There are two ways to start a crochet project that is worked flat (back and forth in rows). First, you can work a series of chains and then work your first row or foundation row into those chains. Second, you can work the first row in foundation stitches and skip the starting chains all together. There are benefits to each method. Here is all you need to know about each!

Working into Chains

The Process

Working into chains requires you to work a certain number of chains to serve as the base of your project plus the number of chains you need to serve as your starting chain (sometimes referred to as your turning chain). Once you have chained the correct number, you will begin working into the 2nd (or third or fourth depending on the stitch you work) chain from the hook. These first few chains are your starting chains. Then work the needed stitch into each chain across. The chains that have stitches worked into them become the base of your project.

How to do it

  • Create a slip knot.
  • Yarn over and pull through the loop on the hook to create the first chain.
  • Work the appropriate number of chains needed to begin your project (this is often listed in your written pattern).
  • Turn to begin working into the starting chains and insert your hook into the second chain from hook (or the third, fourth, etc. chain as noted in your pattern).
  • Work the first stitch of the row.
  • Continue working the stitch needed into each chain across to create the first row of your project.
Chains Step One
Chains Step 2
Chains Step 3
Chains Step 4
Chains Step 5
Chains Step 6

Why You'll love it

  1. This is an easy and uncomplicated way to start your project, and it is how most of us learn to do it when first getting started.
  2. This is a preferred way of starting any project that includes chain spaces in the first row (typically seen in a lot of lace projects).
  3. There are 3 ways to insert your hook into a starting chain (through the top loop, through the back bar, or through both the top loop and the back bar). Each looks a little different, and all are correct.

Foundation Stitches

The Process

Foundation stitches allow you to skip the starting chain and instead work a row of single crochet (or double crochet or treble crochet), building the stitches out side by side. Rather than creating base chains and starting chains, you just create the number of foundation stitches you need to start your row. It sounds complicated, but we’ll show you how to do it.

How to do it

Foundation single crochet

  • Chain 2.
  • Insert hook in second chain from hook.
  • Yarn over and pull up a loop (2 loops on hook).
  • Yarn over and pull through one loop (chain made).
  • Yarn over and pull through 2 loops.
  • Insert hook in chain made in Step 4 (at the base of the stitch).
  • Yarn over and pull up a loop.
  • Yarn over and pull through one loop (chain made).
  • Yarn over and pull through 2 loops.

Repeat Steps 6-9 until you have the needed number of stitches.

Chains Step One
Chains Step Two
Chains Step Three
Chains Step Four
Chains Step Five
Chains Step Six
Chains Step Seven
Chains Step Eight
Chains Step Nine

Why you'll love it

  1. Inserting your hook into chains can be tedious and difficult, foundation stitches help you skip that step.
  2. Counting chains can be difficult; it is much easier to count the number of foundation stitches.
  3. Foundation stitches have more give and stretch than a starting chain, making them ideal for any project that must be worn (put on or taken off).
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