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Limpet Stitch: Crochet Half Hitches (Issue 3)

Limpet stitch crochet swatches: an airy net, a lotus-shaped 2-color fan of half hitches, lacy wheel with big limpets around the rim
Limpet Stitch crochet issue 3 original front page
How the original looked. Issue #3 September 2010.

The limpet stitch crochet topic evolved dramatically in the ten years since I wrote my third newsletter about it. As of September 4, 2020, this greatly updated version is now my ultimate resource page for crocheting limpets, limpet variations, and more reasons to crochet with half hitches. It even has a timeline and a table of related terms.

“Limpets, those cheery, little-used sideways shells.”

Sue Perez (a.k.a. Mrs. Micawber)

Issue #003 went out to just over 370 subscribers in 2010. That’s about 70 more than for issue #002. I remember feeling very encouraged by that. One of my early goals was to find likeminded crocheters. Back then, the only folks talking (enthusiastically!) about the limpet stitch, like Mel, Myra, Barbara, Margaret, and Pippin, were members of FFCrochet, the International Freeform Guild (INTFF) yahoo group. Limpet stitches have expanded their reach, as you’ll see below.

From the Archives: A Very Different Kind of Crochet Stitch

Vashti’s Crochet Inspirations Newsletter, Issue #3 (First Published September 30, 2010)

I’ve been looking forward to writing up a little love letter to the Limpet Stitch. It’s not like any other crochet stitch because it is a fundamentally different way to add loops onto the crochet hook. (September 2010)

The first thing a crocheter learns, after making a slip knot and putting the loop on a crochet hook, is to yarn over (wind or wrap the yarn around the crochet hook). We can’t make any basic stitches without it. Strictly speaking there’s only one way to do it. If you wind the yarn around your hook the opposite direction, it’s a yarn under. (Read all about yarn overs, yarn unders, and reasons to use both.)

There are other ways to add new loops to the crochet hook beside yarning over (or under). The one we use for limpet stitch crochet is challenging at first only because changing how you yarn over feels very alien! It’s actually simple, easy, and quick to do. The limpet stitch has an avid fan club.

Beyond the Standard Yarn Over

Half hitch or crossed loop on crochet hook
This is a Tunisian crochet hook but any crochet hook is fine for crocheting limpets.

From a crocheter’s point of view, limpet stitch yarn overs have an added half-twist in them. In the photo at right you can see how the two loose loops on the hook have a little twist at the bottom of them. Adding the half-twist as you yarn over is a neat trick.

This simple little twist is powerful. It is the basis of all needle lace, macramé, and tatting. It’s fundamental to sewing and embroidery. Latch hook rug making requires it, and bobbin lace starts with it. It’s the simplest cast on in knitting.

Making room for it in our crochet toolbox means reclaiming the DNA that crochet shares with these other string arts. You may wish to make room for two more, like I have. The little half-twist can turn in two different directions: to the left (counterclockwise), or to the right (clockwise). The two loops in the photo turn to the left, as if a cursive letter “e” is written backwards: “ɘ”.

Continue reading Limpet Stitch: Crochet Half Hitches (Issue 3)
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Tall Stitch Virtuosity Class Resources

Collage of many examples for Tall Stitch Virtuosity Crochet Class by Vashti Braha

Tall Stitch Virtuosity is a new crochet class for 2020. I’ve discovered more than I imagined is possible about tall stitches! In fact, the official class graphic above is about six months old and already seems out of date.

Originally scheduled for the July 2020 Chain Link conference (an annual national event of the CGOA), Tall Stitch Virtuosity is now virtual. The traditional in-person conference is postponed until next summer. The virtual version is split into one-hour sessions over three consecutive days.

This is the first resource page I’ve created for a virtual class. At first I thought a virtual class wouldn’t need one. I started these pages back in 2012 to make online links easy to visit for an in-person event. I’m finding that I don’t want to load up the class handout (a PDF in this case) with what I think of as miscellany. Also, members might have a chance to visit this page over the three days of the class.

