I swatched a fancy tall stitch pattern recently. It’s actually a section that I isolated from a larger all-over pattern in issue #187 of Duplet magazine (September 2016). Each of its nineteen rows is unique. This is a first-time-puzzling-through swatch, so please ignore the uppermost rows which need re-doing. I worked exclusively from the symbol diagram because I don’t know how to read Ukrainian or Russian.
I added turning chains and opted to link the first tall stitch to them. It’s easier to see this in the extreme close up further down. Also, the first row of very tall stitches (quadruple trebles) along the bottom is not in the Duplet pattern; I started off by testing very tall foundation stitches.
Tall Stitch Pattern Symbols
Something I love about symbols for very tall stitches is that the initial yarn overs required show as small lines crossing the long vertical line of the stitch post. You just count the wee hashes. Even nicer for UK and Australian crocheters, the number of them also tells you the name of the stitch. (American crocheters: just use the name for the next shorter stitch.)
Below is a sampling of Duplet’s symbols for the very tall stitches. Notice the four longest vertical lines at the far right edge, with five little hash marks: it means you yarn over five times to begin the stitch. These are quintuple trebles in the UK & AUS, or call them quadruple trebles in the US.
According to the symbols, crochet these four very tall stitches into four tall stitches that have only two hash marks: they are double trebles in UK/AUS or just trebles in US terminology.
An Upside Down Y-Stitch
See that symbol in the upper left that looks like an upside-down Y with hash marks ? See how its right leg stands over a sort of horizontal line? That line is some number of chains (4 in my swatch). The other leg skips some stitches that are mostly outside of the picture. This symbol means you begin with five yarn overs, then insert the crochet hook into a chain or the chain space. Work two of the five yarn overs off of your hook, as if to make a treble (UK/AUS dtr). Then, yarn over twice to begin the other leg of the stitch while the 3 unused yarn overs are still waiting on the hook. Work the treble of the other leg into another chain space, and then finish working the remaining 3 yarn overs off of the hook.
A variety of clusters and shell stitches flow into each other to give the crocheting an undulating feeling. It’s exciting to see it take shape, and it kept me on my toes. I’d do a few things differently if I swatch it again. Duplet and Zhurnal magazines offer many expressive patterns and innovative ways to use very tall stitches.
As Class Material
This particular tall stitch pattern is mainly research for me. It’s too involved for the Tall Stitch Virtuosity class, but of course I’ll bring the swatch and magazine with me. When there’s time in class we can take a closer look at examples like this.
A consistent mathematical pattern developed, and I’m going to trust it from now on. From left to right (see above):
Purple circle: chain 7 to begin each round; 36 quadruple trebles in round 1 (see Closed Centers note below), 72 in round 2. For a US quadruple treble (quadtr), yarn over 5 times to begin stitch.
Magenta circle: chain 6 to begin each round; 30 triple trebles in round 1 (see Closed Centers note below), 60 in round 2. For a US triple treble (ttr), yarn over 4 times to begin stitch.
Red circle: chain 5 to begin each round; 24 double trebles in round 1 (see Closed Centers note below), 48 in round 2. For a US double treble (dtr), yarn over 3 times to begin stitch.
Orange circle: chain 4 to begin each round; 18 trebles in round 1, 36 in round 2. For a US treble (tr or tc), yarn over 2 times to begin stitch.
Peach circle: chain 3 to begin each round; 12 double crochets in round 1, 24 in round 2. For a US double crochet (dc), yarn over once to begin stitch.
Pink circle: chain 2 to begin each round; 8 half doubles in round 1, 16 in round 2. For a US half double (hdc), yarn over once to begin stitch.
It’s thanks to the really tall stitches that I understand where I’ve gone wrong with crocheting circles (of any stitch) in the past. I couldn’t actually tell if they were going to come out alright while I crocheted these. They didn’t seem like they were going to lie flat, but they did, beautifully and consistently, once I gently blocked them.
This means the ol’ 1970’s advice to wing it (instead of using a formula)— to add stitches when it looks like you need to as you crochet each round? That way lies madness, for me anyway.
Closed Centers (note)
I used the magic ring (PlanetJune has good explanation) for all of them. I was unable to fit more than 18 stitches in the ring and still be able to close it completely. So, when the tall stitch circles are made with double trebles or taller (the red, magenta, and purple ones shown), I put 18 stitches in the ring plus the necessary amount of Y-stitches distributed evenly around.
