Tutorial – Keeping your edges straight

When working in rows, do you ever have trouble knowing where the first or last stitch is? Are your “straight” edges really anything but straight? This is a common issue for new crocheters, and even happens to us oldies sometimes, when we’re learning a new technique. It’s easy to fix though, and all it takes is 2 locking stitch markers. This technique also helps you think about and understand how the stitches are actually being formed.

keeping your edges straight - StitchesNScraps.com

If you have trouble finding the last stitch of the row, mark the first stitch of the previous row. Here’s a swatch of plain single crochet, where I’m at the start of a new row. When starting a new row in single crochet, you usually will chain one, and that chain does not count as a stitch. The loop that’s on your hook after the chain though, that becomes part of the first stitch – it actually becomes the “V” shape on the top, leading into the first stitch.

sc - keeping your edges straight - StitchesNScraps.com

When working back in the opposite direction, that loop is where you’re going to put your hook for the last stitch so let’s mark it now by putting the marker around the whole loop, just before we make that first stitch. See how that positions it in just the right spot?

Mark first st - keeping your edges straight - StitchesNScraps.com

Now I’m coming to the end of the row, and you can see the marker from the previous row. Finding the end of the row is easy – I know my last stitch goes right where the marker is. After I do that, I remove the stitch marker so I can use it again when I start my new row.

Work last st - keeping your edges straight - StitchesNScraps.com

This placement works any time when the starting chain of the row is not counted as a stitch. This is almost always the case with single crochet, and is often the case with half double crochet too.  But what about taller stitches, where the starting chain is often counted as a stitch?

Ch 3 - keeping your edges straight - StitchesNScraps.com

In the picture above, I’ve chained 3 to start a row of double crochets.  We know from the illustrations earlier that the loop now on my hook is going to be part of the next stitch I make. However, since the chain counts as the first stitch, that next stitch will be the second stitch…we don’t want to mark that! Instead, we need place our marker in the top (3rd chain) of the chain 3. To do that, we need to back up a step.  Chain 2, and before making your 3rd chain, slip the marker around your working loop. This will position it perfectly in that 3rd chain.

Mark 3rd chain - keeping your edges straight - StitchesNScraps.com

If you have the opposite problem, and have trouble finding the first stitch of each row, you can fix that with markers too! Just place a marker around your working loop before completing the last stitch of the row. Your first stitch of the next row will go into the marked spot.

Mark last st - keeping your edges straight - StitchesNScraps.com

Remember, this marks the first stitch. If you’re working a taller stitch where your turning chain already counts as the first stitch, you want to place your next stitch into the 2nd stitch. So in that case, you would need to skip the marked first stitch and work into the next stitch. In the pictures below, the left one shows a single crochet worked into the first stitch, and the right one shows a double crochet worked into the 2nd stitch.

First st in sc and dc - keeping your edges straight - StitchesNScraps.com

If you’re not sure which end is your problem, you can try to mark both the first and last stitch of each round, but be sure to use different color stitch markers so it doesn’t get confusing!

For experienced crocheters, marking your first or last stitch can be helpful when working a complicated lace pattern, an open type of stitch like lover’s/Solomon’s knots, or a pattern with shaping at the edges. It’s also helpful with very fuzzy yarns where the stitches are hard to see.  The key is to place the marker around your working loop, just before working the stitch you want to mark. This way the marker always ends up around the top “v” part of that stitch.

Whatever your skill level, I hope this little tip helps you keep your edges straight!



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