How to Crochet a Chain For Beginners With Pictures and Video

Knowing how to crochet a chain is a vital first step in learning how to crochet.  Crochet chain stitches are where you will work your first row of crochet stitches. I’ll show you today how to crochet a chain in my step-by-step guide in which I’ve included both a video tutorial and a photo tutorial to help support your learning.  

My goal with this tutorial is to give you the ultimate guide to not just learn how to crochet a chain but to learn the parts of a chain, how to count them and how to work into them.

hands holding a crochet hook and a completed crochet chain

You’ll see that I hold my hook with my right hand in my tutorials however, if you are more comfortable holding your crochet hook in your left hand, you can still follow along.  You’ll just be working from left to right instead of right to left.

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Picking A Crochet Hook & Yarn To Get Started

I recommend starting with a  smooth (not fluffy or furry) super bulky weight (6) yarn and an 8 or 9mm crochet hook to get started. Alternatively, a worsted weight (4) yarn and an I / 5.5 mm or J / 6mm crochet hook are good tools to start with as well. 

My favourites are Lion Brand Wool Ease Thick & Quick for super bulky weight yarn and WeCrochet Brava Worsted Weight, Bernat Super Value or Lion Brand Wool Ease yarn for starter worsted weight yarns.

If you prefer not to use an acrylic yarn, then try using another fiber like a wool or cotton yarn.The yarn weight, fiber content and recommended hook sizes are all found on the yarn’s label.  Learn how to read a yarn label in this tutorial.  

The color of the yarn is not as important as the type of yarn right now (as long as it isn’t black yarn – that’s too hard to see when just starting out).

Hook size is important as the size of the hook determines how big your chains and stitches are. The larger hook you use, the larger your chains will be. The smaller the hook, the smaller (and tighter) your chains will be.  

a crochet chain on a white background with text that says learn to crochet basics how to crochet a chain plus video tutorial

Holding Your Crochet Hook

Most crocheters hold their hook one of two ways, in their dominant: Knife grip or pencil grip (shown below). 

hand holding a crochet hook in a knife grip
Knife Grip
hand holding a crochet hook in a pencil grip
Pencil Grip

If you do not feel comfortable holding your hook in these ways, that’s fine.  Hold your hook however, is comfortable and works for you. The best way is the way that feels best for you.

Creating a Slip Knot

To start creating our crochet chain, we need to have a slip knot to place onto our crochet hook.

To create a slip knot:

1. Lay the tail end of your yarn across the palm of your non-dominant hand and pin it in place with your thumb.

yarn laid across the palm of a hand and pinned in place with the thumb

2. Grab the yarn with your dominant and and wrap it around your middle finger and index finger, bringing it around to the palm/front of your hand. Cross the yarn over itself to create an “X”

yarn crossed over itself to create an "x" on the fingers

4. Continue to wrap the yarn around your fingers and then pin it down between your ring finger and pinky finger as see below. You should see two strands of yarn across the top of your hand.

hand showing step three of how to make a slip knot

5. insert your finger (or crochet hook) under the first strand of yarn on your index and middle fingers and over the second strand.

step four of how to create a slip knot

6. Pull the second strand under the first strand and pull all of the yarn off your fingers of your non-dominant hand (keep your finger or crochet hook in the slip knot loop of yarn you just created). Use your non-dominant hand to pull down on the yarn tails to pull the slip knot tight.  

hands pulling down on yarn while another holds a crochet hook and pulls up on the yarn.

8. Pull the working yarn (the second strand that isn’t the cut end) tight to slide the knot up to your crochet hook.  You should be able to move the slip knot back and forth easily.

completed slip knot on a Furls crochet hook

There are other ways of creating a slip knot so if you have a preferred way that works for you, then feel free to use that. This way I’ve shown you is my favourite way to do it.

How to Crochet a Chain For Beginners – Video Tutorial

Holding the Yarn

​Since we hold our crochet hook in our dominant hand, we hold our yarn in our non-dominant hand.  We also use this hand to tension our yarn.  To start:

1. While holding your crochet hook in your dominant hand, lay the yarn across the top of your non-dominant hand.

hand on a white background with yarn lain across the top of the hand

2. Tuck the end of the yarn between your pinky finger and ring finger.

hand with yarn between the last two fingers and lain across the top of the hand while the other hand holds a crochet hook

3. Grab the slip knot (or just below it) with your middle finger and thumb and hold it there.

hands against a white background holding yarn and a crochet hook showing where to place your hands before starting to crochet

4. Hold your pointer finger upwards (this tensions the yarn).

Now you’re ready to crochet your chain.

