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Crochet Increases and Decreases for Beginners with Video

Updated on July 22, 2016
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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

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.

Beginner's Tip

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.

Step by Step - Working an Increase

Have you tried an increase or decrease yet?

See results

Decreases

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

Stitch
Abbreviation
Single Crochet
sc
Half Double Crochet
hdc
Double Crochet
dc
Single Crochet Decrease (single crochet two together)
sc2tog
Half Double Crochet (half double crochet two together)
hdc2tog
Double Crochet Decrease (double crochet two together)
dc2tog
Begin a single crochet, yarn over and pull up a loop.
Begin a single crochet, yarn over and pull up a loop. | Source

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.

Instead of finishing the single crochet, insert the hook into the next stitch, yarn over and pull up a loop.
Instead of finishing the single crochet, insert the hook into the next stitch, yarn over and pull up a loop. | Source
Yarn over again and draw the yarn through all three loops on the hook.
Yarn over again and draw the yarn through all three loops on the hook. | Source
A finished single crochet increase.
A finished single crochet increase. | Source

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.

Source
Yarn over and pull the yarn through the first two loops on the hook.
Yarn over and pull the yarn through the first two loops on the hook. | Source

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.

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.
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. | Source

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.

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.

Happy Crocheting!

© 2013 Melissa Flagg

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    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 3 years ago from Chicago Area

      Great explanation of increasing & decreasing. Good photos!

    • Daughter Of Maat profile image
      Author

      Melissa Flagg 3 years ago from Rural Central Florida

      Thank you very much!

    • profile image

      calculus-geometry 3 years ago

      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.

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 2 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Great hub Melissa on how to crochet, when you make it real easy. Voted up!

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