— Vashti Braha

Tall Stitch Virtuosity 2020

Nine tall stitch crochet experiments that I've posted recently in my Instagram feed.
Recent tall stitch swatches I’ve posted to my Instagram feed.

Newsletter Issues & Blog Posts

These are issues of my Crochet Inspirations Newsletter, and blog posts, spanning 2010 to today. Keep in mind that many links in pre-2018 newsletter issues are broken.

Tall Stitch Patterns

Some of my published tall stitch patterns over the years. Half of them are Tunisian crochet. Click an image for more info. Missing: Cats Eye Lariat (in Ravelry) and Twinkle Links.

Tall Stitch Projects & Swatches

Tall Stitches Around the World Web

  • Tall Crochet Stitch Artistry pinboard (Pinterest)
  • Bloggers on the lack of tall stitches:
    • Jenny Guldin: “Most lists of the basic crochet stitches end with the triple crochet. Call it a new technique, or call it breaking the rules: I’m tired of being limited to the height of a triple crochet, and I’m not going to take it anymore! Why isn’t there a taller stitch? I’ve received varying answers from many crocheters, but I’ve never heard the suggestion “try it”. There are two basic points of view I’ve heard about the subject: It doesn’t exist, or, there’s no purpose for it. With all due respect, I have two responses: I’ve made it exist, and there is a purpose.”
    • CrochetSpot’s Amy Yarbrough: “These stitches are not very well known today because most modern crochet patterns do not use them. This begs the question, when are they used then? Perhaps the most I have seen these taller stitches used would be in patterns with crochet thread. Such as Irish Crochet Lace, crocheted Antebellum Dolls, and crocheted Doilies.”

Issue 102: Wild Whys of Y-Stitches

Crochet Inspirations Newsletter sent to 8,600 subscribers on June 13, 2020.

Very tall stitches shown as 5 kinds of Y stitches for improving semicircle shapes
(Original header)

These semi-circles are crocheted of Y-shaped stitches. In each case I started with a quadruple-treble stitch (quad; in the UK and AUS I do believe it’s a quint). Yarn over 5x to begin one. After each completed quad I chained 2, then crocheted a shorter stitch into the side of the quad to turn it into a Y-stitch (Y-st).

I’m going to call the shorter stitch a branch that is crocheted into the taller one, or host stitch

The Y-sts in these semi-circles vary from very deep (farthest left one) to very shallow (upper right). The longest branch, a triple treble (I yarned over 4x to begin it), is crocheted close to the base of its host quad. The shortest branch is a half double (hdc in the US, htr in UK/AUS). I crocheted it up close to the top of the quad.

Don’t you love how the lacy look changes just from this simple difference?

I also really love how Y-sts look when they radiate from a center. It’s what lured me down a rabbit hole of new delights.

Every stitch you see in this newsletter is my own new stuff.

Four tall stitch circles with new looks thanks to the branches you can add to the sides of them

Branched? “Rune” Stitches?

I searched 34 crochet books for these stitches (16 are stitch dictionaries and the rest are guides to crocheting). Of the 34, 14 at least mention X-stitches. Very few include Y’s and inverted Y’s, or really run with with any of them. 

When I think of “Y-stitches” I picture a category of stitches that remind me of runes and ancient symbols! 

Bend a tall stitch or two to form letter shapes

The list above is about half of some old letters I’d like to try crocheting with branchy tall stitches. See my swatch of a few modern letters in Instagram. (These crazy B’s are for Braha and for Black, as in Black lives matter, and for Because of course they do.)

The first blue wheel above was inspired by ancient wedge-shaped cuneiform strokes. I see the green motifs as being Druidic wheels of seven “trees”. In fact, lately I see Y-stitches all over the place in nature!

Key Y-Thinkers

My three favorite sources on these stitches: James Walters, Duplet magazines (Irene Duplet), and Sheruknitting videos (Elena Rugal). It’s not a stitch shape. It’s a way of thinkingThank you so much James, Irene, and Elena!

