Introduction: Magic-Ring Jig for Crochet-in-the-Round
Having trouble crocheting a "magic ring" to prevent a hole in the center of a circular crochet project? Instead of trying to hold everything with your fingers, make a quick cardboard jig to hold the tail and give yourself room to work.
Note: I don't recommend using this tutorial if you've never crocheted because it's for an intermediate technique. Although I've tried to show and explain how to do things in detail, the very basics of crochet are not in this tutorial. You might first look up how to: choose a yarn, choose a hook to suit your yarn (or vice versa), identify the tail and working yarn, hold the working yarn so that you can increase/decrease tension as you make stitches (this takes practice, so don't expect instant success), "read" a stitch (recognize the crucial parts of a completed stitch and be able to count stitches), single-crochet, slip stitch, and weave in a tail. You don't need double crochet (single crochet is enough).
Abbreviations (and standard crochet stitches and moves)
(insert hook: push hook under both strands of the stitch being worked into unless otherwise instructed)
yo - yarn over
pt - pull through
ch - chain
slst - slip stitch (US terminology; UK single crochet)
sc - single crochet (US terminology; UK double crochet)
dc - double crochet (US terminology; UK treble crochet)
Materials for jig:
- piece of cardboard, the size of a business card or a bit larger
- pen or marker (optional)
For the crocheting project, you'll need yarn and a matching hook, along with whatever instructions and other materials your project requires.
Step 1: Make the Card
A. Cut a piece of cardboard, roughly the size of three fingers held together.
I used a scrap from a food box. You might use a business card, old envelope (fold it double if it bends too easily), or one of those fake credit cards from junk mail.
B. Cut two slits on the bottom edge of this card. I labeled them W (working yarn) and T (tail). I crochet right-handed, so the T goes on the right.
If you're using thick yarn, cut V-shapes rather than simple slits.
After I took the photos in this tutorial, I found that it’s helpful to have a slight horizontal fold in the cardboard, as shown in this photo.
Step 2: Set Up the Yarn
I'm giving instructions for people who have done basic crochet, and just can't quite get the magic ring. I tried to take enough photos for those who don't have experience, but the magic ring is best learned after doing some simple crocheting.
For right-handed crochet:
Slip the tail of the yarn into the rightmost slit, with the end toward the back of the card. (Leave a slightly longer tail than I did for the photos; twice that length would be better.)
Then wrap the working yarn over the top, around the back, into the other (left) slit, and up to the top, as shown in the photo.
This is similar to wrapping the yarn around your fingers while trying to follow the usual Magic Ring instructions.
Step 3: Pull Up a Loop
Hold the working yarn as if to crochet (with some tension). I wrap it around my little finger, then weave it between my fingers and over my index finger.
Hold the card as you’d hold the work. I hold the work in my left hand, mostly between thumb and middle two fingers.
Insert the hook under the yarn (see inset), hook the working yarn (leftmost strand), and pull up a loop as shown.
Step 4: Yarn Over and Pull Through
With the hook on top of the tail yarn, yarn over and pull through, like the second part of a single-crochet stitch.
You might end up turning the hook and twisting the first loop. If you do, that's fine. I had to turn the hook so the tip faced the card, but I turned it back before taking the second picture.
Pulling through is a bit of a challenge. I had to hold the yarn below the loop on the hook (where it crosses). It might be easier to squeeze the yarn against the card. I had to practice these two steps a few times.
Step 5: Chain One
Chain 1 (yarn over and pull through) if your project calls for a magic ring of single crochet (sc). For example, "MR6" is pretty common and usually means 6 single crochet stitches into the magic ring.
If you need to make a ring of double crochet (dc) or taller stitches, chain however many you’d normally need to chain up to start a new row. If your project instructions say something different, follow them.
I had to hold the base of the stitch in order to chain (not shown).
In projects I invent, including these instructions, I do not count the locking stitch and any turning chains as stitches. Many instructions do count these as the first stitch. If you're using a magic ring for instructions that do count them, count stitches as in your instructions and be aware that your instructions won't match my photos/instructions.
Step 6: Work Stitches
Work stitches into the loop by reaching under the two yarn strands at the bottom of the card (see yellow circle) to pull up a loop.
In the photos in the rest of this tutorial, I work 6 sc into the loop. (That's pretty typical.)
It may help to turn the card a quarter turn clockwise, so that you’re working right to left, as usual for crochet and as shown in the remaining photos. Change your grip as needed. Be careful to hold the tail if you need to slide the stitches away from the slits to make more room.
If you've done the magic ring before, then you can probably skip the rest of these instructions. Just remove the card carefully and pull the tail to close, as usual.
Step 7: Work a Single Crochet (SC)
Use the hook to reach under the two strands; yarn over and pull up a loop. Then yarn over and pull through both loops on the hook. (One single crochet—sc—completed.)
Step 8: Work Five More SC
The stitches flip up and down as you work, so it may be hard to see what you're doing (first pair of photos). It doesn't change the end result, though.
Remember to hold the tail if you need to slide the stitches away from the slits to make more room.
The second photo shows my 6 sc complete. The white dots mark the tops of the stitches; the loop of the 6th stitch is still on the hook.
Step 9: Remove the Card
If the tail is short (like the one in the photos), pull it a little or hold it so it doesn't slip through the stitches.
Fold the card, slide the yarn out of the two slits, and carefully remove the card from the loop of yarn.
Step 10: Pull the Tail
Pull the tail to close the center hole and form the stitches into (almost) a disk.
(It looks like I’m holding the tail loosely rather than pulling, but that’s because I was pausing to photograph it.)
I usually have to pull pretty hard and sometimes need to arrange the stitches a bit. The stitches don't usually meet on the outside at this point.
Step 11: Finish the Round
Close the disk in whatever way the project requires.
Shown: Slip stitch into the first stitch (not the chain). (Magic ring—MR6—complete.)
Slip stitch is usual for crocheting in the round in complete, separate rows, such as when doing granny squares. Next you’d chain up for the second round.
For many amigurumi, the directions say to spiral around rather than making separate rounds. For a spiral, sc into the first stitch instead of slip stitching into it. The sc is the first stitch of the second round.
If you have trouble keeping track of rounds, as I often do:
Chain up if needed, then put a marker around the loop that's on the hook. That's where you'll insert the hook at the end of the second round.
Continue with your project.
I like to weave the tail around through the first round of stitches again and pull it tight before weaving it in. This extra loop closes up the center hole more securely.
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