There’s more than one way to prevent those ugly gaps at the beginning of crochet rows. I’ll explain what causes those annoying holes, and how to fix them.
Learn these methods, then choose the one that works best for you in each situation. Different yarns and stitch patterns will create different results, so the solution in one project might be different from the solution in a different project.
I’m using American crochet terminology.
Blame the Turning Chain
A turning chain usually starts a new row or round. Its purpose is to bring the hook up to the level of the new row. When the turning chain is used as a double crochet or a treble crochet, it sits in the location of that stitch, but it’s a lot skinnier than the stitch it’s standing in for.
Also, the turning chain usually sits a bit to the side, rather than squarely on top of the stitch below it, causing a gap.
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#1: Use a Shorter Turning Chain
Instructions typically tell you to chain 3 for a double crochet or chain 4 for a treble crochet. Instead, chain one less. In other words, chain 2 for a double-crochet turn or chain 3 for a treble-crochet turn. You still count that turning chain as a stitch, so work the next “real” stitch into the next stitch of the row, and work the last stitch of the next row into the top of that shorter turning chain.
#2: Don’t Use the Turning Chain as a Stitch
Use a regular turning chain (chain-2 or chain-3 for double crochet, chain-3 or chain-4 for treble crochet), but put the first stitch of the row into the stitch at the base of the turning chain. Put the last stitch of the next row into the top of the last “real” stitch, ignoring the turning chain.
#3: Use a False Turning Chain
Pull the first loop of the row up to the level of the new row, then chain 1. Put the first stitch into the very first stitch of the row, and ignore the turning chain as you did with the method above.
#4: Use An Alternative Turning Chain
Without chaining, work a single crochet into the first stitch. Insert the hook into the left-most leg of the stitch you just made (or the right-most leg for left-handed crocheters), yarn over and pull up a loop, yarn over and pull through 2 loops. You’ve just put another single crochet into the left-most leg of the previous stitch.
For a double crochet row, you should now be up to the level of the double crochet stitch. Count this alternative turning chain as a stitch, and continue working across the row. When you come back to this stitch at the end of the next row, be sure to work into the top of it.
For a treble crochet row, put one more single crochet into the left-most (right-most) leg of the single crochet, for a total of 3 single crochets, before continuing with your treble crochets.
#5 Use Linked Stitches
This method links the turning chain directly to the first stitch. Count this linked stitch as a stitch, and be sure to work into the top of it when you get to it on the next row.
For double crochet, ch 2, insert the hook into the back bump of the 2nd chain from the hook, yarn over and pull up a loop, insert hook into stitch at base of chain, yarn over and pull up a loop. You now have 3 loops on your hook. (Yarn over, pull through 2 loops) 2 times to complete the double crochet.
For treble crochet, ch 3, insert the hook into the back bump of the 2nd chain from the hook, yarn over and pull up a loop, insert the hook into the back bump of the next chain, yarn over and pull up a loop, insert hook into stitch at base of chain, yarn over and pull up a loop. You now have 4 loops on your hook. (Yarn over, pull through 2 loops) 3 times to complete the treble crochet.
If you are starting a new yarn, you can use a standing stitch in place of a turning chain. These 5 ways to prevent gaps at the beginning of crochet rows are by no means the only ones you have available to you, but they are the ones I use most often.
If you know a different method that works well for you, please share it in the comments below.
Can you tell me what a spike single crochet st is from your book Beyond the Square motif 29, pg 68
Your timing is perfect. I just published a YouTube video on this technique. Check out https://youtu.be/b-97-oAPOSs
Love it!!! That’s really awesome!
Thanks, for the video no to see if this helps me with the uneven ends I keep getting.
Thank you very much for this technique
love this 🙂 where were you for the past 50 years of my crocheting life? ohh so many afghans that look wanky… but the kids didn’t mind. thank you so much. G-d bless.
