Hello happy hookers! I’d like to introduce you to my friend, Mr. Third Loop. Have you two been properly introduced yet? I’ll admit, he can be a bit of an acquired taste, but give him a chance and I’m sure you’ll be great friends in no time.
Okay, okay, okay. Straight to business. Put pretty simply: the third loop is the one on the back side of your stitch found just below the back loop. It really is your new best friend, and I don’t just mean for that super trendy knit look crochet that’s everywhere these days. I mean, this little loop has been sitting there all along waiting to shine and waiting to make you look good. Let me show you.
You’ve seen back loop only, BLO (as in Harold):
It’s pretty cool, right? You can get that nice defined line and it can be a fun design element to play with. But, unless you’re doing quite a few BLO stitches in a row it can pull the loop and look sloppy.
You’ve seen back post stitches, as in Victor:
Those are really nifty, but aggressively three dimensional. Making them shallow around the post can reduce that but doesn’t work well if you’ve got several stitches to work into a single stitch.
Where am I going with this? I’m going here…
So often you’ll make a pretty shell stitch or petal and the next round of a pattern will be anchored to the center stitch of your shell/petal with an sc (or other stitch). Understandable. It’s got to go somewhere, right? And as we already discussed, using the BLO can pull your loop and look sloppy, and using a post stitch is too much.
Jamboree is the perfect example. See how the sc made into the petal disrupts the line of the petal and can detract your attention from the idea of a pretty flower in the center of the square. (Yes, I’m tearing apart my own work.) It’s a pretty standard move, design-wise, and I think at this point in crochet history we are all just used to seeing it. But there is a better way! The third loop way.
The third loop is perfect for circumstances like this. Pop your stitch into the third loop, your petal remains flat, it’s actually centered better than it would be working into the top two loops, and the continuity of the shape of your petal is intact.
Is it easy working into the third loop? Not always. And I’ll break that down for you in a moment. But, is it worth it? Heck, yes. Compare these two versions of the Maude border.
How to 3LO
Now let’s get into the nitty-gritty of how to find and work into the third loop, which I’ve given the abbreviation 3LO. (As in third loop only, because of back loop only, BLO, and front loop only, FLO, abbreviations. I honestly have no idea if anyone else is using this abbreviation in the crochet world, but they should, because it’s brilliant, and you’re welcome.)
sc – It can be pretty tricky to work into the third loop of an sc. I don’t recommend it over extended stretches. Okay, fine. It’s a huge pain in the butt. I find myself actually picking the third loop onto my hook with my fingernail. But a crocheter’s got to do what a crocheter’s got to do.
hdc – This is the easiest stitch in which to work into the third loop and is typically used for knit look crochet. It’s just waiting for you to try it. It’s tons of fun, the finished piece has lots of springiness, and of course, that coveted knit look.
dc – You may find yourself using the third loop of a dc to get the polished look we talked about in the intro since petals and shells are typically made up of a group of several dc. It’s not as easy as working into the 3LO of an hdc, but it’s doable and you probably won’t need to try too hard.
tr – This is on par with working into the 3LO of a dc.
One Last Thing
And, it’s a good one. I wish I had more to say about it just to draw your attention to it and help you remember it, but this is such a simple trick I can sum it up quickly: for a sturdier and neater looking BLO stitch, work into the back loop and the third loop together. You’ll get that same great BLO look, but without any gaps or flimsiness. That’s it really. No pictures or demos. Just put that one in your store of crochet tricks, it might come in handy.
That’s it for this week’s trick on the hook. Keep an eye out for something I’ve got coming your way very very soon where all of this is going to be really important.