How Many Foundation Chains Do I Need?

Crocheters often wonder how many foundation chains they need to result in their desired number of stitches.

How many foundation chains do I need? with photo of a crochet chain

It can be confusing! Sometimes you chain 4 more than the number of stitches you want, but other times you chain just one more. How do you figure out how many foundation chains you need?

I could tell you how many chains you need to get the number of stitches you want on the first row. You could look back to this blog post every time you want to know the answer (see below). That would be awesome for my website traffic, but not so great for helping you learn. I’d rather have you understand how to figure out for yourself how many foundation chains you need.

I’m using American crochet terminology in this article. If you are in the UK, refer to this conversion chart.

What’s on the first row?

The first thing you must know is how many stitches you want on the first row, and what type of stitches they are.

If you are designing your own project, you’ve worked a gauge swatch and done the math to figure out how many stitches you need. If you are following a pattern, you can follow the pattern instructions, or adapt it as needed.

The first stitch of the first row is crucial, because the number of foundation chains depends on the height of the first stitch of the row.

Turning Chains

Crochet stitches are created below the level of the hook. When you start a new row or round, you have to bring the hook up to that new level before working the stitches on the next row.

photo showing turning chain for double crochet
Stitches are created below the level of the crochet hook. A turning chain is the ladder that allows the hook to reach the level of the next row.

Think of the turning chain as a ladder that carries your hook up to that next level. The taller the first stitch of the row, the more steps you need to take on your ladder to reach that height. In other words, you need more turning chains for taller stitches.

The very first turning chain is part of the foundation chain. That means you have to crochet extra chains to incorporate the turning chain.

This first turning chain is created when you insert your hook into the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th (or more) chain from the hook. The skipped chains count as the turning chain.

You also need to know whether you are counting the turning chain as a stitch. In single crochet, the turning chain is usually not counted as a stitch. In half double, double, or treble crochet, the turning chain is often—but not always—counted as a stitch.

Photo showing turning chain and where first single crochet goes into a foundation chain

For more information, read Where to Put the First Stitch of a Crochet Row and How to Prevent Gaps at the Beginning of Crochet Rows.

Table showing number of turning chains for different stitches when the turning chain counts as a stitch and doesn't count as a stitch

Foundation Chains for Single Crochet

Now that you know you need one turning chain for single crochet (sc), and that turning chain is not going to count as a stitch, you can figure out how many chains you need.

Let’s say you want to end up with 10 single crochet stitches on the first row. You need one for each stitch, plus one turning chain, so you need a total of 11 chains to result in ten stitches. I think it’s easier to understand using stitch symbols.

10 sc on first row + 1 turning chain = 11 foundation chains

Crochet symbols for foundation chains and Single crochet row

Foundation Chains for Half Double Crochet

The calculation for half double crochet (hdc) will depend on whether you are using the turning chain as a stitch. When it gets a bit more complicated like this, I often sketch it out on a piece of paper to remind myself how many foundation chains I need. It makes more sense to me when I see it in a visual format like a stitch diagram.

Assume we are using a chain-2 turning chain for this half double crochet. If I want 10 hdc on the first row, and I am not counting the turning chain as a stitch, I need to add 2 chains.

10 hdc on first row + 2 turning chains = 12 foundation chains

Stitch diagram showing foundation chain when turning chain is not used as a hdc

If I want 10 hdc on the first row, and I am counting the turning chain as a stitch, I need to add 1 chain.

10 hdc on first row + 1 turning chain = 11 foundation chains

Stitch diagram showing foundation chain when turning chain is used as a hdc

Foundation Chains for Double Crochet

Double crochet is like half double crochet, in that you have to know how you are treating the turning chain, and how many chains you are using. Assume we are using a 3-chain turning chain for this double crochet.

If I want 10 dc on the first row, and I am not counting a chain-3 turning chain as a stitch, I need to add 3 chains.

10 dc on first row + 3 chains = 13 foundation chains

Stitch diagram showing foundation chain when turning chain is not used as a dc

If I want 10 dc on the first row, and I am counting a chain-3 turning chain as a stitch, I need to add 2 chains.