This means the red circle of double trebles required 6 Y-stitches, for a total of 24 stitches in Round 1 (18 dtr + 6 Y-sts = 24). The magenta circle of triple trebles needed 12 Y-stitches in addition to the 18 ttr to total 30 stitches for Round 1 (18 ttr + 12 Y-sts = 30). For the purple circle, Round 1 needs to have 36 stitches in it, so 18 quadruple trebles plus 18 Y-stitches (18 quadtr + 18 Y-sts = 36).
I don’t have step-outs at hand for showing how to do a Y-stitch for this. Have a look at Tamara’s over at Moogly—except that I don’t chain between the tall stitch and the Y-stitch that is linked to it.
Why Really Tall Stitch Circles?
They’re surprisingly beautiful. A simple architecture that one somehow never sees—I found no circles of really tall stitches anywhere. You could accent them with surface crochet in contrast colors, or alternate with rounds of shorter stitches. That would make for a nice future blog post.
I seamed with stitch equivalents in this 2019 image. It was not in the original newsletter issue #2, A Super Crochet Maneuver. It’s explained at the end.
First, the original newsletter issue, below. It went out to a little over 300 subscribers in September 2010. That’s nine years ago! I’ve removed the original two-column formatting, colored backgrounds, and especially the outdated links. I’ve refrained from revising the original text, except for light edits.
This stitch equivalents topic looks different to me now. See my current (September 2019) thoughts at the end.
Welcome to issue #2.
Subscriptions have doubled since the first issue was sent out 14 days ago, so welcome to all of you new subscribers!
The “super crochet maneuver” I’ve been thinking about lately is not only a big problem-solver for designers, it can single-handedly put the “free” in freeform! It’s not a big secret, but I get the feeling it’s not common knowledge either.
Crochet stitch equivalents hinge on the basic principle that the chain stitch is crochet’s unit of measure. Measuring the height of a tall stitch with chains gives you the keys to the kingdom. For example, a half double crochet (UK/AUS: half treble) is the same height as two chains, while the height of a double crochet (UK/AUS: treble) is—theoretically—three chains.
Perhaps this much is nothing new. After all, any crocheter working in rows needs to know how many to chain for their turning chain, right? For example, to begin a row of those really tall triple trebles (abbreviated trtr, or in UK/AUS, quadtr), one would chain six, because a trtr is six chains tall.
What if one trtr and six chains are 100% interchangeable? Then you get to decide where you want to end up after making a stitch. You choose which stitch gets you there.
My Stitch Equivalents “Aha!” Moment
This is the mesh poncho mentioned below that gave me a crocheter’s “Aha!” moment.
I’m wearing it at the 2004 CGOA Chain Link Conference. It was my first experience of being in a “fashion show”, and maybe you can’t tell but I was incredibly nervous up there.
A local longtime crocheter wanted to recreate the lattice-as-you-go edge of my Islander wrap and couldn’t get it to work. She had an “Aha!” look when I told her that first you decide where you need your hook to end up, then you choose whatever gets you there—it might be a tall stitch, the equivalent number of chains, or a combo.
The seven topics are preserved and expanded a bit in the PDF. I also had more room for adding checkboxes, and blank lines so that you can customize them.
The last two pages of the PDF (it’s five pages in all) list additional items to give you ideas for what to add to your lists. Curious what are on my own crochet life lists? Look for the red boxes on those last two pages!
Download the three charts shown above—with extra columns!—as a free PDF. See below. There was no room for this material in my newsletter issue about crochet hooks. It pairs well with this one: Deluxe Crochet Hook Diagram.
Hey there, New Crocheter?: On the face of it, crochet hook sizes are beginner-level stuff. Question one quirky thing and you can end up in a maze. I did. Over the years I’ve had five key realizations. They build on each other in a logical order, below. I wish I could have read this post when I started questioning! Bookmark this if you’re not quite ready for it yet. Better yet, add a comment about where you’re at.
I originally created these charts for my own use.The PDF has more information than the three charts pictured at the top of this blog. For example, two more columns, and how to use the charts and understand the size increments. Each chart is a full-page size:
All Steel Crochet Hook Sizes in 0.10 mm increments: 0.40 mm – 3.50 mm
NON-Steel Crochet Hooks, medium-range in 0.25 mm increments: 1.75 mm – 7.75 mm
NON-Steel Crochet Hooks, jumbo sizes in 1.00 mm increments: 8.00 mm – 36.00 mm
Crochet Hook Sizes, the Five Keys
1. I watch exactly where on the hook I make each stitch.
I especially watch the starting loop on the hook because it will become the top two loops of the new stitch. My goal is to avoid forming stitches on the tapered part (“throat”) of the crochet hook.