Examples of tall stitch artistry by James Walters, Irene Duplet, Elena Rugal

How To?

I need to blog that. I have ideas for how to sort out the yarn overs, and make the most of them for motifs. Until then, I mention Y-stitches with a how-to link in my tall-stitch circles blog post. Also try some Sheruknitting videos. 

Can you spot the Y-sts? And X-sts in the upper-right blue circle? Y’s are fabulous for reducing the number of tall stitches in round one AND for suavely doubling every stitch as required in round two.

Using tall stitches for circles is how I got here. I had no idea how practical and problem-solving Y-sts could be for crocheting circles—the taller, the better. They offer creative solutions and pretty options for tall-stitch circle crocheting!

OK One More Y-Why for Today:

Convert Two Rows into One

[This section got its own blog post a few weeks later; the light green swatch referred to is also pictured there.]

Sometimes, two or even three rows of a stitch pattern can be turned into one row, using using taller into-the-side stitches. Here’s a two-row shell-and-cluster stitch pattern (upper swatch) turned into one-row one lower swatch). 

You can get more stitches to face the front this way. It also removes a “grid” effect caused by the connections between every stitch across a row. It fits in the “clever substitutions” category which is the topic of newsletter #92.

That grid effect adds structure to the fabric. Removing them adds more drape. So it depends on the yarn and project.


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How I Crochet Two Rows at Once (Lacy)

Crochet two rows at once of this lace stitch pattern by using X-stitches and shells of linked taller stitches. One-row version is on the right.

There’s more than one way to crochet two rows at once. You can also crochet three or more rows as one. I’ve only seen other people combine two rows with plain and fairly dense stitches, like rows of all single crochet or double crochet (in UK & AUS that’s doubles and trebles). I’m going to show you how I did it with a lacy stitch pattern.

The green swatches below are from my newsletter, issue #102: “Wild Whys of Y-Stitches”. I didn’t have room to include the lavender ones shown above. That means this post also qualifies as newsletter overflow, woo-hoo!

Crocheting two rows as one is a tall stitch “hack” that I stumbled on while researching X- and Y-shaped stitches with my upcoming online class in mind, Tall Stitch Virtuosity. In this post I’ll break it down, ending with actual row-by-row instructions for a 2-row stitch pattern, and for my one-row version of it.

Linked Stitches: Classic & Beyond

First, we all need to be on the same page about linked stitches if we’re going to crochet two rows at once.

A world of special effects with linking opens up when you can identify the individual strands of a tall stitch. I’m surprised how long it took for my eyes to distinguish what goes on in tall stitches, structurally. I used to think they were like bundles of muscles and ligaments.

So, let’s dig in to what each strand is doing in the post (a.k.a. stem) of an astonishingly tall 2-color stitch. I loaded yarn overs onto my hook with blue yarn. Then I worked them all off the standard way (two by two) with brown yarn. I crocheted it loosely so you can see through the stitch:

Close up of a very tall crochet stitch. The yarn overs are done with a contrasting color to show that intiial yarn overs are a separate strand that wraps around a series of chain stitches. Together this creates the post of a basic tall crochet stitch.
I used this image in issue #94 of my newsletter, “Stitch Parts: Where We’re At” to compare Tunisian crochet similarities.
Close up of stitch pattern with tall stitch clusters; the yarn over strands have been tinted to highlight them within a cluster.

Find the Yarn Over Strands

Here’s a row of 6-dtr split clusters (dtr = double treble; in the UK/AUS it’s ttr). I yarned over 3 times to begin each dtr. The tinting shows where the three yarn overs end up in each stitch post.

Tip: Just count the yarn overs in a stitch post and you know which tall stitch was used…as long as it’s not a variation, such as an extended stitch.

