Magic Circle – How & Why it Works

The crochet magic circle is one of those techniques that crocheters either love or love to hate. It’s a fantastic technique to use when starting any crochet project in the round because it gives you a seamless and tight center but it can be a bit difficult to master. One thing I believe is when you know how and why something works, it makes learning the technique so much easier. So let’s dive into how and why the magic circle works with this crochet tutorial!

Pinterest pin for crochet magic circle.

If you haven’t heard of a magic circle (or also known as: magic ring, magic loop, adjustable circle, adjustable loop, adjustable ring depending on who you ask) before, you might be wondering what it’s for. The crochet magic circle is a great way to begin most projects in the round, especially crochet projects in the round that require a tight, closed circle.

So these would be things like baby blankets in the round, amigurumi, beanies, shawls, bags, etc.

Things you wouldn’t use it for would be things like tote bags that do technically work in the round, but may need a long chain to create the base.

Why use the Crochet Magic Circle?

While the chain 4 and slip stitch to first chain to create a circle works fine, it lacks the added benefit of the crochet magic circle. By using the magic ring (or adjustable circle, or loop or…), you gain the added benefit of being able to pull that beginning circle tight.

By pulling the tail of the crochet magic circle, you’re able to make sure that your first row is nice and tight so stuffing doesn’t show through and/or there isn’t an unsightly hole in the center of your project. This also means that it pulls all of the stitches tight against each other in the first round, so they can’t slide around or have a wonky center.

Don’t worry, you’ll see what I mean in just a moment!

How do you crochet a magic circle?

Below, I’ve included a photo tutorial and a video tutorial for the crochet magic circle, so you can use whichever option works best for you.

In both the video tutorial and the photo tutorial, I will be showing you both how to work this crochet technique and the stitch anatomy so you can understand WHY this works, too. When learning something new, I feel it’s best to know both how AND why to have the best understanding to move forward with confidence.

Magic Circle Crochet Tutorial Photos (Step by Step)

Starting the crochet magic ring

Image 1: With your palm facing you, drape the tail end of your yarn over the inside of your pointer and middle finger. The tail of your yarn should be pointing “down” toward your ring and pinky finger. Hold it on place with your thumb.

Image 2: Wrap your yarn over the top of your pointer finger and back behind both fingers.

Setting up crochet magic circle.

Image 3: Now, wrap the yarn back over the front of your fingers, making sure to cross the yarn over the original tail of the yarn. This will create an “X”.

Image 4: Wrap the yarn back over the top of your pointer finger and toward the top of your knuckles.

Finished set up to finish crochet magic ring.

Image 5: Hold the yarn you’ve just crossed over your knuckles by weaving it between your ring finger and your pinky finger. This will hold everything secure for now. You should now have an “X” made out of yarn if your palm is facing you and, if your palm is facing away, two strands that are NOT crossed.

These first few steps I like to remind myself “Drape, swoop, cross, hold”. Almost like a child learning how to tie their shoes.

Crochet magic circle, under first strand, over second.

Images 6, 7 and 8: Place your hook under the first strand and, with the nose of the hook, grab the second strand and pull it under the first. Pull this strand up like you would a loop in a stitch. You may have to twist this loop a bit to get it to come up, that’s totally fine.

Securing the adjustable loop.

Images 9 and 10: You will now have a loop pulled up on your hook as if you’ve pulled up a loop with working yarn through a stitch – because that’s exactly what you’ve done. In these images you can see the loop pulled up from two different picture angles.

Quick stitch anatomy lesson for this magic circle crochet tutorial: From here, you could technically remove this from your fingers while leaving the hook in this loop. Then, pull on the tail end of the yarn to tighten. This would create a slip knot. The magic circle is essentially one big slip knot. Once that piece of information makes sense, the crochet magic circle becomes much easier to understand.

Back to the magic circle crochet tutorial:

Securing the crochet magic ring.

