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Ultimate Beginner's Guide to the Crocodile Stitch

The crocodile crochet stitch is a relatively new invention in the history of crochet but one that gained quick popularity as soon as it emerged on the craft scene. The layered look of this crochet stitch has an appealing style that really makes a project stand out as unique. Learning to crochet crocodile stitch is a little bit difficult but after you've gotten used to it you'll find that it's a great addition to your set of existing crochet skills. This guide will show you the basics of the stitch so that you understand how it works along with the most popular variations for how to crochet the crocodile stitch.

Understanding the Crocodile Crochet Stitch

There are a few different ways to crochet crocodile stitch, which we will explore in depth below. However, before you can get started, you really need to get a solid understanding of what this crochet stitch is all about. Once you understand it, crocheting it becomes a lot less intimidating.

First, you are going to be creating a row of double crochet (dc) stitches with alternating spaces. You will have 2 dc, space, 1 dc, space, 2 dc, space, 1 dc, space, across the entire row.

crochet

The crocodile scales are worked around these double crochet stitches. They are essentially crochet post stitches, but you will be working multiple post stitches around each double crochet post. You will be working half of the stitches "backwards" so that the first half of the crocodile scale is a mirror image of the second half. There are two keys to this:

  • This is done in part by working the first set of the post stitches from top to bottom and the second half from bottom to top.
  • The other piece is that the first set of dc post stitches is worked like a normal back post double crochet (bpdc). However, the second set is worked "backwards" by inserting the hook underneath the post so that it points back to the beginning of the row. Assuming that you're a right-handed crocheter, you will insert the hook from the left to the right of the posts for the second half of the crocodile scale.

I've numbered the image below and it is followed by numbered instructions to get a better idea of what this is all about:

crocodile stitch instructions

The pattern is as follows:

  1. You will begin your scales by working around the 2 dc in a pair of 2 dc.
  2. You will work 5 bpdc stitches around that second dc in the pair.
  3. You will then work the 5 "backwards" post stitches to create a mirror image. Those are worked around the dc that is standing alone in the pattern.
  4. You will slip st to the first dc of the next pair of 2 dc stitches.
  5. Then you will repeat the pattern across the row.

Here is a look at what the first half of the crocodile stitch scale will look like:

crocodile crochet stitch half

And here is a look at what it looks like to work the second half of the crocodile crochet stitch:

second half croc stitch

Crocodile Stitch Crochet Tips

crocodile stitch

Now that you understand the basics of how a crocodile stitch works, you can learn the stitch. However, you might find that it's easier if you practice a couple of crochet skills first. If you want to do this intermediate step to make learning crocodile crochet stitch easier, here is what you should brush up on:

  • How to work post stitches. Specifically, you will want to practice back post double crochet (bpdc) stitches, because you will be using a lot of them in your crocodile crochet stitch patterns. See this blog post for instructions on how to make the back post double crochet stitch.
  • How to work backwards across a row. When you make the second half of each crocodile crochet stitch, you will be inserting the hook backwards under the second post so that it points towards the right side of your work (if you're right handed) rather than towards the left (as would normally be the case for a right-handed crocheter). Practicing working stitches backwards across a row can help your hands get used to this unusual part of the stitch.

Here are some additional tips that will help you as you learn how to crochet crocodile stitch:

  • The bottom of the crocodile stitch should point down towards your foundation row. If it doesn't, you've worked it upside down.
  • Some people find that it's easier to crochet the post stitches if they turn the work different directions to get the best angle for the stitch. You will have to play around and find the right away of turning for you. Some good examples of possible options can be seen at My Merry Messy Life and Lost and Found Lane.
  • Use a yarn and crochet hook that you are very comfortable with. A basic acrylic worsted weight yarn and a size G or H hook are ideal for beginners. In these examples I've used Red Heart Super Saver yarn and a Susan Bates H hook.
  • Have plenty of yarn on hand. This textured stitch is a bit of a yarn hog.

How to Crochet Crocodile Stitch

how to crochet crocodile stitch

Here are the instructions for one of the most popular ways to crochet crocodile stitch.

Step 1: Crochet a foundation chain that is a multiple of 10 stitches + 1. In this example, I've crocheted a starting chain of 31 stitches.

crochet foundation chain

Step 2: Work 2 dc in 6th chain from hook. This counts as the first set of 1 dc, space, 2 dc.

dc crochet

Step 3: Chain 1. Skip 2 chains. Dc in next stitch.

Step 4: Chain 1. Skip 2 chains. 2 dc in next stitch.

row one crochet

Step 5: Repeat steps 3 and 4 across row. You will end with 2 dc in the last stitch of your foundation row. This will give you a row of 2 dc alternated with 1 dc.

row one crochet

You will now begin the first row of crocodile scale stitches.

