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Learning how to make a chain in crochet is one of the first concepts to learn because so many projects start with it!
Chain Stitch Basics
Chaining is a very simple technique and a great way to get the basics of making loops with yarn.
To make a chain stitch, you simply draw up a loop with your hook through the loop on your hook.
Thus is done by make a loop of thread around the needle, take up the thread and drawing through the loop on your hook.
When abbreviations are used in crochet patterns, chain is typically shortened as ch.
Most patterns begin with what is known as a foundation chain, so that’s go into that next!
How to Make a Foundation Crochet Chain
A foundation chain is created with a series of chain stitches, and if you’re starting at the very beginning, you will want to make a slip knot first so that you have a loop on your hook to draw through.
To start the chain, tie a slip knot, insert hook, thread over hook, and draw through a loop. Repeat, drawing through as many loops as are required, each loop being called a chain stitch. (abbreviated as ch st)
To make a foundation chain, you will make one chain stitch after another and you just keep repeating the process of taking up the thread and draw through the loop on your hook and keep going until the chain is of the length required.
After a little practice, you’ll be able to chain without even thinking about it!
It’s important that you tighten each loop as it is drawn through so that all of your stitches will be of uniform size and smoothness. This is known as tension in crochet – and while sometimes tension is varied in different patterns, you definitely want to try and keep a consistent tension for most projects.
It’s super easy to get started and while typically a foundation chain is used as your base for other designs and patterns, you could also opt to just use chains as bracelets or even some decorative cording and edging for various projects!
What Length Chain to Make?
The length of a foundation chain will often set up the size of the project you are making. Some crochet patterns, more complex stitches, and some shapes will require you to use a certain number of chains.
Here are some examples of different chain sizes:
Even Number of Chains: This is important for a lot of patterns, especially if increases or decreases are required to achieve a certain shape!
Odd Number of Chains: For patterns that use every other stitch to alternate, odd numbers will help make sure you are able to do that!
Multiples of 3 Chains: In this size, you will want to make sure the number of chains you have are divisible by three. Examples of numbers of chains that are a multiple of three would be 9, 18, 27, 36, 42, or 60.
Multiples of 4: Here you will want to make sure the number of chains you have is able to be divided by 4. Examples would be 8, 16, 32, 44, or 56.
Multiples of 5: Like our other multiples, in this case you want to make sure that the number of multiples you have is divisible by 5. Examples would be 10, 20, 35, 60, etc.
An Important Note About Foundation Chains in Crochet Patterns
While there’s been a lot of effort in recent years to make crochet patterns more universal so the instructions are clearer, in some cases, especially if you are using older vintage crochet patterns, it can be confusing whether the foundation chain includes the stitches for the first row when you are crocheting row by row.
The key to knowing whether this is the case is reading the pattern to understand better what it is doing. If you have to skip the first, second, or third chains as you make the next row, you can be pretty certain that those chains will count as the first stitch in your project.
Some patterns will tell you to create the amount of chains for the foundation, then tell you to “Chain one” or “Chain 2” as turning chains. For example, a pattern might say, “Make the chain as long as desired in multiples of 5, chain 2 and start the next row in the second loop from the hook.”
It can be a little confusing at first, but the more you practice crocheting and the more patterns you read and work with you will start to get the hang of it in no time!
Chain stitches are a super simple technique and an easy way to get started with learning how to crochet. I hope you find this tutorial helpful and of course be sure to check out our series of how to crochet basic shapes as well as our crochet stitch directory to see how we use chain stitches in a number of different ways!
You also might like our list of projects that use nothing but chain stitches!