Moira has been crocheting since she was 14 years old. She loves experimenting with small crochet projects.
The crab stitch a.k.a reverse single crochet is just that - single crochet that is worked backwards. It is worked from left to right instead of the usual right to left. The resulting stitch has twisted loops which gives the crab stitch its bumps and solid look. The series of bumps looks like an array of micro-scallops that makes the crab stitch an excellent finishing stitch. Smart-Knitting-Crocheting summarized well what its great for:
- decorative border for a finished edge
- solution for rounding off armholes and necklines where steps of decreases are well- noticeable
- if inserting a zipper, using this stitch creates a neat and "finished" look
Because of its nature, I have yet to see a crocheted piece that uses the crab stitch other than an edging. Perhaps, there are few, because
- it's difficult to work any stitch on top of crab stitches
- crocheting crab stitches on top of crab stitches, if possible, will not show off its beautiful humps.
And I've found one! (I've written a good part of the draft for this article before I actually searched for Fo's and patterns using the crab stitch.) The fourth picture, a gray scarf, is from a free pattern from Lion Brand which uses the crab stitch to create an interesting texture in the scarf. The pattern is called Reverse Single Crochet Hat and Scarf Set.
The truth is I can't understand the way the pattern is written. From what I vaguely understand, the crab stitch is worked on front loops only or back loops only, and then I don't understand how to work the pattern from that point forward. The use of a single color downplays its gorgeous texture, making the crab stitch texture so underrated.
RSC in Rows
RSC in Rounds
RSC for Knitters
Define Crab Stitch
What is the crab stitch?
- The crab stitch is a single crochet stitch worked backwards (left to right).
What is it usually called?
- crab stitch
- reverse single crochet
- shrimp stitch
- corded-edge stitch
What is its standard abbreviation?
- reverse sc
What is its standard chart symbol?
- x̃, small letter x with a tilde at the top to signify it's twisted nature
All throughout this article, this stitch will be referred to as the crab stitch. In patterns, it will be abbreviated as rsc and in charts it will be symbolized by x̃.
VIDEOS IN THIS ARTICLE
RSC in Rows - a very concise video showing how to crochet the crab stitch in rows
RSC in Rounds - shows how to work the crab stitch in rounds and how to close the round with a slip stitch; also demonstrates the how to do the crab stitch so many times you feel like you're the one doing it
RSC for Knitters - video made by a knitter how to use the crab stitch to finish the edge of a knitted cloth
Apprehensions and a Helpful Video
I've encountered the crab stitch a long time ago. I've read the instructions, even gave it a try, but the unusual way in which it its worked scared me. I never tried it again - till I saw this video titled RSC in Rows in this article (refers to the first video).
"Okay, so it's that simple", I told myself. At the time I was crocheting my hook case (unfinished until now). Because of the video, I decided to finish it with crab stitch. It was a bit awkward at first. Orienting myself to crochet in the opposite direction was complicated. The first five stitches were deformed, the humps were not pronounced. Nevertheless, I got the hang of it and in no time, I enjoyed crocheting it all around.
Why did I wait this long to give it a real try?
Since I wrote an article detailing the CROCODILE STITCH PATTERN, I realized that there is a wealth of topic I can write about:
- Explain how to do intricate stitch patterns
- Broaden the use of a type-cast stitches
- Archive interesting crochet techniques
I intend to write about stitch and stitch patterns that I shy away from.
The challenge with the crab stitch is not the complexity of how to do it. It's rather simple once you get the hang of it. The test of the crab stitch is the limitation in its application.
What can I do to expand its use?
Solution: Accentuate the Advantage
To solve the problem of expanding the use of the crab stitch, I listed its characteristics in the table below.
Direction of work
Limitation of Use
There are more innovative ways to use the crab stitch. When I discover them, either from my head or someone else's, I'll add it here. It is my intent to open your mind to the possibilities of this stitch. May this article inspire you.
The obvious solution to this problem is to accentuate its advantages. How do I do that?
Here are my answers:
- Crochet Jewelries - Working crab stitches on chains produces a very appealing cord. This cord can be fashioned into an earring, bracelet or necklace. The resulting motifs could also be used for key chains or cell phone charms.
- Cord Accents - The crab stitch can be used as an accent to any crochet project. After crocheting a row of crab stitches, work the next row on the posts of the row before the crab stitches. This will raise the crab stitch and if you use a different color, the crab stitch row will be a pleasing highlight. Using crab stitches this way creates the illusion of sewing ropes as emphasis to your project.
- Rope Cloth - Why don't I push it beyond accentuating? Why don't I create a rope cloth with it? This is worked in the same manner as the cord accents. This is simply alternating sc and rsc row, with each sc-row worked on the posts of the last sc-row. In other words, the sc-row only serves as an anchor for the crab stitches. I will formally call it the CRAB LINE STITCH.
Crochet Pattern: CRAB LINE STITCH
- This stitch pattern is a 2-row repeat.
- The first row serves as the anchor for the crab stitches on the second row.
- The 2-row repeat only has the height of first row since the crab stitches will be worked on the post of the first row.
- For the odd row (1, 3, 5, 7...), any type of basic stitch will do - sc, hdc, dc, tr, dtr, and trtr. Choice of stitch to use depends on how far do you want the crab line stitches from each other. For the pattern that follows, the odd rows uses the sc stitch.
- This stitch pattern is best worked using two colors, where you'll change color every row.
- This stitch pattern is perfect for crocheted cozies for mugs, camera, lap top, etc. It has two sides. The first side shows the crab stitches, which will serve as cushion to protect your gadgets. The other side is smooth to avoid scratching your gadget.
- This is also perfect for rugs, blankets and baskets.
- The beginning and ending stitches of each row must be carefully observed. It is easy to get lost around this part.
- ch - chain
- sk - skip
- sc - single crochet
- rsc - reverse single crochet/ crab stitch
Make a chain of desired length.
Row 1: Sk 1 ch, sc across the chain's length. Ch 1, DO NOT TURN.
Row 2: Rsc on each sc across. Ch 1, TURN.
Row 3: Sc around the post each sc of the last odd row. Ch 1, DO NOT TURN.
Row 4: Rsc on each sc across. Ch 1, TURN.
Repeat Row 3 and 4 for pattern.
Comments Make ME Happy!
Moira Durano-Abesmo (author) from Sagay, Camiguin, Philippines on December 12, 2011:
Thanks Patrice! Now I understand how that scarf was made. I really could not comprehend the pattern.
PWalker281 on December 12, 2011:
The crab stitch is one of my favorite stitches to edge afghans with. And you're right, it's more of an edging or accent stitch.
As for how to work it into fabric, when you finish a row, without turning, you crab stitch back over the front loops (the loop closest to you) only. This way, you can begin a new row by crocheting the back loops. I use stitch markers on the first and last stitch of the plain row so I know where to begin and end the rsc row. Hope that made sense. And yes, that scarf would look a lot better if the rsc rows were done in a different color.
Your crab line stitch is a great adaptation, and as you said, creates a nice fabric for cushioning our electronic devices. I'm going to have to give it a try. Rated up and useful!