Today’s post is another crochet post! This time, I’m following up on the episode I aired on my YouTube channel. This is another new series for me, and it’s called “Behind The Stitch”. This is where I will show all you crochet beginners and those of you who are experienced as well, but want to get back to basics, how to create the basic stitches.
In this episode, I will show you how to create the Foundation Chain and the Chain Stitch (which is technically the same thing). If you haven’t seen the video, check it out below!
So, in this follow-up post, I’ll show you step by step how to create a Slip Knot, a Foundation Chain, and the Chain Stitch. I’ll also, explain in more detail how yarn size, hook size and tension affect how big or small your chains are, and why chains, in a pattern, can help with creating gaps, bumps and more advanced stitches.
Let’s get started!
First: The In-Pattern Abbreviations
Before we dive right into the tutorial, let me first tell you about the abbreviations you’ll find in a crochet pattern. Normally, you’ll find abbreviations like CH, ST, SC, DC, etc. These abbreviations make it easier for you; it helps the pattern’s designer too, since they won’t have to keep saying “make a chain of 4” or “make 20 single crochets”. These sentences are too long, so, abbreviations like “CH4” or “SC20” make the patterns shorter, and you don’t have to read through paragraphs of the same sentences.
So, what’s the abbreviation for a Chain? Well…it’s…
Yes, CH stands for Chain, and ST stands for Stitch. Now, the reason they’re different is that a Chain is a particular type of stitch in crochet, while a Stitch can be anything from a chain to a Treble Crochet or even a Cluster (we’ll get into those once you guys are a bit more advanced).
And another thing, a lot of patterns tell you to “Yarn Over”, which basically means you need to wrap your yarn around your hook (you’ll see what I mean when we start making your chains), and again, to make things easier for you and the pattern’s designer, the abbreviation for this is YO!
So, that’s the difference! But what about the difference between a Foundation Chain, and a Chain Stitch?
Well, not much. The Foundation Chain is exactly what it says it is, it’s the line of Chain Stitches that you use to begin your project, hence “Foundation Chain”. The Chain Stitch is a line of Chain Stitches that can be made in the middle of your project, but we’ll get into that later.
First, let’s make the Chain Stitch!
How To Create A Slip Knot And The Foundation Chain
First, let me just say, the Slip Knot is essentially a Chain Stitch that’s been tightened to stop the Foundation Chain from unravelling, or coming undone, and it’s vital that you guys remember how to make it. So, let’s start here.
First, you need to wrap your yarn around your fingers. You can do this any way you want.
Then, wrap the yarn around the hook.
Hold the joint of the loop around your hook, between your fingers (I use my middle finger and thumb).
Wrap the yarn around the hook again.
Bring that loop of yarn through the first one you made (the one of which you’re holding the joint).
That’s the Slip Knot.
A Note On The Yarn Tail And The Working Yarn
Before I forget, if you are working towards the end of the yarn, you’re doing it wrong. Essentially, you have to work towards the ball of yarn, or skein of yarn. So, the end of the yarn becomes the tail of the project, while the ball of the yarn is the head.
Also, in some patterns, the designers will get you to remove the loop of yarn, on your hook, and instruct you to do something with the “Working Yarn”. This means the long end of the yarn – the one attached to the ball. That’s because it’s the yarn that you’re working with, not the tail.
So, if your pattern says something about “with the Working Yarn…” that means you need to do something with the yarn that’s still woven around your fingers.
Back To The Foundation Chain
So, how do we create the Foundation Chain? You make it in the same way you make the slip knot, except you skip out the first few steps, where you need to hold the loop together, since the slip knot is already holding the loop together.
Instead, all you need to do is wrap the yarn around your hook.
And bring it through the loop that’s already around your hook.
And that’s it! Your first chain in your Foundation Chain!
You just need to repeat that motion however many times your pattern tells you. So, if your pattern says “Chain 20” or “Ch 20” then create 20 of those chains.
What About A Chain In The Middle Of A Pattern?
These chains are no different to the Foundation Chain, it’s just made in the middle of the pattern, and these chains help with creating different shapes in your pattern.
You just need to follow the pattern for the Foundation Chain, and you’re set! There’s not much else to it.
How Do These Chains Make More Advanced Stitches?
We’ve skipped ahead a bit, but that’s fine, since it will make a little more sense here instead.
So, for example, if your pattern tells you to Ch 3, skip 3 St, and then DC in the next St, that just means you need to chain 3, skip 3 of the crochet stitches in the previous row or round and then double crochet (we’ll get into this in a later post!) in the 4th stitch.
This type of pattern usually creates gaps without harming the other stitches in your pattern. It’s great for buttonholes, or if you’re creating a Granny Square, or if you’re creating a pattern that requires these types of gaps.
Alternatively, your pattern might ask you to crochet in the same stitch as before. So, say for example you created a DC in the row or round, you’re working on, and then the pattern asks you to “Ch 3, in the same stitch 1DC”, this means you’ll need to chain 3, and in the same stitch as the one you created your first double crochet, create 1 double crochet.
