This one’s for all the mermaid lovers out there who always wanted their own tail. The top part is a “lapghan” (small afghan) blanket and the bottom cocoons around your feet.
I tried buying a pattern for a mermaid tail but it was just awful. So, I came up with this pattern using a 5-double-crochet shell stitch that looks a lot like fish scales.
This project, written in typical crochet shorthand, is moderately difficult but still doable for a determined beginner. (You’ll find a list of abbreviations below, and I’ll walk you through specific stitches as we go along.) Get plenty of yarn — for the no-bind-off method that I use, you’ll need at least 3 working strands of yarn changing to a different strand at the end of each row. And if you want a thicker tail fin, use 2 strands held together.
Yarn, worsted weight, 1,500-1,700 yards depending on yarn type, how tightly you crochet, and other factors. I recommend getting plenty of extra yarn (because who doesn't need extra yarn?) until you’ve done this pattern a couple times and can judge yarn usage for yourself.
To change colors when last stitch is a single crochet, insert your hook into stitch, yarn over, and pull through the stitch. Now hook your new color strand, dropping the old strand, and pull through the last loop. When changing colors for the first time, I like to be cautious and do a simple knot with the tail and the dropped yarn. It keeps it doubly secure, but not exactly by the crocheter's handbook.
To change colors when the last stitch is a double crochet, you yarn over and insert your hook into the stitch. Yarn over and pull through the stitch then yarn over and pull through 2 loops. Now hook your new strand, dropping the old stand, and pull through remaining loops on your hook.
By making sure that on rows you start with a sc, you end with a sc and the rows you start with ch2, 2dc you end with 3dc you’ll help ensure that you’re not increasing or decreasing. You will also see the work is slightly raised and rippled. This is normal.
Round 76: Ch 1, sc in same as join then go on with the 5dc pattern (first picture).
Rounds 77–94: From here you should be able to just go in a spiral, changing colors as you get back to the start of the spiral. That will mean changing colors in either the sc or the first dc, depending on where you are in the pattern. I did a total of 20 rounds counting from the beginning of the original join. Make sure to carry the unused strands behind your work. When changing color bring your hook behind the unused strands, hook next color, and continue on from there (second picture).
Round 95: Keep doing the pattern and color changing around, but instead of the 5dc, do only 3dc. Still skip 2 stitches in between the 3dc group and the sc (third picture).
Rounds 96–98: Continue with 3dc group, but now only skip 1 stitch in between the 3dc group and the sc.
Round 99: Do 3dc, sc tog where the next 2 sc would go (in the 2nd dc of the 3dc group). Do your 3dc pattern, making sure to do a sc tog in every 3rd sc spot (see Note 5).
Round 100: Change colors in the first sc spot, 3dc then sc tog (in the 2nd dc of the 3dc group). Do your 3dc pattern with a sc tog in every 3rd sc spot. Continue around until back at the beginning of round.
Round 101: Change colors in first dc of the 3dc, sc tog over the next 2 sc spot. Do your 3dc pattern with a sc tog in every 3rd sc spot. Continue around until back at the beginning of round.
Rounds 102–103: Change colors in the first sc, then sc tog in every sc spot should be for 2 rounds. This should leave you with 12 stitches. Bind off, and leave a tail so you can go ahead and sew the tail closed.
To do a single crochet together (aka a single crochet decrease), insert your hook through first stitch, yarn over, and pull through stitch. You should have 2 loops on hook. Now insert hook into next stitch, yarn over, and pull through stitch. You’ll have 3 loops on hook. Finally yarn over and pull through all 3 loops.
Now you need to hide all the carried over yarn. I choose to use the variegated yarn. Join your yarn on the outside of the opening where you joined the rounds (round 74). Ch 1 and sc in same stitch then evenly around the entire opening. In the top corners, place 3 sc in the corners. Take care to make sure you’re crocheting over the stands of carried yarn. Bind off and weave in the end.
Fin Row 1: Ch 43, dc in 4th chain from hook and dc across, ch 2 and turn.
Fin Row 2: Dc tog, dc in rest of stitches, ch 2 and turn (see Note 7).
Fin Row 3: Dc across, dc tog in last 2 dc, ch 2 and turn.
Fin Rows 4–11: Repeat rows 2–3.
Fin Row 12: Now do dc tog, dc tog, then dc in rest of stitches, ch 2 and turn.
Fin Row 13: Dc across until the last 4 st where you will dc tog, dc tog, ch 2 and turn.
Fin Row 14: 2 dc in each of the next 2 st, dc across, ch 2 and turn.
Fin Row 15: Dc across, put 2 dc in each of the last 2 dc, ch 2 and turn.
Fin Row 16: 2 dc in first dc, dc across, ch 2 and turn.
Fin Row 17: Dc across, 2 dc in last st, ch 2 and turn.
Fin Rows 18–25: Repeat rows 16–17.
Fin Row 26: Dc across, ch 1 and turn.
Border of Fin: Now sc around, making sure to put 3 sc in the corners except the last corner you come to, which should be your starting point. Ch 1 and turn, so that now you’re working on the top/straight edge of the fin (see picture).
Top of Fin Row 1: Sc tog across, ch 1, turn.
Top of Fin Row 2: Sc tog across, ch 1 and turn.
Top of Fin Row 3: *Sc tog, sc* across. Ch 1 and turn.
Top of Fin Row 4: *Sc tog, sc* across. Bind off, leaving a long tail for sewing.
The fin can be done with 1 or 2 strands held together. I have done both ways and they both have worked and looked great. The 2-strand method will use more yarn, so keep that in mind. Here I’m showing the 2-stranded fin to show a little lesser known method than the typical one strand. Both will still use the size H hook.
Lay the lapghan and fin both facedown and pin together. As shown in the picture, I used 2 hooks to show actual beginning of fin to end of fin. Make sure to sew from technical beginning to end to give more stability to the fin.
Whip-stitch the tail securely, including the sides of the sc rows, onto the lapghan.
Now celebrate because you're done! Go curl up with your feet cozy warm in your mermaid tail. (Here's my merman husband Dan.)
If you want to do another one (or are asked to replicate it), think about different color combinations, different boutique yarns, or fleece yarns you could use. A flashy option would be to sew sequins onto the final project. You’re only limited by your imagination.
Shelley "Mad Hooker" Bunyard lives near Columbus, Ohio (by way of Alabama and Pittsburgh), with her wonderful husband and two young ones whom she often calls Pugsley and Wednesday. She works nights as a hospital unit coordinator and in her free time crochets at madhooker.com.
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