Updated: Jul 12, 2020
Pretty much the first thing you are taught in crochet lessons is how to make the starting slip loop on your hook. The idea is that the short end of the yarn (the "beginning tail") is an anchor to hold the stitch steady and the long end of the yarn wound up in a ball ("the working yarn") can be tensioned to control the size of you loop. Its like the first rule of "Crochet Club" - LoL - I couldn't resist.....
This post is about turning this on its head to do the exact opposite, and is intended for intermediate level crocheters. Rule-breaking is always fun, right? A reversed starting loop is when your slip-loop is pulled tighter (or tensioned) by the beginning tail, and anchored by the working yarn instead. So its all back to front.
I was asked for a video about reversing the starting loop and then working fdc in relation to my Sashiko Happy Coat pattern, so I followed up the reversed loop with fdc for this purpose, but its useful for all kinds of things which I will talk about further down the post.
I have a little video here that shows how to reverse the starting loop, and also work some fdc (foundation double crochet (UK terminology) - click here for a post all about fdc and its characteristics).
I have used 2 strands of Scheepjes Our Tribe merino blend for this demonstration because the Sashiko Happy Coat uses this yarn double stranded - so this is exactly like what your beginning stitches should look like for the coat. Colours used here is 974 The Curio Crafts Room (blue) and 977 A Spoonful of Yarn (green). So luscious!
Before I talk more about other uses for a reversed starting loop, I just want to add a little note particular to the coat. I have inserted the hook under 2 loops of that beginning ch1 because my whole row of fdc will be worked that way and that makes it consistent, BUT its a bit fiddly and if getting the hook into that awkward spot is doing your head in, then just insert the hook under 1 loop for that chain instead! Because hey, its about to shrink down to nothing anyway, and you may as well make life easy for yourself.
Other places you might want to use a reversed starting loop (RSL):
1. Working in the round where you want to avoid a hole at the centre of your project: Instead of ch4 (or thereabouts), ss to beg ch then working round 1 into the chain ring, consider RSL, ch2, work your first round into the beg ch (which will stretch to accomodate as you work the stitches), ss to close the first round, stabilise the centre of the crochet gently with one hand and pull on the beginning tail with the other hand until the stretched ch closes down to nothing!
Yay - its a miracle! But be sure to thread the tail onto a tapestry needle and sew it good and proper within that beginning round to make sure it doesn't want to stretch open again. (The alternative to this is the magic ring technique - but I will save that trick for another day). Yarn seen here is Scheepjes Cotton 8 in colour 642.
2. Starting a new colour in the round and beginning with a standing stitch (knowledge of standing stitches is assumed). With your new colour: RSL, standing stitch in whatever pattern is required, continue around the motif, ss to the beginning standing st, (then continue on). I always find that the standing stitch is a bit stretched compared to the others, but by reversing the starting loop, you can tighten it up to match the stitch tension of the rest of the round anytime you like, but particularly after you have closed that round with the slip stitch. Again, be sure to secure it into the nearby stitches - sewing it in the opposite direction is helpful). Yarn used for this example is Scheepjes Cotton 8 in colours 719 (pink) and 724 (teal).
3. Working in rows where you want to avoid the starting chain sticking out from the fabric: This is why I use it in the Sashiko Happy Coat pattern. When you reverse the starting loop, work the fdc (or foundation chain if you were not using fdc), turn, and then when you come to the end of row 1 of your chosen stitch pattern (photo example below shows tr sts), you can shrink the beginning chain down afterwards so the "knotty part" (great terminology I know...) can be tucked in and streamlined into the crocheted fabric.
This is particularly handy if you plan to crochet an edging around the corners of the crochet fabric, as otherwise the corner with the beginning chain tends to bulge out a bit more than the others.
That's enough of the wonders of rule-breaking for today. Reversing the starting loop is really just something that helps you achieve a neater finish, and I hope you find a place for it in your crochet projects.
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