Surprisingly, the third loop of the ch is often ignored. It may be described as a "ridge" or "bump" (in quotes) without actually being named, even if the other two loops are named by their standard terms front loop and back loop. (An illustration of the bump loop in a recent crochet book shows the wrong loop.)
The impression I have from most of the books I checked is that the two top loops of a ch are the main event, and there's nothing much going on behind them on the "wrong side." It's odd because to me, the bump loop is a power loop. Not only that, each top loop has its own special talents.
(I love the crochet books that encourage beginning crocheters to explore crocheting into any one or two of a ch's three loops. I've listed them at the bottom.)
I see a chain stitch as a three-dimensional, three-sided thing, not a 2-D binary (front/back, flat/bumpy, right side or wrong). To me each chain has three unique sides because each loop works differently: the two top loops make one side, the bump loop and one top loop make a second side, and the bump loop + the other top loop form the third side. Inside of this triangular shape is space. When crocheted tightly, a chain appears to be filled with fiber, but if you can crochet into it, the space isn't truly full.
A slip stitch is a chain that includes a loop or two of another stitch in its inner space. Love knots make this space the most visible.
Bump Up the Power Loop
Two well-known special powers of the Bump loop are that it's responsible for the bubble-like shape of Love Knots, and it's where pre-strung beads end up by default. The Bump loop is centered between the two other loops, which is really valuable in some designs. Beads on the Bump are automatically centered, for example.
Beaded example below and in the top right corner use the Bump Loop.
The three patterns I've just released (Starpath Scarf, Candied Color Charms, Lotus Chips) all depend on crocheting stitches into the Bump Loop, for different reasons:
- Crochet Row 1 into just the Bump of each foundation ch if you want your foundation edge to look the same as the edge of your last row.
- Create a truly sharp corner by crocheting into the Bump of the ch you just made (I'm calling it a "fat-free picot").
- Crochet into the Bump of each turning ch for a smooth finished starting edge of a star stitch row.
Other special Bumpy talents are: adding a purled-looking ridge to Tunisian Reverse Stitch, and contributing a garter stitch look to front-loop slip stitch fabric.
Lastly, unlike the other two loops, the Bump has some grit: it resists looking pulled out and stringy because of the sharp bend in the ch that creates the bump shape.
About Those Two Top Loops
The top Front loop (FL) and the top Back loop (BL) look the same in a ch, but we know they behave very differently. How? Compare rows of slip stitches (sl st) or single crochets (sc) in the FL only, or the BL only. BL fabrics are ridged, corrugated, and stretchy, whereas FL fabrics relax, flatten, drape, and use less yarn. These are pretty dramatic differences!
This Slip Tectonics cowl was designed to contrast the differences between FL and BL slip stitch fabrics.
Get this: in my informal tests so far, changing the yarn over direction switches the behavior of the top loops! So does crocheting with the other hand. To be continued...
Crochet books notable for encouraging crocheters to crochet into different chain loops:
Deborah Burger, Crochet 101
Jan Eaton, The New Encyclopedia of Crochet Techniques
Julie Holetz, Uncommon Crochet
Cecily Keim & Kim Werker, Teach Yourself Visually Crocheting
That's it for #58! 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