We all (I hope) know by now about the invisible decrease, to smooth out your amigurumi decreases and make your amigurumi look much neater. But what about increasing? Increasing doesn’t have as much of a problem as decreasing, but forcing 2 stitches into one hole does stretch out the hole and leave a slight gap beneath it compared with the surrounding stitches.
Is there any way to reduce this gap and make your increases less visible? Let’s do an experiment to find out…
A standard increase consists of two single crochet stitches, both worked into both loops of the stitch below. But either or both of those single crochets could instead be worked into the front loop (FL) or back loop (BL) of the stitch below. Here are all the possible permutations of loops to work into to make a sc increase:
|Option||1st stitch||2nd stitch|
Option 1 is the standard increase, included for reference as the control: the yardstick to compare against, to see if we find a better option.
We’ll omit Option 9 (both stitches in BL only) from the remainder of the experiment, as I already know that the unworked front loop will leave a visible bar on the surface, so it clearly isn’t an ‘invisible’ candidate. That leaves us with 8 candidates, including the control, to include in our experiment…
I crocheted an amigurumi-style shape with a flat top and bottom, and 8 columns of increases around the sides (one column for each option 1-8). Each column includes 3 sample increase stitches, separated by a non-increased round above and below each increase so I could isolate each specific increase stitch. I noted any difficulty with creating each stitch combination as I crocheted.
Then I stuffed and finished the test piece as though it were a regular amigurumi, and then inspected the finished piece to see which columns of increases were least visible.
You may not be able to see the differences clearly here – my observed results (below) are far easier to see by eye than by looking at the photos.
|2||easy||smaller||stitches nestle together;
1st stitch sits slightly higher
|3||harder than #2||smaller||slight bar in front of 1st stitch|
|4||easy||larger||hole mostly filled by bar clearly visible inside hole|
|5||easy||standard||very obvious bar in front of 2nd stitch|
harder than #5
|standard||bar in front of 1st stitch|
harder than #2
|smaller||stitches nestle together;
2nd stitch sits slightly higher
harder than #3
|smaller||bar in front of 2nd stitch|
- To reduce the hole size, one of the stitches must be made through both loops. => #4, #5, #6 rejected
- If either stitch is made through the back loop only, it will leave a visible bar on the front of the work. (Note: Those visible bars may not look too bad in my sample, but would be far more prominent if the increase round and previous round are worked in different colours, as they’d show up as a bar of the wrong colour.) => #3, #8 rejected
- It is easier to work the FL/BL stitch first followed by the both loops stitch than vice versa. => #2 is better than #7
#2 and #7 had the best appearance, but #2 is easier to work than #7, so that gives it the edge and makes it the winner in this competition. But, hang on, is there a genuine improvement over a standard increase?
Introducing… the Invisible Increase!
I know it’s hard to see the differences between all the options in the above photo – they’re much more noticeable when you look at the piece in 3D. To make it clearer that there really is a difference, I’ve drawn around the edges of the ‘hole’ beneath a standard increase and the new invisible increase:
You can see that the hole is much smaller if you use the invisible increase; in fact, if anything, I’d say it’s smaller than the hole beneath a normal sc stitch. Mission accomplished!
So, if you’re looking for a less visible increase for your amigurumi, here’s your answer:
Invisible increase: sc in front loop only of next stitch, sc in both loops of same stitch.
Unlike the invisible decrease, which I recommend you always use for amigurumi (unless there’s a specific reason not to, e.g. turning your work between rounds), I’d definitely call the invisible increase an optional technique, but if you ever notice that the holes below your increases look too large, give my invisible increase method a try and see if it alleviates the problem!