The crochet chain stitch is the first stitch most crocheters learn. You make a slip knot, then you make a crochet chain long enough to wrap a city block! In this Stitchopedia crochet tutorial you’ll learn how to hold your yarn and hook, how to make a slip knot, and how to crochet a chain stitch. You’ll also learn about the anatomy of the chain.
Members of Showstopper Creations can find an ad-free tutorial with ad-free videos HERE.
The yarn for this tutorial was provided by WeCrochet. All opinions are my own.
This post was originally published on 5/28/2014, and was last updated on 3/19/2022.
As a beginner crocheter, sometimes it can be hard to find out how to make the most basic of stitches. Frequently, the first row of stitches in a crochet pattern start off with chains. Plus, you’ll often find turning chains used as the first stitch of a new row or round in crochet pattern instructions.
This easy to follow tutorial will guide you through making your first chain stitch and on to more and more chain stitches until you are confident enough to begin your first row of other crochet stitches. You’ll find a right hand and left hand video tutorial, along with step by step written instructions and photos. Are you ready?
Right Handed Chain Stitch Video
If you can’t see this video, try watching it on my YouTube channel HERE.
Left Handed Chain Stitch Video
If you can’t see this video, try watching it on my YouTube channel HERE.
Written and Photo Tutorial
To begin, it is important to know the difference between the front of your work and the back of your work. When you are working, you hold the hook in front of your body (obviously 🙂 ). The front of your work is between your hook and you and is the side facing you. The back of your work is behind your hook, and is the side facing away from you. Please note the front of your work will not always be the right side of your work. Conversely, the back of your work will not always be the wrong side.
Stitches and Abbreviations
click on highlighted stitches for tutorials
ch – chain
yo – yarn over (wrap the yarn over the hook from back to front)
The image below is the symbol used for a chain in crochet charts. The symbol can be rotated to show which direction the chain is laying.
How To Make A Slip Knot
To make a slip knot, hold your crochet hook in your right hand (or your dominate hand). Hold the hook in front of you with the hook part facing down. Take the cut end of the yarn and hold it in back of the hook. Wrap it over top of the hook, around the front, and around to the back again. The yarn will cross over itself. Now leaving the cross-over, pick up the end of the yarn that is still attached to the ball of yarn, wrap it around your hook (back to front to back again), and pull that loop through the first loop you created to make a slip knot. It is really much easier to watch this in the video than to read. Take a look at the video tutorial if you need more help.
How To Make A Crochet Chain Stitch
To make a ch (chain), start with a slip knot on your hook. Wrap your yarn around your left hand (or your non-dominate hand) to create tension (see the video.) Pinch just below the knot with the middle finger and thumb of your left hand, having the working yarn (the yarn still attached to the ball) over your index finger, yo (wrap the yarn over the hook), keep the slit in the hook facing down and pull the yo through the loop already on your hook, letting the old loop fall off. The yo will become your new loop and you have made your first chain stitch. This is really much easier to understand from the video and/or the pictures, so please use those tools as well.
Now continue making chain stitches by yarning over, then pulling the yo through the loop on the hook.
ch – chain: Yo, pull through loop on hook.
Crochet Chain Stitch Anatomy
Now let’s talk about the anatomy of the chain. The side of the chain that you see when you are making it is usually referred to as the top. The chains look like little tears connected to each other. The loops that are facing you are called the front loops, and the loops that are farther from you are called the back loops. You can turn the chain over and see the bottom. There is another set of loops here called the bottom loops, the bottom bumps, or the third loops. Some people will call this set of loops the back bumps, but I find that too easy to confuse with back loops, so I stay away from that term.
Once you have your foundation chain (a set of chains in which other crochet stitches are worked), it’s time to start stitching into your chains. When you are simply told to crochet into a chain, it is most often assumed you will crochet under the front and back loops and on top of the bottom bump. However, if your pattern does not tell you where to insert your hook, you can insert your hook under any one or two loops/bumps of the chain that you like. I prefer to work my first row or round of stitches in the bottom bumps of the chains so that the little chain or tear-drop part of the stitch lays on the bottom of my stitches. Though with some types of stitches I will change that preference.
What’s the difference between a foundation chain, a turning chain, a chain space, and a regular chain?
A foundation chain is the chains used to crochet the first row of stitches, it is the foundation of your work.
A turning chain is a chain or chains used at the start of a row or round in order to get your hook up to the height of taller stitches.
How do I keep my chain from twisting when I have a long chain that I have to join into a circle?
Stitch markers are your friend here. Place a removable stitch marker on the loop of your chain you want at the bottom. So if you’re working into the top 2 loops, place the stitch marker around the bottom bump. Do this every 10-20 stitches.
First, this will help you to not loose count of your chains. Second, it will help with “be careful not to twist.” Lay the chain on the table and use the stitch markers to help see if there are twists and to help weigh down the chain so it doesn’t twist. Once it’s untwisted, carefully mold it into a circle, the join!
Another trick I love is to make the first round as a row, and then join before the second round. Be sure to leave a nice long starting tail when you do this, so you can use it to sew the small opening closed before weaving it in.
Do I always need to start with chains before making my first row of stitches?
No!! There are also foundation stitches, which let you crochet the chain and the first row of stitches all at once. These are a little more tricky, but totally worth learning for certain projects.
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