The chain stitch is used to make the foundation chain for most crochet items. There is also a chainless foundation row but we’ll get into that in a later post. Once you can make a basic chain with the crochet hook, you will be well on your way to knowing how to crochet. The chain plus knowing how to do one other stitch. will be enough to make a lot of projects. In fact, all stitches are a variation of only one stitch so you won’t have to learn that much to be crocheting in no time. First, though, we’ve got to get this chain thing down.
These instructions are going to be very detailed (maybe too detailed). When most things get hard to explain, a lot of instructions turn to pictures or illustrations to bridge the gap. This isn’t very helpful for blind people so I’m going to do my best to explain exactly what to do with a crochet hook in as detailed a way as possible.
You will need some yarn and a crochet hook to practice with. You can use whatever size hook you want but larger sizes might be easier to learn with. Also, be sure to use a simple worsted weight yarn.
Holding the Crochet Hook
Most crochet hooks have a flat spot that helps keep the hook pointing in the direction you want it. If your hook doesn’t have one of these, go get one that does. It would be next to impossible for a blind person to learn to crochet without this.
Hold the hook in your right hand. You want to hold it with your whole hand over the top like you would a knife. Not like a pencil or a fork. Hold the crochet hook so that it is parallel with the floor and with the hook end pointing directly to the left. Your right thumb should be on the flat part of the hook with the actual hook part of the crochet hook on the side with your thumb. Now take your right index finger and lay it on top of the crochet hook. It should just barely reach the end of the hook. You will use this finger to control how many loops get worked with each motion of the hook. The flat part of the handle should end up between your thumb and the underside of your middle finger.
Making a Chain Stitch
- Make a slip knot with a 6 inch tail. Place the slip knot over the crochet hook and pull it until it fits the shaft of your hook very loosely. The loop should be under your right fingertip about half an inch from the end of the hook. Keep the actual knot on the underside of the crochet hook.
- Pick up the strand of yarn going from your slip knot to your ball of yarn with your left hand. You can hold this strand with your thumb and fore finger while the other fingers of your left hand push the tail out of the way. Take your left hand and loop the strand of yarn around the needle from the back. You will move the yarn from under the hook, straight back, up behind the hook, over the top and back to the side closest to your body. Now you will have two loops over the crochet hook. Your slip knot will be the right loop and the yarn you just wrapped around the hook will be on the left. Keep both of these loops about half an inch apart and under your right fingertip. Also be sure to keep the knot from the slip knot on the underside of the crochet hook. With your left thumb and fore finger you will hold both the knot and the strand of yarn so they stay snug.
- Now we are going to pull the yarn through our slip knot. take your left hand and pull it away from the crochet hook so there is about an inch between your hand and the hook. Be sure to keep the yarn snug. You should have both the tail from your slip knot and the strand of yarn between your thumb and fore finger. Using your hand to keep the yarn snug, take your left forefinger and move it from behind the yarn to the front and then between the tail and the strand of yarn. From the right you should have your thumb, the tail of yarn, your left fingertip and then the long strand of yarn all held together. It sounds a lot more complicated than it actually is so hang in there, you’ll be done in a second. You’re ready to pull the strand of yarn on the left through the slip knot on the right so take your crochet hook and pull it slowly to the right. As you pull the hook should grab the strand of yarn that’s on top of your left fingertip. You may need to turn the hook slightly down toward the floor after it grabs the strand of yarn. This will help the loop to stay on the hook as you pull it through the slip knot. Be sure to hold on to the knot of the slip knot and keep pulling the loop through. Holding the knot taught away from the crochet hook and turning the hook so that it’s facing down toward the knot while you pull the loop through will help keep you from getting the hook caught as it goes through the old loop. After you pull the yarn through, you should have one chain stitch on your crochet hook.
All of these steps will flow together after you do it a time or two. Keep repeating steps 2 and three, substituting the knot from the slip knot you are holding in your left hand with the base of the loop you just completed. Without all the details the steps are just wrap the yarn around the crochet hook from the back and pull it through. Keep pulling new loops through until you have as many chain stitches as you want.
- If your hook gets hung up on the way through the old loop just do what you need to do to get it out. Find your loop and put the hook back in. Then get it all situated and try again.
- When crochet directions say to chain 31, for example, you do not count the slip knot or the loop on the hook, so you will actually physically pull the yarn through 32 times. You will have 31 chain stitches between the hook and the slip knot. This will make more sense when you start to crochet your first row.
- Chain loosely so it’s easier to do and so your starting chain isn’t tighter than your work.
- You will eventually develop a consistent tension so all your chain stitches will be the same size. I learned to do this without wrapping the yarn around my fingers like I do in knitting. It would be a lot easier if I wrapped when I crochet but it’s hard to change old habits. It might be helpful to try wrapping the yarn around your left fingers in whatever way you like to get the best tension. Not too tight and not too loose.
I hope these directions are helpful and not confusing. Remember that things make more since with yarn and hook in hand. A tutorial on the single crochet stitch will be coming soon.