So here’s one way that made sense to me:
This method is like some lace/doily patterns, like the Forget-Me-Not pattern from the Workbasket series. It was popularized by the Japanese some years ago, with their method of making and joining motifs as-you-go. I have seen it most recently in the US, by Kristin Omdahl in her book, Seamless Crochet. This join is a 2-row process of chain stitches and slip stitches worked around the motifs with the right side facing pretty much all the time. The concept can be applied to just about any motif.
Overview: Stitch partially around one, then another, then another, until a row of motifs are partially finished and joined. Then rotate the whole thing and stitch back, still with the right side facing, finishing the edges of all the motifs – except the last one, the first one you started with. With each row, the motifs are mostly finished in one row, then finished in the return row except for the last one. When all the rows are joined, a final row finishes the unfinished bits, ending up where you started.
Here’s how to start joining the motifs on hand:
1. For the first half of the process: Pick a motif, and join the yarn at one petal of Flower 1 (F1), with a slip stitch (see the left side of the photo below).
2. (Ch3, sl st in next petal of same flower) 7x – for a total of 8 finished petals of F1
3. Pick up the next flower (F2), and sl st into one petal. Notice there are NO ch sts between the last sl st of F1 and the first sl st of F2.
4. Ch3, sl st in next petal of F2. Sl st in matching petal of F1. Notice that you just made a U-turn. I refer to the U-turn later.
5. (ch3, sl st in next petal of F2) 6x – for a total of 8 finished petals on F2. At this point, F2 becomes the new F1, and you pick up a new F2.
6. Repeat from step 3 until you have joined as many flowers as you want for the width of the piece.
7. Now for the second half of the process – you don’t join any motifs on this part: On the last flower joined, finish all the petals – that flower is finished (see the flower on the right of the photo here).
8. Ch3. Sl st into the U-turn before the next flower.
9. (Ch3, sl st into the next petal) 4x to finish the petals of the next flower. In the photo, the live stitch is just ready to make the slip st into the 4th (last) petal of the middle flower.
10. Repeat 8 and 9 for each flower across, up to the last flower of the row, ending with step 8. (ch3, sl st into the next petal) 2x in the last flower, leaving 2 petals unworked. End with a slip st in a petal, leaving the 2 unworked petals – you’ll come to those later. That motif is the new F1.
So the first row of the finishing makes a big, swoopy line, with U-turns; and the second row of the finishing is much more shallow.
To start joining the next row of motifs:
1. Pick up the next flower (the new F2) (unattached in the photo to left), and make a slip stitch into one petal. Ch3, slip stitch into the next petal, then slip stitch into the slip stitch of F1, which is the flower to the left on the bottom of the photo.
2. Ch3, slip stitch into the next petal of F2, then slip stitch into the NEXT flower in the first row of flowers (F3), the flower to the right in the photo.
3. Ch3, slip stitch into the next petal of the F2, then slip stitch into the next slip stitch on F3.
4. (Ch3, slip stitch into the next petal on F2) 2x – at this point, half the petals on F2 have been finished. This now becomes F1, and it’s….
5. Time to pick up a new flower (the new F2).
6. Slip stitch into a petal of the new flower F2. Ch3, slip stitch into the next petal of F2. Slip stitch into the matching slip stitch of F1 (the previous flower). There should be an open triangle, of sorts, in the space between the 3 flowers.
To read the diagram to the right: Start at the top, on the left, where the X is. Follow the line up and down and around to the end of the row, on the right. Continue the line around the last motif, then see the zig-zagging to the left, with little X’s where the slip stitches connect to the U-turns.
Back at the start, two petals remain unworked as you start joining the next row of flowers. Notice that the top and right sides of the piece are finished, while the left edge will have unfinished petals until the whole thing is joined.
In this final picture, I'm getting ready to start the 2nd/return row for the 2nd row of motifs. A 3rd row (at the bottom) is waiting to be joined.