Interlocking Crochet Tutorial: Center-Out

After two years of crocheting and designing interlocking crochet patterns, I have now added a new skill to my belt: interlocking crochet from the center-out!

I can also do overlay mosaic crochet from the center-out; check out my tutorial page on that technique too!

I highly recommend you get familiar with how basic interlocking crochet works BEFORE attempting to work from the center out. I also want to point out that my tutorials are tailored to my patterns – other designers may have different styles of charts and written instructions and I can’t guarantee that my tutorials will be applicable to those patterns.

Original, bottom-up tutorials:

New, center-out tutorials:

There’s a lot of information offered below, use this Table of Contents to help you find what you’re looking for.

Benefits of working from the center-out:

  • the front of your work is always facing you so you don’t need to figure out how to read the chart for the wrong side
  • you don’t need to start with a million chains or windows
  • it looks amazing with yarn that changes colors gradually (like these cakes from Canadian-owned Panda Yarns)
  • you can work until your yarn runs out instead of having to decide how wide your blanket will be before you start
  • it’s fun to learn more skills
  • final outer border line can be in whichever color you prefer
  • helps keep the square even on all sides (sometimes when working back and forth like normal your square ends up taller than it is wide = tension issues)

How to determine if a pattern will work from the Center-Out:

  • Chart needs to be designed for interlocking crochet
  • Chart needs to be square, not rectangle
  • Or, just use patterns that I have labeled with “center-out”!

How to determine which color to use first:

On my interlocking crochet patterns (also called Locked Filet Mesh / LFM) you will see that the first color used is listed as the Main Color (MC) and the other color is called Accent Color (AC). When working from the bottom-up the first color also becomes the outer edge, so this can help you determine which color is which. Often this is black on my charts with the AC being white. You can usually think of the MC as the pencil lines I’ve drawn – but please look at each pattern carefully because I do have a few that don’t follow these guidelines.

When doing an interlocking crochet pattern from the center-out we need to first find the center dot. That dot will be our MC. Often this will be the same as my original bottom-up designs.

What’s better? Written instructions or charts?

The personal preferences vary widely on this issue. I’ve had a few people tell me they used to be chart-only fans but since seeing how well my patterns are written they have changed their minds!

I personally use the chart to get the written instructions and then I am done with the chart. Very rarely, I will refer to the chart if I think my image isn’t coming out as expected to see if I made a mistake.

In my YouTube tutorial (watch it here), I go over both how to use the charts and how to use the written instructions. You can use one or both.

KEY

DEFINITIONS

AC = accent color (pink on chart / even-numbered rounds)

MC = main color (green on chart / odd-numbered rounds)

Back = the wrong side of your work

Front = the right side of your work (you never turn your work, so the right side is always facing you)

AC/MC to Back indicates you need to place the AC/MCyarn towards the BACK of your project

AC/MC to Front indicates you need to bring the AC/MC yarn towards the FRONT of your project

CROCHET STITCHES USED

BLO = use the back loop only

ch = chain: pull a loop of yarn through the loop on your hook

dc = double crochet: yarn over, insert hook, yarn over, pull up loop, *yarn over, pull through two loops* twice

hdc = half double crochet: yarn over, insert hook, yarn over, pull up loop, yarn over, pull through all three loops

MR = magic ring: lay yarn across front of index and middle fingers, loose end hanging down; wrap yarn over and behind fingers then back up the front of your hand; cross yarn over yarn towards your wrist and hold working end of yarn with pinkie finger; insert hook under yarn closest to fingertips, grab the other loop of yarn and pull a loop up (with a slight clockwise twist); chain 1 to hold it together. You will crochet over the side that has 2 strings and when you are done you can tighten the loose end. See my video tutorial or my photo tutorial at ashleeslint.com/magicring

sk = skip a stitch

SS = slip stitch: insert hook, pull a loop through everything on your hook

SPECIAL TERMS USED

Ch3 in Back/Front counts as your first dc and chain

C = Corner: chain 2 (when added to previous stitch that makes 3 chains between the double crochets in each corner)

B = double crochet (dc) behind the previous row, and chain 1

F = double crochet (dc) in front of the previous row, and chain 1

ADDITIONAL CHART KEY

Chart is read from the bottom up, right to left. Middle section gets repeated for each side of your square and then you finish with final half-triangle and join to the first half-triangle from the start.

F indicates you should double crochet in FRONT of the other color and then chain one.

B indicated you should double crochet BEHIND the other color and then chain one.

C is a corner: chain an additional 2 chains (which always puts 3 chains in the corner).

Arrow Up (on chart) indicates you need to place the yarn you’re not currently crocheting with towards the BACK of your project.

Arrow Down (on chart) indicates you need to bring the yarn you’re not crocheting with towards the FRONT of your project.

Setting up Foundation Rounds:

Black (Main Color) foundation square and cross with purple (Accent Color) foundation circle.

AC foundation round (counts as row 0); make a circle:

Chain 8, slip stitch in first chain (making a loop). Chain 3 to prepare for next row. Place stitch marker to hold live loop.

MC foundation round (counts as inner dot and then round 1); create 4 corners:

Create a magic ring. Chain 7, *double crochet in magic ring, ch4* x3, slip stitch to 3rd chain from the beginning. Tighten magic ring. Chain 3 to prepare for next row. Place stitch marker to hold live loop.

BRINGING FOUNDATIONS TOGETHER:

When you bring your two foundations together you may need to place the AC circle in front or behind the MC cross. And your working AC tail will need to be in front or behind the MC outer square. First get your working yarn in the right place and then move the circle if necessary (push it to the front or the back through the top-right MC corner).

WHEN READING THE CHART

Row 1, column 3 tells you whether to place MC cross in front of AC circle (F) or place MC cross behind AC circle (B).

Final column in row 1 tells you whether to place AC working yarn in front of MC corner (arrow down, indicating your yarn needs to be in front of MC) or place your AC working yarn behind MC corner (arrow up, indicating you put your yarn to the back of the project).

Even numbered rows, using AC:

First column tells you where to put the MC working yarn. Second column refers to your chain 3 that you prepared last time you worked with this yarn; you can double check if it is in front or behind. Column 3 has no symbol and does not get used. Column 4 is your next stitch: F or B.

Slip stitch to the first chain 3 space to finish each round, then chain 3 in preparation for next round (counts as first DC and chain space) and place stitch marker to hold your live loop.

Odd numbered rows, using MC:

First and second columns have no symbol, do not use these squares. Third column refers to your chain 3 that you prepared last time you worked with this yarn; you can double check if it is in front or behind. Follow symbols across to final column which tells you where to put your AC yarn BEFORE slip stitching the round closed. Then chain 3 in preparation for next round (counts as first DC and chain space) and place stitch marker to hold your live loop.

The YouTube video and the PDF Photo Tutorial are easier to understand than the information provided here.

Learning new skills can be difficult, take a break if you’re feeling frustrated and try again later. Watch the video tutorial. Ask for clarification and help in my Facebook group: Ashlee Brotzell Designs. Don’t give up! You’ll get it eventually!