If you’ve perused the FreshStitches Instructions, you’ll notice that our patterns say ‘crochet in the back loop’ when working in the round. But, what does that mean? And what difference does it make?
First, let’s discuss what the back loop is. You will notice that in (a), a single crochet produces two loops, and the arrow points to the back loop. To crochet into the back loop means to only stick your crochet hook through this loop (as in (b)) when you do your next stitch. The alternative (done by many crocheters) is to crochet through both loops. Let’s discuss what difference this makes.
When you crochet through both loops, you will create a piece that looks like the picture at right. Whether you like this look or not is a matter of personal preference, but there are a couple of downsides when you compare this technique to crocheting through the back loop. First, crocheting through both loops results in a slightly thicker finished piece, meaning that you are using more yarn for the same sized animal. Second, because you treat both loops together, a larger hole is created in each stitch. If you are a loose crocheter, this creates holes that stuffing can poke through when you make amigurumi. Third, the decreases don’t look so great! Those who crochet through both loops often avoid chaining 2 stitches together, because it creates an unsightly diagonal line of yarn. Instead, they use an ‘invisible decrease’, which isn’t difficult, but it’s just another thing you have to learn!
All of these problems magically disappear when you crochet through the back loop. I, personally, like the look of the ridges that are created when you use this technique. But, preferences aside, let’s see how crocheting through the back loop tackles the aforementioned problems. First, because you are crocheting through only one loop, each round of stitches is taller, ultimately resulting is less yarn use. Second, those pesky little holes aren’t created because those cute ridges get in the way. This means you don’t need to crochet as tightly to keep stuffing from poking out of your amigurumi. Third, there are no special decrease techniques required! The chain 2 stitches together looks great! (In fact, if you look at how to do the ‘invisible decrease’, you will notice they only chain through one loop). Therefore, if you’re a beginner, crocheting is a lot easier, since there are no special tricks to remember!
Crocheting through the back loop has one additional benefit. Some of our patterns make use of alternately crocheting through the front loop and back loop to create interesting shapes, such as cubes with sharp corners. (Check out our tractor crochet pattern as an example). This just isn’t possible when you crochet through both loops!
So, while many of our patterns can be done with crocheting through both loops, we recommend that you try something new… try just going through the back loop! You may end up liking it!