Magic Circle

Crochet Magic Circle
Crochet Magic Circle

Crochet beginners (and some of us old-timers too), often have trouble crocheting a perfect circle. Most instructions call for chaining two or three stitches and then putting a number of stitches in the first stitch. Quite often the circle comes out lopsided or more oval than circle and often leaves a large hole in the center.

The magic ring technique is a sneaky technique to crochet the perfect circle. I can’t lay claim on figuring this out, but I will claim that I explain the magic ring better than most. Once you get the basic idea down, you will most likely find a different way to do this. My original instructions proved to require too much wrist twisting for my pattern tester’s arthritic hands. She found this magic ring technique more gentle on her hands and easier to follow but quickly began adapting the technique to her own; creating a third possible way to use the magic ring to crochet a perfect circle.

I have little doubt once you understand the basics, you too will come up with a magic circle technique that works best for you.

NOTE: This magic ring crochet tutorial is fully-illustrated and may take a moment or two to fully load.

Why the Magic Circle Fails

Before we begin, I want to share the biggest problem folks run into when using this technique – their magic circle unravels. As you make your first circle using this technique, pay attention to how the yarn is forming the circle – there’s no knots.

If you simply cut the tail of the yarn, without securely weaving it in the the second and/or third rows first; your circle will stretch and potentially come apart completely.

So, if you don’t want all of your hard work to fall apart, weave the tail into your stitches before trimming it.

How to Crochet a Perfect Circle Using the Magic Ring

Crochet Circle - Step 1
Crochet Circle – Step 1
Magic Crochet Circle – Step 1:Wrap the yarn around your fingers as shown to the left and secure the yarn with your thumb.

Magic Circle - Step 2
Crochet Circle – Step 2
Magic Crochet Circle – Step 2:Slide working end to the base of your pinky, make sure the tail hangs free. Bend pinky finger around working end to maintain tension.Make sure yarn is snug around your middle and ring fingers; you may need to split them slightly to do this.

Crochet Circle - Step 3
Crochet Circle – Step 3
Magic Crochet Circle – Step 3:Tilt your hand so that your pinky faces the floor.

Crochet Circle - Step 4
Crochet Circle – Step 4
Magic Crochet Circle – Step 4:Insert your crochet hook under the loop on top of your middle finger.

Crochet Circle - Step 5
Crochet Circle – Step 5
Magic Crochet Circle – Step 5:Slide crochet hook and yarn looped over your index finger so that the hook is over the loop on your index finger.

Crochet Circle - Step 6
Crochet Circle – Step 6
Magic Crochet Circle – Step 6:Twist crochet hook to grab working yarn on your index finger…

Crochet Circle - Step 7
Crochet Circle – Step 7
Magic Crochet Circle – Step 7:…and pull under the loop that goes around your middle and ring fingers – this will create a loop on the crochet hook.

Crochet Circle - Step 8
Crochet Circle – Step 8
Magic Crochet Circle – Step 8:Make a single crochet using the working yarn and the loop you just put on your crochet hook.

Crochet Circle - Step 9
Crochet Circle – Step 9
Magic Crochet Circle – Step 9:You should have a single stitch on the ring and your hook should be outside of the circle at this point.This stitch is going to anchor your threads to create your adjustable ring. Most pattern designers know that the anchor is too tight to ever hope to poke your hook back through and do not count it in their instructions. When you join the loop and pull it tight, the anchor generally tucks under the other stitches and remains hidden from view.

Crochet Circle - Step 10
Crochet Circle – Step 10
Magic Crochet Circle – Step 10:Insert your crochet hook through the loop/circle on your middle finger. Be sure to have your crochet hook positioned under the tail.

Crochet Circle - Step 11
Crochet Circle – Step 11
Magic Crochet Circle – Step 11:Grab the working thread from your index finger with your crochet hook and slide the hook through the loop/circle.

Crochet Circle - Step 12
Crochet Circle – Step 12
Magic Crochet Circle – Step 12:You should now have two loops on your crochet hook.

Crochet Circle - Step 13
Crochet Circle – Step 13
Magic Crochet Circle – Step 13:Wrap working yarn around your crochet hook and pull the yarn through both of the loops on your crochet hook.

Crochet Circle - Step 14
Crochet Circle – Step 14
Magic Crochet Circle – Step 14:You now have made the first counted stitch of your circle.

Crochet Circle - Step 15
Crochet Circle – Step 15
Magic Crochet Circle – Step 15:Repeat steps 10-13 to create the desired number of stitches for your circle.

Crochet Circle - Step 16
Crochet Circle – Step 16
Magic Crochet Circle – Step 16:While holding the stitches in your right hand, gently pull the tail to tighten the circle and bring the stitches together.It will look something like a kidney bean at this point.

Slide the crochet hook into the first real stitch you made and bring the working yarn through that stitch and the loop on your crochet hook to finish your circle.

If you are making an Amigurumi or other project that is worked in spiral rings rather than rows, use a regular stitch to join your ring. Check the pattern you are working from as they may require no join, the use of a slip stitch or even turning the piece without joining.

After you have made a few stitches on the second row, pull the tail to make your crochet circle even neater and tighter.

Circle Crochet with Tall Stitches

This technique will also work for a central crochet circle using one of the tall stitches like double, half-double or triple crochet.

Once you complete step 9, you will need to make 2 (for half-doubleĀ crochet), 3 (for double) or 4 (for treble crochet) chain stitches. This chain will not count in your total stitch count for your circle.

