Crochet Afghan Stitch Instructions

Afghan stitch
The Bees / Flickr / CC By 2.0
  • 01 of 11

    Crochet Afghan Stitch Examples

    Afghan Stitch Examples
    Afghan Stitch Examples. Photo Collage and Patterns © Amy Solovay. Click here for free afghan stitch patterns.

    Introduction to Afghan Stitch:

    Afghan stitch is an easy crochet stitch made using the Tunisian crochet technique. If you're not already familiar with what Tunisian crochet is, you might wish to take a look at my Tunisian crochet overview for more information.

    Afghan stitch goes by a variety of different names; some people also call it "Tunisian simple stitch." You might encounter other names for it as well.

    Afghan stitch is suitable for crocheting many different types of projects, including...MORE clothing, accessories, home decor, pet items, toys and more.

    Afghan Hooks:

    There are several different types of crochet hooks you can use for working afghan stitch. One of the most popular is a long, smooth hook, measuring at least ten inches. Typically, there is no thumb grip area on an afghan crochet hook. This type of hook is similar to a straight knitting needle, because it has the same sort of a stopper at the end.

    You could also use a circular crochet hook, a double-ended crochet hook, or a hook with a flexible extention at the end. See also: crochet hooks and supplies needed for Tunisian crochet.

    Afghan Stitch Project Examples:

    Pictured above: Several different examples of easy crochet projects you can make using afghan stitch. Once you're finished with this tutorial, you'll be ready to crochet any of these projects, plus many others too.

    Top left: Crochet an easy kitchen gift set in variegated earthtone colors. The set includes potholders and a dishcloth, both of which are worked in afghan stitch. The dishcloth also has an edging of single crochet stitch.

    Top right: This is a close-up picture of the crochet stitches.

    Lower left: If you've never worked afghan stitch before, this easy afghan stitch potholder is a great first project to try.

    Lower right: Close-up picture of the crochet stitches in the easy potholder; I think this stitch is the perfect synthesis of pretty and utilitarian.

    Learn how to crochet the afghan stitch: Begin the tutorial on the next page. --------->

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  • 02 of 11

    Learn How to Crochet the Afghan Stitch With These Free Instructions

    Afghan Stitch Begins With a Slip Knot, Followed by a Starting Chain.
    Afghan Stitch Begins With a Slip Knot, Followed by a Starting Chain. Photos © Michael Solovay

    Before You Get Started: If you aren't already comfortable with holding your Tunisian crochet hook, you might want to take a look at our page about how to hold a Tunisian crochet hook.

    Begin Crocheting the Tunisian Crochet Base Row:

    If you already know how to crochet, this stitch starts off with the same beginning you're used to; you start out by making a slip knot (photos 1, 2 and 3) and then you work a chain stitch (photos 4-9.)

    If you don't already know how to crochet, the pictures above...MORE illustrate these steps, but I recommend that you take a look at my in-depth tutorials for the slip knot and the chain stitch.

    If you'd like to crochet along with me for practice, why not grab a skein of kitchen cotton and a size J Tunisian crochet hook. Chain 30 stitches, and then when you're finished you can use your finished swatch to create an afghan stitch potholder like the one pictured on the previous page.

    Please note that I'm going to create a shorter starting chain in this tutorial. When you're crocheting the afghan stitch, you can make a starting chain of any length.

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  • 03 of 11

    Working Into the Front or the Back of the Starting Chain

    Afghan Stitch Crochet Tutorial: Deciding Whether to Crochet Into the Front or the Back of the Chain
    Decide Whether to Crochet Into the Front or the Back of the Starting Chain. I'm Going to Crochet Into the Back. Photos © Michael Solovay

    Photo 10 shows the front side of my starting chain; photo 11 shows the back.

    I'm showing you both sides of the chain because you have a choice whether to work into the front or the back of it. At the beginning, it can be a little awkward to work into the back of the chain, but that's what I usually do.