Note: This is just one way and a starting point to learning how to hold and tension your yarn. There are many different ways to do it so if you’ve seen a different way of doing it or feel comfortable doing it another way, then go for it.  What’s most comfortable for you is the best way.

Crocheting a Chain

1. Wrap the yarn over your hook (called a yarn over).

hands holding a crochet hook and yarn showing the first step of how to crochet a chain

2. Use your crochet hook to pull that yarn through the slip knot loop on your hook. This is your first chain stitch completed!

hands holding a crochet hook and yarn showing the second step of how to crochet a chain

To create a series of chain stitches, you’ll continue you wrap the yarn over your hook and pull it through the loop on your hook.

hands holding a crochet hook and a completed crochet chain

As you create more chains, it’s a good idea to move your non-dominant hand up the chain to pinch it closer to the hook every so often. It makes it easier to hold onto and maintain even tension. 

How To Count Your Chains

It is essential that a new crocheter know how to count the number of chains you have.  When we look at the front of the chain, you see what looks like a series “V”s.

To count your chains, start at the end of your chain where your slip knot is and count from the slip knot over to your crochet hook, counting each V as 1 chain.  

crochet chain on a white background with numbers and arrows showing how to count chains

The last chain to count is the chain directly next to your crochet hook.  The yarn on your hook is called the “working loop” and never​ counts as a chain or a stitch.

Parts of a Chain

Now that we have our starting chain, let’s take a look at the parts of a crochet chain.  Each chain has 3 loops:

  • the front loop (the first loop closest to you),
  • the back loop (the top loop or the one furthest from you) and,
  • the back bump or back hump (found on the back of the chain).  

arrows showing the front and back loop of a crochet chain
arrows showing the back bump of the crochet chain

Different patterns will instruct you to work into different parts of the chain so it’s important that you understand each part of the chain.

Crocheting Into a Chain:

For this example, I’ll be showing you how to crochet a slip stitch into the chain.  The slip stitch is a simple stitch and the shortest of the common crochet stitches.

  1. Starting in the second chain from your hook, insert the tip of the hook through the center of the chain.

hands holding a crochet chain and arrows showing the 2nd chain from the hook and tips for the working loop and first chain

Tip: Unless your crochet project tells you otherwise, you should always be inserting your hook under at least 2 loops of the chain (the back loop and back bump) when working into a crochet chain. You can tell you have two loops by counting them on your hook (see image below).

hook inserted into a crochet chain and arrows showing how many loops should be on your hook.

2. Wrap the yarn over your hook, and pull through the chain and the working loop on your hook to complete the slip stitch.

hands holding a crochet hook while it crochets
hands holding a crochet hook and yarn after completing a slip stitch.
completed slip stitch

Tip: I always recommend that a beginner crocheter place a stitch marker in the first and last stitch of their first row of stitches. This helps keep your edges straight and helps you identify where to start and where to end. 

These are my favourite stitch markers - they lock in place so they don't fall out. When you get to the end of the row, move the stitch marker up to the next row.

Additional Tips & Troubleshooting

  • Tight chains: If your beginning chain is too tight and you can’t insert the hook into the chains, try going up a hook size or two from where you’re at. Once you get the hang of it you can go back down to a smaller hook size.

  • Take a deep breath out and try to relax.  Many folks get super tense when just learning (and don’t even realize it).  Shake your hands and hands, take a deep breath and try again.

  • Don’t give up! No crocheter in the history of the world say down for the first time with a hook and yarn and created something perfect.  My first several projects were a total disaster but that’s ok because it’s all part of the learning process.  Have patience with yourself while learning. You can do this!

  • My chains look loopy and loose! Odds are you’ve worked through just the top of a chain or in the back loop only in this scenario, your tension is too loose or your hook size is too big.
    • When you work through the back loop only, your chain can get loose or gappy looking.  Make sure you’re picking up both loops (as shown above in the tutorial) when working into the chain, unless the pattern tells you otherwise.

    • If your hook size is too big, try again with a smaller hook.

    • If your tension is too loose (you’re holding the yarn too loose) then try holding it tighter in your non-dominant hand and/or loosely wrapping the yarn around your pinky finger to add additional tension.

Ready to learn a new skill? Here are some other beginner crochet tutorials for basic crochet stitches and techniques to try next on your journey 

Be sure to check out my Crochet Stitch Tutorials page to get a list of tutorials for basic stitches in both traditional crochet and Tunisian stitches, tips, tricks, special stitch patterns and techniques and more.

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