The chain & stitch combination join is probably the most-used technique in my yarny bag of tricks; it’s also the subject of many of the questions I get about my patterns!
I use this end-of-the-round joining technique in the majority of my designs, since it is ideal for openwork circular crochet (my favorite) in which you want to begin the next round in the middle of a chain space.
Say we are creating several rounds of ch-4 mesh loops, like in my free market bag pattern. Since the sc “anchor” of these loops is worked into the middle of the chain space, we have to begin and end the rounds in the middle. If we finish the last ch-4 loop and connect it to the first sc of the round, we join with a slip stitch and end the round with our hook positioned on the sc, not in the middle of the loop. In this scenario, it would be necessary to “travel” forward to the middle of the next loop to begin. Usually this is done by slip stitching.
Which totally works – but for personal preference, I like to replace the slip stitch travel with the chain & stitch combo join. It lets me avoid adding bulk or changing the tension of the lace design. Also, working into individual chain stitches can sometimes be tedious 😛 As I’m sure we all know.
Here’s how to replace those slip stitch travels!
Since each crochet stitch has an equivalent number of chain stitches, chain and stitch joins just replace a certain number of chain stitches in a loop with a crochet stitch of equivalent length worked into the stitch in which you would normally join. (Some people typically equate one chain length for a hdc. More on that later)
In a chain 5 loop where we wanted to start the next round in the middle of a space, we’d replace the last 3 chains in the loop with a dc (equivalent of 3 chains) worked into the beginning of the round to join. This lands your hook in the middle of an equivalent sized space, ready to start the next round without traveling anywhere. The side of the dc stitch is now treated as the second half of the loop, with any new stitches of the next round worked under the side of the stitch.
You can replace any number of chain stitches in a row-end join with a stitch, depending on where you want your hook to be positioned for the next round. If your next round works several stitches into the chain spaces, you can begin further back on the loop to make room by replacing more chains.
The ch-1 and treble combo pictured above (forming a ch-5 sized loop) leaves some space ahead in the loop for working several stitches. Also, depending on your gauge and tension, you may find that some stitch join combos work better than others.
For instance, I often work stitch joins that are a little over half because I find that it ends up looking more centered. Using ch-1 and a double (3 chains long) to end in the middle of a ch-4 sized space works better for me than a combination of 2 chains and a hdc. The image below is an example that from the Lotus Mandala Duster pattern, which uses a ton of joins like this:
Rather than work a ch-2 and hdc stitch join combo, which would ideally replace 2 of the chain stitches, I use a ch-1 and dc combo. One of the reasons for that is the pesky HDC is easily shortened by tension/gauge differences – which, actually, makes it good for replacing BOTH lengths of 2 chains and lengths of one chain.
In the example above, a hdc is replacing the entirety of a ch-2 length space before chaining for the next round. I keep the tension loose so it’s more like 2 ch stitches long. In the example below, I use the hdc to replace a ch-1 size space by keeping the tension tight to shorten it.
When it comes to ch-1 length spaces, I dither back and forth between chain & stitch joins and slip stitch travels. Sometimes substituting a stitch isn’t really necessary or is disadvantageous depending on where you want to land for your next round.
One way the choice between the two methods makes a difference is that it changes the way your join “seams” lean. For slip stitch traveling, each round is going to be offset FORWARD in your pattern, meaning that you will begin slightly further along in the circle in whichever direction you crochet (to the left for righties, to the right for lefties).
With chain & stitch join combos, your joins will lean BACKWARD in your pattern because each new round will be offset in the opposite direction you crochet (to the right for righties, to the left for lefties). Here’s an example of a part of the Lotus Duster that has several rounds of openwork crochet that use the chain & stitch join combo. The joins are highlighted.
Because of this difference in direction, it’s important to use whichever join strategy the pattern indicates unless you are positive that it won’t matter later.
That’s it! If you have any questions about the chain & stitch join combo, ask away in the comments below! 🙂
And of course, more to come 😉