10 dc on first row + 2 chains = 12 foundation chains

Stitch diagram showing foundation chain when turning chain is used as a dc

Can you work out for yourself how many foundation chains you would need for treble crochet?

This post contains affiliate links which may provide a small income to me if you buy something from this page, but they don’t cost you anything extra.

Learning More

Crochet Answer Book 2nd edition by Edie Eckman cover image
The Crochet Answer Book is a classic pocket reference.

Now you understand the relationship of the foundation chain to turning chains, to the height of stitches, and to whether the turning chain is used as a stitch. And now you can figure out how many foundation chains you need in every situation!

Have more questions? Refer to The Crochet Answer Book. It has answers to questions like these, and all your crochet questions, in a handy format. It’s a compact reference that you can stick in your project bag and have ready at all times, even when you can’t get online.

You can hire me as a consultant or tech editor to help you with all your crochet needs. And I teach online and all around the country, as well!

My YouTube channel is full of video tutorials that offer the “why” as well as the “how” of crochet techniques. Subscribe to it now!


Still wishing you had table for a quick answer? Here it is:

Table showing number of crochet chains to add for different types of stitches in the first row.

How to Crochet a Granny Square

The granny square is the most common motif in crochet. Almost everybody recognizes a granny square! Even beginning crocheters can learn to crochet a granny square.

Granny squares are useful and versatile. They can be crocheted in any yarn . They can be dressed up or down, and they can be combined in so many different ways.

Granny squares are relaxing to crochet because the concept is so easy. The hook goes into spaces, not stitches, so once you get the feel of it, you can almost crochet without looking.

Follow these steps,and watch the video tutorial to crochet a classic granny square. I’m using American crochet terminology in this post. This post contains affiliate links.

What is a Granny Square?

Although a lot of people use the term “granny square” to refer to any type of crocheted square, a true granny square is a specific type of crocheted motif.

A classic granny square is crocheted from the center out. It consists of groups of three double crochet stitches, separated by chain spaces. All of the stitches are worked into chain spaces, not into the tops of stitches.

How to Crochet Granny square with helpful labels

They can be crocheted in one color, but are most often seen in multiple colors. It’s a great way to use up small amounts of different colored yarns!

There are lots of granny square variations. What follows is a classic Granny Square with chain-1 spaces between the stitch groups, and a combination of chain-3 and chain-2 corner spaces.

Tips & Tricks

Many granny square instructions have you join new colors and start new rounds with a chain-3 build-up chain at the beginning of the round. I don’t like the way that looks, so in these instructions I’ve added the refinement of using a standing double crochet to start each new color.

If you understand the construction of a granny square, you can make them without a pattern. Basically, you are putting 3 double crochets into each chain-1 space, (3 double crochet, ch 2, 3 double crochet) into each corner space, and you are using a chain 1 to bridge the gap over each 3-double crochet group.

Don’t worry-that will make more sense once you’ve crocheted one! Be sure to watch the video below for more tips.

A printable ad-free copy of this pattern is available to subscribers to my newsletter. Click on the button to subscribe and get the pattern.

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Granny Square Instructions

Abbreviations

A, B, C: yarn colors
ch: chain
dc: double crochet
rep: repeat
rnd(s): round(s)
st(s): stitch(es)
standing dc (standing double crochet): beginning with a slip knot on the hook, work a double crochet into the space indicated

Materials

Any yarn and any hook appropriate for your yarn

This granny square uses three different colors but you can make your granny square with any number of colors.

Instructions

With A, ch 4, join with slip st to form a ring.

Rnd 1: Ch 3 (counts as dc), 2 dc in ring, ch 2, [3 dc in ring, ch 3] 3 times, join with slip st to top of beginning ch-3. Fasten off. You have 4 3-dc groups and 4 corner spaces.

Rnd 2: With B, standing dc in any corner space, [2 dc, ch 2, 3 dc] in same corner space, ch 1, *[3 dc, ch 2, 3 dc] in next ch-space, ch 1; rep from * around, join with slip st to top of first dc. Fasten off. You have 8 3-dc groups, 4 corner spaces, and 4 ch-1 spaces.

