How to Crochet a Foundation Chain (chain stitch) for Beginners
My first attempt at crochet was a failure. I tried over and over to figure out what I was doing wrong, but it was hopeless. The pot holder I was working on only got smaller and smaller. Eventually I gave up. Ten years later, I finally figured out where I went wrong. It was chaining. I failed at chaining.
Chaining is a simple skill, but an extremely important one in crochet. For some reason, I just couldn’t get a grip on the concept when I first picked up a hook all those years ago. If you are a crochet beginner, I’d like to save you my frustration.
First, let me explain what chaining is. Chaining in crochet is when you create a loop (called a stitch in crochet) by pulling the yarn through an existing loop (stitch) with your hook. Most crochet projects start with a foundation chain, which is simply a series of loops (stitches) specified by your pattern.
For instance, your pattern might say, “Start by chaining 25”. This means make 25 loops. These 25 loops are hooked together creating one foundation chain. The rest of your crochet project is built by adding to this foundation chain.
Step-by-Step Foundation Chain Tutorial
Hold the base of the slip-knot and bring the yarn over the hook from the back to the front.
Pull the yarn through the slip-knot. This makes one chain, sometimes called a chain-stitch. Note: The slip-knot does not count as a chain.
Repeat steps two & three as many times as your pattern states. For instance, if your pattern calls for chaining 25 then you would do steps two & three 25 times.
After each new stitch, be sure to always move your thumb and pointer (index) finger up the chain closer to the crochet hook. This helps you to control the work. To keep the starting chain stitches from becoming too tight, you should also pull each new stitch up onto the working area of the hook.
Note: The working part of the hook is also called the shank or the shaft. It is located between the head/hook and the grip/thumb rest. In the above picture it is right where my foundation chain is attached to the hook. To review the anatomy of a crochet hook see Crochet Beginner Series: How to Pick Your First Crochet Hook.
You should practice creating chains until you are comfortable with the flow of yarn and your grip of the crochet hook. In the beginning, your work may be uneven. Some chain stitches may be loose while others are tight. While you’re learning, try to keep the chain stitches loose. This will make it easier for you to build onto the foundation chain. As your skill increases, the foundation chain should be firm, but not tight, with all chain stitches even in size.
Once your foundation chain is complete, turn your work and build the rest of your crochet project by creating new stitches through each loop of the foundation chain.
Are you ready to master the chain stitch?
Until next time…. Happy Crocheting!
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