|When the Top Loops are Optional
You're reading issue #61.
A big thank you to my long-time subscribers, and welcome to all the new subscribers! I'm at peak prep for the classes I'm teaching next month. This causes delays in sending out newsletters. Lots of news! See right-hand column.
As to the topic at hand: The basic idea is to crochet into a loop of a stitch that is neither its top front loop, nor its top back loop. I really debated with myself over the title for this issue, and that's part of what inspires me to investigate it. This oddly subterranean topic has a naming problem! It's clouded by an unnecessary lack of basic information, and vague, territorial legalisms. It's especially obscure to do this with single crochets (sc in the US, dc in the UK).
This "esoteric technique" (as it was called in a Yahoo group) resurfaces periodically online. Today I created a how-to blog post about it. It includes the extra stuff that wouldn't fit in this newsletter, and answers a pattern support question I received about my Pallas Scarf pattern (shown at left). Pallas just wouldn't be Pallas without both top loops of its stitches showing.
In the books, the two top loops are well-illustrated and consistently named. New crocheters are prepared well in this respect. (This means pattern writers are well served by the how-to books, as long as they stick with the top loops.) The rest of the loops that could be crocheted into are often unnamed, undiagrammed, unmentioned.
Top loops are horizontal, while other loops of a stitch are more vertical. (see issue #50 on stitch "feet"). On the back of sc and taller stitches is a third horizontal bump-like loop. This is the important loop with a naming problem.
Some Options in "Optional"
"Top Loops Optional" is careful wording because on the one hand, if all you do is crochet rows of sc into That Third Loop of each sc, you get a nice ribbed fabric. Both top loops show clearly and evenly as a ribbed surface texture. It's literally "topless crocheting" and is actually pretty popular :-) In some '70's-80's books it was called Aran crochet rib (see end of blog post).
On the other hand, you also have the option of crocheting into one or both top loops together with the third loop for more effects. A great example is the shallow sc (also in issue #50). You can:
- Go down through only the third loop to begin your sc for a twisted loop.
- Do any of these options in a spiraling fashion in the round.
- Do any of these things with extended sc (esc), half double crochet (hdc; UK: htr), linked stitches, etc. Bendy Carter has creatively explored lots of different kinds of sc. (Esc: Insert hook in next stitch, yarn over and pull up a loop on your hook, chain 1, then yarn over and pull through the two loops on your hook. This makes a taller, skinnier sc, similar in height to the hdc.)
Interestingly, that hdc third loop is anatomically different from the sc third loop. The sc third loop is the last loop added to your hook before you pull the yarn through the two loops on your hook to complete a sc. The hdc actually has this loop too (the lemon-tinted one in the photo below), but I've never once heard of or seen someone crocheting into this one. It's smaller, nub-like, and may get covered up by another horizontal loop that was originally added to your hook when you yarned over to begin the stitch (tinted pink in the photo).
So, taller stitches such as the dc (UK: tr) also have these additional horizontal loops: the initial yarn over loop, and the smaller nub-type one from the last loop on the hook, just before the stitch is completed. Notice that the third loop from the initial yarn over is sometimes a stringy line connecting it to the next stitch, and crocheting into it causes the new stitch to be slightly offset from the post of the stitch it's in.
I tried crocheting into the "nub" (lemon-tinted) loop instead of the stringier third loop of the hdc and dc. I found that the surface looked very similar but the "nub" one laid flatter for a smooth, sedate rib.
That's it for #61! If you know someone who would enjoy this kind of newsletter, please forward this to them so that they can subscribe. (Click here to subscribe: ) If you have any comments or suggestions, please email me. Thanks! --Vashti