Yarn over hook as you would when making one of these tall stitches and make the stitch normally inserting the hook into the center of the circle. Continue making the tall crochet stitch around the ring for the appropriate number of times called for by the pattern you are following.

Pull the sting to tighten the circle as shown in step 16. Slip stitch into the first tall stitch on your ring to close the circle.

If you have any questions…just ask and I’ll try to help.

Please let me know if you found my magic circle tutorial useful.

Please accept my apologies; I’ve had to temporarily (hopefully) turn off comments for this post to combat a persistent bot spammer.

This Post Has 17 Comments

  1. admin

    06/27/09 – Added instructions for making a crochet circle with tall stitches.

    1. Susie

      In your instructions: Once you complete step 9, you will need to make 2 (for double crochet), 3 (for half-double) or 4 (for treble crochet) chain stitches.

      shouldn’t it be: Once you complete step 9, you will need to make 2 (for half-double), 3 (for double crochet) or 4 (for treble crochet) chain stitches.

      1. Michele

        Thank you Susie! You are exactly right.

  2. Sherri Long

    Great job! I was surfing the web looking for tutorials on “the magic ring” and this was the most clear and precise! Thanks so much!!!!

    1. Michele

      I am so glad you found my magic ring instructions helpful. How I wish I knew how to do this technique years ago. Bet, my grandmother would have loved it too.

  3. Diane Johnson

    Thank you so much for the instructions on how to do the Magic Circle!! I have searched the internet for “how to crochet a magic circle” without much luck. This is wonderful…..wish I had found it much sooner!!!

  4. Gina

    Thank you for this nice, clear tutorial. I have dial-up internet, & good photo tutorials are hard to find. I had instructions for making a magic circle, but they weren’t nearly as clear & easy to follow as yours, & no photos. Blessings to you!

  5. Shirley

    I tried to follow this and adapt it as I am left-handed but I just couldn’t figure it out šŸ™

    1. Michele

      Bummer. I don’t have any suggestions for you I’m afraid other than trying to wrap the yarn around your right hand. Generally, you are simply creating a ring of yarn and crocheting around it – something like Irish crochet.

  6. Sarah

    Oh my gosh! You are a lifesaver! I can’t tell you how many instructions I have looked at trying to figure out the magic circle or how many messed up circles I have had to pull apart. I got it on the first try with your tutorial! Thank you so much!

    1. Michele

      Oh, that’s music to my ears! I am so glad that you let me know. The magic circle is one of those little tricks that once you’ve got it, it seems easy. But, the first time giving it a go, it seems so cumbersome and tricky. Now, you’re off to the races. Doilies, Amigurumi, the options are endless. Have fun!

  7. Bri

    I’m left handed and i figured it out. Thank you so much!

    1. Michele

      Yay! I’m so glad it helped you. It makes crocheting tight base circles so much easier.

      Thank you for letting me know.

  8. Tammy

    I have successfully been using the magic ring for months as I make a tremendous number of hats. My increases are correct (especially since virtually all hat patterns begin the exact same way), and I indeed do get perfectly round circles.

    My issue is, they don’t lay flat. I use many different yarns and hook sizes. The issue is constant regardless if I’m using sc, hdc, or dc. I’ve also tried varying my tension to see if that makes a difference. It also doesn’t matter if I’m making a 2 inch circle or a 9 inch circle.

    It’s not really a problem in that they’re hats so will never need to lay flat. But it drives me nuts! What if I ever want to make a doily or coaster?;)

    This is not a ruffling, bowling or irregular shape issue. Basically, instead of my circle laying on the table flat like a pancake, it’s like the center of the pancake (think donut hole) is the only part not making contact with the table.

    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!!!

    1. Michele

      Hmm, I patched together the two parts of your message. Wrote a reply and it disappeared too. Hopefully, there’s not an evil gremlin somewhere.

      Anyway, I have three suggestions…

      You might be pulling the tail too tightly when trying to close the ring. If there are a larger number (say 6+) of stitches on the ring, or you are using a thicker yarn, you might not be able to completely close the center of the ring without puckering it.

      Second idea is that if you are using a thicker yarn than the pattern calls for or are making taller stitches (hdc, dc, etc) you might have to add more stitches to fully cover the circle. It would be like trying to cut a slice out of a pizza, smooshing the edges together and trying to get it in a circle again – you essentially create a cone.

      Last idea… it might be the speed at which you stop increasing to form the bowl shape of the hat. I’ve run into this with some hat patterns. The dome of the hat gets pointy and it appears the initial ring is the issue when it is actually later rows causing the problem.

      Hope at least one of these is the culprit and your circles will be like pancakes instead of volcanos.


      1. Tammy

        You are awesome! I morphed your first and second suggestions, and it worked! In a nutshell, since I already know the formula for increasing in a perfect circle, how many stitches I begin with or total rounds I need are irrelevant as long as I know the finished diameter I am aiming for. So taking your suggestions, I ignore (a hush falls over the room) the beginning of any pattern. Instead:
        I make a magic ring using sc, dc, or hdc – depending upon what the pattern calls for. Regardless of which type of yarn or size hook I use – I put enough stitches in the magic ring until it lies flat and closes without me needing to yank or tug it. That’s it.
        From then on, I move into the increasing formula (2 stitches in next round, 1 stitch/2stitch in the next, etc.) until I’ve reached the desired diameter.
        At that point I go back to the directions and continue making the hat as directed.
        This method gives me the much sought after pancake and no more volcanoes.

        Thank you, thank you, thank you!

        1. Michele

          You are most welcome. So happy that you’ve got the magic circle techique figured out. I don’t use it 100% of the time but it is my preferred method for sure.

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