Linking the Classic Way

A classic linked stitch is a tall stitch that is linked all along its post to the yarn over strands of the stitch just before it. I call this “classic” because it seems to be the default or expected way to do a linked stitch, even though in actuality the ways to link them are infinite.

The classic method welds them together from top to bottom. In photo A below, all of the tall stitches are linked in three places. The right cluster is “classic”: all 3 yarn overs link to the 3 yarn overs of the previous stitch. In photo B, this is what you get when you link the yarn over of each double crochet of every row.

In photo C, I forgot to link the clusters in the middle row. The clusters in the bottom and top rows are linked only with the middle yarn over. Can you see the horizontal strands where they’re linked? It causes the cluster to flatten just a bit and to move as one unit, almost like a coin. I like their surface texture. They’d probably become stiff and a bit concave if I linked them the classic way, with all three of their yarn overs.

I’ve used classic linked stitches as borders for Tunisian designs like Liebling and Graven. The pros and cons of classic linked stitches resemble those of Tunisian simple stitch (Tss):

  • It eliminates gaps between tall stitches. This may be its most common use. It also tightens the gauge a bit. It’s a great fabric for a bag (Sterling).
  • It changes the surface texture to the flatter woven look of Tss.
  • The fabric feels thinner. It has less stretch and less drape. Stitch fronts may bend slightly inward in a concave way. (Akin to the “Tunisian curl”.)
A dtr that is linked in only one of its 3 yarn overs.

Selective Linking

Here’s a row of 3-dtr clusters in progress; I’m linking only their middles. The 3 initial yarn overs of each dtr are tinted. See how the middle pink and blue yarn overs are linked? The other blue and pink ones are not.

Yellow-tinted yarn overs for a new dtr are on the hook. See that the 2nd yellow one is linked to the 2nd pink one? Here’s how:

Yarn over (counts as 1st of 3 initial yarn overs in yellow); insert hook down through the top of the the 2nd (pink) yarn over of the previous dtr, yarn over and pull up a loop in it (counts as 2nd of 3 initial yarn overs); yarn over (counts as 3rd of these yarn overs). To complete stitch, insert hook in same stitch of row as the previous two dtr, *yarn over and pull up a loop, yarn over and pull through two loops on hook, repeat from * twice. In this case for a cluster, yarn over and pull through the remaining loops on the hook.


Crochet Two Rows at Once, Creatively

I hope you’ll explore what you can do with linked stitches. Here are some that need future blog posts.

  • X- and Y-stitches are very much like linked stitches; the main difference is the next stitch is started in the side of the stitch post, not just linked to it. For an X or Y shape, the next stitch is shorter, like a branch crocheted onto the “trunk” of a taller stitch. I needed X-stitches for the lavender swatch (top of the page) to be able to crochet two rows at once. The two-row version has a V-stitch crocheted into an inverted V-stitch. Isn’t that a two-row X?
  • I’ve discussed where to link, and how many times to link in the same stitch. What about how you might link. The equivalent of a slip stitched link is where you insert your hook in a strand of the previous stitch and leave it on the hook (don’t yarn over and pull up a loop in it). The opposite would be to start a taller stitch there: it worked for me when I crocheted a letter A-shape.

A Sample Two-Rows-as-One Pattern

  • Pattern abbreviations: ch = chain stitch, dc = double crochet (UK/AUS tr), dtr = double treble (UK/AUS ttr), sc = single crochet (UK/AUS dc), st(s) = stitch(es), yo = yarn over hook
  • Special Stitches:
    • Shell = [2-dc cluster, dc, 2-dc cluster] all into designated stitch
    • 2-dc cluster = *yo, pull up loop in designated stitch, yo and pull through two loops on hook, repeat from * in same stitch, yo and pull through all loops on hook.
    • Split Cluster = [*yo, pull up loop in first st of Shell, yo and pull through two loops on hook, repeat from * in same stitch], [yo, pull up loop in 2nd st of Shell, yo and pull through two loops on hook], [*yo, pull up loop in 3rd st of Shell, yo and pull through two loops on hook, repeat from * in same stitch], yo and pull through all 6 loops on hook.
    • Coin-Cluster = Yo 3 times, insert hook in next st, *yo and pull up a loop, [yo and pull through 2 loops on hook] 3 times, yo, insert hook in 2nd yo strand of previous st, yo and pull up a loop, yo, insert hook in same st of row, repeat from * four times, [yo and pull through 2 loops on hook] 3 times, yo and pull through all 6 loops on hook.

