still have 18 st’s. When you get to the end of the round using this method, you will skip the back end of the sl st join (because it is NOT a stitch) AND the initial ch st (because that too doesn’t count as a stitch).

      I get a little confused myself sometimes with which stitch is which. Using a running stitch marker really helps as it forms a little horizontal bar over the stitch marker, making it easy to identify and skip.

      I hope that has answered your question as I wasn’t exactly sure if you meant “should I work into it” or “is it one of the 18″ (so 17 + sl st – which it isn’t).

      Please let me know if my answer doesn’t make sense and I will drop you an email.

      Dedri

      I hope

  10. Sylvia says:

    Hi Dedri, thanks so much for this post! I was getting so confused and frustrated during my last project that in between crocheting, I was researching which “how to crochet” book to buy just to get this info that you shared here! Thank you!

  11. Ashley says:

    I can’t remember the source but a tip I found said when (joining in the round-starting in the stitch after the sl st join) you make your slip stitch then pull the yarn so that your sl st just almost disappears and continue on as normal. It doesn’t completely get rid of the seam leaning but it does improve it

    • Dedri Uys says:

      Thank you, Ashley. In this case that would be a bad thing, as you need to work into the back end of the sl st if you start in the stitch after the join, because the sl st then counts as a stitch. If you pull it tightly, you won’t be able to get into it.

      If you intend to work in a spiral from that point on, however, this is an excellent idea!

  12. This post has been very helpful for me. I always end up with extra stitches at the ends of rounds because a lot of patterns don’t specify which method to use and the instructions aren’t clear where the first stitch of the round should be. I end up counting stitches every round just to make sure they match the number I should have.

    • Dedri Uys says:

      Lissa, I am so pleased that you have found this tutorial helpful.

      If you are making something like a beanie, it doesn’t matter in which stitch you start, as long as you keep count and don’t work into the first (containing the ch st’s) AND last (back end of sl st join) st’s. Does that make sense?

      For something like amigurumi that has shaping, it DOES matter and if the pattern doesn’t specify which stitch to start in, feel free to contact the designer and just double-check with them. I am sure they won’t mind as they would much rather you get it right than end up with a wonky toy.

      Have a great day!

      Dedri

  13. Brigitte says:

    Thanks for the great explanation! I was wondering how you would work a spiral around a foundation chain so you can end up with a tetrahedron shaped triangle?

    • Dedri Uys says:

      What a question! I would say that you’d need to increase on one side of the foundation chain by 2 in every round and decrease on the other side by an equal amount. But it would be much MUCH easier to crochet a triangle (the size you want for your base) and then crochet around all 3 sides, decreasing on each of the 3 corners in each round. I wouldn’t work around the foundation chain for a tetrahedron. Give me a couple of days and I’ll see what I can come up with x

    • DeeAnn says:

      Me, too!. Thank you so much!

  14. Patty says:

    This is the first explanation I’ve found that clearly demonstrates the differences between the joining methods. Thank you so very much.

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