How to Start Crochet

Contrary to rumor, there is more than one way to start a crochet project. In fact, there are a variety of different ways to get started. Each one has its advantages and disadvantages, and there are certain reasons you might want to use one way instead of another.

1. The Chain Stitch

The traditional way (and the most popular way) to start a crochet project is with a chain stitch. However, please don’t be fooled into thinking that this is the only way to begin a project — even though some otherwise-credible books and teachers have said so.

How to Start a Crochet Chain: Before you can proceed with crocheting your chain stitch, you first need to form a slip knot.

Disadvantages of Starting With a Chain Stitch: There are several disadvantages that I’ve noticed.

  • If you work your chain too tightly, your project might get wider as you crochet additional rows. This is particularly true when you work with cotton or other fibers that are not resilient.

    Sometimes, you can solve this problem by chaining loosely, or by working your starting chain with a hook that’s one size larger than you use for crocheting the rest of the project. However, if the issue persists, you may wish to try a different method.
  • Chain stitches aren’t “stretchy.” Which is fine, if you don’t need them to be; perhaps you’re making an afghan or a scarf, or another project that does not require elasticity. But what if you’re making a sweater, a pair of socks, or anything else that needs some resilience?
  • You have to count your chain stitches carefully. If you mess up and count incorrectly, you’ll have to unravel your work and start over — a real time-waster.

2. The Double Base Chain

I learned about this little-known method in the Harmony Guide to Crochet Stitches, Volume 1 by James Walters and Sylvia Cosh. Someday soon, I hope to post a tutorial for this, but for now it is not essential since none of the patterns we’ve posted actually begin this way.

3. Foundation Stitches

You can get your projects started using the foundation single crochet, foundation double crochet and other foundation stitches. There are some free tutorials for these posted at the Lion Brand blog.

4. Magic Ring / Adjustable Ring

The magic ring is an adjustable alternative to the foundation chain when you are starting crochet projects that utilize a center ring, such as granny squares and circles.

The Lion Brand blog has a free tutorial.

5. Crochet Directly Into Fabric

If you want to crochet an edging onto a pillowcase, tablecloth, handkerchief, skirt or piece of fabric, this is one possible way you could approach the task.

This method is challenging and has many pitfalls. I do it sometimes, and I’ve even posted patterns that utilize this method — but it’s not for people who are easily frustrated.

6. Embroider Onto Fabric, and Crochet Into the Embroidery

In many cases, this is going to be a saner and easier method than crocheting directly into the fabric.

There are different stitches you could use for this, but the blanket stitch is a tried-and-true favorite.

7. Crochet Into an Object

Upcycled Crochet Napkin Rings, Made Using Pull Tabs and Wire.  A Free Crochet Pattern Is Available for This Design.
Upcycled Crochet Napkin Rings, Made Using Pull Tabs and Wire. A Free Crochet Pattern Is Available for This Design.

You could crochet into all kinds of things — purse handles, metal rings, plastic rings, and more.

To create the napkin rings pictured here, I used wire and crocheted into the pull tabs from cat food cans.

If you’re ever bored and in need of something different to work on, I challenge you to take a look around and see if you can think of other oddball items you could crochet into.

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