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How to Crochet Stitch Variations

by Kathryn Vercillo

Once you have learned how to crochet the basic stitches (such as half double crochetdouble crochettreble crochet, and longer stitches) you will find that you can combine these stitches in almost infinite variations to create different types of fabric. There are a set of advanced crochet stitches built from these basic crochet stitches that allow for some terrific texture. They may seem complex at first glance but they are actually just small variations on one another, built from the foundation of your basic crochet stitches. These advanced stitches include crochet shells, popcorns, bobbles, clusters and puff stitches. In this guide, we'll go over the major similarities and differences between these stitches and lead you to instructions for mastering each of them.

Note: Many patterns use these terms. However, each of these stitches have myriad variations and different designers will have unique instructions for each of them. A "bobble" or a "cluster" of stitches refers to the basic technique; you should read each pattern's instructions carefully to make sure to get the specifics right for that particular design.

Le Papillon Cowl Free Crochet Pattern LW4726

Le Papillon Cowl uses both bobble and shell stitches

Similarities in Advanced Stitches

Each of the five advanced stitches covered here have something in common. They are all made up of a combination of other basic stitches, worked together to create one stitch. For example, you can use a combination of 5 dc stitches to create almost all of these (the exception is the puff stitch, which is a variation on  bobble stitch and will be explained in further detail later). So, you can have a 5 dc shell, popcorn, bobble and cluster. In each case, you will have 5 dc stitches worked next to each other to create the advanced stitch.

Differences in Advanced Stitches

So what makes the stitches different if they can all be worked with the same combination of basic stitches? The difference is in where you place the stitches and how you join them together. We will look at the specific construction of each stitch in detail, but first, here are the major differences between them:

Crochet shell stitch. The stitches are all worked into the same stitch. They are not joined together at the top.

Popcorn crochet stitch. The stitches are all worked into the same stitch. This is the same as the shell stitch until you get to the last step. You will remove the hook from the last loop, re-insert it (front to back) into the top of the first stitch, and pull the working loop through to join all of the stitches together at the top.

Bobble crochet stitch. The stitches are all worked into the same stitch. However,  unlike in the first two examples, the stitches are not finished as they are worked. Instead, you leave the last loop of each stitch on the hook until the very end, then you yarn over and pull through to join them all at the top. So, in shell and popcorn stitch, you complete the stitches and join them all at the end; in bobble stitch you do not complete them until the end.

Crochet cluster stitch. Cluster stitch is similar to bobble stitch in that you do not complete each stitch until the end join. The difference is that each stitch is worked into subsequent stitches from the row below, instead of being worked into the same stitch.

Variations on Advanced Crochet Stitches

Each of these stitches is a variation on the others, different in where the stitch is placed and how it is joined. There are also many variations you can make within the stitches, themselves. There are different types of shell stitches as well as different types of popcorns, bobbles and clusters.

Crochet puff stitch is made with hdc stitches

Each of these stitches can be made using a variety of base stitches. For example, you can use double crochet stitches to make each of them but you could also make each of them using treble crochet stitches. What is different in puff stitch from all of these is that it can only be made using half double crochet. Puff stitch is almost exactly the same as bobble stitch, but it is worked using hdc and because of the third loop inherent to that stitch, there's a slight difference in construction.

Crochet shell stitch made with 6 hdc stitches

In addition to the option for varied height in the stitches, you can also vary the number of stitches in each advanced stitch. It is very common to learn these stitches using 5 dc as the base. However, the number doesn't have to be 5. You could make a shell stitch using 4 stitches or a popcorn using 6 stitches, just as examples. By varying both the height and the number of stitches in these advanced stitches, you can come up with so many different designs!

Go to the individual pages for each stitch to see more details on how to make them.

How to Crochet Shells

How to Crochet Clusters

How to Crochet Bobbles

How to Crochet Popcorns

How to Crochet Puff Stitches

Below: LW2426 Graceful Shell Shawl Free Crochet Pattern

How to Crochet Stitch Variations