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Knowing how to make a chain stitch is a fundamental part of crocheting. In fact, they are the foundation on which you create almost all of your crochet project. Therefore, they are one of the essential stitches that any crocheter should master.
Not only are crochet chain stitches vital to getting your crochet project started, they are also often used throughout a pattern design.
Crochet chain stitches are often combined with other stitches to form stitch patterns. In addition, they can be used to create space between motifs as well as for shaping fabric.
Furthermore, they can be used on their own to become decorative strings for tying packages or hanging ornaments. They can also be used as laces for baby booties, etc.
You usually see the chain stitch abbreviated as “ch” in crochet patterns.
When you use the crochet chain stitch to start your project, it is often referred to as a foundation chain, a base chain, or even a starting chain.
Getting Started with the Crochet Chain Stitch
When starting a new crochet project, and before you can start crocheting your chain, you need to make a slip knot.
If you are not familiar with how to make a slip knot, you will find a great tutorial here: Crochet Slip Knot: How to Tie a Slip Knot in Crochet.
Holding the Crochet Hook
Before you start, you should also be familiar with how to hold a crochet hook. As a matter of fact, there are two common grips for holding a crochet hook: the pencil grip and the knife grip.
Or you can of course experiment and find a different hold that works the better for you.
Actually, it is important that you hold the crochet hook tight enough to maintain control. However, be careful not to hold it too tight, you want it to be loose enough to move easily.
Also, if you hold your hook too tightly, your hand might cramp or start hurting.
Making a Crochet Foundation Chain
Start by making a slip knot.
Hold the base of the slip knot between the thumb and the index finger on your non-dominant hand (for most people, this is the left hand).
Make a yarnover (yo), i.e., bring the yarn over the crochet hook from back to front and hook it. You can do this by using your non-dominant hand to wrap the yarn around the hook from behind and over the hook. Alternatively, you can use the hook in your dominant hand to do the same thing.
Use the hook to draw the yarn through the slip knot.
The easiest way to do this is by rotating your crochet hook about a quarter turn left (counterclockwise).
Hook the yarn and pull the crochet hook down and through the loop on the hook (the slip knot).
Complete the stitch by returning the crochet hook to its original position facing upwards.
You have now chained one, i.e., made a chain stitch.
To continue making your foundation chain, hold the base of the slip knot as previously.
Bring the yarn over the hook from back to front.
Hook the yarn as described above and draw it through the loop.
You have now created another chain stitch.
Repeat these steps until you have reached the desired length for your starting chain.
Foundation Chain Tips
Tip #1: How to Work the Chain Correctly
In order to control your foundation chain, always move the thumb and index finger of your non-dominant hand up the chain as you crochet.
Keep your fingers close to the crochet hook by moving them up after each new stitch or two.
Furthermore, make sure that you pull each new stitch up onto the working area of the crochet hook. If you do not do this, your foundation chain will become too tight.
Tip #2: Dealing with Different Sizes Chain Stitches
When you first start out crocheting, your chain stitches might look a bit wonky as they all have different sizes, some are looser, and some are tighter.
While you are still learning, try and keep the chain stitches loose. As you improve your crocheting skills, the foundation chain should be firm. However, it should not be tight. In addition, all the chain stitches should be even in size.
The best way to improve your skills is by practicing making chains. Get comfortable with how you hold your crochet yarn and how you tension the yarn, i.e., how the yarn flows.
Tip #3: Counting the Stitches in Your Foundation Chain
Typically, you do not count the slip knot as part of the number of stitches in a foundation chain. Nor do you count the loop on the hook.
Always start your count by counting the first chain you made and finish with the chain stitch just before the crochet hook.
A turning chain is often used to start a new row in a crochet project. The height needed for the turning chain depends on the stitches used in that row.
Tall stitches require more chain stitches whereas short stitches will require fewer stitches in your turning chain.