If you want to make the base of a bag, basket or bowl, or make a mandala, you need to understand the basics of making a crochet circle. If you really understand how and why you need to increase stitches in each round, you can easily start designing your own circles and mandalas. This free tutorial should help…
Free tutorial for making a perfect circle in crochet
Ewwww, some maths! Remember that the radius of a circle and its circumference are related by an equation:
Circumference (of a circle) = 2 π r
That’s two times the radius times the constant π, which equals 3.14…
Yes, I can see you getting fidgety and bored already, but stay with me a little bit longer because it takes all the guess-work and frustration out of circles.
Because the radius and circumference (the size of the outside of your circle) are related, you need to make increases in each round to produce a flat circle.
- Increase too much and your crochet circle will develop ripples that radiate out, making it look a bit concertina-like.
- Increase too little and your circle will curl up at the edges like a bowl. This effect is very desirable when making a bowl, but you need to be in control, don’t let the crochet dictate!
How you start your circle depends on which stitch you use. You can save yourself a lot of headaches if you start out correctly.
I won’t go into the maths here, but the upshot is that the taller your stitch, the more you need to increase. You can do this much more easily by following a very easy starting rule for your first round.
You can begin with a magic circle, or with a chain of 3-4 and slip stitch together to make a ring. You then start each round with a number of chain stitches. These do not count as a stitch:
- If you are using dc stitches (sc USA terms), start with one chain
- Using half trebles (half dc USA terms) start with two chains
- Using trebles (dc USA terms) start with three chains
- Using double trebles (trebles USA terms) start with four chains
You then crochet your stitches into this ring.
- If you are using dc stitches (sc USA terms), start with 6 stitches in your first round.
- Using half trebles (half dc USA terms) start with 10 stitches in your first round
- Using trebles (dc USA terms) start with 12 stitches in your first round
- Using double trebles (trebles USA terms) start with 16 stitches in your first round
This is what one round of a half treble circle looks like, as an example. The first picture if you are continuing with the same yarn colour, the second picture if you are intending to change colour:
See below (after Round 2) for a detailed explanation of how to finish off each round with a slip stitch
Once you have got the number of stitches in your first round correct for the type of stitch you are using, the second round is easy-peasy. Just make two stitches into each stitch in the previous round.
This will give you:
- 12 stitches (dc stitches [sc USA])
- 20 stitches (half trebles [half dc USA])
- 24 stitches (trebles [dc USA])
- 32 stitches (double trebles [trebles USA])
When you get to the end, join again with a slip stitch into the top of your first real stitch (not the top of your chain/s) or with a neat join if you are changing colour.
Closing off the rounds
You need to make a slip stitch if you are continuing with the same colour. Do this into your first proper stitch, not into the top of your chain. This gives you a nice right circle, without a gap. You will still see your seam, but this makes it less obvious.
Here is another view showing where to put your hook using a knitting needle:
In this round, you make one stitch into every other stitch of the previous round and two stitches into every other stitch. So, one stitch, two stitches, one stitch, two stitches. And so on.
This will give you:
- 18 stitches (dc stitches [sc USA])
- 30 stitches (half trebles [half dc USA])
- 36 stitches (trebles [dc USA])
- 48 stitches (double trebles [trebles USA])
See the pattern? In round two you have two times the number of stitches you started with. In round three you have three times the number of stitches you started with.
Always end the round in the same way – using a slip stitch into your first real stitch if you are staying with the same colour yarn, or using the invisible join method if you are changing colour.
This is how my half treble circle in Easter yellow looks after round 3:
Guess what happens in round 4?
You make one stitch, one stitch, then two stitches into the stitches below and repeat all the way around the previous round.
This will give you:
- 24 stitches (dc stitches [sc USA]) – 4 times the number of stitches in round 1
- 40 stitches (half trebles [half dc USA]) – 4 times the number of stitches in round 1
- 48 stitches (trebles [dc USA]) – 4 times the number of stitches in round 1
- 64 stitches (double trebles [trebles USA]) – 4 times the number of stitches in round 1
And so you go on…
In round 5 you have an increase every five stitches, in round 6 an increase every six stitches…
But before you run off and get your hook and yarn out here are some good tips that I’ve found useful:
- If you want to your circle to look even, make sure that your increases on your current round are not lining up with your increases on the row below. Spread them out a bit and your circle will look very smooth.
- Have a notepad or paper and pencil to jot down which row you are on and how many you have done – so you can check how often you need to increase.
- Use a stitch marker to mark the start of each round. If you are doing a circle of dc stitches (UK, or sc USA), you can also use the Amigurumi method – which means you carry on from one round to the next without doing a slip stitch. This gives a very even finish with no obvious seam and is often used when making crochet toys. You definitely need a stitch marker for the start of each round – its not obvious – and you still need to work out when to change the frequency of your increases.
This is how my yellow half treble circle looks after round 6:
Using a circle as a bag base
The base of my monster stripy stash bag is a circle made from half trebles (UK terms – half dc US terms). I’ll be writing up how it was made very soon 🙂
Remember you can adjust for your own tension
We all crochet differently and while the standard way of doing circles is a good guide, if you crochet quite tightly or quite loosely, you might need to compensate for that. Start off using the standard number of increases per round but if you notice your work ruffling, skip a round of increases, going from round 6 to round 8 (it will be your round 7 but you will have fewer stitches than the standard round 7). If your work curls up like a cup, repeat the round you have just done to smooth it out again. Then carry on with the next round of increases…