Rnd 3: With C, [standing dc, 2 dc, ch 2, 3 dc] in any corner space, *ch 1, 3 dc in next space, ch 1**, [3 dc, ch 2, 3 dc] in next space; rep from * around, ending last rep at **, join with slip st to first dc. Fasten off. You have 12 3-dc groups, 4 corner spaces, and 8 ch-1 spaces.

Rnd 4: With A, [standing dc, 2 dc, ch 2, 3 dc] in any corner space, *ch 1, [3 dc in next space, ch 1] in each space to corner space**, [3 dc, ch 2, 3 dc] in corner space; rep from * around, ending last rep at **, join with slip st to first dc. Fasten off. You have 4 corner spaces, 4 additional 3-dc groups, and 4 additional ch-1 spaces.

To make the granny square larger, repeat Rnd 4, changing colors as desired.

If your granny square starts to look off-kilter, read Skewing Grannies. For a fun variation on the classic granny square, try a Tower Stitch Granny.

Watch the Video for More Information

In this video, I show you how to crochet the granny square I just described.

Note that on Round 3, I start the round in the middle of a side (in a chain-1 space), rather than in the corner as the written instructions show. This is just to demonstrate that you can start the round anywhere at all, as long as you understand granny construction!

Crochet Pattern Round-Up: Unusual Techniques

Break out of your crochet rut and try a new technique! Skip the rows of double crochet and rounds of granny squares.

Find a technique that’s new to you with this collection of crochet projects that use unusual techniques.

WeCrochet: A Brand Just for Crocheters

We Crochet Featured Image with Girl in Hat

Recently a new player has arrived in the crochet world. WeCrochet is a new multi-faceted brand that focuses entirely on crochet. I interviewed Heather Mann, Marketing Coordinator of WeCrochet, about what crocheters can expect to see.

This post contains affiliate links, which may provide a small income to me if you buy something, but doesn’t cost you anything extra.

Tell us a little about WeCrochet, and why you felt there was a need for a crochet-specific brand.

WeCrochet is the new brand dedicated to all things crochet. We have an online store, WeCrochet Magazine, WeCrochet Podcast, a blog, and a learning center with crochet how-tos and videos.

WeCrochet magazine

There are many websites, publications, and brands devoted to knitting, but almost none that focus exclusively on crochet, yet crochet is increasing in popularity according to Google search trends. We wanted to create a place for Crocheters, by Crocheters, with patterns and content that is tailored to what Crocheters want.

What does WeCrochet offer than is different from other sites that offer yarn and crochet patterns?

We carry our own yarn (co-branded with our sister site, Knit Picks), our own crochet hooks, and develop our own patterns, but that’s just the beginning.

The most important component of WeCrochet is the community we are building within the already vibrant online crochet community. We feature Crocheters on our blog and in our magazine, feature community crocheters’ photos on Instagram and Facebook, interact with people via our Ravelry and Facebook groups as well as all our social media channels. I think the passion our staff has for crochet (we are all Crocheters too) spills out into everything that we do, and you can feel the love we have for crochet and our crochet community.

The WeCrochet Team
Heather Mann (left) and the WeCrochet team

How did you become involved with WeCrochet?

Colorful crocheted throw from WeCrochet

I was a professional craft blogger (at DollarStoreCrafts.com) for 10 years, as well as running my own influencer marketing company, but I was ready for a change. I’m a super crafty person (I call myself an “omnicrafter”), and I’ve been crocheting for 15 years. When I found out Knit Picks was starting a crochet site AND that their headquarters are in my town, I couldn’t apply for the job fast enough.

I was the first person hired for the new crochet site and I participated in all aspects of defining the brand. I’m really proud of what we’ve accomplished in the last year.

Your site is bright and appealing, and has resources for beginning crocheters. What do you offer more advanced crocheters in the way of content?

Crocheted Sweater from WeCrochet

We are dedicated to serving Crocheters of all levels. Right now what we are doing to serve more advanced Crocheters is providing intermediate and advanced crochet patterns. We have focused on developing beautiful sweater and garment patterns, as well as resources and patterns designed to help beginning Crocheters level up into more advanced Crocheters. We also talk about intermediate and advanced techniques in our magazine, podcast, and blog.

