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When we learn how to crochet we might run away with all the stitches and combos but the truth is that it all begins with the most basic things of all: crochet chain and slip knot.
Slip knot and the chain are really at the base of it all. You literally can’t start a crochet project without them.
The first thing you will need to make is a slip knot.
What is a Slip Knot
A Slip Knot is an adjustable loop from which the process of crochet begins. It’s like that first step for your crochet projects. It is used to start any crochet project. It is the first loop into which your crochet hook will go into. If you are following a crochet pattern, a slip knot most often will not be mentioned in there as you always begin the project with one.
I’ve seen at least five different ways people create the slip knot, some have the yarn wrapped around the index finger, others around middle finger, and most of those different methods confused me, so I’ll show you the easiest way that my mom taught me that is super simple and works just fine.
An easy way to make a slip knot
To create the slip knot, first pull out a strand of yarn about 6 to 8 inches long.
Create a loop by placing the tail of the yarn over the main yarn.
Next just flop this loop over the main working yarn in the way that yarn peeks underneath somewhere in the middle (see that bar that’s crossing the loop?).
Then grab that yarn with the tips of your fingers and pull until the knot begins to tighten up (I’m showing here with the crochet hook). Hold the ends of the yarn with the other hand to make it easier. Voila! You end up with a loop on one end and strands of yarn on another. See how simple that was?
(below, see a video tutorial of how I do it!)
Practice making the slip knot a few more times till you get a hang of it. If you have a hard time grabbing and pulling the yarn with your fingers, you can do the same with a hook (now you really feel like a pro crocheter!)
Now that you have your slip knot down pat, let’s figure out how to crochet chain stitch for beginners.
What is a crochet chain
Before you do, know that you will find the chain referred to in different ways: chain, crochet chain, chainlink, foundation chain, and beginning chain. For ease here, let’s call it a crochet chain.
To create a crochet chain, we will start with the slip knot and use a basic stitch called chain which is basically a loop of yarn. You will see it mentioned in the patterns as CH.
CH refers to a chain stitch used to create the beginning crochet chain but also individual chains that are used in the patterns. Patterns usually tell you the number of chains you need to make to start the project.
For now, we will think of CH as a stitch we use to create a crochet chain, that is a string of single loops.
How to make a crochet chain
To start a crochet chain, we make a slip knot (see above).
To begin, we will hold the slip knot between our thumb and pointer, in our left hand. The long end of the yarn is wrapped around our middle, ring, or pinkie on the left hand as well. We will hold the hook with our right hand.
Insert hook into the loop created by the slip knot.
Wrap the yarn around the tip of the hook once (also called Yarn Over or YO) and pull the hook back out of the slip know making sure that the yarn is also pulled through.
This creates a new loop. This loop is called a chain (CH or 1 CH), and it’s your first stitch.
To make the next chain, the process is a bit different.
Holding the chain and the yarn in your left hand and your hook in your right hand, wrap the yarn around the tip of the hook and pull the yarn out and through the loop of the chain. Now you have another chain.
All the following chains are made this same way: To make an additional chain, wrap (YO) the yarn around the hook and pull the loop through.
Repeat this motion until you have as many chain loops in your chain as you need (or the pattern requires).
(See how I do it):
The trick when learning how to make the chain is not to make it to lose or too tight and keep the loops about the same size.
As a beginner, you might find your first chains coming out super tight as you learn to hold the hook while wrangling the yarn into place, while not letting the yarn slip off the end of the hook as you are pulling through. It’s easy to become frustrated, but don’t let it get to you. Keep on practicing until it becomes second nature to you.
All first steps are hard, but the best thing is that in crochet you can learn everything literally one step at a time because you always work with just one loop at a time.
- Practice making a chain until you can get it somewhat even. This motion of making the foundation chain will give you the practice you will need later to make your stitches even-sized and with the good tension (not too loose and not too tight).
- If you find that you are having a really hard time with your crochet chain coming out super tight, try using a larger hook.
- You can also try to use a type of yarn that is not too silky or slippery. Use a basic classic yarn like Red Heart Super Saver. It might not be the fanciest yarn you’ll use but it’s very inexpensive, does the job, and great for practice.
- If, instead, your beginner chain is way too loose, you might try a smaller size hook. Again, make sure that your yarn is not silky slippery.
- Another thing to consider is the material that the hook is made of. Slipper hooks like steel or smooth clear plastic might let the yarn slip off too easily. If you find yourself constantly dropping the yarn off the hook, try a wooden hook or a hook made of matte plastic.
- By practicing making a basic chain, you will find your movement, your preference in hooks, and yarn (at least for your first projects).
Making a chain is truly not a waste of time. Plus, you can use your practice chains as hair ties, bracelets, shoelaces, and to adorn journals and things like that.
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