Increasing and Decreasing in Crochet {free crochet tutorial}

Here’s a crochet tutorial I’m very excited to share with you, that I originally wrote for Little Becky Homecky (who’s a fellow crochet and sewing gal!) and now am getting you in on the goodies. Here is your beginner’s guide to increasing and decreasing in crochet – an essential skill for working in the round to create hats, doilies, bags, amigurumi, and much much more!

First, let’s start with increasing. This is a crochet technique that is used to make the width of your project wider. A project is made longer by adding more rows, but it is made wider by adding increasing stitches. An increasing stitch is simply two of the same stitch in one space. So, for example, I have chosen to use working in the round (see my post on that here) as my example for you, because it is one of the most common projects in which there are increasing stitches. Working in the round is one of the most important techniques to master in crochet as you can make hats, flowers, dolls, clothes and more. See my crochet page for lots of hat and flower patterns!

Crochet For Beginners - How to Increase in the Round to Make Circles for Hats, Doilies, Bags and More!

  • Picture #1 – Chain 3, slip stitch to form a ring. Chain 2, 11 double crochet in the ring (for a total of 12 double crochet)
  • Picture #2 – This is an increasing round where we work 2 double crochet stitches into each space.
  • Picture #3 – Shows the completed round 2 which is an increasing round.
  • Picture #4 – This is another increasing round, but different from round 2. Chain 2, double crochet in the same space (so it looks like 2 double crochets have been worked). Now work just 1 double crochet in the next stitch. 2 double crochets in the next. 1 in the next. Repeat the 2, 1 pattern all the way around.
  • Picture #5 – Shows the almost finished round 3.
If you continued this circle, you would typically add one increasing stitch (2 of the same stitch, in this case, a double crochet) one time less each round. So, round 4 would be: 2 DC, 1DC, 1DC. Round 5: 2 DC, 1DC, 1DC, 1DC

Single Crochet Decrease

Now let’s move on to decreasing. Decreasing is important to learn in order to make things like ear flaps on a winter hat and clothing. There are different techniques for both single, half double and double crochet, and I have a photo tutorial for each of them for you! In each example, we’re going to make a triangle together. So, come follow along!
How to Work a Single Crochet Decrease - A Crochet Photo Tutorial by My Merry Messy Life
  • Photo #1 – Chain 12. In the 2nd chain from the hook, work a single crochet. Work 1 single crochet in each stitch all the way down.
    Row 2 – Chain 1. (We’re going to begin a decreasing stitch. You’re going to start the single crochet but not complete it the same way.) So, insert your hook into the first space and pull up a loop. There should be two loops on your hook
  • Photos #2 to #3 - Leave the two loops on the hook and insert the hook into the next space and pull up a loop. There are now 3 loops on your hook.
  • Photo #4 – Yarn over, and pull through the first two loops. There are two loops remaining.
  • Photo #5 – Yarn over, and pull through the last two loops. Finished! See how there is only one space now for two stitches?
Example of a Single Crochet Decrease - A Complete Photo Tutorial for Beginners

 

If you continue, the rest of row 2 will be to single crochet in the next 6 stitches, then work another decrease in the last two. (8 total stitches)
  • Row 3: Chain 1. Work a decrease in the next 2 stitches, work a single crochet in the next 4 stitches, then work a decrease with the last two stitches. (6 total stitches)
  • Row 4: Chain 1. Work a decrease in the next 2 stitches, work 1 single crochet in the next stitch, work a decrease in the last two stitches. (4 total stitches)
  • Row 5: Chain 1. Work a decrease in the next 2 stitches, work 1 single crochet in the last stitch. (2 total stitches)
  • Row 6: Chain 1. Work a decrease in the last 2 stitches to complete!

