How to Start a Crochet Chain

How to Start a Crochet Chain: Starting Your Crochet Project

Knowing how to start a crochet chain is essential to beginning almost any crochet project. Learning how to crochet opens a wide, new range of projects. If you are preparing to learn to sew or if you already know how to sew, adding crochet to your list of skills will unlock new levels of creativity. 

If you’re a novice crocheter ready to learn how to make a chain stitch in crochet, keep reading to discover what a crochet chain is, how to chain on crochet, and recommend projects and stitches for all new crocheters.

Tips Before Starting a Crochet Chain

Before you can make a crochet chain, you need the right materials. Ensure that you’re working with a crochet hook that feels comfortable for you, especially in regards to size and material. 

Your crochet hook should be a helpful tool in mastering a crochet chain, not an object that you have to work against. You should also work with a yarn well suited to crochet. Yarns come in all weights, textures, and types. 

Just as beginner sewers should avoid certain types of fabrics, new crocheters should also stick with the best yarns for beginning crocheters. These are typically smoother textured, lighter-colored yarns. Smooth-textured yarns are easier to work with for beginners, and light colors make individual stitches much more visible.

What is Chain in Crochet

The majority of crochet projects start with a slip knot and a chain of stitches. This crochet chain creates the foundation for the rest of the project. Chain stitches can also be used throughout the project, making it an essential crochet stitch.

Wink video chain stitch finished
Image source: Crafts Tuts Plus

Chain stitches often combine with other crochet stitches to add pattern, space, and dimension to a project. Crochet chains also have functional uses, such as laces for clothing, hooks for hanging objects, and string for decoration.

How to Make a Crochet Chain

Before beginning your crochet chain, you must first learn how to start a crochet chain with a slip knot. In case you need a refresher, here’s a brief summary of the steps:

    1. Wrap your yarn twice around your open palm.
    2. Place your hook under the first yarn strand and over the second.
    3. Pull the second strand under the first to create a loop.
    4. Once you’ve got the loop on your hook, remove your hand from the circle.
    5. Tighten the circle you’ve just formed around your hook.
    6. Hold the slipknot between your middle finger and your thumb. Allow the yarn to lie over your index finger.
    7. Using your other hand, place the hook under the free strand and then over. Pull the strand on your hook through the loop.

Once you’ve started your crochet chain with a slip knot, you are ready to learn how to do chain stitch in crochet. Follow the instructions below to make a crochet chain. 

(Note: These instructions are for right-handed crocheters. If you’re a left-handed crocheter, reverse the instructions, including the orientation of materials and hand positions).

    1. Keep your slip knot on your crochet hook. Grab the knot with the thumb and middle finger of your left hand so that the knot faces you.
    2. Position the yarn that’s coming from the ball (the “working yarn”) so that it goes over your index finger, then between your index and middle finger, stretches down your hand, and then tucks back between your ring and little fingers. This position allows you to control the tension in your stitches.
    3. Start with the crochet hook facing up, with a tight grip.
    4. Yarn over the hook. This means you place the working yarn around the hook, from back to front.
    5. Pull the yarn through the loop. It is usually easier to begin the next stitch with the hook facing upwards again.
    6. Repeat the steps above: yarn over the hook, pull through the loop. Practice maintaining tension and fluid movements as you stitch.

How to start a crochet chain
Image source: Life With Ned And Suz

A few tips to keep in mind while creating your crochet chain:

    • Don’t include the slipknot or the loop on your hook while counting chains for a project.
    • Experiment with different hook grips. The most common are the pencil grip and knife grip but experiment with whatever works best for you.
    • There are many different ways to work into your foundational chain. For example, working into the back loop of the chain creates the cleanest finished edge. Play around and discover the different looks available.
    • Practice using consistent tension while creating your crochet chain. The tension applied to the yarn as you stitch will impact how the final product appears.

Next Stitches to Learn After Mastering Making a Crochet Chain

Once you know how to make a crochet chain, you can begin learning the other basic stitches and techniques. Mastering several crochet stitches is key to making projects with dimension, pattern, and color.

Crochet Stitch

Stitches to Learn First

How It’s Used

Single Crochet

Crochet Chain

Used in almost any type of crochet project. One of the most basic stitches to learn, after a crochet chain.

Half Double Crochet

Single Crochet, Crochet Chain

Used to provide a little extra “height” while keeping a similar look to a single crochet stitch.

Double Crochet

Crochet Chain, Single Crochet

Used to make striking patterns and add texture. Can also be used on its own.

Triple Crochet (also known as a treble crochet stitch)

Crochet Chain, Single Crochet, Double Crochet

This stitch is used to create dramatic height in a project while keeping the same kind of look as a double crochet stitch.