Some hooks have such a long throat that I can’t avoid making my stitches there. This is a big deal with some stitches. The taper will give my tall stitches loose top loops.
Pictured at right is my first crochet hook (green) and one of my current favorites (gold). My green crochet hook made my stitches look more stringy and uneven than they had to, even for a newer crocheter.
A big revelation for me (thank you Nancy Nehring) was that the crochet hook’s true size is where my stitches are made on it. So the other reason I watch where I make stitches on the hook is to know where to measure the hook size.
2. I treasure my slide gauge tool.
Needle gauges, the kind with holes, are everywhere. They’re even given out for free at yarn shops and conferences. I tossed them all out and only use a slide gauge. If I could find a reliable source for my favorite slide gauge I’d have it in my shop already. Lacis has had this one for a long time. It’s now also at JoAnn Fabrics, Amazon, Walmart, etc. Here’s another one. You can also search for millimeter calipers.
Once I know where on the hook I make my stitches (see #1 above), I measure that with a slide gauge or caliper. I get my true size of each hook in a jiffy. No forcing a hook in or out of the holes of a needle sizer with the risk of scratching the hook in the process!
When I did this with all of my crochet hooks, I found out that about a third of them were not the sizes I thought they were (based on how I use them).
There are two more reasons: it’s the way to get the most polished stitching gauge for each project. It also standardizes our results as an international crochet community.
Before this realization I thought the different hook sizes were there to make crocheting with different yarns more pleasant. “I think this yarn is too thick for this hook. Must mean I need a bigger hook size”. That’s a fine reason, but if it were the real reason for the sizes, we’d only need about eight sizes—one per yarn thickness category. See the How Many Crochet Hooks? section of my other crochet hook post.
4. I think in millimeter (mm) sizes.
Instead of the “H hook” of my childhood I now think “5 mm hook”. It has improved every day of my crocheting life. I no longer have to deal with traditional hook size systems that are riddled with overlaps and exceptions.
Not only that, the mm sizing makes it plain where there are gaps in the standard hook sizes, and how large each gap is. This in turn opened up to me a wonderland of in-between or nonstandard crochet hook sizes. Hello handmade crochet hooks, imported hooks, and other collectibles, including odd manufacturing runs of established brands.
5. The actual number of crochet hook sizes? Infinite.
The American Craft Yarn Council (CYC) maintains a chart of 29 steel and 28 non-steel crochet hook sizes according to American and British standards. It’s a good start and includes equivalent mm sizes. I build on it in my crochet hook sizing charts by adding Japanese hook sizes and placeholders for missing sizes.
The millimeter measure accounts for all possible hook sizes, including the sizing standards of other countries. I love seeing how US, UK, and Japanese hook sizes all fit together.
Does an infinite number of crochet hook sizes seem overwhelming? Every crocheter needs a different number of sizes. Check for yourself with my list of five factors.
How Did We Get Here?
I think of the non-metric crochet hook sizing systems as being two great crochet traditions (cotton/silk threads vs. wool yarns) that got mushed together, then sprinkled with sizing standards of different countries. It’s quite the heady brew.
Steel crochet hooks were designed for lace crochet with thread. Steel is very strong for even the finest hook sizes. They’re numbered from 00 to 14 (sometimes 16). The larger the number, the smaller the hook.
Non-steel crochet hooks, whether made of aluminum, wood, bamboo, plastic, or glass, get numbered and lettered sizes (from B to U so far) according to an American system. Sizing systems in other countries use different numbering systems. Unlike the steel sizes, the large the number, the larger the hook.
Let’s talk about the size “G” hook. The CYC lists three non-steel G hooks: 4.0 mm, 4.25 mm, and 4.5 mm. Each one is a useful size. Labeling all of them size “G” is unnecessarily confusing.
The Way of Peace
Just focus on the millimeter size. A crochet hook that measures 4.0 mm (on the part of the hook where you make the stitches) will always be that size for you. It won’t matter what it’s made of, where you live, or which country manufactured the hook. Feels peaceful, doesn’t it?