    When you work into the back of the chain, it will leave two loops free so that you can easily finish the project; you might want to add an edging, or whipstitch through those loops, or use the loops...MORE for some other type of finishing technique.

    Photo 12 shows my crochet hook pointing at the place on the chain where I am going to insert it to draw up a loop.

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  • 04 of 11

    Afghan Stitch Crochet Tutorial: Begin Crocheting the Forward Pass

    Begin Crocheting the Forward Pass
    Begin Crocheting the Forward Pass. Photos © Michael Solovay

    Draw up a loop in the next chain stitch (the second chain from your hook) by completing the following sequence: insert your hook into the stitch (photos 13 and 14). Wrap the yarn over your hook, grabbing it with the hook (photo 15) and then pull it up through the chain stitch (photo 16.)

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  • 05 of 11

    Afghan Stitch Tutorial: Crochet the Forward Pass (Continued)

    Crochet the Forward Pass
    Crochet the Forward Pass. Photos © Michael Solovay

    Next, you're going to repeat the same exact steps again in the next chain stitch:

    Photo 17 shows my crochet hook pointing to the spot where I'm going to insert my hook to draw up the next loop. Photo 18 shows my hook inserted into the back of the chain stitch. Photo 19 shows me grabbing the yarn with the hook. Then I pull the yarn up through the chain stitch; photo 20 shows how it looks after I've drawn up the loop.

    You're going to repeat this sequence all the way across your starting chain,...MORE pulling up a loop in every chain stitch until you reach the end of it.

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  • 06 of 11

    Afghan Stitch Tutorial: Numbering Rows in Tunisian Crochet; Return Pass

    Afghan Stitch Tutorial: Complete the Forward Pass, and Learn How to Crochet the Return Pass
    Afghan Stitch Tutorial: Complete the Forward Pass, and Learn How to Crochet the Return Pass. Photos © Michael Solovay

    Photo 21 shows how my work looks once I've pulled up a loop in each chain stitch.

    When you reach this point, you've completed the "forward," also known as the "forward pass."

    There are some crocheters who would say you've completed row 1; others would say that you've only completed the first part of row 1. I'm in that camp; to me, it makes more sense to think that I haven't completed a row until I've reached a point where there are complete stitches, and they are secured. Which...MORE reminds me to mention that it's not a good idea to stop in the middle of a row when you work this stitch. If you want to stop working, I also think it's a good idea to complete both the forward and the return passes before you put the work down. Fixing messed up work is easy with this technique, but in some cases it does involve ripping back a bit further than you might be used to with non-Tunisian crochet.

    I've discovered that many aspects of Tunisian crochet seem to be controversial; we are somehow lacking a common vocabulary to describe various aspects of this technique. In regards to which way is the correct way of numbering rows, I've come across expert crocheters on both sides of the debate. I've given up on worrying about which way is correct. If you ask me, either way of doing it is just fine, provided that pattern designers make it clear which way they're numbering rows. Which is the main reason why I mention my own preference; if you would like to use my Tunisian crochet patterns, that's an important tidbit of information for you to be aware of. Of course, you should also be aware that some crochet designers may number their rows the other way.

    Next comes the "return," otherwise known as the "return pass."

    To start off the return pass, you'll crochet one chain stitch (photos 22, 23 and 24.)

    If you already know how to crochet, you're used to crocheting a turning chain in between rows. I want to emphasize that this chain stitch is not a turning chain! You aren't going to turn your work over; you're going to keep crocheting with the same side of the work facing you.

    Next you're going to start consolidating groups of two stitches at a time, as follows: wrap your yarn over your hook (photo 25) and then pull it through the next two loops on your hook (photo 26.) You'll end up with something that looks like photo 27. Repeat, wrapping the yarn around your hook again (photo 28) and pulling it through two more loops (photo 29.)

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  • 07 of 11

    Afghan Stitch in Progress

    Afghan Stitch in Progress
    Afghan Stitch in Progress. Photos © Michael Solovay

    Continue this process (photos 30 and 31) until you've worked back across the entire row. At the end, you'll be left with a single loop remaining on your hook. (photo 32.)

