Monday, November 16, 2009

The Curly Whirly

Some years ago I knitted Kemberly Chapmans 'Baby's First DNA Model'. I translated the pattern into crochet, but never got it together to actually crochet it. Instead I tweaked and twisted it, until it become The Curly Whirly. Another useless, but fun piece of crochet that fitted well with the other crocheted coral I was making at the time. (Named after a favourite childhood sweet!)

I have included the theory behind the stitches, because, I think, it makes it a lot easier to crochet, and you can correct mistakes easily made from miscounting. Also, if you understand how the shaping is done, you can design your own shape.

Basically, The Curly Whirly is a crocheted a tapered tube. By crocheting in a continuous circle or spiral you make a tube. By increasing and decreasing in each row, you make the tube twist.

To make a smooth twist, the increase and decrease must stay constant:
  • They must stay an equal distance from each other.
  • They must be done in every row.
  • For a smooth twist, they must not be crocheted directly above the increase or decrease in the previous row, but in the stitch next to it. (If you increase on top of the increase in the previous rows, you will get bumps)

The increases and decreases cancel each other out, so they will not cause the crochet to get smaller, only to twist. To make a tapered tube you have to add in more decreases. You do this by adding in extra decreases between the original increase and decrease, (equal distant between the original increase and decrease).

Another point to remember is that, because of the curve, the start of the row
is shifting. So I take the stitch increase, which is constant, to be the start of each row. It’s easier to remember.

Once you have the idea, it’s
easy to play around with the shape.

Simply put:
Row A:
Create an increase and a decrease to make the tube. These will remain constant, and in every row.
Row B: To start shaping,
simply add extra decreases between the original increase and decrease and then between the decrease and the increase at the start of the row.

Alternate between Ro
ws A and B to experiment with curves. Or add more Row A’s to make the taper slower and longer.

Make sense? Here is a pattern for a free standing Curly Whirly

The Pattern

I used a 3.50 crochet hook, and Tivoli Celtic Aran yarn, but this pattern is adaptable. Use any yarn, and a hook a size smaller than you would normally use. This helps keep it firm. It is freestanding and quite stable, there is no need to stuff it. You can use a stitch-marker to mark the rows.


ch = chain
slst = slip stitch
sc = single crochet
inc = increase by making 2sc into the same stitch
dec = decrease by crocheting 2 stitches together


Because of the curve, the start of the row is shifting, so take the stitch increase, which is constant, to be the start of each row, marked here as the increase (inc). For UK terms substitute dc for sc, and sc for slst.

Ch 32. Insert hook into 2nd ch from hook
Row 1: sc in each stitch. Do not turn. Continue to work in a spiral from this point on. (31sc)
Row 2-12: sc in each around
Row 13: inc, 15sc, dec, 15sc
Row 14-18: repeat row 13
Row 19: inc, 6sc, dec, 7sc, dec, 6sc, dec, 7sc
Row 20: inc, 14sc, dec, 14sc
Row 21: inc, 6sc, dec, 6sc, dec, 6sc, dec, 6sc
Row 22: inc, 13sc, dec, 13sc
Row 23: inc, 5sc, dec, 6sc, dec, 5sc, dec, 6sc
Row 24: inc, 12sc, dec, 12sc
Row 25: inc, 5sc, dec, 5sc, dec, 5sc, dec, 5sc
Row 26: inc, 11sc, dec, 11sc
Row 27: repeat row 26
Row 28: inc, 4sc, dec, 5sc, dec, 4sc, dec, 5sc
Row 29: inc, 10sc, dec,10sc
Row 30: inc, 4sc, dec, 4sc, dec, 4sc, dec, 4sc
Row 31: inc, 9sc, dec, 9sc
Row 32: repeat row 31
Row 33: inc, 3sc, dec, 4sc, dec, 3sc, dec, 4sc
Row 34: inc, 8sc, dec, 8sc
Row 35: repeat row 34
Row 36: inc, 3sc, dec, 3sc, dec, 3sc, dec, 3sc
Row 37: inc, 7sc, dec, 7sc,
Row 38: repeat row 37
Row 39: inc, 2sc, dec, 3sc, dec, 2sc, dec, 3sc
Row 40: inc, 6sc, dec, 6sc
Row 41: repeat row 40
Row 42: inc, 2sc, dec, 2sc, dec, 2sc, dec, 2sc
Row 43: inc, 5sc, dec, 5sc
Row 44: repeat row 43
Row 45: (to finish): 3sc, dec, 3sc, dec, 2sc, (dec)x4
1slst , 1ch

Fasten off and weave in ends


  1. Thanks. I seem to be good at making useless things!

    I was thinking after Xmas of having a competition. "Most intereting use of The Curly Whirly pattern". Basically, whover makes the maddest thing....

  2. hello! I just found this and realized that it is just like my beaded Indespiral pattern, done with beads in a gourd stitch. I always knew it could be done in knitting and crocheted, but since I don't do either, I never tried. now I know what it looks like :)

  3. I've been wondering how to do something like this, actually (though I don't remember what for). They remind me of dragon horns! Thank you so much for sharing both the pattern AND the concept! I will definitely be using this! (Something spirally like this without the tapering would make a beautiful bracelet band! And like you said, it would make glorious looking corral and plants!)

  4. Exactly....this is not useless. This is perfect for dragon horned hats.....and maleficent costumes.....etc.

  5. Exactly....this is not useless. This is perfect for dragon horned hats.....and maleficent costumes.....etc.

  6. THANK YOU! X I can't believe I have been able to create such an AMAZING unicorn horn thanks to your brilliant pattern. I am still a relative beginner eager to learn and have often wished people would explain how and why certain stitches create certain shapes and patterns. I have followed amigurami patterns before and have been happy with the result but wished I knew how the stitches make the shapes. So I'll say another huge thank you for going above and beyond x

  7. Hi there, I'm crocheting a unicorn cushion for a friend's little girl and I absolutely love the look of this pattern. It's perfect!
    However, I'm a little confused about how to follow. When you say "continue to work in a spiral" I'm completely lost! If I'm not turning my work, am I crocheting down the other side of my original chain row? I have a feeling I'm missing something really obvious, but I just can't work out what I need to do next!

    1. This pattern is crocheted in the round, not flat. Your original chain row will get lopped into a circle and you will crochet around and around and around in a loop.


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