Working in the Third Loop

One of the things I love about crochet is how many stitches there are that create wonderful texture. Even something as simple as alternating single and double crochets, for example, can create something pleasing to the eye–something different from rows with only, say, single crochet. That’s not said to knock projects in single crochet because they can also be elegant and beautiful, but for me, personally, I LOVE texture.

Working in the third loop can be confusing to crocheters. Isn’t there only two loops? As in, the two you crochet through for more stitches? These loops ARE definitely important, but working in the third loop can create something completely different and add some texture to your project.

But what is the third loop? The third loop is something you’ll see when working in half-double crochet. When you work a half-double crochet (by yarning over, inserting your hook into the stitch, pulling up a loop, yarning over again, and pulling through all 3 loops on the hook) you are creating TWO sets of loops: the set on the top that you would normally work through, and a set below, created by the yarn over, that creates an additional loop on either side of your project. This loop, located right below your main top loops, is the third loop.

The third loop will ALWAYS be worked on the side of your piece you are currently working on. Here is a row of half-double crochets with the third loop marked:

And here is a row of single crochets being worked through the third loop:

As you can see, the top loops that create the v-stitchc aren’t being worked through at all, ONLY the loop BELOW those top two — that is the third loop. For this particular pattern shown in the photos, in the photo above, the round is currently on the wrong side. This pushes those top v-stitches towards the front of the work.

If you had been told to work a row of single crochets, not being asked to work through the third loop, these are the loops you’d be working through:

If you worked through both loops, you wouldn’t see a big difference when you turn to the opposite side. Below, however, is what the right side will look like after the third loop was worked through on the previous round:

As you can see, it creates a nice, textured ridge on the right side of the work. If you had worked a row of half-double crochets on the WRONG SIDE, and then worked through the third loop on the RIGHT SIDE, this ridge would appear on the wrong side of the work so you always want to pay attention that you are on the correct side of your work.

(This is when a lobster-claw progress keeper comes in handy! Even advanced crocheters will use one to mark the front of their work.)

So, if you want a lovely ridge on the right side of your work from working through the third loop, you will want to first work your row of half-double crochets on the right side:

And then, work in the third loop on the wrong side, when you flip your work to continue your next row. Here’s what your right side looks like after two rounds of working through the back loop:

Note: This tutorial is based on working a piece flat and working with single crochets in the third loop. There are plenty of patterns that use the third loop in many different ways, but this is how I’m showing it. If I use another way in a pattern, I will link a turtorial to this post.

Unless it is noted by the designer, you will be working into the third loop on the side that particular round is on. As the loop does show up on the front AND back of your work, this can be a little confusing. For this tutorial, I am showing you working in the third loop on the working side. That is, you will always SEE the third loop on the same side – wrong or right – you’re working on.

Do you like working through the third loop? I’ll admit, it never used to be a technique I’d go to, but I’m loving it more and more lately. If you have any questions, or if you feel like any of my information is inaccurate, please let me know in the comments below!


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