How to Decrease in Crochet

Complete guide to decreasing in crochet

After you have learned the basic crochet stitches, the next most important thing that you will learn is how to increase and decrease in crochet. This is the main technique that you will use to change the shape and drape of all of your crochet projects; it's how circles become hats or amigurumi and how clothing becomes flattering to the fit instead of just lumpy and chunky. Increasing makes the round or row you're working on longer than the previous one; decreasing makes it shorter. In...MORE this guide, we'll learn what decreasing is all about and how to do it with various stitches.

  • 01 of 09

    Understanding What Decrease Means

    Half Double Crochet Decrease
    Half Double Crochet Decrease. Kathryn Vercillo

    When you decrease in crochet, you are making the current row or round that you are working on shorter than the one previous to it. So, for example, if you worked twenty stitches into the previous row, when you decrease, you may only work thirteen stitches. How would you do that? The most common answer, the one that will widely be used across your crochet patterns, is that you will crochet two stitches together so that they become one stitch. 

    If you understand how to read symbol charts in crochet,...MORE this will make even more sense, because you will be able to see clearly in the decreasing symbols that you have two stitches next two each other that become one stitch together at the top.

  • 02 of 09

    Crochet Two Together (or Decrease): Abbreviations in Crochet

    Double Crochet Decrease
    Double Crochet Decrease. Kathryn Vercillo

    The decrease (which is abbreviated "dec" in crochet) may also be called "crochet two together" since that's the essence of what you are doing. So, your pattern might say "decrease" but it might also read something like "sc2tog", which translates to "single crochet two together". You will make two single crochet stitches side by side in such a way that they are joined at the top and they become one.

    Of course, you don't just decrease in single...MORE crochet. You decrease in all types of crochet stitches. So you will need to learn how to decrease in double crochet (dc2tog) and even in more advanced stitches, such as front posts (fpdc2tog would be when you front post double crochet two together).

    The thing that you need to understand at this point is that your pattern may say "dec" or it may say to stitch two together and in either case you're going to be doing the same thing - working across two stitches at the same time to turn them into one stitch so that you have fewer stitches in this row/ round as you did in the one previously worked on.

  • 03 of 09

    How to Decrease in Single Crochet (or how to sc2tog)

    Single Crochet Two Together (SC2Tog)
    Single Crochet Two Together (SC2Tog). Kathryn Vercillo

    When you decrease, you work a portion of the first stitch, then work a portion of the second stitch, then finish them together so that the two stitches become one. So, when you sc2tog (which is also called decrease in single crochet), you start a single crochet in one stitch, leave it unfinished while you start a single crochet in the adjacent stitch, and then finish both of them together to create one single crochet across the two stitches.

    Here's how:

    • Insert hook into the first stitch.
    • Yarn...MORE over and draw through the loop.
    • Do not complete the stitch as normal.
    • Instead, insert the hook into the next stitch.
    • Yarn over and draw through the loop.
    • There should now be three loops on your hook.
    • Yarn over and draw through all three loops on the hook.
    • You should now have two single crochet stitches side-by-side, joined together into one stitch at the top.
  • 04 of 09

    How to Decrease in Half Double Crochet (or how to hdc2tog)

    Half Double Crochet Decrease
    Half Double Crochet Decrease. Kathryn Vercillo

    All of your taller basic stitches will essentially be the same thing; you'll begin the first stitch, leave off before finishing the final step of it, crochet the next stitch and then finish the two together. Here are the instructions for half double crochet decrease:

    • Yarn over hook.
    • Insert hook into stitch.
    • Yarn over hook and pull through. There should be three loops on your hook.
    • Insert hook into the next stitch.
    • Yarn over and pull through. There should be four loops on your hook.
    • Yarn over and...MORE pull through all four loops.
    Continue to 5 of 9 below.
  • 05 of 09

    How to Decrease in Double Crochet (or dc2tog)

    Double Crochet Decrease
    Double Crochet Decrease. Kathryn Vercillo

    We will go through one more stitch so that you can be sure that you have the hang of decreasing. Let's do the double crochet stitch (or double crochet two together):

    • Yarn over hook.
    • Insert hook into next stitch.
    • Yarn over.
    • Pull the yarn through the stitch. There should be three loops on your hook.
    • Yarn over.
    • Pull the yarn through the first two stitches. There should now be two loops on your hook. Notice that this is a normal double crochet stitch up to this point. There is only one step left but...MORE you're going to wait because you will be finishing this double crochet with the adjacent one to make a single stitch across two from the previous row.
    • So, leave those two loops on the hook, yarn over and insert your hook into the next stitch.
    • Yarn over and pull through the first two stitches. There should be three loops on the hook.
    • Yarn over and pull through all three stitches.
  • 06 of 09

    Cluster Stitches

    Four Double Crochet Cluster (dc4tog)
    Four Double Crochet Cluster (dc4tog). Kathryn Vercillo

    Note that working multiple stitches across a single stitch like this is also called a "cluster". The 2dctog described above is, for example, a "two double crochet cluster stitch".

    You could also work more than two stitches to create a bigger cluster. For example, a cluster of four double crochet stitches would be worked by crocheting 4dctog, where you do the same thing as you do with 2dctog, except that you leave the first three stitches unfinished (instead of just the first one)...MORE and finish them all together at the same time as the fourth one. So, the steps for the four double crochet cluster stitch would be:

    1. Yarn over.
    2. Insert hook into next stitch.
    3. Yarn over.
    4. Draw yarn through stitch.
    5. Yarn over.
    6. Draw through 2 loops on hook.
    7. Repeat steps 1-6 three more times. You will now have four unfinished double crochet stitches next to one another. There will be five loops on your hook.
    8. Yarn over and draw through all five loops to finish. 
  • 07 of 09

    How Many Times To Decrease

    3 Adjacent dc2tog Stitches
    3 Adjacent dc2tog Stitches. Kathryn Vercillo

    Now that you understand the basics of decreasing stitches, let's discuss how many times you will do this per round or row. The answer is ... let the pattern tell you! If it says to decrease once, then you just do this one time (crochet two stitches together into one) and proceed with the pattern as normal. If, instead, it tells you to repeat the decrease across the entire row, you would turn each of the pairs of two stitches into a single stitch by repeating the "crochet two...MORE together" over and over.

  • 08 of 09

    How to Crochet Decrease (Summary)

    Decrease Double Crochet
    Decrease Double Crochet. Kathryn Vercillo

    To recap, anytime that you are going to decrease in basic crochet stitches, you will be working two stitches together as one. You will begin the stitch and work it as normal until the final step of that stitch. Leaving that final step unfinished, you will then work the next stitch as normal. When it comes time to complete the final step of this second stitch, you will pull the yarn through all of the loops on the hook, completing the final step of both stitches at the same time, effectively...MORE turning the two stitches that are side by side into one stitch because they now share a final shared stitch at the top.

    Continue to 9 of 9 below.
  • 09 of 09

    Alternatives to Decreasing in Crochet

    The method described here is the one that is most commonly used to decrease crochet stitches. However, there are other methods that different crochet designers may teach you in their patterns. For example, Stitch Diva has some great instructions for doing a double crochet decrease where the stitches are joined at the bottom of the stitch instead of at the top! You can come back to this method as a default but don't be afraid to try new things and see what you like best!