Original Two-Row Stitch Pattern

Chain 20 for a swatch. (Multiple of 6 stitches + 5.)

  1. Row 1: Dc in 8th ch from your hook, *ch 1, skip next 2 sts of row, Shell, ch 1, skip next 2 sts of row, dc in next st, repeat from *. Ch 5, turn.
  2. Row 2: Skip next 2 ch, *dc in next dc, ch 2, skip next ch, Split Cluster over next 3 sts of Shell, ch 2, repeat from *, dc in next dc, ch 2, dc in 2nd ch of turning ch.
  3. Repeat Rows 1 and 2 for pattern. Or, for Row 3 put Shells where the dc are, and dc where the Shells are to stagger the pattern.

The One-Row Version

Chain 23 for a swatch. (Multiple of 6 stitches + 7.)

  1. Row 1: Dtr in 11th ch from your hook, *ch 2, skip next 2 sts of row, Coin-Cluster, ch 2, skip next 2 sts of row, dtr in next st, repeat from *.
  2. If you don’t mind having the wrong side of Coin-Clusters facing every other row, repeat Row 1. To have them all face the right side, work this pattern in the round with no turning. Or, use this Row 2 as shown in the swatch: Ch 1, turn. Sc in first dtr, *ch 2, skip next 2 ch, sc in next st, repeat from * to the end of the row, placing last sc in the next turning ch after you skip 2 of them.
  3. Repeat Rows 1 and 2 for pattern. Or, for Row 3 put Coin-Clusters where the dtr are, and dtr where the Coin-Clusters are to stagger the pattern.

So I’d like to hear from you if you’ve had linking adventures, or troubles.

Want to crochet two rows at once of a favorite stitch pattern? I think some probably can’t be done, while with others there could be several ways to combine rows.

I’m eyeing a pattern right now that has 3 rows of single crochet, then 1 row of clusters. I’m mulling how I could turn its 4-row repeat into 2: turn a sc row + cluster row + sc row into one row, and have the sc row that separates them be the one row that faces the wrong side!

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Tall Stitch Circles

Six crochet circles in graduated sizes of tall stitches from half double crochets up to quadruple trebles.

Have a look at these simple flat circles I swatched last month. This is research for my Tall Stitch Virtuosity crochet class. Each circle has a closed center and just two rounds of a tall stitch. The yarn is my own Lotus yarn. Lots of things to notice.

Formula for Tall Stitch Circles

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.
Six different tall stitch circles in a stack

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).

Y-Stitch? Huh?

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 Mooglyexcept 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.

Tirple treble circle and Quadruple treble circle shown in a window with rainbow light filtered through them
A triple-treble circle and a quadruple-treble circle with rainbow light filtered through them.
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Crochet Stitch Equivalents (Issue 2)

Close up of seam that joins two crochet motifs with stitch equivalents: linked bent tall stitches match chains and slip stitches.

I seamed with stitch equivalents in this 2019 image. It was not in the original 2011 newsletter issue #2, A Super Crochet Maneuver. It’s explained at the end.

A screenful of the original2-column newsletter with teal border, pale teal background, logo in header.
How it looked in 2010.

First, the original newsletter issue, below. It went out to a few more than 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. I’ve added my current (September 2019) thoughts at the end.

From the Archives: A Super Crochet Maneuver

Vashti’s Crochet Inspirations Newsletter, Issue #2 (September 2010)

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.

Continue reading Crochet Stitch Equivalents (Issue 2)