Knowing the anatomy of a crochet chain is the first stage in following any pattern. While they are often called a crochet chain stitch, they aren’t technically a stitch in the traditional sense of the word, but are used to set the width of project, as well as setting the height of a row when used as a turning chain at the start of a row. However crochet chains play a part in almost every crochet project and can also be used in a variety of ways to create lacy stitch effects.
When you make a chain you’ll see that it looks like a plait – we’ll often refer to crochet chains looking like little V shapes. When learning how to crochet you’ll want your crochet chain this way round, as it’s a lot simpler to work your first row of stitches into the V shape as well as making it easier to count your crochet stitches. The back of a chain has a row of bumps, and some patterns will call for you to insert your hook into specific loops of a chain or into these bumps on the back. You can find out more about this in our guide of how to crochet in the front and back loops
Before you learn how to start a crochet chain, you will need to know how to make a slipknot so that you can attach your yarn to your hook. It’s also worth taking a look at our guide on how to hold your hook and yarn, as this will help you to feel more comfortable when making your crochet chains, and will also help you to control your tension better which will give you a neater result. If you’re completely new to crochet, you can find loads of helpful information and resources in our crochet guide for beginners!
How to crochet chain stitches
Below you’ll find our step-by-step picture guide on how to crochet chains, or you can also check out our handy video too!
You Will Need
- Crochet hook
Hold the hook in your right hand, and both the yarn end and the working yarn in your left hand. Move the hook under and over the yarn to wrap it around anticlockwise (so that the yarn goes around back of the hook, over the top to the front). Always make sure you wrap your yarn around the hook in this direction.
Pull the hook towards the slipknot, catching the yarn in the hook, and pulling it through the slipknot loop. This forms your first chain (ch) stitch. Repeat steps 1 and 2 to form a chain length.
This is what your row of chains will look like. Hold the chain with your left hand near the hook, to keep the tension. Keep going until you have the number of chains stated in your pattern.
How to count your chains and stitches
Whenever you are working from a pattern it will start off by telling you how many crochet chains to make. Never count your first slipknot or the loop on the hook (called the working loop). So that you can be accurate, make sure the chain is not twisted and that the front is facing you (so that you can see those sideways V shapes).
If you look at the image above, you can see how you count each chain (or V shape). When you are working your first row of stitches into your crochet chains, pattern will often say ‘double crochet in the second chain from hook’ or something similar, depending on the type of stitch being used. For this example, we would make our first double crochet stitch in the chain marked as number two. The reason for this is that these skipped chains (in this example we would skip the chain marked number 1) count as your turning chain, which sets the height of your first row of stitches.
Your next step in your crochet journey will be making your first proper stitches – we’d recommend you start by learning how to double crochet, and then move on to how to treble crochet. When it comes to counting your stitches, this can be done in a similar way as counting your crochet chains – but it does depend on what stitches you are using. For example, on shorted stitches such as double crochet stitches, your stitch will have a similar plait or V shape on the top of your stitch, so you can simply count these much like you would with chains.
However, as you progress onto taller stitches such as treble crochet stitches, you will need to count your chains slightly differently. You will still have plaits at the top of your stitches, but as taller stitches require more chains in the turning chain (and these will often count as a stitch too), it’s not quite as simple as counting the plaits. Instead it’s better to count the upright ‘stems’ of the stitch, like in the image below.