Well, I’ve been around for the past 25 years or so, but I’m glad you found me now! 😉
I feel like Marsha but only 80 years of my crocheting life,thank you so much, and I am 90 and still learning., you are never too old to learn.
God Bless You
Hi! My go to method is to chain 3 for turning and counting it as a double crochet. However, when I go back over it in the next row, I work my double crochet into the back bump of the top of the turning chain. This will move it more into the position of a regular stitch.
Hope this helps!
Thank you, Edie, for these turning chain gap tips and tricks. They’re great…. I hate that chain-3 gap on a finished project and any tip to remedy it is so very welcome! I’ve tried a couple of your methods but can’t wait to try the rest! And Marianne, thank you for giving us your method for alleviating the gap. I’m excited to try your tip as well!
Glad you found them helpful, Charlotte. Let us know which ones work for you.
This is the most interesting information I have seen in a long time. I Love it. Keep it coming.
My favorite method is the Chainless Starting DC/HDC, which I learned from Tamara Kelly’s blog, Moogly:
That’s a good one! Thanks for sharing.
Hello Edie, my pattern asks to double crochet on the fourth chain of back post Please help so I get a straight edge. Thanks Rosie
Hi Rosie- I know what crocheting in the 4th chain might mean, but I don’t know what crochet in 4th chain of back post means. I would have to see more of the pattern to understand exactly what the designer means in context. I would suggest that you check with someone local to you who can help–someone at your local yarn shop or a friend who crochets. If it’s a pattern you found online, you might be able to contact the designer or publisher for clarification.
I so love this method❤️! It’s perfect and keeps everything aligned . Thanks for sharing!!
Thanks for this excellent article, Edie, and thanks to your readers for sharing their ideas, too. I have another variation to add to the discussion.
I use the alternative method you presented, as in stacking single crochet stitches one on top the other. However, I have a slightly different way of doing it.
To start a new row of double crochet, remove the hook from the loop and reinsert it from the other direction. Turn the piece clockwise.
Without chaining, insert the hook in the first stitch, yarn UNDER and pull the loop through (two loops on hook), yarn OVER and pull through both loops to complete the lower single crochet.
To work the upper single crochet, insert the hook into the left leg of the single crochet just made, yarn UNDER, and pull through (two loops on hook), yarn OVER and pull through both loops to complete the upper single crochet.
Continue making double crochet stitches as normal along the remainder of the row.
When it comes time to work into the last stitch of the row, it has the typical configuration of the two loops at the top, so you can work the final stitch under those two loops.
The appearance of this alternate stitch is almost indistinguishable from all the other double crochet stitches in the rest of the piece.
I made a YouTube video that shows this method…https://youtu.be/c4yWkLN24ds. Skip to 8:34 to get right to the demo.
Hello – I’m halfway through a prayer shawl, in which I crochet into the turning chain and count it as a stitch. I’m a beginner crocheter, and I find that that results in even edges, but I get the large gaps between rows. For obvious reasons, I don’t want to frog the whole thing, so is there a border I can work into the finished prayer shawl? I want to get rid of those gaps without having to start over. Thanks!
Welcome to crocheting! You can always just put a single crochet edge around the shawl. I’d do 2-3 rounds, but be sure to increase at the corners so it will lie flat. Or, you could add something more decorative. I’ve got two books of crocheted edgings that are engineered to lie flat around corners. Take a look at Around the Corner Crochet Borders http://amzn.to/1WNznhK and Every Which Way Crochet Borders http://amzn.to/2bz5foQ for ideas.
Also read 5 Tips for Beautiful Borders at https://www.edieeckman.com/2019/02/03/5-tips-for-beautiful-crochet-borders/.
Good luck, and let me know on social media how it turned out.
I like to do a slip stitch into the top of the first stitch in the next row then chain 2(loose) or 3(tight) and let it be my first “stitch” of the row. The difference in the 2 or 3 is more about the weight of the yarn. Thinner yarn needs the 3 to make it look like a stitch rather than a chain. When you come back across just crochet your last stitch if the row into the top of the chain.