It’s National Crochet Month. What is WeCrochet doing to celebrate?

We’ll be celebrating with a segment on the WeCrochet podcast, donating staff projects to Warm Up America, and doing some fun giveaways on our social media accounts. We’re also starting a new Crochet Along for the Bobble Diamond Blanket, that will go from March-April.

What else do you want us to know?

If you are a crochet designer, keep your eye on our Ravelry group for our submission calls so you can submit patterns to our upcoming publications. And all Crocheters, please feel free to reach out to us anytime via social media.

Yay Crochet Kits from WeCrochet are deeply discounts kits that contain the WeCrochet magazine plus tools and yarns you can use to make some of the projects in the magazine.

The $15 Yay Crochet Kit is a $39 value
The $25 Yay Crochet Kit is a $100 value.

Here are some of the beautiful yarns available from WeCrochet’s website:

Crochet Yarn Overs and Yarn Unders: What’s the Difference?

Are you using yarn under graphic

Almost every crochet stitch includes the instruction “yarn over”. But what is a yarn over and how is it different from a yarn under? Does it really make a difference in your crochet?

Yes, it does make a difference. Let me explain. Read all the way to the bottom of the post, then watch the video.

I’m using American crochet terminology.

How to Yarn Over

Start with your hands in the ready position, as shown in the photos. The hook is in front of the working yarn.

Neutral "Ready" position for right hand
Neutral “ready” position for right hand

Your dominant hand holds the hook and your non-dominant hand controls the yarn, with the working yarn coming over your index finger. This means that if you are right-handed, the hook is in your right hand and the yarn in your left. If you are left-handed, the hook is in your left hand and the yarn is in your right.

Neutral "ready" position for left hand
Neutral “ready” position for left hand

Press back with the hook and at the same time bring the yarn over the hook from back to front. The yarn will be crossing the front of the hook from upper right to lower left if you are right-handed, and from upper left to lower right if you are left-handed.

Yarn over for right-handed crocheters
Yarn over for right-handed crocheters
Yarn over for left-handed crocheters
Yarn over for left-handed crocheters

How to Yarn Under

Start in the ready position as described above, but bring the hook over the top of the working yarn, so that the yarn crosses the front of the hook from lower right to upper left for right-handers, or from lower left to upper right for left-handers.

Yarn under for right-handed crocheters
Yarn under for right-handed crocheters
Yarn under for left-handed crocheters
Yarn under for left-handed crocheters

Single Crochet: Yarn Over and Yarn Under

To work a regular single crochet, insert the hook into the stitch, yarn over — notice the position of the yarn — and pull up a loop, then yarn over and pull through two loops on the hook.

Some crocheters work a yarn under instead of a yarn over at a crucial point. Often they don’t even know they are doing a yarn under! Here’s what typically happens:
Insert the hook into the stitch, yarn under — notice the position of the yarn — and pull up a loop, then yarn over and pull through two loops on the hook.

Why Does It Matter?

Take a look at the photo below. In the first few rows, I crocheted a regular single crochet, made with yarn overs. The two legs of these single crochet are parallel to one another.

regular sc compared to crossed sc
The stitch circled in red is crossed, while the stitch circled in green is straight.

Then I switched techniques on the last row. On that row, after I inserted the hook into the stitch, I did a yarn under then finished off the second step with a yarn over. In this example, the two legs of the single crochet are crossed.

The yarn unders create twisted stitches, but they also change the gauge and the drape of the fabric. Chances are, if you’ve been working unintended yarn unders, you’ve been having trouble matching the pattern gauge! Try it yourself and see the difference.

Some people like to use yarn under single crochet stitches for amigurumi projects. That’s fine, as long as it is intentional!

Double Crochet: Yarn Over and Yarn Under

Double crochet has three yarn overs, and thus three opportunities to make yarn unders. However, let’s concentrate on what happens when you do a yarn under right after you insert your hook into the fabric, as above.

Here’s a regular double crochet: Yarn over, insert the hook into the stitch, yarn over and pull up a loop, (yarn over, pull through 2 loops) two times.

