Crochet Stockinette

The Animator's Wife complains every year that Christmas comes before we even have a chance to celebrate Thanksgiving. Well this year I'm complaining that winter has arrived before I had a chance to enjoy November. I was looking forward to snoozing in my spot by the window, watching the leaves change colors and the squirrels pack away their nuts for the winter. But it seems as soon as Hurricane Sandy hit, autumn was gone and winter is here! And I'm not ready give up my warm spots in the sun yet.

On the bright side, winter is the best time for crochet projects. The Animator's Wife is already planning some warm, cozy projects, beginning with some birthday gifts for my aunt Brown Eyed Girl. She lives in the frozen land of the North known as Wisconsin. I've never been there, and my big brother Osiris was only there once during the summer, so he did not experience their frigid winters. But we're told that the winters can be quite harsh, so Wisconsites have become experts at keeping warm stylishly.

As such, Brown Eyed girl has requested infinity scarves for her birthday. An infinity scarf is a scarf whose ends are joined together in a loop, and they are currently all the rage in the fashion world.

Longer ones can be doubled up and wrapped twice around the neck for some extra warm coziness.

You can make them just as you would a regular scarf and sew the ends together, or you can crochet it in the round. And you can use any stitch pattern you like, so they're a good excuse to practice new crochet techniques. That's why we decided to use this opportunity to teach a fun new crochet stitch.

Here's a close-up of the stitches in Brown Eyed Girl's infinity scarf.

It looks an awful lot like knitting, doesn't it? But it's actually basic crochet stitches worked in a way we like to call Crochet Stockinette. Unlike other techniques, our method does not involve Tunisian crochet or knooking. It uses only stitches you already know. Any crocheter--even a beginner--can do this technique. Here's how.

Update: The pattern for this infinity scarf may be found here, and the carnation pattern can be found here.

1. For your base row, begin with any number of chain stitches. Hdc in the 3rd ch from the hook and each remaining chain across. If you'd like the piece to drape really well, use a much larger hook than you normally would for the size yarn you are using. In our photos, we are using worsted weight yarn and an N hook.

2. You will recall from Crochet 101 that each crochet stitch, when viewed from above, resembles a braid with a front loop and a back loop. What you didn't learn is that the half-double crochet stitch has a hidden third loop.

3. Tilt the top edge of your project toward you slightly to reveal the third loop of the half-double crochet hiding just behind the back loop.

4. Yarn over, insert your hook in the third loop, and complete a half-double crochet as usual.

5. Repeat steps 3 & 4 for each stitch across, and when complete, you'll notice a "braid" of stitches across the front of your work. This is the "right side" of the project.

Note: If you are working in rounds without turning between rounds, you will work each consecutive row as shown in steps 3-5. If you are working in rows and will be turning between rows, continue on to step 6.

6. Chain 2 and turn. This time when looking at the top edge, tilt it back to reveal the third loop hiding in front of the front loop.

7. Yarn over, insert the hook in the third loop, and complete a half-double crochet as usual.

8. Repeat steps 6 and 7 for each half-double crochet across. When you are finished, your piece will look like a regular ol' crochet project. That's why this side is the "wrong side" of the work. But...

9. ...flip your work over, and you will now have two "braids" in your stockinette. Chain 2 and repeat the whole process from step 3 for as long as you like.

By now you've noticed that Crochet Stockinette is worked from side to side instead of up and down as in knitted stockinette. But all you have to do is turn the project sideways to get the look as shown in our first photograph of the technique.

UPDATE: Similar Crochet Techniques
Since publishing this tutorial, we've gotten some comments that this technique is actually this or that technique, but there are some differences which we'd like to explain.

Camel Stitch - Crochet stockinette most closely resembles the camel stitch. In camel stitch, your stitches are always worked in the third loop in front of the stitch, as shown in Step 6 (although some tutorials show the stitch being worked around the post of the stitch instead of in any of the loops). This results in a fabric that "braids" on both sides, with the "braids" spaced a row apart. See this tutorial. Crochet stockinette is different in that it alternates between using the third loop in the back and the third loop in the front, which creates a fabric that only has "braids" on one side, but no spacing between the "braids."

Waffle Weave Technique - This technique is not to be confused with the waffle weave stitch. Stitches in the waffle weave technique are worked over two loops: the back loop of the current row and the unused loop of the row below it. This creates a fabric that is double-thick and apparently can be worked so that one side is one color and the other side another color. See this tutorial, in which it is called the Potholder Stitch. Crochet stockinette is different in that the stitches are only ever worked in one loop, and the fabric is only single thickness.