Melissa taught herself crochet stitches & pattern reading in 1999. Today she creates her own patterns and teaches others the art of crochet.
Increases and decreases can be one of the most confusing parts of any crochet (or knitting) pattern. But increases and decreases can also make the most beautiful and intricate patterns for a variety of projects including shawls, blankets, gloves and hats.
Increases are quite simple. You simply crochet twice in one stitch. The trick to increases is learning to make them evenly spaced.
If you add too many increases in a row, the piece will not light flat, it will have a bit of a wave too it. If you don’t add enough increases, the piece will start to curl. This isn’t so much of a problem when working on a project such as a blanket.
But when you are working on a project that is worked in the round (in a circle), this becomes more of a concern. If you add too many increases in a project such as a hat, the end product won’t fit right, and may not even form the bowl that creates that hat.
Unfortunately, this is one of those things you may not figure out until you are halfway done with the project, which means you’ll have to rip the whole thing out and start over again.
A good rule of thumb for increases: For every row you crochet, add just as many stitches after the increase. So if you are on row three, add three single stitches after each increase.
For example: If using single crochets, single crochet twice in one stitch, then make one single crochet in each of the next three stitches, single crochet twice in the next stitch, then make one single crochet in each of the next three stitches, etc. This will keep your work flat and prevent curling.
— Melissa Flagg
Step by Step - Working an Increase
Decreases are often used to make projects curl, such as in a hat or bag so worrying about spacing isn’t as much of an issue.
However, if your decreases are not evenly spaced, the piece just won’t look right. It will look sloppy, and if you are thinking about selling your project, or giving it as a gift, you want it to look professional.
There are a couple of ways to work a decrease:
- Simply skip a stitch
- Turn two stitches into one, typically abbreviated in a pattern as 2tog (for example, a single crochet decrease would be written as sc2tog).
The easiest of these is, obviously, to skip a stitch. This works better in some patterns than in others. For example, if you are crocheting a lace pattern, this type of decrease would work quite well since it leaves a small gap.
However, if you are crocheting something such as a bag, a gap may allow things to fall through and that wouldn’t make the bag very effective. In this case, you’d want to use the decrease that turns two stitches into one.
How to Work a Decrease
Decreases that make one stitch out of two are worked slightly differently for each stitch. This doesn’t become a problem until you need the decrease for a single or treble crochet. Then you have to worry about how many times to yarn over. But once you get the hang of it, it becomes second nature.
The single crochet is by far the most straight-forward of the decreases. There are no extra yarn overs to contend with, unlike the half double and double crochet decreases.
Let’s take this step by step.
Begin by starting a single crochet. Insert the hook into the next stitch, yarn over and pull up a loop.
Crochet Abbreviations in This Article
Half Double Crochet
Single Crochet Decrease (single crochet two together)
Half Double Crochet (half double crochet two together)
Double Crochet Decrease (double crochet two together)
Instead of finishing the single crochet, however, insert the hook into the next stitch, yarn over and pull up a loop. This gives you three loops on your hook.
Yarn over and draw the yarn through all three loops on the hook. That is a single crochet decrease or sc2tog.
Step by Step - Working a Single Crochet Decrease
The Half Double Crochet Decrease
Unlike the double crochet, the half double crochet decrease (abbreviated hdc2tog) doesn’t require an extra yarn over, but it is still a bit more difficult than the single crochet.
Begin the stitch as you normally would. Yarn over, insert the hook into the next stitch, yarn over and pull up a loop.
Here’s where it changes. Instead of yarning over and pulling the yarn through all three loops on the hook, you’re going to yarn over and pull the yarn through the first two loops only.
Then insert the hook into the next stitch, yarn over and pull up a loop. Yarn over again and pull the yarn through all three loops on the hook.
I’m not fond of the half double crochet decrease. I’ve tried doing it a number of different ways, like adding an extra yarn over, etc. But to me, the decrease just looks odd, so I try to avoid it if at all possible.
The Double Crochet Decrease
There are just two extra steps in the double crochet decrease.
Begin the double crochet as you normally would: yarn over, insert the hook into the next stitch, yarn over and pull up a loop.
Yarn over and pull the yarn through the first two loops on the hook.
Instead of finishing the stitch, yarn over again, and insert the hook into the next stitch, yarn over and pull up a loop. Yarn over again, and pull the yarn through the first two loops.
Finally, yarn over again, and pull the yarn through the last three loops on your hook.
More on Learning to Crochet
- How to Crochet: Getting Started for Beginners
Before you can learn how to make crochet stitches, you need gather your supplies, and learn the basics of how to read a pattern, and what exactly gauge means. This article will get you started.
- How to Work a Single Crochet Stitch for Beginners Wi...
The single crochet stitch is the foundation for all other crochet stitches. In this article, learn how to work the single crochet stitch with step-by-step photos and video.
- How to Work the Double and Half Double Crochet Stitc...
A step by step tutorial on how to work a half double and double crochet stitch with photos and video.
Step by Step - How to Work a Double Crochet Decrease
The double crochet decrease, in my opinion, is the only one that actually gives the appearance of two different stitches when in fact they are combined into one stitch. It looks more professional. But it really depends on the pattern.
© 2013 Melissa Flagg COA OSC
Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on June 11, 2015:
Great hub Melissa on how to crochet, when you make it real easy. Voted up!
calculus-geometry on August 17, 2013:
Very clear tutorial. Making the perfect dome shape for a hat is trial and error, I always have to pull out half a dozen rounds of stitches and start over.
Melissa Flagg COA OSC (author) from Rural Central Florida on August 09, 2013:
Thank you very much!
Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on July 31, 2013:
Great explanation of increasing & decreasing. Good photos!