Crochet Techniques to Learn After Mastering How to Make a Crochet Chain

Learning individual crochet stitches is obviously essential, but you’ll need more than that to make the crochet project of your dreams. Once you’ve got the basic stitches down, spend some time learning these crucial techniques.

    1. Weave in ends: This ensures your finished product doesn’t fall apart and looks great for years to come.
    2. Crochet a circle: A crochet circle is the foundation for projects such as baskets, animals, and other three-dimensional items.
    3. Crochet a magic circle: Similar to a traditional circle, except the technique used for a magic circle keeps the base very tight.
    4. Change colors: Switching between yarns and colors creates patterns and gives definition to your projects.
    5. Decrease: This technique allows you to manipulate the shape and form of your projects.

Projects Using Only a Crochet Chain

Although the chain stitch is typically used to start a project, there are some crochet projects that only require the chain stitch. Here are some examples of projects you can complete with just the crochet chain.

How to chain on crochet
Image source: Knot Your Nana’s Crochet

    • Headbands (tie multiple crochet chains together)
    • Rings
    • Keychains
    • Bracelets
    • Shoelaces

Crochet Projects Including the Crochet Chain Stitch

Once you’ve learned the basic crochet stitches and techniques, you’re ready to combine your new skills to create some epic crochet projects. Keep reading for inspiring projects that utilize the crochet chain stitch.

Crochet a Granny Square

When you picture a crochet project, you might imagine a granny square pattern. These versatile patterns offer a great starting project for new crocheters. 

When joined together, granny squares can form the basis for many different items. Learn how to crochet a granny square, and a whole new world of crochet projects will open up to you!

How to make a chain stitch in crochet
Image source: Yarnspirations

The look of a classic granny square can also vary widely depending on the number of chain stitches used. The table below explains four common variations on the classic granny square, although there are many different granny square patterns.

Differences in Stitches

Effect Created

Only one chain stitch separating groups of double crochet stitches.

One of the smallest variations. Has rounded corners.

Only one chain stitch separating groups of double crochet stitches. Has two chain stitches in each corner.

More “relaxed” finished effect. Corners are less rounded than the variation above. Slightly larger.

Groups of double crochet stitches separated by two chain stitches. Has two chain stitches in each corner.

Even more “relaxed” and open. The holes are fairly large. The entire granny square is noticeably larger.

Three chain stitches separate groups of double crochet stitches. Has two chain stitches in each corner.

Much less structured. The holes are large and the finished product is large. Has a slightly bumpy look.

Additional projects you can make by combining granny squares:

If you’re gifting any of your granny square blankets or scarves, make it extra-special with a custom woven label. With a custom woven label, you can add your recipient’s name and an image that captures their personality for a one-of-a-kind present. Or add a woven label reading “Made with Love by [Your Name]” so your recipient always remembers the care that went into the gift.

Crochet Hats

Crochet hats require you to know how to start a crochet chain, but they’re still simple projects. Crochet hats are the ultimate gift for anyone in your life and are widely popular items to sell. 

Both crochet hats and cozy crochet beanies traditionally start with a crochet chain. There are endless free patterns available to get you started, and the creative possibilities are limitless.

How to make a crochet chain
Image source: Custom Made

Looking for an extra touch of whimsy? Learn how to crochet a flower and attach it to your finished crochet hat or beanie.

If you decide to turn your crochet hobby into a small business, take your beanies to the next level with customized care labels. Custom care labels ensure that your customers can take proper care of their hand-made hats. 

As an added bonus, you can expect fewer emails and questions regarding how to wash the hats. Overall, custom care labels will make your products look more professional, promote customer satisfaction, and save you time. 

Crochet Tops

Ready to graduate from crocheting accessories to creating entirely crocheted clothing items? Start with making a crochet top

Crochet tops are trendier than ever, particularly for the spring and summer months. Crochet tank tops can be layered year-long, but for a special summer look make a crochet halter top.

Free crochet pattern for hepatica granny halter top
Image source: Crochet Kingdom

Granny squares can even be included in your crochet top for extra color and variety. Since crochet tops of all styles are trending, these would also make a great addition to a crochet store. 

The quickest way to increase brand visibility, trust, and customer satisfaction is by adding a custom hang tag to all your crochet clothing items. Custom hang tags can communicate important information about yourself, your brand, and the advantages of your products.

Crochet Swimwear

Crochet tops might be coming back into style, but crochet swimwear has been popular for over a decade. Many recommend starting with a crochet bikini top because they are simpler than most intricate one-piece and bikini bottom patterns.

Crochet bikini top
Image source: Pinterest

You’ll find that many crochet bikini top patterns use chain stitch for the straps, which just proves how versatile the chain stitch is!