When you want to learn how to crochet, the very first stitch to learn is the chain stitch. Not only is the chain stitch how most crochet projects are started, learning this stitch also teaches you the basic hand motions that you will use in all the other elements of crochet.
When you are brand new to crochet, learning how to crochet the chain stitch may seem intimidating at first. But, just know that once you get comfortable with this one stitch, you’ll already have much of the tactical know-how you need to move on to learning more crochet stitches and techniques with more and more ease. With this in mind, the photos and instructions below explain how to crochet the chain stitch for beginners.
Getting confident doing the chain stitch is essential for starting to crochet and for making the crochet that you continue to learn as easy as it can be. And when it’s easier, it tends to be more enjoyable! Below we’re going to break down the movements to crochet a chain stitch so that you can get off to a great start.
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Okay, here we go.
The Main Crochet Skills
Crochet at it’s most basic level has three movements to get used to. These are:
- Looping the yarn over the hook
- Pulling the yarn through another loop of yarn(or stitch)
- Inserting the hook back into your work
Sounds pretty simple, right? Even though it won’t feel natural right away, you can know that all your hard work will pay off in every other stitch you try. In fact, out of those three essential parts to crocheting, two of them are used in the chain stitch. You’ll be well on your way to crocheting with confidence after mastering this one skill!
So without any more fuss, here’s how to crochet a chain stitch. You can also see my video for this towards the end.
Detailed Steps of the Chain Stitch
1. Start with yarn that has a medium thickness, or weight(not too bulky and not super thin). You also need to have a hook that is an appropriate size for your yarn.
2. Next, wrap the end of the yarn around the hook, taking the short end and placing it on top of the other side of the yarn with a few inches to spare.
3. Now you are going to “yarn over.” This is the name we have for looping the yarn over the hook, which is the first basic motion I mentioned above. It doesn’t matter which way you loop the yarn over, but it is good for you to keep doing it in the same direction every time. Feel free to try it either way, but then try to pick one direction to wrap the yarn and stick with it.
4. Now it’s time to actually pull the yarn through the loop of yarn you’ve made (our second essential motion). A lot of people have trouble with this step, so take it slowly and have patience with yourself. The key is to catch the yarn in the end of the hook and turn the hook downward, so the hook does not catch on your original loop of yarn as it passes through. Turning the hook downward should be done in a smooth motion, while at the same time, you are pulling the hook towards the loop and through it.
5. Now you should have a new loop of yarn that you just pulled through your first one. To secure your work here at the beginning, pull your first loop closed on the loop that you just pulled through Doing this for the first time creates what we call a “slip knot”. Now you have a secure loop of yarn to start off your chain.
6. The rest of the process is repeating steps of looping the yarn over the hook and drawing it through (steps 3-4). Each time you repeat the steps, you will have another stitch in your chain( you don’t repeat the step of pulling any stitches tight. That was something we only needed to do with our slip knot.) With practice, your stitches will become more and more consistent.
Tips and Helpful Notes
- It’s very common to get really big, loose stitches when you are first starting out. Thankfully with crochet these are easy to fix as you go along if you want to. Simply use your “working yarn” (this is the yarn that you haven’t made into stitches yet)to pull the slack back out of a stitch.
- Pull your work out and start over if a stitch is so tight that you can’t easily continue. This will save you time and energy over trying to force it.
- Have some patience as you learn. Consistency is hard at the beginning, but more consistent stiches make it easier to keep going. Just know that if you stick with it and practice, you’ll be able to move past that awkward stage of stitches that are all over the place.
- Holding the hook: as you may have seen, I hold my hook much like many people hold a dinner knife. My thumb is flat against one side, my index finger extended down towards the hook end itself, and my other fingers curled around the handle end of the hook. Not everyone holds their hooks exactly this way, but it allows me to have very good control.
- Possibly the most important tip: Try to do as much work with your hook as you can and avoid using your left hand( if crocheting right-handed) more than you have to. Many beginners try to do much of the “work” of crocheting with their hands, when you need to learn as soon as possible to simply use the hook to move the yarn the way it needs to go. As you can probably see in my pictures, my left hand still has an important job, but it is mainly to keep the tension even on my yarn and to keep the yarn from getting tangled. So, use the hook and let the hook do the work.
Here is my video for this tutorial:
Tying it all together
As I mentioned at the beginning, crocheting a chain stitch isn’t just the first thing you have to learn- it is also the best exercise for learning crochet in general. Once you get the hang of these steps, they will start to flow more naturally. It can be quite fun to crochet a long chain in just a few minutes! Plus, as your brain and hands learn the motions of the chain stitch, you’ll be poised for successfully learning every other stitch and stitch pattern, starting with the stitch I’ll be showing you in lesson two. There, you’ll be able to learn the third fundamental crochet movement, and your work will go from being one line of stitches to an actual piece of crochet “fabric” that you’ll see grow with every row.
When you’re ready for that, you can access it here: Crochet lesson two-the double crochet stitch.
Also, you may want to check out these videos that I’ve hand-picked to show you how to crochet the chain stitch in action.
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And finally, if you’d like to connect with other crocheters and to learn and encourage, check out my Facebook group: The Encouraging Crochet Community.
Keep up the good work with your chain stitch and keep learning. Soon you’ll be able to make all sorts of beautiful and useful things!
Keep the crafting delightful!