Nothing has revolutionized my crochet life more than mastering this super simple technique – the chainless foundation. I am not one that enjoys crocheting into a chain. To me, it is tedious work. So when I learned how to make a crochet chain AND the first row of single (or double, or half double!) crochet AT THE SAME TIME, my mind was blown. Learn how to save time and tears in this video tutorial about how to make a chainless foundation single crochet.
WHY THE CHAINLESS FOUNDATION SINGLE CROCHET STITCH IS SO AMAZING:
Have you ever panicked when you read the beginning of a pattern that included chaining any more than 20, followed by crocheting all the way back down that chain? I know.
My heart rate is increasing even now as I think about it.
it. is. just. so. FIDDLY. Not to mention how long it takes!
Well fear no more, my friend. Your solution has arrived. The chainless foundation stitch makes the chain AND the first row of SINGLE crochet AT THE SAME TIME.
I’m going to give you a moment to just sit with that and take in the beauty of it.
No matter how fast you crochet, the fiddlyness of crocheting back into a chain adds so much time. Even though you’re adding an extra yarn-over when you’re making a chainless foundation, it’s just so much easier to get into flow just as if you were working on your 3rd or 4th row of a repeat.
Deep breath out. Ahhh. That is why I describe this stitch as revolutionary to my crochet life. I was so relieved. Like “where, oh where, chainless foundation, have you been all my life?” And this magical technique can be used with NOT ONLY single crochet, but half double, double and treble stitches as well.
So alas, let me begin by introducing you to some of the important characteristics of the chainless foundation single crochet stitch.
In a pattern, the chainless foundation single crochet stitch is abbreviated FSC.
The chainless foundation single crochet stitch is slightly taller than the traditional technique of chaining and then crocheting back into that chain. But only slightly taller.
The characteristic that I love the most about this stitch is it’s beautiful stretch and flexibility. Often times a foundation row of single crochet that has been made by crocheting into a chain is tight and shorter than the rest of the project. When this happens with, a sweater, for example, the resulting comfort level and flex is NO BUENO.
Another annoying thing about crocheting into a chain is often times it can leave unsightly gaps between the stitches. Albeit, crocheting into the back bump of a chain almost completely eliminates this, there is still a look and feel to the chainless foundation that starts the flow of the project off perfectly.
Slip knot knot your hook
Insert your hook into the second chain from the hook
Yarn over and pull up a loop (you now have 2 loops on your hook)
Yarn over again and pull through ONE loop on your hook
Yarn over and pull through the TWO loops on your hook
Insert your hook into the bottom of that stitch (under both strands) and repeat steps 4-6
Mastering the single crochet stitch is the best place to start when learning how to crochet. The techniques and finger + wrist movements that you learn when working through the single crochet will become the familiar foundation of all the crochet stitches and techniques you will learn afterwards. In this written + video tutorial you will learn how to make a single crochet stitch.
This tutorial is given using US terms. If your pattern is written in anything other than that, I’ve made a printable term conversion chart that you can reference so this all makes sense!
I’ll give you the written steps for how to make a single crochet stitch below, but it might be quicker to just watch my quick video tutorial which I’ve included below as well!
Let me begin by introducing you to some of the important characteristics of the single crochet stitch.
ABBREVIATION & CHART SYMBOL:
In a pattern, the single crochet stitch is abbreviated SC (uppercase or lowercase). On a crochet chart, the symbol for single crochet is a “+” or an “X”.
HEIGHT & WEIGHT:
The single crochet stitch is short. It isn’t as short as a slip stitch, but it’s the next shortest basic stitch. Your project will not grow in height as quickly as using the taller half double crochet, double crochet or treble crochet. Because it is a nice stout stitch, the fabric it creates is tight and dense with very little drape and no gaps between stitches or rows. This is why it is the most common stitch used in amigurumi.
Although it is one of the most basic stitches in the art of crochet, it is also super versatile. It can be used when crocheting rows, rounds and crocheted in any number of the 3 loops or the post of a stitch to create ribbing and other textures to your project.
