Whether your crochet project starts with a slip knot or a magic circle, I can almost guarantee that the next step will be to create a number of chain stitches. And even in the rare occasion where the start of a crochet pattern doesn’t instruct you to make a chain, I bet it will later on… This means that it’s really important for you to know how to crochet a chain, before you start learning about the ‘fancy stitches’ or even the standard ones.
Creating a chain
Creating a chain is possibly the easiest stitch in the crochet world!
But first, if you need a refresher on how to hold your hook and yarn, check out my previous post…
So the steps go like this:
1. Wrap the yarn under and around the hook (from left to right if you’re right handed; or right to left if you’re left handed)
2. ‘Hook’ the yarn using the hook end of the crochet hook (how many times can I get ‘hook’ into a sentence?!) – and pull the yarn through the loop on the hook
No, seriously… That’s it! You’ve just created your first chain!
Now move your index finger and thumb of the hand holding the yarn (the yarn hand, remember?) up closer to the hook. You’ll probably end up holding the chain you just created. And repeat step 1 and 2 until you’ve created as many chains as you need!
BUT, here’s the tricky part: you’ll need to practice this super simple stitch to get your tension right. The first few times you crochet a chain, you might find that each chain is a different size! If their sizes aren’t *too* different, then this probably won’t be too much of a problem as the chain will even itself out (to an extent) when you crochet back into it – or it won’t really matter if you crochet over / around it. But if your chains are significantly different, maybe undo it and try again…
Important: Don’t be too hard on yourself if you ever have to undo stitches! I undo stitches all the time because they didn’t look quite right or I wasn’t paying attention to what I was doing or I didn’t read the pattern properly… Just do what you need to do, and try again. *Practice makes perfect!*
Chains used in crochet
As I mentioned earlier, almost all crochet patterns begin with a chain, which you then work into to start making your crochet item and to build up your rows of stitches. This chain is often called a ‘foundation chain’, ‘base chain’, or ‘starting chain’.
In a crochet pattern, the chain stitch is abbreviated as ‘ch’. You might read ‘ch 72’ or ‘ch 3’. This is telling you to make 72 chain stitches, or 3 chain stitches – whatever the number after the ‘ch’.
Chain stitches can also be used to imitate other standard crochet stitches. For example, you might read in a crochet pattern: ‘ch 3 always counted as dc, unless otherwise stated’. This will mean that if you’re told to ‘ch 3’ (i.e. create 3 chain stitches) at the beginning of a row, you should count this as one (1) ‘dc’ (i.e. double crochet, for those using US terminology – otherwise in UK terminology, a double crochet is called a treble crochet (tr)).
At the end of that instruction for that row, it might also show ‘(11)’ or ‘(11 dc)’. This means that you should be able to count 10x double crochet (dc) stitches PLUS 1x three (3) chain stitches, because the chain counts as a double crochet stitch.
In lace work when you’re making a shawl or a scarf or a doily (do people still make doilies these days?), you’ll find instructions to create chains all throughout the pattern. Sometimes chains are used simply to get you from one part of the crochet item to another part, or to create beautiful patterns when they’re all joined together.
In these examples, you may find instructions to ‘1dc in ch 3 space’. This is not instructing you to crochet into a specific stitch per-se, but to crochet one (1) double crochet around the chain that you created earlier.
Foundation chain *hot tip*
I have one HUGE tip for you when crocheting a foundation chain (i.e. base chain / starting chain):
Use a crochet hook 1-2 sizes bigger than the size hook you’ll use for the rest of your project.
This will help ensure your chain isn’t too tight that your can’t work into it! #winning
How did you go crocheting your chain? Do you have any tips for creating the perfect chain? Pop your feedback and ideas in the comments section below. Happy crocheting!