Crocheting in the front loop: adding drape to your crochet

Filed under: Crochet,Tutorial — February 21, 2014 @ 4:20 pm

French version of this post is here.

I love crochet. I really do.
Yet not ALL of crochet.
Ermeline hooded cardi, crochet pattern by Sylvie Damey ChezPlum.com Dancing poppies cardigan, crochet pattern by Sylvie Damey, chezplum.com

We’ve probably all seen “old-style crochet” which looks like chainmail: fabric so dense it could nearly stand up by itself. And heavy too because it uses up so much yarn. Totally unsuitable for garments, even more unsuitable for baby garments.

When it comes to drape and ease, knitting is usually better suited to making garments with thin fabric that moves easily to follow the shapes of your body.

Jehanne hooded cardigan, crochet pattern by Sylvie Damey ChezPlum.com Yellow

Which is why I love crocheting in the front loop so much. Working in the front loop only stretches and elongates each stitch so that the resulting fabric is way thinner, much closer to knit fabric. The resulting crocheted piece is also more elastic and stretches more easily, so that it follows the curves of your body more closely.

This is the technique I use for all my crocheted garments and they always fit so well !

If you’ve never tried crocheting in the front loop yet, let’s get started:
crochet tutorial  - working in the front loop by ChezPlum.com

On top of each row (here working in dc -US terminology) you can see each stitch forming like a “V”. The legs of that V are the 2 “loops” of each stitch. We are going here to use the FRONT loop only: that’s the loop closest to you when crocheting.
NOTE: working in the back loop would totally change the end result, closer to the look of knit ribbing !

crochet tutorial  - working in the front loop by ChezPlum.com DcFrontLoop

To work a dc in front loop, insert your hook under the front strand of “V” at top of stitch. You’ll have to tilt slightly your piece to see both strands properly. Then work the stitch as usual.

crochet tutorial  - working in the front loop by ChezPlum.com

After a few rows, you’ll notice the straight lines every 2nd row. This is a fabric caracteristic of working in the front row. I find it pretty… and it’s super handy to count your rows ! :-)

I suggest you swatch with both techniques using the same number of stitches and row. Start with double crochets in the front loop. Then make another swatch in “regular” dc (ie worked in both loops). Then compare both :
The “front loop” swatch should be taller and thinner, and both sides will look the same (with the parrallel lines every 2nd row).
The swatch worked in both loops should be more compact, thicker and with a more even look. Both sides should look slightly different though, with a definite “right side” and “wrong side”.

Of course, to add drape to a crocheted piece a key factor is also to use a larger hook than the recommended needles on label. I usually always swatch first with 2 or 3 sizes of hook until I decide which is the best compromise of maximum drape while retaining a good hand. (sometimes even swatching is not enough to take that decision..).

What about you: do you crochet in both loops, front loop or back loop ? What texture do you look for when crocheting ? I’d love to know !

Oh and notice the cat ? This is Wifi, our new cat. Looks like he loves yarn too. I’m trying to educate him not to play with my balls of yarn, but not sure it’s working ;-)

4 Comments »

  1. Katy:

    Thank you for explaining the habits of the front loop :)
    I always wondered how designers made their clothing look so much more drape-able than I’ve ever managed and, as I’ve just bought some of your patterns to make for my daughter, at least I now know they’ll fit her that much better :)

  2. Administrator:

    I’m so glad you’re finding this helpful ! Can’t wait to see the garments you’ll crochet now :-D

  3. Nicole:

    Thank you so much for this! I’m trying to convert a knit pattern to crochet and the main problem I had was getting it to drape well. I tried all different stitches and hook sizes but I wanted to keep it simple and this is the perfect solution!

  4. Sylvie Damey:

    Glad to help ! Yes it’s a super simple option, just make sure you take into account the different gauge though, as crocheting in the front loop tends to make stitches taller and sligthly narrower.

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