Crochet Class: Make a Perfect Crochet Circle
Making the Perfect Crochet Circle
If you’ve ever crocheted a round motif, such as a circle or mandala, you may have wondered why the circle sometimes ruffles or curls. Let’s take a closer look at what causes these problems and how you can easily solve them.
Why does it ruffle?
Ruffles look beautiful when they’re intentional, like on the edging of a baby blanket or a ruffly scarf. But when you want a round motif to lie flat, they are frustrating. Usually the ruffle forms because there are too many stitches in the round. The stitches start to get crowded, and for a lack of better place to go, they bunch up and create a ruffle.
Solution: frog (rip out) the round and crochet it again with fewer stitches.
Why does it curl?
Curling can help hats or balls shape properly, but again, it’s aggravating if you want a flat circle. Most of the time your project will curl because you don’t have enough stitches in your round. The stitches are being stretched and pulled in two different directions. In an effort to stay connected, the motif will curl.
Solution: frog the round and add more stitches—work two stitches in the same stitch or space more frequently in the round.
Other Reasons Circles Don’t Lay Flat
The main culprits for ruffling and curling are too many or too few stitches. But there are a few other things that may prevent your motif from lay flat.
1. The hook size may be wrong. If the hook you’re using is too small for the yarn weight, your crochet circle may curl.
2. Your gauge may be off. If you crochet tightly, this may cause the fabric to curl.
3. Varying stitch heights have an impact on the crocheted fabric. If, for instance, some rows are made of single crochet and others made of double crochets, you will need to adjust the number of stitches in each round to accommodate that. This is particularly true for doilies and mandalas like the Desert Rose Mandala in Love of Crochet Spring 2017.
4. Substituting yarn may cause problems. If a pattern calls for a specific yarn like a fingering weight, substituting bulky yarn may create problems. You may need to add or remove stitches in the new yarn to get your piece to lay flat.
5. Increasing or decreasing inconsistently can cause your circle to be lumpy. Try to evenly space when you add or remove extra stitches.
The Magic Formula
It’s not really magical, but there is a mathematic formula for making the perfect circle. Having said that, sometimes you may need to block your circle to get it to lay completely flat. And you’ll want to consider the other reasons listed above.
But generally, the following formula works for basic circles:
Ch 5, sl st in first ch to form ring.
Rnd 1: Ch 1 (does not count as a st throughout), 12 dc in ring, sl st in first dc to join—12 dc.
Rnd 2: Ch 1, 2 dc in each st around, sl st in top of first dc to join—24 dc.
Rnd 3: Ch 1, dc in same st as join, 2 dc in next st, *dc in next st, 2 dc in next st; rep from * around, sl st in first dc to join—36 dc.
Rnd 4: Ch 1, dc in same st as join and in next st, 2 dc in next st, *dc in next 2 sts, 2 dc in next st; rep from * around, sl st in first dc to join—48 dc.
Rnd 5: Ch 1, dc in same st as join and in next 2 sts, 2 dc in next st, *dc in next 3 sts, 2 dc in next st; rep from * around, sl st in first dc to join—60 dc.
Rnd 6: Ch 1, dc in same st as join and in next 3 sts, 2 dc in next st, *dc in next 4 sts, 2 dc in next st; rep from * around, sl st in first dc to join—72 dc.
Do you see the math happening? Each round adds the same number of stitches that you start out with in Round 1. In this case, Round 1 had 12 double crochets, so in each subsequent round, add 12 more stitches.
To do so, each increase round spaces the new stitches evenly. In Round 2, the circle goes from 12 to 24 stitches, so every stitch has two double crochets worked in it. Round 3 has an increase in every other stitch (ending with 36 double crochets), Round 4 has an increase every third stitch (ending with 48 double crochets), and so on.The math is even more obvious in the way I used to write patterns (prior to working at Interweave). This is the same pattern, just written in a more abbreviated format.
Circle Pattern Abbreviated
Increase (inc): 2 dc in next st.
Ch 5, sl st in first ch to form ring.
Rnd 1: Ch 1 (does not count as a st throughout), 12 dc in ring, join with a sl st in first dc—12 dc.
Rnd 2: Ch 1, dc inc around, join with a sl st in first dc—24 dc.
Rnd 3: Ch 1, *1 dc, dc inc* around, join with a sl st in first dc—36 dc.
Rnd 4: Ch 1, *2 dc, dc inc* around, join with a sl st in first dc—48 dc.
Rnd 5: Ch 1, *3 dc, dc inc* around, join with a sl st in first dc—60 dc.
Rnd 6: Ch 1, *4 dc, dc inc* around, join with a sl st in first dc—72 dc.
With this abbreviated way of writing the pattern, the magic formula, which I’ve bolded, really stands out. You can quickly see that to make the circle wider, you simple add one more stitch between increases every round.
Practice Your Perfect Crochet Circle
Practice makes perfect, so don’t be afraid to experiment with the circle pattern above. Adjust hook size and yarn to see how these changes impact your circles. Then take your new skill to the next level by trying patterns for hats, mandalas, and other circular designs. You’ll find great patterns for circles in Modern Crochet Mandalas, the mandalas in Love of Crochet, Spring 2017, the Bear Lake Hat, and the Sketch Set.