Half Double Crochet Decrease

How to Work a Half Double Decrease in Crochet - A Complete Photo Tutorial for Beginners
  • Photo #1 - Chain 12. In the 2nd chain from the hook, work a half double crochet. Work 1 half double crochet in each stitch all the way down. (10 half double crochet total)
    Row 2 – Chain 1. (We’re going to begin a decreasing stitch. You’re going to start the half double crochet but not complete it the same way.) So, yarn over and insert your hook into the first space and pull up a loop. There should be 3 loops on your hook
  • Photo #2 - Leave the 3 loops on the hook, yarn over and insert the hook into the next space.
  • Photo #3 -  Now pull up a loop. There are now 5 loops on the hook.
  • Photo #4 - Yarn over, and pull through the first 3 loops. There are 3 loops remaining.
  • Photo #5 - Yarn over, and pull through the last 3 loops.
Example of a Half Double Crochet Decrease in Crochet
If you continue, the rest of row 2 will be to half double crochet in the next 6 stitches, then work another decrease in the last two. (8 total stitches)
  • Row 3: Chain 1. Work a decrease in the next 2 stitches, work a half double crochet in the next 4 stitches, then work a decrease with the last two stitches. (6 total stitches)
  • Row 4: Chain 1. Work a decrease in the next 2 stitches, work 1 half double crochet in the next stitch, work a decrease in the last two stitches. (4 total stitches)
  • Row 5: Chain 1. Work a decrease in the next 2 stitches, work 1 half double crochet in the last stitch. (2 total stitches)
  • Row 6: Chain 1. Work a decrease in the last 2 stitches to complete!
 

Double Crochet Decrease

How to Work a Double Crochet Decrease - A Complete Photo Tutorial for Beginners
  • Photo #1 - Chain 13. In the 3rd chain from the hook, work a double crochet. Work 1 double crochet in each stitch all the way down. (10 double crochet total)
    Row 2 – Chain 2. (We’re going to begin a decreasing stitch. You’re going to start the double crochet but not complete it the same way.) So, yarn over and insert your hook into the first space and pull up a loop. There should be 3 loops on your hook
  • Photo #2 - Yarn over and pull that loop through the 3 loops. There are now two loops remaining.
  • Photo #3 -  Yarn over, and insert the hook into the next space and pull up a loop. There are now 4 loops on the hook.
  • Photo #4 - Yarn over, and pull through the first 2 loops. There are 3 loops remaining.
  • Photo #5 - Yarn over, and pull through the last 3 loops.
Example of a Double Crochet Decrease in Crochet - A Complete Photo Tutorial for Beginners
If you continue, the rest of row 2 will be to double crochet in the next 6 stitches, then work another decrease in the last two. (8 total stitches)
  • Row 3: Chain 1. Work a decrease in the next 2 stitches, work a double crochet in the next 4 stitches, then work a decrease with the last two stitches. (6 total stitches)
  • Row 4: Chain 1. Work a decrease in the next 2 stitches, work 1 double in the next stitch, work a decrease in the last two stitches. (4 total stitches)
  • Row 5: Chain 1. Work a decrease in the next 2 stitches, work 1 double crochet in the last stitch. (2 total stitches)
  • Row 6: Chain 1. Work a decrease in the last 2 stitches to complete!
Merry Crocheting!
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Comments

  1. Great tutorial, Sara!

  2. This is a great tutorial, Sara! Pinned! :-)
    Thanks for sharing with my href=”http://earning-my-cape.blogspot.com/2012/09/super-link-party-19.html “>Super Link Party! :-)

  3. Hey Sara! You are featured this week for my Super Link Party! Come check it out! :-)
    http://earning-my-cape.blogspot.com/2012/09/super-link-party-20.html

  4. I’m learning how to crochet {thanks to you :)} and have been trying to figure out how to increase to create larger hats. Great tutorial and perfect timing. Thanks!

  5. Thank you for the great tutorials. It’s the little things that make it all come together beautifully.

  6. I am unable to get the page that has your working in the round tutorial open http://mymerrymessylife.com/2012/04/how-to-work-in-round-crochet-tutorial.html Could u plz guide me to one. I have had a horrisfic time trying to do hats and booties. I am excited about doing yours as u have explained your patterns so well.

  7. Michaela Curtis says:

    Hi this is great, but what if I’m using say doubles, tables, quads etc, I can’t get my circle to stop ruffling up, I’m obviously increasing too much, but don’t know how to correct it. Many thanks

    • Hi there! Okay, so you can correct it by increasing less each row. Sometimes they do ruffle up – it could be your tension, yarn weight or hook size contributing. Just increase less each round, or work an entire round with no increases, then go back to increasing the next round.

  8. Felicia Foster says:

    Thanks for the tutorial. It was clear and concise. The others out there are so confusing. Nice

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