With so many different places and spaces available in crochet, it can be easy to wonder where you should place your hook and work your stitches.

When following a crochet pattern, you might be wondering:

  • What counts as a crochet stitch?
  • What part of the stitch do you crochet into?
  • Where do I put my crochet hook?

We can help.

You see, there are a few rules to follow in crochet that will make stitch placement so much easier to understand – whether a crochet pattern gives specific examples to follow or not!

Let’s start with some basics.

one row and multiple rows of double crochet stitches with crochet hook and stitch marker

What counts as a crochet stitch?

Chain, single, puff, space, shell…

With all the different types of stitches, and specialty stitches, it might seem like every crochet pattern is worked up in a very specific way: 

  • Skip these stitches.
  • Work into this space.
  • Don’t work into that space.

And sometimes, even if you think you’ve followed the pattern word for word, your stitch count doesn’t match up.

This is a frustrating but very common problem in crochet, and it’s not just you.

To understand what counts as a stitch in crochet, let’s start with some basics.

Raise your hand if you know the following stitches in crochet:

  • Chain
  • Single Crochet
  • Half Double Crochet
  • Double Crochet

If you have learned these, know that each one counts as a stitch when following a crochet pattern.

That’s right, every single one of these foundation stitches counts as a stitch when crocheting.

double crochet stitches in row laying flat

Chains are stitches too!

Next time you’re wondering if a chain is a stitch… it is.

Chains are stitches, and they should be included in the stitch count of a pattern.

You can work into a chain or over it, but either way you should be counting them and working into them.

There is only 1 exception to this crochet rule: 

If a pattern states that the beginning (turning) chain does not count as a stitch, then you should ignore that portion – don’t count it! 

That’s it.

Click HERE to see an example and read more about this rule!

Know the anatomy of your stitches.

All crochet stitches have a front and back side, top and bottom.

Fun fact: Even the tiniest stitch (the chain) has a front and back side. However, the chain is so small that the top is the front and the bottom is the back.

Knowing the anatomy of each stitch will be helpful with stitch placement, especially when a pattern references a particular part of a stitch that you should work into, over, around or below… and more.

Click HERE to see examples and read more about right and wrong sides in crochet!

What part of the stitch do I crochet into? 

While this might feel complicated, don’t overthink where your crochet hook should go.

It is a universally understood rule that crochet stitches are worked into the tops of stitches from the previous row / round by working into the front and back loops of each stitch.

You’ll always place your crochet hook under the front and back loops on the top of the stitch from the previous row / round, unless a pattern specifically states otherwise.

Specialty stitches include variations in stitch placement, so understanding the anatomy of a stitch will help you to determine where your hook should go.

When looking at the front side of a row, placement includes:

  • Back Loop: work indicated stitch by placing crochet hook into the back loop only. This leaves the front loop unworked and exposed.
  • Front Loop: work indicated stitch by placing crochet hook into the front loop only. This leaves the back loop unworked and exposed.
  • Back Post: work indicated stitch by placing crochet hook around the post of a stitch, from the back, around the post, to the back again. This pulls the post of a stitch to the back, leaving the front and back loops (top of the post), exposed and pushed outward.
  • Front Post: work indicated stitch by placing crochet hook around the post of a stitch, from the front, around the post, to the front again. This pulls the post of a stitch to the front, leaving the front and back loops (top of the post), behind the stitch created.
Double crochet row showing back post, front post, back loop and front loop.

Because stitches look different on their front and back sides, it is important to know that some stitches are worked the same from either side.

When looking at the back side of a row, placement includes:

  • Back Loop: work indicated stitch by placing crochet hook into the back loop only. This leaves the front loop unworked and exposed. Note that the loop farthest from you, no matter which side of the stitch you’re facing, is the back loop.
  • Front Loop: work indicated stitch by placing crochet hook into the front loop only. This leaves the back loop unworked and exposed. Note that the loop nearest you, no matter which side of the stitch you’re facing, is the front loop.
  • Back Post: work indicated stitch by placing crochet hook around the post of a stitch, from the back, around the post, to the back again. This pulls the post of a stitch to the back, leaving the front and back loops (top of the post), exposed and pushed outward.
  • Front Post: work indicated stitch by placing crochet hook around the post of a stitch, from the front, around the post, to the front again. This pulls the post of a stitch to the front, leaving the front and back loops (top of the post), behind the stitch created.
  • Third Loop: work indicated stitch by placing crochet hook into the horizontal loop directly under the front loop. This is only visible on the back of tall stitches (half double, double), leaving the back and front loops exposed and pushed outward.
Back Side of double crochet row showing back post, front post, back loop and front loop.

Let’s test these new skills!

Take a look at our pineapple stitch crochet swatch below.

If the instructions for the last row worked are:

Row 8: Ch 3 (first Dc), turn, work 2 Dc into same St, Ch 3, Sc into Ch-5 space, Ch 5, Sc into next Ch-5 space, (Ch 2, 2 Dc, Ch 1, 2 Dc, Ch 2) into next Ch-1 space, Sc into next Ch-5 space, Ch 5, Sc into next Ch-5 space, Ch 3, work 3 Dc into last St.

What is the final stitch count?

Take your time and pause here to think about the answer.

Purple thread worked into a pineapple lace motif pinned onto a board.

The answer is…

35 Sts; 10 Dc Sts + 21 Ch Sts + 4 Sc Sts

Let’s break that down into a list of each action:

  • Ch 3 (first Dc), 
  • turn, 
  • work 2 Dc into same St, 
  • Ch 3, 
  • Sc into Ch-5 space, 
  • Ch 5, 
  • Sc into next Ch-5 space, 
  • (Ch 2, 2 Dc, Ch 1, 2 Dc, Ch 2) into next Ch-1 space, 
  • Sc into next Ch-5 space, 
  • Ch 5, 
  • Sc into next Ch-5 space, 
  • Ch 3, 
  • Work 3 Dc into last St.

This is an important lesson for any crochet pattern you follow, especially when the instructions reference a lot of different stitches, spaces, and repeats.

  • Complete each section to the comma. 
  • Count each stitch referenced.
  • Check that the instructions match your work and final stitch count.

That’s all there is to it! 

Now that we’ve outlined what counts as a stitch in crochet, and where to place your hook when following instructions, do you think you’ll be able to apply this in the next project you try? 

Let me know in the comments, or Click Here to continue this conversation in our community!

Peace, Love & Crochet

Salena

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2 Comments

  1. Donna Criscione says:

    Salena – I just went through your instructions and video tutorials on where to Put Stitches (and what counts as stitches) and I learned so much from you!!!! I always struggled with this and you gave thorough clear concise explanations along with pictures and video tutorials to help me better understand this! Thank you so very much!! Donna

    1. Hooray! Thank you so much for taking time to give your feedback! I’m so glad you found this helpful 🙂

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