How do I work in the 3rd loop of a hdc? Where is the 3rd loop of a hdc? These are questions I get asked almost weekly. It’s really quite simple, and I’ve put together a picture tutorial to help you master this easy crochet stitch whether you’re working in rows or rounds. I’ve also included pictures at the end of this guide that show you what projects using this technique can look like.
What is the 3rd loop of a half-double crochet stitch?
The 3rd loop is, to put it simply, the “yarn over” that you make when crocheting a hdc stitch. When you yarn-over and then pull up a loop to begin a hdc stitch, keep an eye on where that “yarn-over” goes. I’ve pointed it out with a needle in the following picture. For this tutorial I am using Red Heart Soft in “Off-White” and a 5mm Furls Rose Gold hook:
Being familiar with the anatomy of a crochet stitch will prove invaluable over your crocheting career.
I suggest you grab some light colored yarn and make a small swatch working 10-12 hdc stitches in a row. When you turn the work over at the end of the row you should notice a line of horizontal bars at the back. That line is made up of all the “yarn-overs”, and is better known in the crochet community as the “3rd loop”.
Please note: The 3rd loop is not working in “every 3rd stitch” where you skip two stitches between.
You can see where I have stuck some needles through the 3rd loops on a few stitches to draw your attention to them. When a pattern calls for you to work in the 3rd loop most of the time they mean this 3rd loop at the back of the stitch:
However, since the “yarn-over” is visible on both the front and the back of the stitch, there is also a 3rd loop at the front. You can see that it’s a slightly diagonal bar that blends into the stitch itself. I’ve pointed a couple of them out to you with needles and some arrows:
I’ve had many people think it’s the front or back loop that is incorrectly being called the 3rd loop, but as you can see the pins don’t go through either, and it is easy to see the front and back loops in the picture below:
and, when I flip my swatch forward you can see my pins really are in the 3rd loop at the back of the stitch in this picture:
What does HDC in the 3rd loop look like?
Crocheting in the 3rd loop of a hdc stitch pushes the top of the stitch forward so that the front and back loops of your stitch, which normally sit at the top are now visible at the front (or back) of the stitch. It creates a horizontal ridge of “v” shapes.
For those of us who are not competent knitters it’s a way of adding a knit-look texture to scarves, blankets and shawls. Here is what it looks like after 2 rows. Notice that ridge along the center?:
What kinds of crochet stitches can I work into the 3rd loop?
You can work any stitch into the 3rd loop of a hdc, be it a single crochet, another half double crochet, double crochet, etc.. Puff stitches, clusters, and shells can also be worked into this spot! It functions exactly like a front or back loop, but it’s located on the post of the stitch, not the very top.
HDC in the 3rd loop in the round
When crocheting in the 3rd loop in the round the 3rd loop you’ll most likely be working in will be at the back of the stitch facing away from you. When it’s done correctly, working in the 3rd loop pushes the top of the stitch toward the outside of the design. It will create a ridge that look like this around the outside of a hat or headband.
HDC in the 3rd loop in rows
This can be worked back and forth in rows. The horizontal ribbed texture working in the 3rd loop provides makes a beautiful knit-look ribbing with crochet! Simply chain the number of stitches you would like for the width of your ribbed band, ch 1 to turn, work the first row of hdc as you would normally, then work the stitches in each subsequent hdc row in that 3rd loop. Repeat until the band fits around your head and then sew the ends together. After a while your band should look like this (I started with 11 chains, and have 10 hdc in each row in the picture below):
This is my favorite crochet technique and I hope it will become one of yours soon too! The links below list some of my most popular crochet patterns that I have used hdc in the 3rd loop on (and where that technique shows up):
- Simple Seed Stitch Beanie pattern (body)
- November Twilight Slouch Hat (hat band and body)
- Primrose & Proper Scarf (horizontal ridges along entire scarf)
The key to mastering crochet in the 3rd loop, as with anything else, is practice. Look at the stitches you create and get to know the anatomy and how every part of the stitch comes together.
Did you know you can work through the front half of the stitch, or the back half of a stitch too?
As you continue to practice and develop your abilities your crochet will take on a whole new dimension!
Thank you so much for stopping by! If you found this guide helpful please consider sharing a link with your friends. Together we help each other. 💕