Learn how to chain stitch crochet! Besides your foundation chain, chain stitch is often used in many other crochet pattern stitches in between other stitches. It is abbreviated to ch. in crochet patterns. Making the chain stitches is very easy. The challenge is keeping the tension correct so that you don’t have different sized loops and ‘links’ in your chain. This is something that definitely gets easier with practice!
Abbreviation for Chain Stitch Crochet
Chain stitch is abbreviated to ch for crochet patterns. You might see instructions to ch2 and this will mean to do 2 chain stitches.
The pattern may also tell you to sc in the 2nd ch. This means to insert the hook into the second chain stitch and do a single crochet. When counting chain stitches to insert your hook into, miss the loop that is on the hook. You also don't count the slip knot at the end.
How to Do Chain Stitch Crochet
- Yarn - Any thickness or type. Read about types of yarn.
- Hook - Should be a matching size to your yarn. If you look at the label of your yarn, it will have a recommendation for the hook size. Read more about hook sizes for crochet.
Step 1 - Slip Knot
Create the Knot
To start chain stitch crochet you need to make your slip knot. There are several ways to do this but it can easily be done with your crochet hook.
- Create a loop on your hook
- Yarn over.
- Pull the yarn through the loop.
- Pull tight and move the knot up near the hook.
Holding the Hook for Chain Stitch Crochet
Hold the knot between your thumb and a finger of your non-dominant hand. Which finger depends upon which finger you are using to keep your yarn tension constant. If you use your forefinger to keep tension you will use your middle finger for this.
Hold your crochet hook in your dominant hand, in whichever position you find the most comfortable. (Knife grip or pencil grip.)
Step 2 - Insert Hook
Insert the hook into the loop formed by your slip knot. Pull the loop fairly tight, but loose enough to allow movement of the hook.
Step 3 - Yarn Over
Wrap the working yarn (ie. the yarn coming from the ball, not the tail end) over the hook, from back to front. You can do this using your non-dominant hand to move the yarn, or by using your dominant hand to twist the hook slightly to get the yarn wrapped around it. This is called yarn over and is written yo in crochet patterns.
Step 4 - Pull Through
Now grab that yarn wrap with the hooked part of your crochet hook, and pull it through the loop already on your hook.
That makes one chain stitch crochet.
Step 5 - Repeat
To make the next chain stitch, yarn over the hook again and pull it through the current loop. Keep repeating this movement until you have the required number of chain stitches. Try to keep each loop of the chain the same size.
Counting Chain Stitch Crochet
When counting your chain stitches, do not include the slip knot in your count, and do not include the loop on your hook.
As the length of your chain increases, keep moving your finger and thumb up the chain, keeping them close to the hook to keep your tension steady.
Using Your Chain Stitch Crochet
Once you have created a chain stitch crochet in your desired length, you can single, double or treble crochet into the loops formed.
To form a single crochet stitch: (US terminology)
- Insert the hook 2 chain stitches from the end.
- Yarn over.
- Pull through the first stitch.
- Yarn over.
- Pull through the stitches, so you have one remaining stitch.
Each loop of the chain must be loose enough to insert your hook into when working the next row. If your loops are too tight, you will struggle to form the next row of crochet stitches. If you find that your loops are forming too tightly, use a larger hook just for your foundation chain. When you have had some practice with forming chain stitches you will find that you develop a rhythm while making them. Once you get into this rhythm, you will be able to work fast and your tension will be even.
Chain Stitch Crochet For Next Rows
Chain stitch crochet is also used to start new rows. In order to start crocheting a new row, you will need to increase the height appropriately. Without a turning chain stitch, your ends would be squashed down, and your crochet would be out of shape very quickly.
- Get to the end of the first row.
- Chain to the correct height
- Single crochet - 1 chain
- Half double crochet - 2 chains
- Double crochet - 3 chains
- Treble crochet - 4 chains
- Turn your work around, so you are crocheting right to the left again
- Insert your hook into the top of the next stitch and continue with your crochet stitch.
Some patterns will tell you to do the chain at the beginning of the next row and some will say to chain at the end of the previous row. The result is the same. Occasionally patterns will omit to remind you to do this turning chain stitch so you need to remember. Just be consistent with your method.
Chain Stitch Crochet - In Conclusion
As well as forming the foundation chain, chain stitch crochet can also be used for creating ties for slippers or baby booties, as a creative ‘ribbon’ for tying up parcels or to hang things up or tie things back. It is far more decorative than a simple strand of string or yarn. I have seen a beautiful example of curtain tie backs made from chain stitch, with small crochet flowers added to the chain afterward. Learning how to chain stitch is definitely an essential skill for working the magic that is crochet!