Do you remember high school chemistry? Remember when you had to MEMORIZE the periodic table of elements? I’m getting PTSD even know as I think about it. Well, that’s how I felt the first time I flipped over a ball of yarn to see what the label said. It all just looked like a gibberish mess of numbers and symbols. Reading a yarn label can be confusing and intimidating. I’m going to help you learn how to read a yarn label so you never have to feel that way again.
If you’d rather watch than read, I cover everything you need to know about how to read a yarn label in a video tutorial further on in this post.
I’ve also created a free printable quick reference postcard so you can have this info handy when you’re at the store. You can download and print it, or just pull it up on your phone so it’ll be ready when you need it! Find it in the Quick Reference Guide section of the resource library.
Why does it matter?
Your pattern tells you exactly what yarn to use for the project, so why does knowing what the label means even matter? Well, what if you show up at the yarn shop and see a skein of yarn you love 100 times more? You are about to invest time, money, and physical and emotional energy into this project – you better darn well LOVE the fiber you’re using. But how do you know the project will turn out right if you switch up the yarn?
This is why knowing how to read a yarn label matters.
And once you figure it out, it really does become intuitive.
There are 6 important things to interpret from a yarn label. There may be more than that, but here are the 6 you will use every time.
1) CYC WEIGHT
The Craft Yarn Council (CYC) has created a standard “weight” system that specifies the thickness of yarn on a scale from 0 (Lace) to 7 (Jumbo). The thicker the yarn, the bigger the number. If you want to switch up a yarn for your pattern, this is the component you want to match. If you switch up the yarn weight, your finished project will be a different size than the pattern specifies.
This is the physical weight (in ounces and/or grams) of the yarn ball, skein or hank. I rarely use this piece of information, but it’s there if you need it.
The length of the ball of yarn will be given in yards and/or meters. This is another really helpful piece of information if you’re choosing a different yarn than your pattern calls for – you can match yardage just in case.
4) CARE INSTRUCTIONS
It can be easy to forget to pay attention to the laundering and care instructions, but you probably want to take note of this! If you’re making a mop cover, you want to be sure it can be washed, right? Sometimes the yarn label only has the symbols with no written interpretation, so it can be helpful to memorize the main symbols or pull up a guide when you’re headed to the store.
The gauge information gives you the recommended hook or needle size to use with the yarn. It will also usually give you the number of stitches and rows it will make with that recommended hook size in a 4-inch square. If you use a larger hook, your project will be larger. If you use a smaller hook, your project will be smaller.
The fiber content tells you what the yarn is made of, whether it’s 100% or a blend.
Other information on the label:
Country of origin
Yarn color and dye lot – the color of the yarn varies slightly between dye lots – especially with natural yarns. Be sure you get enough yarn for your project from the same dye lot. Believe me, I’ve learned the hard way with this one! I always play it safe and buy more than I think I’ll need. I return any unused yarn after I’m done with my project.
There are as many ways to hold a crochet hook and yarn as there are hooks themselves. And no matter which one you try, they’re all going to feel super awkward at first. But somehow, there will be one that feels more right than all the rest. Once you get the hang of it and find your flow, your concerns about how to hold a crochet hook and yarn will go out the window. And soon, your yarn and hook will be dancing to the beat of your stitches.
In this article we will talk about the six main ways to hold a hook (two of them are BY FAR the most common), and the two main ways to hold your yarn (including 2 additional variations to solve tension issues). After crocheting for a while with your perfect pairing of these, doing anything different will feel as weird as writing with your non-dominant hand.
How to hold a crochet hook
There are two categories of grip: overhand and underhand. Within those two categories there are three common grips, with two of them being the FAR most common. The goal, is that with a little practice, the one you choose becomes super comfortable and easy for you.
For absolute beginners, here are the six most common ways to hold your hook. Give them a try and see what feels best for you!
Overhand crochet hook positions grip the hook inside of the palm, with the hand OVER the hook. Here are the 3 most common overhand grips:
Knife Grip: This is one of the two most common holds, and the most common hold of all of the overhand grips. You hold the hook just like you would a knife – index finger on top with the hook being held securely between the middle finger and the thumb. The head is controlled with the index finger.
