Friday, 20 September 2019

Making a Crochet Circle - Troubleshooters Guide

How to Crochet a Flat Circle and Troubleshooting for when things go wrong:

(US crochet terminology used).
 We make crochet flat circles for many different things - coasters, mandalas, table cloths, the base of bags and baskets, etc.
So, knowing how to make a crochet circle, and the number of stitches to begin with, is important.
Also important is ensuring that when you want to make a FLAT circle, you actually make it flat 😀.

There is a really helpful formula for making a crochet circle. It depends upon the stitch you are going to use. And once you know this, you are well on your way to making a good circle:

Crochet Circle Basic Formula:

  • Single Crochet (sc): Begin with 6 to 10 stitches in Row one.
  • Half Double Crochet (hdc): Begin with 8 to 12 stitches in Row one.
  • Double Crochet (dc): Begin with 10 to 14 stitches in Row one.
Then increase each Row by the number of stitches used in the first Row.

For example - a starting Row of 10, means that your next row will total 20 stitches and your third row will total 30 stitches, etc.

Crochet Circle Example Part-Pattern:

We are making this crochet circle with dc stitches:
(Ch 3 counts as a dc for st count)

Using the dc stitch means beginning with 10 - 14 sts (see formula above).
I like to use 12, so I'm using that number in my example (but it's up to you).

Begin with a Magic Ring (or ch4 and make dcs into furthest ch - remaining 3 chs will count as first ch3 below).

  • Row 1: Ch 3 (counts as 1st dc), dc 11 into ring. Sl st join to top of beginning ch3 (12 sts).

  • Row 2: Ch 3, dc into same st; 2dc into next st and into each st around. Join with a sl st to top of beginning ch 3 (24 sts).

  • Row 3: Ch 3, dc into same st; dc into next st, 2dc into next st; *dc, 2dc,* repeat from * to * around (missing last 2dc at end). Join with a sl st to top of beginning ch 3 (36 sts).

  • Row 4:  Ch 3, dc into same st; dc into next st, dc into next st, 2dc into next st; *dc, dc, 2dc,* repeat from * to * around (missing last 2dc at end). Join with a sl st to top of beginning ch 3 (48 sts).

  • Row 5:  Ch 3, dc into same st; dc into next st, dc into next st, dc into next st, 2dc into next st; *dc, dc, dc, 2dc,* repeat from * to * around (missing last 2dc at end). Join with a sl st to top of beginning ch 3 (60 sts).

Repeat this process, increasing by 12 sts each row, until your circle is the size you require.

Trouble shooting:

Okay, the above example works great in many cases, but it does have a couple of snags in others.

The 'pointy', almost-hexagon effect:

Slight 'pointy' effect cuased by increases in the same place.
 Because you are increasing in the same places on each row, the more rows you crochet, the more you are likely to discover that your circle has 'pointy' bits.
This doesn't usually matter for smallish circles (coasters, for example), because the increases hardly show.
But once you go on past 4 or 5 rows, those 'pointy bits' will begin to become more and more prominent.
Now the easy way would be to say 'okay I'll make this part of the pattern'.
But you probaby won't want to do that 😀.

So, you need to tweak the formula a little as follows:

See the example circle pattern above.
Then let's alter that slightly so that we spread out the increases:
Rows 1 - 4 we don't really need to change, so let's begin from Row 5:
(I've put Row 4 below too to show how we've changed the stitch placement from Row 5 onwards):

  • Row 4:  Ch 3, dc into same st; dc into next st, dc into next st, 2dc into next st; *dc, dc, 2dc,* repeat from * to * around (missing last 2dc at end). Join with a sl st to top of beginning ch 3 (48 sts).

  • Row 5:  Ch 3, dc into next st, dc into next st, 2dc into next st; *dc, dc, dc, 2dc,* repeat from * to * around. Join with a sl st to top of beginning ch 3 (60 sts).

  • Row 6:  Ch 3, dc into next st, 2dc into next st; *dc, dc, dc, dc, 2dc,* repeat from * to * until final 2 sts; dc in each of final 2 sts.  Join with a sl st to top of beginning ch 3 (72 sts).

  • Row 7:  Ch 3, 2dc into next st; *dc, dc, dc, dc, dc, 2dc,* repeat from * to * until final 4 sts; dc in each of final 4 sts. Join with a sl st to top of beginning ch 3 (84 sts).

The above is just an example of 'shuffling around the stitch increases' to prevent that 'pointy pattern'.
It takes a bit of setting out, but to be honest, you could shuffle them around any way you like, as long as you come up with the same st count and number of increases at the end.


Your Circle Doesn't Lie Flat:


There are 2 basic reasons for this:

Ruffling:
If your circle is ruffling and looks more like the shape of a crisp than a circle (!) then it is most likely that at some point you have increased by too many stitches.
The 'crisp' effect
 This can happen, even when following the above basic formula.
I find it happens more when I used a thick (or double-stranded) yarn and the hdc stitch.
But your experience may vary (many have this problem with sc stitches).

Ruffling can be easily fixed if you make changes to your pattern as soon as you notice.
You can either:
  • Do a Row or 2 without increases until your circle is flat laying again, then continue with increasing from where you left off.

  • Or, if the ruffling is really bad, you need to unravel a couple of rows until you get to the row where it looked flat, and then alter the number of increases you make - perhaps every 5 sts for instance, rather than every 3, depending on where you are on the pattern, and increasing according to your new formula.

You may, however, find that the ruffling is caused by the stitch count of your first row being too high.
(I'm sorry if that happens, but then you will need to begin again...).

As you can see from the Basic Formula, the number of stitches recommended for each type of stitch used varies (for instance, if using sc stitches, you can choose between 6 and 10 sts as your beginning row - that can be a big variation when making a large circle)
In this case, you may have to experiment a little.
Suggestions:
If the ruffling looks mega 😲, then use the lowest number of stitches suggested in the formula.
If it's not too bad, try going down 2 stitches from the original number you used.

NOTE - although the basic formula gives you choices of the number of stitches to use, you may struggle to balance increases if you pick an odd number.
It's doable, but be aware that you will be left with either an extra stitch or one less increase on the beginning rows if you use an odd starting number.

Cupping:
This row of the circle is 'cupping' slightly - edge turning up.

Your circle may be doing the opposite of ruffling - it may be 'cupping' (the edge is turning inwards).
Cupping means that you don't have enough stitches in the outer rows to keep the circle flat.
So, you need to increase the number of stitches per row.

If cupping is bad, you may need to unravel a row or two before correcting, but if it has only just begun to cup:
The easiest way is to repeat the increases used in the previous row.
For example, if you find cupping begins on Row 7, then go back and make one or 2 more rows using the same number of increases you used in Row 6.

And that should be cupping solved.

Unless....
What if you are making a coaster or similar and it has begun to cup, but you don't want to increase the overall size? But that would be the result of doing extra increase rows?

If your crochet circle has just started to cup (not enough stitches):
Try going up one or two hook sizes to crochet your outer Rows - this often works a treat.
Last 2 rows of pattern completed with larger hook to prevent cupping.

So, I hope it solves your problem :)

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Well that's a lot of information for one post, so I think I'll stop there 😀.

I hope this little tutorial/crochet help post has been useful.

But if you are still wondering what best stitch count to use for a circle, or how to stop ruffling, etc, there's a great deal of helpful information out there on the internet.
Google really is your friend here.

And to let you into a secret: I am in the middle of making a tutorial for a crochet basket, but I was struggling to get the base circle to lie flat, so I've been experimenting...
And this post is the result.

So look out for a Free Crochet basket pattern coming very soon.
(When I've completed it 😀 )

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