How to Reverse Single Crochet

Crab Stitch Crochet Tutorial

Reverse single crochet is a simple variation on one of the most basic crochet stitches - the single crochet. This stitch, also known as crab stitch (because of its "backwards" nature), is essentially the same stitch that you already know but worked in reverse.

In standard single crochet, you insert your hook into the next stitch to the left and create your sc stitch there. In reverse single crochet, you insert your hook into the stitch to the right and create your sc stitch there. The...MORE basic steps are the same, but the location of the stitch is different. Working the stitch can feel a little bit awkward at first but if you know basic crochet stitches then it should be easy to get the hang of it.

Note that this is NOT the same as left-handed crochet. In left-handed crochet, the entire process is reversed so that you get the same pattern result as a right-handed crocheter. Reverse single crochet is a specific stitch (whether done by lefties or righties) done in a location that is the reverse of how you would work single crochet. 

Regular single crochet stitches are short, even stitches that produce a dense fabric of neat, even rows. Reverse single crochet produces a very unique twisted design. Other words that describe the look include "coiled", "rounded", "corded" and "slightly scalloped". Because of its unique nature, it is most commonly used as edging or occasionally for a specific design detail, rather than to create the entire bulk of a crochet project.

Following are the step-by-step instructions for how to crochet crab stitch. It helps to remember that it is just regular single crochet, worked in the stitch to the right, rather than to the left, of the previous stitch.

  • 01 of 06

    Reverse Single Crochet: Step One

    Reverse Single Crochet, Step One
    Reverse Single Crochet, Step One. Kathryn Vercillo

    The first step is to insert your hook into the proper stitch. In single crochet, this would be the stitch to the left of the previous stitch just worked on. In reverse single crochet, insert your hook to the RIGHT of the stitch you just worked on.

    In the photo that accompanies this step of the tutorial, you see a crochet project consisting of crochet shells. The reverse single crochet is going to be the edging of this project. We have already begun the edging, so you see reverse single...MORE crochet stitches to the left of the stitch we are now working in.

    Note that when you begin to work the crab stitch, you do NOT turn your work before beginning the row or round. Typically, of course, you would turn the work and might chain one for a turning chain in single crochet. In reverse single crochet, just begin where you are, at the end of the previous row or round - do not turn.

    You also will not "chain one" as a starting chain. That said, if you find it difficult to work the first stitch of the row or round, try to chain one. Some people find that this makes it easier to start the row, and it will not have a negative impact on the finished design.

  • 02 of 06

    Reverse Single Crochet: Step Two

    Reverse Single Crochet: Step Two
    Reverse Single Crochet: Step Two. Kathryn Vercillo

    After you have inserted your hook into the proper stitch, yarn over.

  • 03 of 06

    Reverse Single Crochet: Step Three

    Reverse Single Crochet: Step Three
    Reverse Single Crochet: Step Three. Kathryn Vercillo

    Completing the process begun in Step Two, pull the yarn through the stitch. There will be two loops on the hook.

  • 04 of 06

    Reverse Single Crochet: Step Four

    Reverse Single Crochet: Step Four
    Reverse Single Crochet: Step Four. Kathryn Vercillo

    Yarn over once again.

    Notice that you are completing the same steps for reverse single crochet that you do for regular single crochet. Insert hook, yarn over, pull through, yarn over ... the only difference is where you inserted the hook to begin the stitch.

    Continue to 5 of 6 below.
  • 05 of 06

    Reverse Single Crochet: Step Five

    Reverse Single Crochet (crab stitch)
    Reverse Single Crochet (crab stitch). Kathryn Vercillo

    Completing the process begun in Step Four, pull the yarn through both loops on the hook.

    And that's it, you've created a single crochet stitch, worked in reverse. To complete an entire row (edging) of the stitch, you will repeat steps 1-5 over. At the end, add a slip stitch. If you are working in rounds, you will slip stitch to join. If you are working in rows, slip stitch into the top of the turning chain of the previous row. And you've done it - a reverse single crochet edging! The...MORE result is a unique twisted version of the single crochet stitch.

  • 06 of 06

    Crochet Crab Stitch Tips

    Here are some additional tips and ideas for working with this crochet stitch:

    • When reading patterns, the crochet abbreviation for this stitch is usually rsc. Although it may also be seen as rev sc or reverse sc. When working with symbol charts, it is typical represented as an X with a tilde over it.
    • Note that "reverse single crochet" is the American term. If you are reading a UK pattern, it will be reverse double crochet! It will then be abbreviated as ddc, rev dc or reverse dc. They are...MORE the same stitch, worked as described in this tutorial (and called crab stitch in both types of patterns.)
    • The stitch feels a little awkward at first, especially in the first two steps, which is where you can most feel that you are working backwards. Keep practicing it; it becomes easier and easier. Note that people who hold their hook in "pencil grip" tend to find the stitch easier to complete than those who hold their crochet hook in "knife grip".
    • When working reverse single crochet as an edging, begin the stitch when your work is facing right side towards you.
    • If the main body of your piece is crocheted in a very openwork design or uses a lot of tall stitches, the reverse single crochet might seem too small as an edging. Add a row of regular crochet first, then finish it off with single crochet for a great end design.
    • That said, this stitch really is an eye-catcher on its own. Crochet it in a different color than the body of your piece for a really stand-out design detail!
    • Crab stitch, especially when worked in cotton, can create a very sturdy edging. This makes it a great choice for finishing coasters, washcloths and hot pads.
    • If you are bicraftual, consider using reverse single crochet as the edging on your knit items as well! It works great and will add some flair to your pieces.

    Challenge yourself to try new ways of implementing the reverse single crochet stitch into your work. It is an easy basic stitch but it is super unique and is very underused.