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Getting Started, Part 2
revised ©2008, 2012 Sandra Petit

So, you have your supplies and have figured out how to make a slip knot--great! Let’s keep going! In this section you’ll learn how to hold your hook, make the foundation chain, and work your first row into it.

Holding Your Hook

First make your slip knot (or use the alternative to a slip knot) as demonstrated in Getting Started, Part 1. Then grab that hook and I'll show you the two basic methods of holding the hook which are used by most crocheters. One is the pencil hold, and the other is the knife hold.

The pencil hold is so named because you hold the hook just like you would a pencil; with the knife hold, it’s as you would a knife, or perhaps a mixing spoon.

If you don't use either of these methods are you a bad crocheter?? Well, I can't actually say whether or not you are a bad crocheter, but if you are it is not necessarily because you hold the hook differently than demonstrated here. Everyone has their own method and just because yours is different doesn't mean it's wrong. As long as you get the results you want, then you're doing it correctly for YOU. And that's what's important.

In 2006, I read an interview with Jean Leinhauser by Crochet Insider where she says there is an American way of holding the yarn and an English way. I did not know this. I quote: "American method: Left hand holds fabric with thumb and middle finger, directs yarn with index finger. English method: Left hand holds fabric with thumb and index finger, directs yarn with middle finger."

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The Foundation Chain

The basic of every crochet project, after the slip knot, is the foundation chain. So here's how to make one.

Here is a video demonstration, followed by text and photo instruction.



Slip the yarn over and around your hook, going from back to front (below).

Holding the piece that hangs down from your hook with the thumb and middle finger (or forefinger if that is more comfortable) of your left hand, pull the yarn through the loop on your hook. If you don't hold that piece, it will move as you're trying to pull your thread through, making it more difficult to complete your chain. If you have trouble, you might try turning your hook slightly downward to catch the yarn.

You have now made your first chain. Yay!
The chain should be about as large as the shank of your hook.

The yarn coming from the skein is lying over your left index finger in whatever position you find most comfortable and which provides even tension. Some people wind it around the little finger as well. You should do whatever works for you. This might change over time as you get more comfortable with the craft. I guess this also depends on whether you're using the American or English method.

Here is a picture of a foundation chain consisting of 8 chains.
Notice how each looks like a little sideways "v."

Important: The loop ON the hook is NOT counted as a stitch, and the foundation chain does NOT count as a row.

I might also mention here that there is a method of working your first row without making a foundation chain. There are many different names for it, but I like to call it chainless foundation. This stitch can also be used if you need to do an increase at the end of the row or if you miscounted your chains and just need to add a few stitches at the end of your present foundation chain. It is said this stitch makes your piece more "elastic". I includ this in the Getting Started section because it has to do with foundation chain, but I probably would not suggest this as one of the first lessons for a beginner. I suggest learning the "regular" methods first and the special methods later. If you’re interested in mastering the technique, there is a tutorial here.

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Working into the Chain

So you've completed your foundation chain. Now you want to know how and where to go into that chain to crochet your first row.

First here is a little video which looks more closely at the chain itself.



Below is this information in text format using the single crochet as an example. Note that this is not actually a tutorial of the single crochet stitch (for that, click here), but only a demo of where to insert the hook into the chain to begin crocheting. These methods will work for any stitch, but you will go into a different chain depending on what stitch you are using. As noted before, your foundation chain is the first thing you do when you start your project.


Continue on to:
Getting Started, Part 3


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Crochet Cabana uses American crochet terminology.
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Copyright 1997 - 2016 by Sandra Petit. All rights reserved.

Crochet Cabana created October 1997 (domain name purchased March 2001)
Crochet Cabana’s Crafty Corral begun November 7, 2004.
The Crochet Cabana Blog begun May 2010.
Site update November 18, 2012.