A flat braid join is a beautiful thing. When I first laid eyes upon it I was in love and knew it was perfect for the Happily Ever Afghan project.
If you’re new here, the Happily Ever Afghan is an afghan I designed as a gift for my son and daughter in law to celebrate their wedding! I’m offering the entire pattern here free on the blog. In part 1 learn all about how to plan your afghan from an inspiration piece and how to calculate yarn yardage. Part 2 gives the block pattern and the various color ways used. This is part 3 on the braided join. Part 4 will wrap things up with the border.
You will want to settle in. This post is long and has lots of pictures to load. This is my first go at a braided join technique. I learned it primarily from following this post at The Patchwork Heart (which is in UK terminology). I believe the braided join got its start from Priscilla Hewitt, who is an amazing crochet designer. You can read her brief instructions on the braided join here.
When I was learning this method, I felt like I kept coming up to sections and thinking, “what do I do next?” So I’m going to present this post with headers for the types of scenarios you will run into while you do this technique. Hopefully when you get stuck (or forget), you can just go to the section and easily figure out what to do next!
To recap our Happily Ever Afghan project… if you are following along, you should have 42 blocks (7 each of 6 different color ways named A-F) as follows:
Here is the layout for the blocks for the afghan. I suggest printing it out so you can join the blocks in order.
From here on out, the flat braid join tutorial is written so you can follow it for joining any afghan blocks
Before joining blocks, it is a good idea to have a foundation row crocheted around each block. If you are following along with the Happily Ever Afghan, you already did this in the last row of the block. (If you are joining a different block, single crochet around the block with 3 sc in each corner space.)
This is a continuous braided join, which means, you can join the entire afghan without having to cut and weave in ends! To do this, you start in the top right corner of the first block. Here is a mini diagram of how this works:
The diagram shows a 3×3 block set up. The Happily Ever Afghan has 7 rows of 6 blocks across. So row 1 (in red) would continue until all 6 blocks of the first row are joined, then the bottom of the first row is worked. Then row 2 (in blue) is worked, adding 6 more blocks, then the bottom of that row is worked. And so forth. I suggest printing out the diagrams above so you can refer to it as you go along.
I think it is helpful to understand the stitches that comprise the edging. Here is the finished block. Sc is worked in the last round, with 3 sc in the corners.
Start in the top right hand corner. Look at the 3 stitches that are in the corner space and attach the yarn to the 1st of the 3 stitches (the far right stitch). Chain 5 and sc in the 3rd stitch of the corner (or the far left stitch). The chain 5 is what makes the corner of the braided join. Chain 3, skip a stitch, then sc in the next st. Work around the side, chaining 3, skipping a stitch and sc in the next stitch until you come to the next corner. Then repeat the chain 5 for the corner and continue on down the 2nd side. So… to sum up here… remember that you are always going to work a chain 5 in the corners (or a variation of it) and that the sides will have a single crochet every other stitch with a chain 3 in between them.
Adding One Block
On the first block, you’ve worked one a corner, one side, a 2nd corner and a 2nd side as shown here:
Now it is time to join the 2nd block. The yarn in the photo shows the path for block joining. The blocks are connected at the corners first. So chain 5.
Single crochet into the 3rd (or far left) stitch of the corner of the new block to be joined.
Then, chain 1, and take out the crochet hook. Re-insert the hook into the next loop on the 1st block and grab the loop:
Pull the loop through and chain 2. So, the 3 chains for the side stitch are made and it is joined to the corresponding loop in the first block.
Skip a stitch on the 2nd block and single crochet.
Continue to work up the 2nd block, working a sc, ch 1, remove hook and pull chain through corresponding loop, ch 2, skipping every other stitch on the side of block 2. When you get to the top edge, work as follows:
Top Edge Join
Start with a single crochet in the first stitch of the corner (right stitch of the 3 corner stitches).
A corner consists of 5 chains. So, first chain 2, then take the hook out and insert it through the corner loop of the first block and grab the loose loop you just dropped an pull it through.
Chain 1 to connect. And then chain 2 more. (Note that the 5 chains for a corner are now completed.)
Single crochet the the last stitch of the corner (left stitch of 3 sc corner stitches). This completes the corner for the newly joined block.
Now just continue along the top and the side of the newly joined block. Notice that this technique finishes off the edge. When the braided join is done, all the edges will look like this. As you are joining blocks, you will use this edge finishing technique every time you come to the top of the afghan AND at the left side as you rotate the work around.
Continue to join the first row of blocks following the instructions for ‘Adding One Block’ and ‘Top Edge Join’. When the last block is joined in row 1, rotate the afghan to work the side, down along the edge. Then rotate again to begin working the bottom of the row.
Bottom of a Row
Before adding the next row of blocks, the edge for the bottom of the row needs to be worked. Notice that there is a free loop that sticks out from the joined blocks. This edging finishes off the row.
Start by making a single crochet in the first of the corner stitches.
Chain 2 then single crochet into the loop.
Chain 3. Then single crochet into the 3rd corner stitch of the 2nd block.
The corner is done.
Continue on in the pattern until the end of the row, at the last corner, chain 5 and work around the side of the block in the pattern. Join the 1st block of the 2nd row, following the instructions above to ‘Adding One Block’.
Adding a Third Block
As you come up to the point where 3 blocks come together, start by making a sc into the 1st of the 3 corner stitches on the new block.
Single Crochet made.
Chain 2. Stop a moment and look at the 2 blocks already joined. Note that there is 3 loops around that joining point. Insert the hook into the furthest of the 3 loops. So you will be connecting the new square to the point diagonally from it.
Chain 3. Remember, every corner has 5 chains so this completes the chain part of the corner.
Single crochet into the 3rd corner stitch of the new block that is being joined in. This completes the corner for this new block. Now, rotate your work so you can finish up that side and get read to add the next block.
Here the work is rotated and you are back to working along a side. When you come to the corner, it’s time to ‘Add 1 block’. It is very helpful to continue to refer to the joining path diagram above and to continue to refer to the placement of the color ways.
Four Corner Join
You are in the home stretch! Just one more join technique to learn and you will know how to handle each type of join you will encounter in the afghan!
Work a single crochet in the first of the corner stitches on the new block. Then chain 2. Remove the hook and reinsert it as shown in the next photo:
It took me awhile to understand this part. It helped me to think about how this join looks when it is done. It looks like a 4 petal flower. The hook goes into the point where the top and right petal join. It goes under the center and then grabs that loop just dropped and pulls it through.
Next, chain 3 to lock it down and complete the chains required for the corner. And sc in the last of the corner stitches for the new block.
Then continue to join the side to the adjoining block. This is the exact same technique you used to join the sides in the ‘Add 1 block’ section. After a few stitches, stop and look at your join. It should look like this:
Note that there are 4 petals. Also note how the last twist is formed. It is important that all your joins are done the same.
These are all the techniques you need to join the entire afghan. Just continue to add a block one by one in rows. Refer to the joining path diagram and the block placement chart often to be sure you are adding the right block and going in the correct direction.
When you complete the last block of row 7, work along the bottom edge of row 7 and then rotate your work and using the same technique, work up the sides of the blocks so that you finish at the same corner you started. And ta-da you just crocheted a flat braid join!
I encourage you to take breaks and look at the photos carefully. If my directions are not helpful or you need more information, refer to the links I provided earlier. Sometimes words and pictures by others are helpful. Once you “get it”, this method becomes easy to do and you will have a great sense of accomplishment when you look back on your work!
Next up… the border!