The most important part of every piece you crochet is your foundation. If the foundation chain is wonky, the entire piece won’t come out right. In this guide, you’ll learn the skills to make the pieces that make up your foundation: the slip knot and the chain.
With the crochet hook comfortably in your hand, you’re ready to begin working with the yarn. First, make a slip knot to attach the yarn to your hook.
Follow these figures for a simple way to make a slip knot:
Finally, gently pull each of the ends in opposite directions. This tightens the knot and makes it smaller. Making a slip knot is that simple!
Now that you’ve made a slip knot and secured the yarn to the hook, you’ll want to practice holding the yarn. It’s important that you control how the yarn is fed into your work to keep an even tension in your stitches.
How you hold the yarn is an individual choice. However, it’s important that you’re not only comfortable, but that you also have control over it. Hold the yarn taut enough to be able to hook (catch) the yarn with the barb of the crochet hook, but not so tight that you can’t get the hook through your stitches. With practice, you’ll get a feel for tension.
For practice, select wool yarn that crochets to 4 or 4.5 stitches to the inch (commonly called worsted weight) and a size I-9 (5mm) hook. Wool is very elastic and forgiving; you will find it much easier to work with than a yarn such as cotton, which is not elastic at all. Choose a smooth yarn, not a novelty yarn full of loops or eyelashes. Those look pretty and you can crochet with them soon enough, but using them as you begin will only confuse you.
Take the yarn with your left hand. With the palm of your left hand facing up, thread the yarn through your fingers; it should be able to flow through your fingers. Moving your index finger up and down lets you increase or decrease the tautness of the yarn. You’ll begin to find a rhythm as you work, and soon the movement will feel very natural.
If you’re having trouble wrapping the yarn around all your fingers, let it flow behind your index finger, in front of your middle and ring fingers, and back behind your little finger.
You’ve now attached the yarn to the hook, and you’re holding the yarn in your left hand. It’s time to crochet.
If you were constructing a building, you’d need to start with a solid foundation. Crocheting is no different. You start with a foundation chain, which is a row of chains that serves as the base of your crocheting—the foundation from which a piece is built. It is this base that holds your stitches and all succeeding rows.
The following illustrations walk you through the process for making a foundation chain. To make a chain, bring the yarn over the hook and pull it through the slip loop on your hook. Catching your yarn with the hook is called a yarn over. Initially, it might feel awkward, but with practice it’ll become natural.
Now make another chain stitch, and then another, and another. As you work, keep moving your thumb up and hold the yarn right below your hook. This will become second nature as you practice.
Try to make your chains the same size. The chain should be the same size as the shank of your hook. If you make them too tight, you won’t be able to insert the hook into the chains to make stitches later. If you have problems with this, use a larger hook to make your foundation chain.
Crochet patterns begin by telling you how many chains to make. It’s important to understand how to count the number of chains you’re making. Let’s say the pattern tells you to chain 20. Begin with a slip knot, yarn over, and pull the yarn through 20 times to make 20 chains. You will have 1 extra loop left on your hook at the end, but that’s not a chain. You’ll use that loop to make the first stitch of the next row.
It’s important to distinguish the chain’s front from its back. Always count your chain stitches on the front. You will work into the front of the chain stitches as you build on this foundation in the next row.
Now that you know how to make the foundation, it’s time to get into the basic stitches! Check out our Quick Guide, Crochet 101: The Basic Stitches. Good luck, and happy crocheting!
From The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Knitting and Crocheting Illustrated, Third Edition, by Barbara Breiter and Gail Diven