Demystifying Cluster Stitches Part 2

Hello everyone.
How’s the weather in your part of the world?
Isn’t it crazy?
It seems that it’s acting up everywhere. Hurricane Sandy is obviously making headlines around the world. My hubby showed me this awesome photo -which went viral- this morning and I had to share it with you. That is, if you haven’t seen it yet.

It turns out the photo is actually an excellent photoshop job, click on the photo to read the whole story behind the photo.

However, this is a photo that was posted by manthaknits on Instagram this morning.
That’s Lower Manhattan, completely flooded!

South Africa’s coastal region has also been hit by severe flooding. Luckily we haven’t been affected but friends of ours live in Port Alfred, which is one of the most severely flooded regions.

Click on the photo to read more about this natural disaster.

I hope that wherever you are today that you and your family are safe and sound <3

Now on to some fun stuff.
Last week I showed you the differences between a variety of cluster stitches and I want to continue today.

Today I will be showing you the differences between increases and shell stitches and decreases and ‘together’ stitches. Technically not all these stitches are actually cluster stitches, since a cluster stitch is purely decorative and does not (usually) add or subtract stitches from the work. The reason I have decided to compare these stitches is that I think some people get confused between them and end up adding stitches when they should be doing a shell stitch or subtracting, when they should be doing a ‘together ‘ stitch.

So here it goes.
I’m going to start with the increase and will compare it to the shell stitch.
Firstly, what do these stitches have in common?
Both increase and shell stitches require that multiple stitches are made into the same stitch.
The difference is that with an increase you want to add stitches (as the name suggests) where as with a shell stitch the number of stitches remains the same.

For the purpose of this tutorial I will be showing you how to do these stitches using a DC and all cluster stitches will consist of five DCs.

The Increase

When you reach the stitch where you need to place an increase begin by making one stitch into the next available stitch.

In the above example the row shows the turning CH3 and 3 DC stitches.
Next insert the hook into the same stitch as the third DC.

Complete the stitch as normal.

You have just increased the row by one stitch.
I repeated the increase in the fourth stitch too.

Can you see that the increases create a slight V shape?
The working row now consists of 6 DCs instead of 4 like in the row below.

Now lets see how the shell stitch differs from the increase.

The Shell Stitch

I will be showing you how to do a shell stitch with 5DCs.
Remember that you don’t want to increase stitches, so you will have to have the same amount of stitches in the working row as in the previous row.
How do you do this?
By skipping stitches, in this case you need to skip 2 stitches and insert your hook into the third stitch.

Complete the stitch as usual and place 4 more DCs into the same stitch.

Skip the next two stitches to finish the stitch off.
I completed the row with 1 DC.

Here’s a side-by-side view of the increase and shell stitch.

Note the gap between stitches in the shell stitch and the slight ‘V’ shape of the increase.

Now I’m going to show you a different way of doing the shell stitch. It doesn’t leave a gap but you still need to skip stitches.

For this particular shell stitch start with SC and then skip 2 stitches.
Insert the hook into the 3rd stitch.

Complete the stitch as usual.

Place four more stitches into the same stitch to complete the shell.

Skip 2 more stitches and  SC into the next stitch.

This shell stitch creates a lovely wavy design with loads of potential.

The Decrease

I will be showing you the traditional method for a decrease. You can have a look at this post for a link to the invisible decrease. It’s particularly helpful for amigurumi.

Begin by inserting the hook through the next available stitch, YO and pull up a loop (remember I’m using DCs, so that’s what the photo shows).

Do not YO, just insert the hook into the next stitch, YO and pull up a loop. If you are working with HDC or DC you should have 4 loops on the hook. For SC it should be 3 loops, i.e you should always have 1 extra loop on the hook than is needed for the stitch.

YO and pull the hook through the first 3 loops on the hook, this applies to all stitches you want to decrease. The exception is the HDC decrease where you pull the yarn through all 4 loops on the hook at once.

YO and complete the stitch as normal.

Notice the slight inverted ‘V’ at the bottom of the decreased stitch.
I completed another decrease in the photo below so that you can see it clearer.
If you could the stitches of the row below and compare them to the working row you will notice that the previous row had 6 stitches and the working row now only has 4 stitches.

The last stitch I want to show you is the ‘together’ stitch.
Have you ever looked at a pattern and seen the abbreviation DC5tog? That means the pattern calls for a stitch where you finish off 5 DC stitches as one stitch.
Good patterns should describe how to complete a ‘together’ stitch but I’m going to show you how to do a DC5tog here.

Begin with CH2

Do not skip any stitches. Place the first stitch into the next available stitch from the previous row.

YO, pull yarn through 2 loops on the hook. You will have 2 loops still on the hook.

YO, insert hook into next available stitch. 4 loops on hook.

YO, pull yarn through 2 loops on hook. 3 loops remain on hook.

Repeat (YO, insert hook into next stitch, YO, pull yarn through 2 loops on hook) 3 more times (5 times in total).
You should have 6 loops on the hook at the end.

YO and pull yarn through all remaining loops on hook.


The ‘together ‘ stitch is completed. I finished the row off with a DC.

The photo below shows all the stitches I have shown you today.
See if you can recognise them.

That’s it for today.
Next week I will be starting a series on special decorative stitches starting with the bullion stitch.

Don’t forget to send photos of your completed projects to or post them on Instagram with the tags #loveabagofcrochet and @stephaniedavies.
You can also post them on my facebook fan page.
I would love to see what you are working on and share it on here.

30. October 2012 by Stephanie Davies
Categories: Tutorials | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 comments

Comments (2)

  1. Pingback: Demystifying Cluster Stitches Part 2 | A bag full of Crochet

  2. Pingback: Super Simple Owl Beanie with Long Earflaps | a bag full of crochet

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