Decrease stitches can seem a bit daunting to the crochet beginner, but they’re actually quite simple once you know how. A decrease stitch is essentially a special stitch that transforms two (or more) stitches into one. Here we’ll show you how to make decreases with double crochet stitches, but decreases can be done with any standard crochet stitch (we’ll cover more on this below).
Working decreases will shape the fabric inwards and are especially useful when working garments. A simple decrease of one dc stitch is called dc2tog in a pattern. A larger decrease of two dc stitches is called dc3tog, and so on.
How do I decrease double crochet stitches?
In US terminology ‘How do I decrease single crochet stitches?’
If you need a quick decrease, you can just skip one stitch on the row below, leaving it unworked while you proceed to work into the next stitch. However, it’s worth taking the time to work a neat decrease, as shown below, to avoid large holes in your fabric. You can work decreases at any point along the row, but you will create different effects by working them in the centre of the row, or at the ends of the row. To practise increasing, first make a short chain (around 10-12 chains) and work 2-3 rows of double crochet. Then practise making decreases, at various points on the row, to see the shaping effects. We’ve included pictures for both right and left handed crocheters in each step. Work a decrease as follows:
Start by inserting the hook under the top two loops of the next stitch on the previous row. Begin to work a double crochet stitch in the usual way, working yrh and pull loop through (2 loops on hook)
Without finishing the first dc, begin the next dc by inserting the hook in the next stitch on the previous row. Again, work yrh and pull loop through (3 loops on hook).
Now complete both dc stitches together by working yrh and pull this loop through all 3 loops on the hook.
This is how your completed dc2tog should look. You will have neatly decreased one stitch. On subsequent rows, you can simply work a stitch into the top of the dc2tog stitch as usual.
How do I work a larger decrease?
Here’s how to decrease more than one double crochet stitch.
Once you know how to work dc2tog, it’s easy to work a longer decrease, such as dc3tog. Simply work as follows:
Start by inserting the hook under the top two loops of the next stitch on the previous row. Begin to work a double crochet stitch in the usual way, working yrh and pull loop through (2 loops on hook). Without finishing the first dc, begin a 2nd dc by inserting the hook in the next stitch on the previous row. Again, work yrh and pull loop through (3 loops on hook).
Without completing the first or 2nd dc, begin a 3rd dc in the next stitch in the same way (4 loops on hook). (If you’re instructed to dc4tog, just repeat again.)
Now complete all the dc stitches together by working yrh and pull this loop through all the loops on the hook.
This is how your completed dc3tog should look. You will have neatly decreased two stitches. On subsequent rows, you can simply work a stitch into the top of the dc3tog stitch as usual.
How do I decrease treble crochet stitches
In US terminology ‘How do I decrease double crochet stitches?’
Now that you’ve mastered double crochet stitches, you might be wondering how you decrease with treble stitches (or even larger stitches). Decreases are all made in the same way – by making a stitch up to the last ‘yrh and pull through loops’ of the stitch, and then working into the next stitch, and finishing by pulling the yarn through all of the loops. So to do a tr2tog (treble decrease) you simply do the following.
Yrh, insert hook into first st, yrh, pull through (3 loops on hook), yrh, pull through 2 loops (2 loops on hook)
At this point do not yrh and pull through remaining two loops to finish the treble stitch
Yrh, insert hook into next st, yrh, pull through (4 loops on hook), yrh hook, pull through 2 loops (3 loops on hook)
Yrh, pull yarn through all 3 loops on hook to complete the decrease stitch.
What else do I need to know?
You can create all sorts of shapes using increasing and decreasing.
As well as using decreased to create crochet shapes, you’ll also need to know how to increase your stitches – check out our guide on How to increase in crochet stitches
Your pattern should tell you what sort of increase or decrease to work, and where. There are a few things to remember though…
- If you’re shaping at a specific point on every row, you may find it helpful to use a stitch marker to mark this point on every row.
- If you’re working dc increases or decreases at the start of a row, work the one turning chain as usual, then work your increase in the first stitch, or your decrease over the first two stitches. For a triangle shape, decrease at the start or end of every row.
- If you’re working tr increases or decreases at the start of a row, your turning chains will probably be included as part of the increase/decrease – the pattern you are working from will tell you if the turning chains count as stitches or not. For example, at the start of a row you may be told to ch2, then tr2tog – this will actually be counted as a tr3tog.