Step 6: Chain one and turn.

Step 7: Skip the first dc (which was the last dc of the previous row).

bpdc

Step 8: Work 5 bpdc around the post of the second double crochet in the row.These are worked from the top down, so that the second bpdc is worked around the same post directly below the first bpdc. This makes the first half of the first crocodile scale.

crocodile crochet stitch

Step 9: Crochet 5 dc post stitches around the next dc post in your row working from bottom to top.

crocodile crochet stitch

You will insert your hook from the left side to the right (if you are right-handed) and dc around the post. This creates the second half of the first crocodile scale. Step 8 should be a mirror image of Step 7.

crocodile stitch

Step 10: Slip stitch in the next dc. This secures the crocodile scale to the row.

crocodile crochet stitch

Step 11: Repeat steps 8-10 across the row. You will end with a scale (so you will not do the last slip st at the very end of the row).

crocodile crochet stitch row

You should notice that you are always working a slip st in the first dc of a pair from the row below, then you work the first half of the crocodile scale in the second dc of the pair and the second half of the crocodile scale in the dc that stands alone in the row below. 

You are now ready to create the next set of alternating dc stitches that will look similar to the row that you had at the end of step five.

Step 12: Turn and chain 1.

Step 13: Slip st in center of first scale.

crocodile crochet stitch

Step 14: Ch 4.

Step 15: 2 dc in the next slip st. (You will notice that there are 2 dc in the row below. One has the texture of the five dc worked around it for half of a crocodile scale. The other has no texture and has a slip st at the top. Work your 2 dc into this slip st.)

crocodile crochet stitch

Step 16: Ch 1, dc in center of scale.

Step 17: Ch 1, 2 dc in next slip st.

Step 18: Repeat steps 16 and 17 across row. End with 2 dc in last stitch.

crochet

You are now ready to create your next row of crocodile crochet stitches. Repeat steps 6-18 for pattern.

crocodile stitch crochet

5+ Popular Variations on Crocodile Crochet Stitch

Variation One

This variation is worked exactly the same as above with one exception. There is a "chain one" space added between the first half of the crocodile scale and the second half. Many people find that this makes it easier to work the second half of the scale (which is worked backwards and so requires a unique angle when working).

Variation Two

The rows of crocodile crochet stitch that I've outlined above are slightly staggered so that the scales don't completely overlap each other. However, it's possible to offset them more fully to create an even "scalier" look.  Tamara of Moogly has a good description of this variation. You'll see it is similar to the pattern above but there are two extra rows worked in to create the offset pattern.

Variation Three

It is possible to start a crocodile crochet project with a different foundation chain besides the 10+1. In the aforementioned Moogly post, she describes an option of starting with 5+1. Crochet Spot describes an option for starting with a multiple of 6 + 4.

Another common variation is a foundation chain that has a multiple of 4 + 2, in which case you work the first set of paired dc stitches in side-by-side chains instead of in the same chain. Here's a look at how that variation would work, as I learned it from Dora Ohrenstein in her book The Crocheter's Skill Building Workshop:

crocodile stitch

  1. Chain a multiple of 4 + 2.
  2. Dc in 4th chain from hook.
  3. Ch 1, skip 1, dc, ch 1, skip 1, dc in next 2 stitches
  4. Repeat last step across row.
  5. Ch 1 and turn.
  6. Skip first dc, work crocodile stitch across row (5 bpdc worked top to bottom, 5 dc around next post worked bottom to top, slip st). Turn.
  7. Sc in center of crocodile st.
  8. Ch 1, 2 dc in slip st, ch 1, dc in center of next crocodile stitch
  9. Repeat last step across row. End with ch 1, 2 dc in last dc. Turn.
  10. Ch 1, crocodile stitch across row starting with first dc (don't skip the first one), end with sc in sc.
  11. Ch 3, dc in sc, ch 1.
  12. Dc in center of next crocodile stitch, ch 1, 2 dc in slip st across row.
  13. Repeat steps 5-13 for pattern.

Variation Four

Crocodile crochet stitch is typically worked with 5 post stitches on each half of the scale, as described in this article. However, it can be worked with a different number of post stitches. For example, you could work 4 or 6 post stitches on each half of the scale. As long as the number is the same on each half, the count doesn't matter. It's a preference thing in terms of how your scales will look.

Variation Five

Crocodile crochet stitch is almost always worked with dc stitches. However, it doesn't have to be. My Merry Messy Life has a crocodile crochet stitch tutorial that uses half-double crochet (hdc) stitches. Once you've mastered the basic stitch, you could play around with treble crochet and other variations.

by Kathryn Vercillo

Ultimate Beginner's Guide to the Crocodile Stitch

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