The crochet crocodile stitch is a brilliant technique that forms petal shapes or ‘scales’ (hence the name). The scales are worked in overlapping layers to create a unique 3D effect. It’s surprisingly simple to master, using only chains and treble stitches; it’s where and how you work these stitches that creates the intriguing look.
Crocodile crochet stitch can be worked in either rows or rounds to create both flat and 3D fabrics, such as bag fronts or hats. The effect is especially cute on projects for children.
It’s a rather yarn-hungry technique, so it’s better for smaller makes that would benefit from having a tactile quality. There are lots of different ways to do crocodile stitch, and we’ll show you the main method of how to crochet crocodile stitch that should arm you with the skills you need to take on any crocodile stitch pattern.
To learn how to crochet crocodile stitch, we’ll work a small practice piece in rows. You can use any yarn and an appropriate size of hook. We’re using a DK yarn and a 4mm hook. You’ll need to know how to do front post stitches in this tutorial, so if you need a little extra help with this you can check out our how to crochet post stitches tutorial.
You can work crocodile stitch in numerous ways, but there are always two types of row worked alternately: base rows and scale rows. The base row creates a structure of stitches (usually trebles, although you can use almost any stitch) and chain spaces (usually one or two chains, but you can use more). The scale rows involve working stitches (usually trebles, although you can use almost any stitch) into the base row in a specific way to create the scale shapes.
How to crochet crocodile stitch
You Will Need
- Crochet hook
How to start crochet crocodile stitch
In crocodile stitch fabrics, each scale is usually offset so that it sits above and in between two scales below. For straight fabrics, this means increasing and decreasing by one scale each time to maintain the look, as shown here. For other projects, you can utilise this natural shaping quality to create elegant slopes in the fabric.
We’ll start by making a foundation row – this is similar to the base row and should have the same structure, but it’s worked into a foundation chain. For the crocodile stitch method we’re going to work, the foundation chain needs to be a multiple of 6, so we’re going to chain 12. Now ch3, which counts as the first treble stitch, and treble in the 3rd chain from the hook – this counts as 2tr in the same ch.
Now make 2 chains, skip 2 chains below and work 2 trebles into the next chain.
Repeat Step 2 across to the last chain. You should have 5 pairs of trebles, each separated by 2 ch. You’ve finished the foundation row and you’ll be ready to make your first scale row next.
How to work a scale row
To start a scale row, turn the foundation row you’ve just worked and skip the first pair of trebles.
Work a treble around the post of the next treble. To do this, yrh…
… and insert the hook under the next treble stitch.
Yrh and pull up a loop.
Finish the treble as usual (yrh and pull through 2 loops twice). This stitch counts as a front post treble (FPtr).
Work 4 more FPtr around the same treble in the same way, moving downwards as you go. You can move the fabric around to find the most comfortable angle for you. This completes one half of the scale. Work one chain to separate the two halves.
To work the second half of the scale, you need to work a treble around the next treble. This can be a bit awkward, so we’ve rotated the fabric 90 degrees anticlockwise to make it a bit easier. So start with yrh…
… and insert hook under the next treble like this.
Yrh and pull up a loop.
Finish the treble as usual – this is also a FPtr.
Work 4 more FPtr around the same treble in the same way, moving upwards as you go. We’ve rotated the fabric back to normal to show you the finished half.
To secure the scale, insert hook in between the next pair of trebles and work a slip stitch.
Repeat the process from Step 1 with the next pair of trebles, working 5FPtr around the post of the next treble, moving downwards, ch1, then work 5FPtr around the next treble, moving upwards. Slip stitch to the space between the next 2 trebles. This completes your first scale row – here you can see that you’ve made two scales.
How to work a base row
Continue the fabric by making a base row
To make a straight crocodile stitch fabric, your base row needs to have the same structure as your foundation row – for our example, this means our base row needs to have 5 pairs of trebles, each separated by 2 chain stitches.
To start the base row, ch3 (this counts as the first treble) and treble between the two trebles below.
Chain 2 and work 2tr in the centre of the scale.
Continue this process, working ch2, then 2tr between the next pair of tr, ch2, then 2tr in the centre of the next scale, and so on to the end. You should now have 5 pairs of trebles, each separated by 2 ch. Now you’ll be ready to work your next scale row and build your fabric.
How to make more rows and create crocodile stitch crochet fabric
To create the overlapping crocodile stitch effect in our straight fabric, we now need to work an extra scale on the next scale row. This ‘wide’ scale row is worked in the same way as the previous ‘plain’ scale row, but with a couple of slight adjustments. We’ll show you how…
Start the row with ch3 (counts as the first FPtr).
Work a FPtr around the first tr, inserting the hook as shown. Work 3 more FPtr to give you a total of 5FPtr as before. Complete the scale as before.
Make two more scales as before, but don’t work the final FPtr. Instead, ch3…
… and slip stitch in the centre of the scale. You’ll now have 3 scales and the working loop will be in the right place to work the next base row.
Work the next base row as before, but this time you’ll be starting with ch3, tr into the centre of the scale.
Work a ‘plain’ scale row as before, creating 2 scales. You’ll see how the scales layer up in a pleasing offset way. Repeat the process to continue the straight fabric, working a base row, ‘wide’ scale row, base row, ‘plain’ scale row.
Now you know how to crochet crocodile stitch! To move beyond straight fabrics, you could try making slight adjustments to our guide, using different stitches and chain spaces, or playing with increases and decreases. Enjoy experimenting!