Circle Pockets : Magic Rings, Continuous Circles, and Ami Shorthand
This post is part of a series of tutorials on how to create your own unique crochet pixie pocket belt – to read more about this series visit the Intro page.
Most of the crochet utility belts I make have circle pockets – I love their potential as a canvas for other shapes like mandalas, simple embroidery, or shell flower petals. Plus, I’m just really into circles.
The first circle for this simple circular pocket is the back part, worked continuously in the round, which is what this post is all about!
Unless I NEED a circle with a big hole in the center, I always start my circles with a technique called the Magic Ring, an adjustable base for crochet circles that leaves no central gap. This is a really easy trick that is really magic! There are a lot of tutorials already in existence for the Magic Ring (I usually refer people to Planet June’s excellent tutorial) but here’s how I do this technique:
Take the end of the yarn strand and lay it over the fingers, the end placed on the pinkie side.
Bring the strand under the fingers and back up over the index finger, using your bottom fingers to secure the loose end and your thumb to hold the yarn strand in place.
Slip your hook under the bottom-most strand and wrap the top strand around the hook as for a yarn over.
Draw up your loop through the strand under which your hook was inserted. Now you have one loop drawn up through the beginning of the ring.
Yarn over again…
… And draw through the loop on the hook.
Tighten the stitch you just made. Now you have a yarn ring and a loose tail of yarn coming off of this initial stitch. For taller stitches like dc and tr, this first stitch counts as the first chain in the starting chain. For single crochet, I usually don’t count this as the first stitch as it is very tight to try to work into.
Creating a Continuous Circle:
So, once you’ve started your ring, you can start stitching the first round into it. Here’s the basic theory of crocheting flat circles: you need to increase by the same number every round to keep it flat. I start single crochet circles with 6 or 8 sts (usually 6). Which means that every round, I am going to add 6 (or 8 if I start with 8) more stitches to the total count.
6 sc into the ring. Once you have your first round, pull the loose end of the magic circle strand to tighten the ring and close the first round.
Here I am, starting with 6, working continuously and marking my first st of every round with a stitch marker.
To begin the next round, work the first stitch into the first stitch of the previous round. Place a stitch marker in the first stitch to keep track of the beginning and end of the round.
The first round has 6 sc, the second round has 12 sc (2 sc in each sc of the previous rnd, so I’m adding 6 to the total stitch count)
Written out, that would look something like this:
“Make Magic Ring
Rnd 1: 6 sc into the ring.
Rnd 2: 2 sc in ea sc around – 12 sc”
The next round is going to add 6 sts to the total again. That means you’ll add an extra stitch (inc) to every OTHER stitch. It looks like this written out:
Rnd 3: (1 sc in the next st, 2 sc in the next st) 6 times. – 18 sc
The words in the parentheses represent a repeat, and the number outside of the parentheses represents how many times total you will repeat the instructions within.
Rnd 4: (1 sc in ea of the next 2 sc, 2 sc in the next st) 6 times. – 24 sc
That’s not that hard to type out – but I usually write things first, in a notebook. So I have a shorthand for this kind of circular crochet pattern that I use when doing long strings of shaping, such as in amigurumi style crochet, or designing circular things like my Spiral Sweater.
This shorthand is based on how many stitches you count out between increases. You start counting for every regular single crochet, then work the increase (inc), then start over counting again and repeat around. So Rounds 1-4 end up written like this – with the total st count at the end:
- 6 sc
2. Inc every st – 12
3. Inc on 2 – 18
4. Inc on 3 – 24
“Inc on 2” means that you start counting regular sts (one…) then when you reach “two” you place an extra st. This would be placing an inc every other st.
“Inc on 3” means you start counting regular stitches (one, two…) then when you reach “three” you place an extra st. Then starting counting over again on the next st. This would be placing an inc every 3 stitches.
I call this notation my ami shorthand, after amigurumi of course.
BONUS: Back Loop Only Stitches
With this circle, I decided to throw in some Back Loop Only (BLO) stitches to show how it’s done on Rnd 5. So it would look like this:
- Inc on 4 (BLO) – 30
Back loop only is exactly what it sounds like – insert your hook and make your stitch in only one of the two loops at the top of the stitch – the one in the back. This leaves the front loop free so you can work into it later, adding fun things like petals.
I took this circle up to a 60-st round total. So it would look like this written in shorthand:
Rnds 1-5 as written above
6. Inc on 5 – 36
7. Inc on 6 – 42
8. Inc on 7 – 48
9. Inc on 8 – 54
10. Inc on 9 – 60
My circle now has a distinct hexagonal shape from placing the increases all aligned. I like to smooth the edges by ending my circles with a least one round of no increases. This also gives the pocket a little more depth. I shorthand this with the terminology “sc even” to indicate that you work one sc for each sc in the round, adding no stitches to the total for the round..
- Sc even – 60
And, since we’re working continuously, that leaves us with a height difference at the end of our rounds. I finish off continuous circles with a couple of slip stitches to make a smooth edge.
Sl st 2-3 sts, cut yarn and tie off.
In the next post I’ll make another (fancier) circle and then stitch the two together to form a pocket. But first, let’s go back to the Back Loop Only round.
Fun Ideas for Circular Pockets: Surface Shell Petals
Since the front loops are still unworked, it’s easy to slip your hook underneath them and work something on the surface of your crochet. One of my favorite things to use these free front loops for is flower petals, such as the one in pictured here:
To make this type of circular pocket, crochet a flat circle entirely in the Back Loop Only so that your surface on the right side is full of free front loops. Into these front loops, you can work shells like the ones demonstrated in the previous PBT post PBT: Ruffles, Shells, and Scales:
Start by working an initial single crochet into the first free front loop, then proceed to work whatever shells you think might look pretty as petals!
The first two shells are *1 sc, 1 hdc, 2 dc, 1 hdc, 1 sc in the next loop, then sl st in the next lp to secure. Repeating from *.
The second two shells are *sk next loop, 2 hdc, 2 dc, 2 hdc in the next lp, sk next lp, sl st in the next lp to secure. Repeating from *.
Working an entire (continuous) circle in BLO, then using shells to fill the front loops with petals, is how I made this little silk rose pocket for my Wild Rose belt…
And also how I made this chunky, lush rose pocket for my Garden Rose belt. As you can see, experimenting with different variables such as petal size and yarn gauge creates an amazing variety of looks even when the technique is similar!
BUT WAIT. There’s more! Check out the next post in which we’ll crochet a multi-colored, non-continuous circle with more fun freeform techniques in PBT: Circle Pockets Part 2.