Crochet Questions & Answers: Strong Foundations
Here I will try to answer some of the most common questions crocheters have and to anticipate some questions you might have in future. In my opinion, being a “good” crocheter is not about making perfectly stitched, elaborate, artful creations. It is rather a matter of confidence. You need to be sure of what you are doing and how to do it, and then have the confidence to figure out what to do if things aren’t going quite right. Understanding why you do certain things and why they turn out the way they do increases confidence and leads to successful crocheting. The more you learn, the better you become, in crochet as in life. So feel free to leave your questions below! Be sure to make them as detailed as possible, and I will try to help you as best as I can. Today we’ll talk about strong foundation chains. Every piece of crochet has to start somewhere. The chain stitch is the most basic of the crochet stitches, and a foundation chain serves as a base into which you work your first row of stitches.
1. Does it really matter which way I wrap the yarn over the hook?
A: Yes, always wrap the yarn over the hook from back to front. Try thinking of it this way: If the working yarn is over your forefinger and behind the hook, push back with the hook, then bring the yarn down with your finger in front of the hook; the yarn will be wrapped over the hook in the right direction.
2. What should I do if I’m having trouble getting the loop on my hook over the head of the hook?
A: First, make sure that you are wrapping the yarn over the hook in the right direction. If your yarnover is correct, the problem might be the slip knot: Make sure that your slip knot isn’t too tight. If the problem is subsequent stitches, be sure that you aren’t holding the yarn too tightly whenever you are making a stitch. The following technique may also help:
1. When making the yarnover, the head of the hook should be facing you.
2. As you pull the yarn through the loop on the hook, rotate the hook head 90 degrees so that it faces down toward the chain.
3. How do I keep the growing foundation chain under control?
A: With the working yarn over the forefinger of your non-dominant hand, hold the piece that you are stitching with your thumb and middle finger of that same hand near the hook. As the chain gets longer, keep moving your fingers up close to the hook. This leaves your dominant hand free to maneuver the hook.
4. How do I make an even chain?
A: Chaining evenly takes a bit of practice. When you’re just starting to learn to crochet, it may take a while before you are comfortable holding the yarn and hook. Try not to be discouraged! Concentrate on working loosely and evenly, and practice keeping the fingers that are holding the yarn close to the hook. Make sure to form your stitches on the shank of the hook and not on the narrower throat. Remember to relax your shoulders and breathe.
5. How will I know if my foundation chain is the correct tension?
Do your stitches look consistent? All the stitches should look almost the same size. Are you easily able to work your first row into the chain? After you have worked the foundation chain and the first row or two of your piece, lay it flat on a table and look at it critically. Do the stitches in the next rows flare above the foundation chain? If so, you need a looser chain. Do the stitches pull in above the foundation? If so, you need a tighter foundation chain. In either case, start over from scratch to make the appropriate adjustments. (Voice of Experience: You’ll save time and effort if you make these adjustments while you’re still working on your sample swatch and don't wait until the actual project.)
6. How do I fix a foundation chain that’s too tight?
A: Unfortunately, there is no good fix for a too-tight foundation chain, so it’s important to get it right from the beginning. If you notice right away that your chain is too tight, rip it out and start over. Many people tend to tighten up when working chain stitches. You may find it helps to use a larger hook for the foundation chain, and then switch on the first row or round to the size you need to get the correct gauge. You may prefer to use a foundation single crochet or other foundation stitch in place of a foundation chain.
7. How long does my foundation chain have to be?
A: If you are following a published pattern, the instructions tell you. Sometimes the instructions say to work a “multiple of 4 plus 2.” This means that your stitch pattern requires any multiple of 4 stitches plus 2 for turning or to balance a stitch pattern (for instance, a total of 6, 10, 14, or more chains). If you are working without a published pattern, chain as many stitches as you need for the number of stitches on the first row, plus the number you need for a turning chain. The number of stitches in a turning chain is based on the height of the first stitch you’ll work on the first row.