What’s the Difference? Puff, Bobble, Popcorn & Cluster Stitches

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If you have been following my design journey, you know that texture is a key feature in my crochet patterns. I am constantly using different crochet stitch combinations to create eye catching designs. However, I have a confession to make: Even with 30+ years of crochet experience and 9+ years of designing, some stitch names still confused. Do you know the difference between the puff, cluster, bobble and popcorn crochet stitches?

What's the difference

Common & Basic Crochet Stitches

Typically, the first stitches new crocheters learn are the chain, single, half double, double and triple (treble) crochet stitches. These stitches are worked the same, no matter what pattern you are crocheting. A single crochet is a single crochet, just like a double crochet is always a double crochet. However, it is always important to know whether a pattern is written in U.S. or U.K. terms because that does make a difference on how the stitch is crocheted.

No one knows the precise reason why, but it is believed that the translations got lost as people migrated across seas to different countries. It is commonly known that there is a difference in US and UK terms. Most patterns will specify which terms they are using. If you are ever unsure, check with the designer before beginning a pattern. See the chart below to see how the stitches vary:

US vs UK Crochet Terms

Breaking Down the Differences: Puff, Cluster, Bobble, Popcorn

More detailed stitches are not as universal as the basic crochet stitches mentioned above. There are four main textured stitches that are commonly misnamed. These stitches are the Puff, Cluster, Bobble and Popcorn stitch.

These textured crochet stitches all have one main similarity. They are all a combination of multiple stitches that are combined together so that they only count as one stitch. However, they all have a distinction that makes them a puff, bobble, popcorn or a cluster, which we will dig into shortly.

I believe these four stitches often get confused with one another because there are so many variations of each one. For example, some stitches may be a combination of 2, 3, 4, 5 or more stitches. Due to so many variations it is always essential to check the pattern and stitch information. Patterns should include detailed information on how to work any of these stitches in the stitch information/guide.

What's the Difference

Today I am going to break down the differences between the puff, bobble, popcorn and cluster crochet stitches. I will try to explain them in a simple way. The above graphic is a great cheat sheet to reference when trying to decipher whether a stitch is a puff, bobble, popcorn or a cluster. You can print it for FREE at the bottom of this blog post.

Puff Stitch Vs. Bobble Stitch

Although the four stitches are very similar, it is easiest to break it down and compare just two at a time. Let’s look at the puff stitch and bobble stitch. The main difference: the puff stitch is crocheted with half double crochets, the bobble stitch uses taller (double or triple crochet) stitches.

What's the difference

Puff Crochet Stitch

A puff stitch is traditionally a crochet stitch that is created by working multiple half double crochets. The hdcs are worked into the base of one stitch and then joined together at the top. This is typically done by:

  • (yarn over, inserting hook into a stitch and pulling up a loop)
  • Repeat ( ) in the same stitch, for a specific number of times (typically 3 or 4 times but can be more)
  • To finish the stitch you will have a certain number of loops on your hook, you will yarn over, and pull through ALL the loops on the hook to close the stitch.

The Puff stitch is my favorite of the four stitches covered in this blog post. This is because there are so many different ways you can crochet a puff stitch and they all have a unique look.

I use the puff in many of my designs. Check out some of my favorite ways to crochet a puff stitch in the following YouTube tutorials below. You can click the button below to watch the tutorial on YouTube.

Bobble Crochet Stitch

A bobble crochet stitch is traditionally a crochet stitch that is created by using “tall” crochet stitches. These “tall” stitches are worked into the base of one stitch and then are joined together at the top. This may sound very similar to the puff stitch; however, the difference is the “tall” stitch. A tall stitch would be considered a double crochet, treble (triple) crochet or even a quadruple crochet stitch. One example of a bobble crochet stitch is:

  • (yarn over, inserting hook into a stitch and pulling up a loop, yarn over and pull though 2 loops on hook)
  • Repeat ( ) in the same stitch, for a specific number of times (typically 3 or 4 times but can be more)
  • To finish the stitch you will have a certain number of loops on your hook, you will yarn over, and pull through ALL the loops on the hook to close the stitch.

Often a bobble will be followed by a “shorter” crochet stitch, like a single or half double crochet. The shorter crochet stitch next to the bobble helps the bobble push to the front or the back of the crochet fabric making it have a 3D effect. You can see the bobble stitch used in my Farm Animal Blanket pattern (see the raised red stitches that frame each animal).

Popcorn Stitch vs. Cluster Stitch

Now, let’s move onto the Popcorn stitch verses the Cluster stitch. Both of these stitches can also be worked using any number of stitches to create one stitch. The distinct difference is that all the stitches are worked in the same stitch for the popcorn stitch, whereas in the cluster stitch, each part of the cluster will begin in a new stitch. So, a Popcorn starts in 1 stitch and a Cluster starts in multiple stitches.

What's the difference

Popcorn Crochet Stitch

The popcorn stitch has a ton of 3D texture to it. When crocheting the popcorn stitch, you will completely crochet the specified number of stitches all in the same stitch and then you will join the tops of those stitches together at the top. The stitch can be any tall crochet stitch but is often a double crochet or treble crochet. It can also be made using any multiple of stitches. Therefore, it is important to check the pattern you are working on to make sure you are crocheting the stitch the correct way for that specific pattern. The basics of the popcorn stitch are:

  • Multiple stitches will be worked to completion into the same stitch.
  • After all the stitches have been crocheted, they will be joined at the top of the first stitch with a slip stitch.
  • Most popcorn stitches are crocheted using a dc or tr.
  • It is very common to crochet a chain between each popcorn stitch.
popcorn stitch

Check out my Acorn (pinecone) hat crochet pattern, you can see how the popcorn stitch looks in this crochet design. Tons of texture can be seen in the 3D stitch of the hat.

Cluster Crochet Stitch

The Cluster Stitch has one feature that is completely different from the Puff, Bobble and Popcorn stitch. All three of these stitches are worked into 1 stitch to create 1 stitch. However, in a cluster you will partially crochet the beginning of the stitches in multiple stitches and then join all the partially crocheted stitches together at the top.

The cluster stitch can be crocheted with any stitch such as a single crochet, half double crochet, double crochet or treble crochet. A cluster is crocheted like a crochet decrease and will typically have chains between the stitches to make up for the space between the stitches.

An example of a basic cluster stitch made with 4 double crochets would be:

  • (yarn over insert hook into next stitch, pull up a loop, yarn over, pull through 2 loops on hook)
  • Repeat ( ) 3 more times (or a total of 4 times-the beginning of 4 double crochet),
  • Yarn over and pull through all 5 loops on your hook to complete the stitch.

I designed a pattern a few years ago called the Beer Thirty Mittens. This design features a Mixed Cluster Stitch, which is a variation of a cluster stitch that crochets 2 stitches together instead of the typical 3 or 4.

Stitch definition information has been gathered from multiple websites. I did research the information provided in this blog post to confirm that it was correct. There is a lot of information that is misleading on the web, so I used resources that I find trustworthy to follow the crochet standards. The sources I used for the information in this blog post were: American Crochet Association, Yarnspirations, Interweave.

Free Printable Explaining the Differences

I like to have a quick reference when I am working on stitches. If you are in the same boat, please PIN this blog post so you can easily reference it later. Then come back and print “What’s the Difference” in a pdf file below, this is a great quick reference to add to your crochet binder.

What's the difference

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