    Now it's time to start the next row.

    You can think of the first stitch in your next row as being completed already. With non-Tunisian crochet, you ordinarily wouldn't count your active loop as a stitch. Here, you have to count it as the first stitch in your next row.

    Next, locate the vertical bar that is directly under your...MORE crochet hook. You don't want to work into that. You want to work into the first vertical bar you see immediately next to it. If you're right-handed, that would typically be immediately to the left side of it; if you're left-handed, you'd most likely look for it on the right side, depending how you hold your work. Photo 33 shows my crochet hook pointing at the vertical bar you want to crochet into. Photo 34 shows me inserting my hook into it.

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  • 08 of 11

    Afghan Stitch in Progress

    Afghan Stitch in Progress
    Afghan Stitch in Progress. Photos © Michael Solovay

    After you insert your hook into the vertical bar, you'll want to wrap your yarn over the crochet hook (photo 35) and pull it through the vertical bar (photo 36.) It'll look something like photo 37 when you're finished. Photo 38 shows my crochet hook pointing at the next vertical bar to be worked. Photos 39 - 42 show me repeating these steps.

    You just keep repeating this sequence of steps all the way to the end of the row. Photo 43 shows my work so far, although I have stopped short of crocheting...MORE the last stitch. I'll show you that part on the next page.

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  • 09 of 11

    Afghan Stitch in Progress

    Afghan Stitch Crochet Tutorial
    Afghan Stitch Crochet Tutorial. Photos © Michael Solovay

    If you look carefully at the end of the row, you'll see that there is a vertical bar there too. (Photo 44.) My crochet hook is pointing at it in photo 45. In photo 46, I've inserted my hook into it to work it, same as I did with all the other stitches in the row. Photos 47 - 49 show me completing the stitch. From here, I'm betting you can guess what to do next. You'll repeat the same return pass demonstrated earlier in photos 22-32 on pages 6 and 7. First you chain 1 (photos 50a...MORE and 50b,) then you consolidate groups of two loops (photos 51, 52, and 53) until you only have one loop remaining on your crochet hook. Some crocheters refer to this as "working the loops off by twos," or simply "working the loops off."

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  • 10 of 11

    Afghan Stitch in Progress

    Afghan Stitch in Progress
    Afghan Stitch in Progress. Photos © Michael Solovay

    Photos 54 - 56 show the return pass in progress. Photo 57 shows how it looks when it is completed.

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  • 11 of 11

    Completed Afghan Stitch

    Crochet Afghan Stitch
    Crochet Afghan Stitch. Photo © Michael Solovay

    Here's a final photo showing the swatch after a few more rows have been completed. Notice how the fabric is curling up a bit. This curling is perfectly normal with afghan stitch; that's just one of the characteristics of this type of fabric.

    When I use afghan stitch in my crochet projects, I try to find clever ways of counteracting the curl. In some cases, joining two pieces together back-to-back will do the trick; see these potholders and this purse for examples. In other cases, adding a...MORE substantial edging is enough to counteract the curl. The edging doesn't have to be fancy; it can even be a wide band of plain single crochet. See this dishcloth for an example.

    Those of you who began this tutorial by crocheting 30 stitches, remember to visit this page to get the rest of the instructions for crocheting your potholder.

    More Free Afghan Stitch Patterns:

    To see more free crochet patterns featuring afghan stitch and Tunisian crochet, please be sure to stop by my page of free Tunisian crochet patterns.

    See Another Colorful Afghan Stitch Example:

    Afghan stitch is my favorite stitch to use when combining variegated yarns. I've already showed you one example of this (it's pictured in the upper right-hand photo on page 1 of this tutorial.) You can see another example on this page: afghan stitch featuring variegated yarns.

    References:

    For references and additional reading on the topic of Tunisian crochet, see this page.