Lion Brand Notebook

News, Ideas and Information for Crafting with Yarn

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Great Beginnings: Starting Your Crochet Project Right, Pt. 1

February 11th, 2013

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Technical editor and yarncrafting expert Kj Hay joins us for several articles on starting your project right. Join us this week for a 3-part series on crochet, and join us next week for a 2-part series on knitting.

“The beginning is the most important part of the work.” – Plato

When you crochet you begin with a foundation. The foundation may be a chain, a foundation stitch, a ring, or a separate object (e.g. a curtain ring, another piece of fabric).

Videos, illustrations and written instructions for some foundation methods are available in the Lion Brand Learning Center.

Foundation Chains

Working a number of chain stitches and then working stitches of the first row or round into the chains is the most common foundation method. It can be used for beginning flat, circular or tubular pieces. So, why are there so many alternatives to foundation chains?

Common Problems with Foundation Chains and Possible Solutions

  1. Foundation chains can be noticeably looser or tighter than the following rows or rounds. This can give the beginning edge a floppy or constricted appearance. Using a different sized hook (smaller if tighter chains are needed, larger if looser chains are needed) for the foundation chain can help with this problem.
  2. If the chain stitches are too tight, it is difficult to insert the hook when working the following row or round. This can be particularly aggravating when there are a lot of foundation chains. To avoid this problem, some crocheters use a larger hook when working a foundation chain.
  3. Foundation chains are not very elastic, which can be a problem when the crochet needs to be stretchy as is in sock tops, hat brims, necklines, and waistlines. Working the foundation chain loosely and holding a piece of elastic thread together with the working yarn can provide a good amount of elasticity.
  4. If you miscount the number of chains, you may not realize your mistake until you are completing the first row or round. If you have worked too few chains, you may have to unravel all of your work and begin again. Placing stitch markers in every 10th or 20th chain can help reduce counting errors.
  5. When working large tubular pieces, it can be difficult to join the ends of a foundation chain into a circle without twisting the chain. Waiting to join the piece into a circle until after the first row is complete can help with this problem.
  6. When working a circle, the hole at the center of a foundation chain may be too large and difficult or bulky to close. A common solution is to leave a long beginning tail and, when finishing, weave the tail through the stitches around the outer edge of the center hole, then pull the tail to gather and close the hole.

Come back tomorrow to learn more about foundation stitches and how to do them.