Sometimes, prominent thumb rests aren’t preferred by those who use this hold because, depending on the position of your wrist, it can cause the hook to face an undesirable direction (down). Generally, the fingers stay in the same place on the hook and don’t shift position much.
Saber Grip: This hold leads with the thumb, similar to how you might hold a sword. The other four fingers curl around and grip the hook while the handle rests inside the palm. This hold requires more wrist work (usually side-to-side) than finger work so if you have trouble with pain, this might not be the one for you.
Just like with knife grip, most crocheters using this hold, don’t significantly change the position of their hand on the hook while they work. However, unlike the knife hold, crocheters who use the saber hold, generally like thumb rests since most of the hook stability in this hold is coming from the thumb.
Claw Grip: This grip is also referred to as the “piano” because it is similar to how fingers are placed upon the keys. Rather than gripping the hook with fingers wrapping around like the saber hold, this one places all 5 fingertips on the hook.
There’s a rolling action that happens with this hold – rolling the hook beneath the fingertips to maneuver it. Thumb-rests generally not preferred because they inhibit the smooth rolling motion. This grip normally involves a significant amount of wrist, finger and arm movement.
Underhand crochet hook positions grip the hook where the handle sticks outside of the palm near the index finger, the knuckle or the pad between the index finger and thumb. The hand remains UNDER the hook. Here are the 3 most common underhand crochet grips:
Pencil Grip: This is the second of the two most common holds, and the most common underhand grip. You hold the hook just as you have been taught to hold a pencil when writing which is where it got its appropriate name.
This grip requires you to hold the hook tighter to remain in control, so a lot of crocheters that use this grip really like a thumb rest. This grip uses quite a bit of wrist work – up and down. So, if you’re experiencing wrist pain or finger fatigue it might be because of the tighter grip and the significant amount of wrist work as well. If you hurt, try a different hold.
Pinky FlyGrip: The pinky fly eliminates the use of both the ring finger and pinky finger – although the ring finger likes to stay somewhat involved. Stability is found using the middle finger.
Some like to use this hold temporarily when some finger relief is needed, but there is a definite emphasis on the middle finger, so you may begin to feel pain in that finger during extended crochet sessions. There may be a rolling action from predominantly using just two fingers for control – the thumb and middle finger.
Chopstick grip: Again, appropriately named, this grip is held similarly to how you would hold chopsticks – clamped between the index finger and thumb. The motion is back and forth, with a lot of involvement of other fingers for supporting the hook or even holding part of the working project. There is also a rolling action that is used.
This is a very relaxed grip and allows for the hook to be held loosely. It also allows quite a bit of flexibility between which finger is used dominantly.
How to hold crochet yarn
You hear a lot about “tension” when talking about crochet. Tension is the stress that we apply to the yarn as we use it. It’s critical to have proper tension when you crochet because if you don’t your project will turn out all wonky. It won’t be the right size, the edges won’t be clean – it’ll just look like a proper mess. If you are constantly battling tension issues you will struggle to find a nice free flow which will leave you feeling frustrated and hating crochet.
And we don’t want that now, do we?
That is why figuring out what works for you in terms of holding your yarn is critical. One way of knowing what to try when holding yarn is to identify whether you crochet tightly or loosely.
Here are some hints to look for if you’re struggling with tension
If you crochet tightly, you might find:
You have a hard time pulling your yarn through as you complete a stitch
You have a hard time pushing your hook under your stitches as you go along
Your hands quickly become crampy and sore
Your projects always end up too small
You find you’re having to grip your hook tighter than comfortable
If you crochet loosely, you might find:
Your stitches have unpredictable and uneven gaps and spacing
You struggle when trying to grab your yarn when you’re yarning over
Your edges aren’t straight and clean
Your projects always end up too big
The most common way to correct tension issues is to adjust the way you hold your yarn. If you crochet tightly, you want to hold the yarn in a way where it can flow more readily. If you crochet loosely, you’ll want to wrap your yarn an extra time around your finger so it will be harder for it to slide as freely through your fingers.
