I don't remember when I first read the phrase "work in the free loops in the row below," but I do remember feeling a little confused and sarcastic. Um, it's crochet. There are no loops above your working row and everything below you is free.
But I knew it probably wasn't that simple, and it turns out that it's not--even though it doesn't seem too intimidating when you see it worked out.
See? Odd, but not difficult.
Working in the free loops below helps crocheters create ridges on top of their crocheted fabric and results in some beautiful textures for projects. It's called for in the patterns in Baby's Diagonal Aran Afghans, and you can just tell by looking at the cover that there's a lot to love when it comes to textured surfaces.
When I look at books like this, it's typically just for inspiration or research--not necessarily because I think my crochet skills are up to the level where I can read the patterns without feeling a little panicky. But now I know about working in the free loops of the row before, and that counts for something! I feel like it's a good place to start.
A good place to start counts for a lot.