A few weeks ago, we introduced our discussion of just where to put the hook to make fabrics with variable stretch and appearance. Inserting the hook under both loops of the stitch produces a sturdy fabric suitable for a variety of projects. But inserting the hook in the back loop only (blo), front loop only (flo), or alternating blo and flo can produce very different kinds of fabrics. Blo produces a dense-looking fabric with a ridged appearance and quite a bit of vertical stretch. Flo produces a drapey, smooth-finished fabric that is taller than regular double crochet and has a bit of stretch. So what happens when you combine blo and flo?
You can work alternating blo/flo in two ways. Both provide good stretch but have slightly different appearances. For both methods, begin with a base row of double crochet (or half double crochet). In the second row, work double crochet flo in the next stitch, then double crochet blo in the next stitch and repeat this pattern across. The third row is where the methods diverge: For the first method, work flo in the blo and blo in the flo (see swatch A); for the second method, work flo in the flo and blo in the blo (see swatch B). The appearance of the two methods is very similar; the first method is slightly stretchier. Create both swatches and see which you prefer.
The stretchiness of this fabric lends itself to many uses. Use it in a hat for variable stretch to fit a multitude of head sizes. It would make a good base for a market bag. And the highly textured surface is well-suited to scarves or other items with simple shapes that can benefit from added interest. Try it on part of a children's sweater to extend the usefulness, as children do insist upon growing. As far as gauge, blo/flo matches its double-loop counterpart stitch for stitch, (for an example, see swatches sided by side on the blog), but provides stretch as needed. Unlike flo, which stretches over time, it grows only if it needs to grow, adapting to the size of the wearer.
To see this fabric at work, work up the cover design of the CrochetMe book—the Victorian Shrug and Wrap by Robyn Chacula. If you've shied away from shrugs because they are either too tight or too loose, this is the project for you. The pattern produces a fitted shrug that moves with you. And if you like, you can extend the shurg with a lacy wrap for more coverage.