Here are four ways to try holding your crochet yarn (it’s really two ways, but each alternative with an added finger wrap for those that need more tension)
Wrap your yarn under your middle finger (or pinky finger or ring finger) and over your pointer finger. Control the tension by squeezing your fingers together as you work a stitch and pull more yarn into your project. The tighter you squeeze, the tighter the tension, the smaller the stitches. Less squeezing pressure will result in looser tension and looser stitches.
And if you want a little built-in yarn muzzle…
Alternatively, rather than squeezing pressure, you can wrap the yarn an extra time around your pointer finger (or pinky finger) which provides a built-in way of adding more tension. This is how I hold my yarn, by wrapping it twice around my pointer finger. It allows for longer crocheting sessions without the hand becoming fatigued from all the squeezing.
When I’m using heavier yarns like bulky weight or heavier, the second wrap ends up causing too much tension so I stick with the single wrap when I’m working with that yarn. How to hold a crochet hook and yarn can change up a bit based on what yarn and hook you’re using, but making those adjustments will be no big deal once your typical hold and grip become second nature.
Although it can seem daunting at first, I hope you feel a lot better about how to hold a crochet hook and yarn. And I’m SOOO glad you started here to learn how to do it! Thank you! Please let me know if you have more questions about how to hold your hook and yarn – or anything else crochet related for that matter.
You might also be interested in these related articles. And all of them have free printable quick reference guides for you to download and save or print to be yours forever!
Knowing how to crochet a chain stitch is an essential crochet technique and super easy to do. A large number of your crochet projects will begin with a crochet chain. The chain stitch is commonly used within a project as well. This post will teach you how to make a crochet chain stitch! You can also find the video tutorial for this (below) and lots of other crochet video tutorials in my free Resource Library.
In a pattern, a chain is abbreviated as “ch”. Not to be confused with the chemical formula abbreviation CH – which stands for the methylidyne radical for all the chemistry geeks out there. Shout out!
I’m also a HUGE fan of the chainless foundation – especially when you’re project requires a super long chain with an immediate turn and requirement to crochet back into that chain. I despise that. I’m not ashamed to say it….
I just DO NOT like crocheting into a chain. End rant.
The chainless foundation allows you to make your chain AND your first row of crochet at the same time. REVOLUTIONARY. My video tutorial on how to do that can be found here. I would also be remiss to mention that I have a video tutorial on how to crochet into the back bump of a chain (versus the front top loop) which creates a MUCH nicer, neater, tighter first row. Crocheting into the back bump creates a first row that meshes well with the rest of your project and avoids all the terrible gaps that can be created in your first row when crocheting into the top loop of the chain. So if you aren’t super stoked about learning the chainless foundation, I would at least encourage you to become comfortable with crocheting into the back bump. Or, at least, give it a try and decide for yourself!
On how to crochet a chain stitch, I’ll give you written steps below, but it might be quicker to just watch my two minute tutorial which I’ve included below as well!
To make a foundation of crochet chain stitches to begin your project or create chain stitches within your project.
It all starts here – the slip knot. Knowing how to slip knot onto your crochet hook will become something you can do in your sleep. It is THE THING that secures your yarn to your crochet hook. No slip knot, no making. In the steps below and the one minute video tutorial that follows, you will learn how to do it!
There are about as many ways to slip knot onto your hook as there are ways to HOLD your hook. They ALL end up in the same slip knot – it’s just the steps that are taken to get you there. So, don’t get thrown off when you see crocheters doing it differently. As long as you end up with a legit slip knot on your hook, you’ll be good to go. A slip knot is a type of knot that behaves just as it sounds – a knot that slips. It easily slips to make the loop larger or smaller, opening and closing. It’s not a SET knot that doesn’t move or change or shift once it’s secure.
So let’s get to making!
I’ll give you written steps describing how to slip knot onto your crochet hook, but it might be quicker to just watch my ONE MINUTE tutorial which I’ve included below!
To secure your yarn onto your crochet hook.
Take your starting yarn and create loop just as if you were making a regular ol’ knot. Rather than pulling the short/loose end of the yarn fully through the loop, leave it dangling through the loop as you tighten the knot.
Insert your crochet hook, front to back, through the loop created. Pull on the short/dangly end of the yarn to secure the knot right up onto your hook.