This create bumps in your pattern and is great for creating increases (we’ll get into this one later too), or V-stitches, or even clusters. These stitches are advanced ones but once you get the basics down, they’ll be easier to understand, so we’ll get into these types of stitches later. Essentially, these bumps help create patterns like flowers, lace, and other types of complicated shapes, like textured stitches.
Of course, chains in the middle of the pattern are there as aids, to create the next type of stitches you need, and aren’t simply standalone stitches. They help set up space in your pattern, for the next stitch or row/round. Essentially, they’re like the bones of a stitch, since they only hold the stitch together.
Why Are My Chains Different Sizes?
Now, as a beginner you’re probably lamenting the fact that your chains have different sizes to each other. As I mentioned in the video, usually this just depends on practice. As long as you keep practicing, you’ll learn how to make your chains more even.
However, there are also 3 main factors that affect the size of your chains and stitches. These factors are:
1. Yarn Size
2. Hook Size
3. Yarn Tension
Let’s first look at Yarn Size
What I mean by yarn size is the size of the yarn. If you walk into a hobby and haberdashery store, where they sell yarn, chances are you’ll find hundreds of different types of yarn. They’ll normally stock everything from thin cotton yarn to giant fabric yarn, and even yarn that feels more like twine. Yarn size is basically how thick the yarn is.
For example, cotton yarn is most likely going to be thin, and these are great for small projects, like coasters, miniature figures and sometimes for clothes.
If you find yarn that says “chunky” on them, or they’re the type of yarn you need to use your arms for, they’re best for bigger projects like blankets, cushion covers and maybe even large tapestries – yes you can even crochet tapestries if you wanted to.
Essentially, the bigger the yarn, the bigger the stitches, thus the bigger your chains. So, if you’re creating a chain using chunky yarn you won’t need as many chains as you’d probably create with a cotton yarn. We’ll get into more detail about Yarn Size when we’ve learned the basics. For now, this is just a quick summary and overview about how it can affect the sizes of your stitches.
Next The Hook Size
So, like with Yarn Size, Hook Size is important too. If the hook is too big for the yarn, your chains will be too gappy and big, like what you see here.
On the other hand, if your hook is too small, your chains will be very tight, and it’ll be difficult to create a stitch in them because there isn’t enough room for your hook to fit through, and you might just pierce the yarn instead of working through it.
Hook Size is just as important as Yarn Size, because it dictates how big your stitches are going to be. So, if your pattern requires very loose stitches, then you might want to work with a bigger hook, or if your pattern requires very tight stitches, then use a smaller hook.
Normally, you can tell what size hook is necessary for your yarn, because your pattern will tell you what hook to use. Or, if anything else, the label on the yarn will tell you what the recommended hook size for the yarn should be. Not to mention, the hooks themselves will have a label on them, so you don’t need to do any guess work. It’s all there for you.
Now, be aware, there are many different types of hooks, sizes of hooks, and labels around the world. You just need to get familiar with the literature that’s in your country. For, example, I live in the UK, so I know that the literature here is very different to the one in the USA. Not only that, but usually, pattern designers will tailor their patterns to include both the UK and USA literatures, since their patterns are seen in both countries. Again, we’ll go into a little more detail about hook size and literature later. So, keep an eye out for that!
Finally, The Yarn Tension
Yarn tension is something that you can control as well, because it all depends on the weave around your fingers, how tense your yarn is. So, I like to weave my yarn like this:
Others weave their yarn in other ways, like these:
It doesn’t matter how you weave your yarn; what matters is how tight or loose it feels to you. The looser the yarn, the less control over it you have, and the bigger your chains or stitches can be. Your yarn tension can even be one of the causes why your chains are not even. So, you’ll need to adjust how you weave your yarn around your fingers, to make your chains even.
Sometimes, it’s better to keep the tension loose, because some patterns require long chains or gappy stitches, since it adds to the aesthetic of the pattern, but for the most part, patterns have a standard type of tension, and this can be measured by the gauge. Essentially a gauge is a small patch of the pattern that you need to make, which fits within a certain measurement. If it doesn’t fit, then you’ll need to adjust your tension or the hook size.
Yes, like the previous two, we’ll go into more detail about gauges later.
Now You Know How To Create A Foundation Chain!
Phew! We finally made it! So, now you know how to create a Slip Knot, Foundation Chain and a Chain Stitch (which really is no different from a Foundation Chain!). We also know what the abbreviations are for a Chain, Stitch, Yarn Over. We also learned what the Working Yarn is and how the size of your chains are affected by the Yarn Size, the Hook Size, and the Yarn Tension. It’s a lot to learn, and you might need to read this post over and over again, to really get a good grasp of what makes a Chain Stitch and Foundation Chain, but these are all technical that will help when you start creating more complicated patterns and stitches. So, take your time. Practice. And most of all, have fun! That’s what Crochet is about! It’s about unwinding and relaxing from whatever stresses you’re facing!
Well, that’s it from me today, I’ll see you guys next time, with another Crochet tutorial…once I upload that video! For now, please don’t forget to like, subscribe, comment, share and follow me, here on Feather’s Charm, on my YouTube channel, on my social medial channels and on Patreon. It would really mean a lot to me if you donated, so I can continue to create more content like this for you guys.
And as always, be kind, be creative, and be unique.
I’ll see you later!