Perhaps you’ve seen it. An HDC3L, DC3L, or even SC3L but wondered what it meant. It’s been around for a long time, and goes by many names. But it seems to have risen in popularity in the last several years – especially in the world of beanies.
A Stitch By Any Other Name
I was suprised when I started researching this stitch how many other names it went by. While this is sometimes the case with crochet and knit stitches, it’s possible that you have heard of one of it’s other names.
- Camel Stitch
- Crochet through the Horizontal Bar (thb)
- Crochet through the Back Bar (bb or bbo – back bar only)
The stitch is actually made up of two rows. A foundation row of HDC, which is where we find the third loop/horizontal bar, and then whatever stitch is being called to be stitched into that bar. Single or double crochet stitches do not have this horizontal bar on the bar of the stitch. Thus, in order to work a 3L stitch the foundation must be an HDC.
What’s So Special About the Crocheting through the Third Loop?
When you crochet through the third loop, the back bar, or the horizontal bar of a half double crochet stitch, what you end up with is a little row on the front of your piece that looks like a little braid (or an awful lot like stockinette stitch on it’s side.) In fact, a row of any sort of C3L is a great way to divide color sections or stitch sections.
What’s more ANY stitch that can be worked in the front loop, back loop, or through both loops, can be worked in the back bar to achieve the effect. You can stack multiple rows of HDC in the 3rd loop together and end up with several rows of the braided stitch.
Identifying the Third Loop
After you complete a row of HDC, turn your stitches over and look at the back. You’ll see a ridge of loops or stitches that look like a bar. This is your third loop or horizontal bar or back bar. Do not confuse it with the Back Loop, which is found up top. This Back Bar is only found on half double crochet stitches.
Technically, this back bar is made up of two loops or stitches. I don’t see a noticeable difference between picking one or the other, so I say go with the easier one to get into. =)
How to Crochet in the Third Loop
How the third loop crochet works is a bit different depending on whether you are working in the round or on a flat piece. It can be done either way.
On a flat piece, you’ll be working with the bar in front of you. In the round, the bar will be behind the work – unless, of course, you turn it inside out. =)
With an in-the-round piece, you’ll tilt your work forward a bit to see the bar. You’ll also find that it’s easiest to slip your hook behind the bar going from the top of your working row towards the bottom. Generally, once I’ve done a couple of stitches I find that the top will have a tendency to lean forward making the rest of the row easier.
With a flat piece, you may go top to bottom OR go over the bar and come from the bottom up. Your choice here will be more about the comfort of making the stitches, as well as the look of the finished stitch. Note: going top-down on a flat piece will create a twist in the stitch and a more airy finished product.
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Where to Go Next?
If you’re looking for patterns using the third loop, check out a couple here.
Christy R. Hall is the owner of Hand Cramp Crafts and fancies herself to be a String Wrangler, and an all-around fiber phreak. In her free time, she spins yarn (both literally spinning fiber into yarn, as well as, writing), crochets for charity, watches silly cat videos, looks at pictures of Corgis, and plays PC and console games. Her current (ongoing) favorites are Skyrim and Elder Scrolls Online.