Learn Increase and Decrease

Learning to increase and decrease in crochet is important for any shaping you'll want to do. As you advance in your craft you'll learn a lot of tricks and techniques for doing all kinds of patterns out there. What I'm sharing with you here is just the beginning and very easy. This page is just meant to give you an understanding of making your work larger or smaller as you go.

Yes, I know, there's a lot of little hair bows that are a lot prettier than this one. And you could even get much more creative with this basic pattern. However, this hair bow is very basic and teaches both increase and decrease (which is the ultimate purpose of the page anyway).

How to Increase and Decrease (Making a Hair Bow)

The lesson on increase and decrease will start with decrease. If you'd like to follow along with me you'll need any 4 ply cotton (actually any yarn will do), an I/9 (5.5mm) crochet hook (again you can pick whatever hook you like), and a rubber band made for hair. By the way, this is a good way to use up left over yarn (smile) - like using up the last of some yarn you made a sweater with. How about a bow to match your new half double crochet purse?

Chain (ch) 11 stitches and Single Crochet (sc) back 10 stitches.

Row 2: Chain (ch) 1 and turn, single crochet (sc) 1 more row for a total of 2 rows.

When you just need to decrease a little its as simple as crocheting 2 stitches together (which is the term most used in knitting) - or - this can be seen as skipping one stitch (which is the term used most for crochet). We'll call it Skip (sk) 1.

Row 3: Chain (ch) 1 and turn. Skip (sk) 1 stitch, Single Crochet (sc) 6 stitches (don't count the one you just made), Skip (sk) 1 stitch (you should now have 8 stitches total).

Your First Decrease

In this picture, where you see the needle, is the stitch you are going to skip. Single Crochet (sc) into the stitch with the scissors.

Your Second Decrease

Here, where you see the needle, is the stitch you are going to skip. Single Crocheting (sc) into the stitch with the scissors.

Rows 4 & 5: Chain (ch) 1 and turn. Single Crochet (sc) across.

Row 6: Chain (ch) 1 and turn. Skip (sk) 1 stitch, Single Crochet (sc) 4 stitches (don't count the one you just made), Skip (sk) 1 stitch (you should now have 6 stitches total).

Rows 7 & 8: Chain (ch) 1 and turn. Single Crochet (sc) across.

Note: Another way to decrease several stitches is to slip stitch on one side, and simply not crochet into the stitches on the other side. The side that has your crochet hook will always have to be slip stitches. At the end of your work you can simply not crochet into the stitches.


Row 9: Chain (ch) 1 and turn. Slip Stitch (sl st) into the first two stitches, Single Crochet (sc) into the next 2 stitches and stop.

Rows 10 & 11: Chain (ch) 1 and turn. You will only be Single Crocheting (sc) into 2 stitches for both rows.

Note: If you want the little bow to be closer to the band you can just single crochet 1 row, or none. I like my bow to look a little bouncy.

Row 12: DO NOT chain (ch) and turn. Start single crocheting (sc) around the hair band.

The number of single crochet (sc) stitches will vary depending on the size of the hair band you're using. DO NOT push them tight as you go. However, carefully slide them reasonably close making sure they do not stretch the hair band.


Row 13: When you get all the way around hold your 2 start stitches on the rubber band behind the 2 stitches on the bow. Pick up both the 2 start stitches on the band and the 2 stitches on the bow and single crochet (sc) into them.


Row 14: Chain (ch) 1 and turn. Single crochet (sc) 2 stitches.

From this point the lesson on increase and decrease will focus on increasing stitches. Again there is a way to increase just a little - by crocheting 2 stitches into one. And, you can increase a lot by chaining more stitches at the end of the row.


Row 15: Chain (ch) 3, single crochet (sc) 2 into the chain, continue by single crocheting (sc) 2 more into the bow,


end by chaining (ch) 3 more stitches.

Row 16: Single Crochet (sc) into the chain 2 stitches. Single crochet (sc) to the end. You should have 6 stitches.

Row 17: Chain (ch) 1 and turn. Crochet 2 single crochet (sc) into the first stitch. Crochet 1 single crochet (sc) in the next 4 stitches. Crochet 2 single crochet (sc) in the last stitch. You should have 8 stitches now.

When you single crochet (sc) two stitches into the same stitch you are effectively adding 1 stitch to your work.

Rows 18 & 19: Chain (ch) 1 and turn. Single crochet (sc) across.

Row 20: Chain (ch) 1 and turn. Crochet 2 single crochet (sc) into the first stitch. Crochet 1 single crochet (sc) in the next 6 stitches. Crochet 2 single crochet (sc) in the last stitch. You should have 10 stitches.

Rows 21 & 22: Chain (ch) 1 and turn. Single crochet (sc) across.

Cut and tie off the cotton. Weave it into the piece.

As I said earlier, you will learn even more ways to increase and decrease as you follow patterns and other people's instructions. This page just focuses on the easiest two ways to help you shape what you are making.




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