Images 11 and 12: Now we need to secure this loop with a chain, otherwise when we pull it off our fingers it can fall apart. To do this, carefully yarn over with your working yarn (the yarn that you’ve tucked under your ring finger), and pull a loop through the loop you created just before. Once this is complete, you can remove the entire circle from your fingers.

Finished magic circle without stitches.

Image 13 and 14: You now have a secured crochet magic circle! In image 13, an arrow is pointing to the loop that we will work in.

Stitch anatomy of the crochet magic circle.

Here’s a close up of the magic circle. Both of these images are exactly the same, I’ve just put a color overlay over certain parts of the yarn for the second picture. We’re going to do another quick anatomy lesson before we continue to working stitches into the circle.

You can see that I’ve broken this magic circle into 3 different colors and I’ve done this because I want you to not only know how to make a crochet magic circle, but also why this works.

First, you’ll see yarn that has an orange/yellow overlay. This yarn is your tail yarn AND your circle. If you were to pull on the tail, your loop would get smaller.

Second, you’ll see yarn that has a purple overlay. This yarn is the chain that you’ve created just before removing the whole thing from your fingers.

Finally, you’ll see yarn that has a green overlay. This yarn is your working yarn. Both the long strand of the working yarn plus the loop are colored green. This is because you can pull and work on both of these loops without losing your circle.

Interesting, right? You can see now what I mean by “one big slip knot”. If you hooked your yarn back into that green working yarn and pulled the yellow tail tight, you’d have a slip knot.

Now, let’s put some stitches in this magic circle!

Working into the crochet adjustable ring.

Images 15 and 16: To put a stitch into the magic circle, you’ll insert your hook into the circle (which was indicated by the orange/yellow overlay in the previous picture). Keep in mind, this is just like working into a chain or a stitch. Make sure that when you insert your hook into this circle, you are also going UNDER the tail. The grey arrow points to the tail yarn, the orange arrow points to the loop.

Tutorial photo

Images 17 and 18: Now, yarn over, pull up a loop, yarn over and pull through two just like you would a single crochet. The grey arrow points to the first single crochet. For all additional stitches, work Images 15 through 18.

For the purposes of this magic circle crochet tutorial, I’m showing you single crochet. You can work any other stitch into this ring as you have the single crochet. After all, this is one “big chain” we are working into. 🙂

Crochet magic ring before pulling tight.

Image 19: Here I have put 6 single crochet into the crochet magic circle. You can see the single crochets lined up and the circle still open. We need to tighten it to finish it off.

Image 20: Hold the circle by pinching the last stitch or two you made; we are going to tighten the circle now.

Final steps to create a crochet magic circle

Images 21 and 22: Grab the tail of the magic circle and firmly pull the tail tight. You can pull on this tail as much as you want, it won’t ruin the integrity of your crochet magic circle.

Crochet Magic Ring with Single Crochet and Double Crochet

And there you have it! You now have created a crochet magic circle using this tutorial. You can continue on creating your crochet project in the round as you normally would. You can either slip stitch to close and then chain to start your next round or you can continue placing stitches on top of the single crochets you’ve just made in a spiral. That part is up to you (or the pattern you’re following)!

I know when it’s broken down into steps and images, it can seem like a really long and daunting process. I promise, though, that with each time you create a crochet magic circle, it will get faster and easier.

With this photo and video tutorial, you should now be able to practice the crochet magic circle with confidence and have an understanding of the anatomy of the stitch. I think when learning how to do something new, it’s better to know not only HOW by also WHY. Hopefully this helped you through learning both!

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Have a stitch tutorial you’d like to see?

Let me know in the comments – I enjoy creating crochet stitch tutorials that you’d find helpful, so please let me know!

Ready to test out your magic circle skills? Check out my patterns that include magic circles:

Rising Star Baby Blanket (Intermediate)
The Friendship Blanket Afghan Squares (Skill level varies – over 40 squares to choose from)
Afternoon Market Bag (Beginner Friendly)
Cactus Can Cozy (Intermediate)

Crochet Magic Circle Tutorial


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