Working with long foundation chains

a long crochet foundation chain

You've found the perfect crochet pattern, you open it and your heart sinks. The first instruction is "Chain 352" 

Working into chains has to be my least favourite part of crochet and the longer the chain the more troublesome I find it. Normally when designing I avoid creating designs that need really long chains to start off, but sometimes just sometimes the design is worth the pain. And here are some tips to help you cope with your foundation chain whether its 50 or 500 chains long.

1/Work into the most obvious part of the chain. 

Depending how you create your chain it can look different to other peoples. There are three possible places to work into a chain:

front of a chain

In the front of the chain, as pictured above, you can see if you peer closely that the chains have one strand on the top of the chain and two strands at the bottom as pictured. Your chain may vary depending how you hold and wrap your yarn. It may have two strands at the top and one below. The point is that you can clearly see the middle will be the easiest place to work. So whether that is two strands below or above choose that.

back of a chain

The above image shows the reverse of the chain, you can choose to work into these back bumps instead. This does give a very neat edging but I find it very difficult to work into them as mine tend to try and scrunch up as I work the previous one. So I avoid doing this at all costs. I know other crocheters find this the easiest place to work so do give it a try yourself.

But basically, as long as you stick to the same place every time it will look neat and tidy so make your life easy and choose the easiest one. You can always come back and edge it later by working into the other side of the foundation chain.

2/ As much as possible, try and work it in one go

A smooth chaining action produces the best chains so try to work as much as possible in one fluid motion to avoid twisted uneven chains.

3/ Tug it!

But for those that do get a bit twisty and uneven in places give it a snap. Its amazing how tugging on the chain a couple of times before working into it can make the chains more regular and easier to work with. Keep tugging each section as you work to even out those chains.

4/ Use stitch markers

Placing stitch markers every 10 or 50 chains can really help you keep count. There is nothing worse than being mid chain and getting interrupted, being able to count just from the last marker can be a life saver

a stitch marker in a crochet chain

5/ Chain a few extra 

Chains are pretty easy to unpick and weave in at the end but almost impossible to extend. When I'm working a long chain I'll often work some extra chains just in case I manage to miscount or any chains got so mangled I couldn't work into them.

6/ Consider swapping to a chainless foundation

If the first row or round of the pattern is just made of a single stitch you can work a chainless foundation row instead. You will need to consider if its appropriate for your purpose as the chainless foundation will have more stretch than a foundation chain with a row of stitches worked into it. You can find a tutorial for chainless foundation rows here.

Reading next

Seven ways you can use crochet stitch markers
A crocheters guide to hand-dyed yarns

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.