See how the legs at the base of the double crochet are parallel?

double crochet with parallel legs made with yarn over
The strands on the base of this double crochet are parallel.

Here’s a twisted double crochet: Yarn over, insert the hook into the stitch, yarn under and pull up a loop, (yarn over, pull through 2 loops) two times.

Twisted double crochet stitches made with yarn under
The base of these double crochets are twisted.

This time, the legs at the base of the double crochet are twisted.

Know the Difference

If you are just learning to crochet, pay attention to the way you are wrapping the yarn over the hook. Get into the habit of checking that you are working a yarn over (unless the pattern says otherwise).

If you have been crocheting for a while and have only just discovered that you are doing unintentional yarn unders, it’s not too late to change!

Take time to study what you have been doing, then practice working yarn overs instead of yarn unders. It may feel strange at first, but you will eventually find that it is easier to get the yarn through the fabric with a yarn over.

Has this post been eye-opening to you? Have you discovered that you were yarn undering when you should have been yarn overing? Let me know in the comments.

The following affiliate links might provide a small income to me if you buy something, but don’t cost you anything extra.

The yarn I’m using in the photos and video is Marly Bird’s Chic Sheep from Red Heart. The crochet hook is Clover Amour, size 5.5 mm.

Keep Learning

Want to know more about crochet? I’ve got resources and links to up your skill level.

Flame Stitch Crochet Stitch Pattern

Show your colors with the Flame Stitch crochet stitch pattern! There are several variations of this stitch, but they are all great ways to use different yarn colors. Try it in vibrant hues, or more subtle gradient shades.

This pattern uses American crochet terminology. You’ll be using single crochet, double crochet, and long double crochet (also know as spike double crochet). Watch the video below for more details.

This post contains affiliate links, which won’t cost you anything extra but may provide a small income to me.

You’ll need at least thee colors of yarn, in any weight, and a hook in an appropriate size for the yarn.  The yarn I’m using is Red Heart Chic Sheep by Marly Bird. I’m using a 5.5 mm Clover Amour crochet hook.

Flame Stitch

Flame Stitch stitch chart

Worked in three colors: A, B and C.

With A, chain a multiple of 4 + 2.

Set-Up Row 1 (WS): Working in back bumps of chains, sc in 2nd ch from hook, *ch 3, skip 3 ch, sc in next ch; rep from * across, changing to B on last st, turn.

Set-Up Row 2: Ch 3 (counts as dc throughout), *dc in next ch-space, skip 1 ch of foundation ch, dc in back bump of next foundation ch; dc in same ch-3 space**, ch 1; rep from * to last st, ending last rep at **, dc in last sc, turn.

Row 1 (WS): Ch 1, sc in first dc, ch 1, skip 1 dc, sc in next dc, *ch 3, skip (dc, ch 1, dc), sc in next dc; rep from * to last 2 sts, ch 1, skip 1 dc, sc in last st changing to C, turn.

Row 2: Ch 3, dc in next ch-1 space, *ch 1, skip 1 sc, dc in next ch-3 space, dc in next sc 2 rows below, enclosing the ch-3 and ch-1 spaces, dc in same ch-3 space; rep from * to last 3 sts, ch 1, skip 1 sc, dc in next ch-1 space, dc in last st, turn.

Row 3: Ch 1, sc in first dc, *ch 3, skip (dc, ch 1, dc), sc in next dc; rep from * across, changing to A on last st, turn.

Row 4: Ch 3, *dc in next ch-3 space, dc in next sc 2 rows below, dc in same ch-3 space; rep from * to last st, dc in last st, turn.

Repeat Rows 1-4, continuing in established A, B, C color sequence, for desired length. End with a RS row.

Last row (WS):  Ch 1, [sc in each dc and long dc, and long dc in sc 1 row below each ch-1 space] across. Fasten off. Cut other two colors.

Love this stitch? Want to see it in action? Want to learn more crochet techniques like this? The Skill-Builder Crochet Blanket pattern offers lots of opportunity to grow your crocheting skills. Written text with helpful notes, video tutorials and charts combine to make it easy to learn more than you ever knew.

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