Several years ago I discovered a set of simple stitches called foundation stitches, that changed the way I crochet. Let me explain how.
My least favorite part of beginning a crochet project is the foundation chain and first row. Working the first row of stitches into the foundation chain is a fiddly, clumsy task, and you have to be pretty exact on your chain count. Many times I would reach the end of the first row only to discover I had either run out of chains before I had worked enough stitches or I had extra chains. If this has happened to you, do you frog everything, try to work an extra stitch or two in the last chain or attempt to disguise the extra chains with a decrease stitch? With foundation stitches you work the foundation chain and the first row's stitch in one step!
Even better, your project is easier to hold and the stitches are easier to work into. Plus you can be more exact about working precisely the number of stitches you need. No accidently skipping a chain or working two stitches into one chain because you can't differentiate the loops. Best of all, this first row is slightly stretchy, without the tightness that can develop with a base chain alone. I have used this technique on many patterns, including the Big Bow Cardigan by Julia Vaconsin (Interweave Crochet Winter 2008), which I'm modeling above.
How to Crochet Foundation Rows
To work a foundation single crochet, begin with a slipknot on hook, chain 2 (Figure 1), insert hook in 2nd chain from the hook, pull up a loop, yarn over, draw through 1 loop (this loop is the next "chain," Figure 2), yarn over and draw through 2 loops (this is the single crochet)—you now have 1 sc with its own ch st (shaded) at the bottom (Figure 3)—, *insert hook under the 2 loops of the "ch" stitch (shaded) of the last st and pull up a loop, yarn over and draw through 1 loop, yarn over and draw through 2 loops; repeat from * for as many foundation single crochets as you need (Figure 5).
The extra stretch of foundation stitches is especially helpful for patterns that need a lot of stretch like socks or pullovers. I would also use a foundation single crochet on a project such as the Seafoam Vest (below) where the foundation chain needs to fit comfortably at the hip.
Seafoam Vest (Spring 2007)
Things to Remember When Crocheting a Foundation Row
There are a few tips to keep in mind when substituting a foundation row for a chain row.
- When working a regular chain row and then a row of single crochet, you end the single crochet row by working in the first chain you worked. When working the foundation single crochet you will finish on the end opposite the first "chain".
- Some patterns, such as Annie Modesitt's Pretty Pleats Skirt above, need to end by working in the first chain because of shaping or the stitch pattern. For garments such as these, simply work your foundation row, fasten off, and rejoin your yarn at the opposite end of the row.
- When a pattern would benefit from a foundation with more stretch but the first row is not a simple stitch such as a single or double crochet, you can work a foundation single crochet row, then work into that row as you would the chain. Very little extra length is added and in some patterns, the extra stretch is worth the slight height addition.
- When substituting a foundation chain with a foundation single or double crochet, work the number of stitches given for the first row not the number given for the foundation chain.
Grab a scrap of yarn or your latest "must make" garment and give foundation stitches a try. They are so easy to master that when I teach people to crochet, I use a foundation stitch rather than a foundation chain. For more information on foundation stitches check out Marty Millers article "Getting into the Loop: Foundation Stitches" in the Interweave Crochet Spring 2007 issue. I love how you can find informative articles and must make patterns in every issue. I would recommend getting your hands on a year of our award winning crochet magazine. For information on how to work the Foundation Double Crochet visit the Crochet Me Glossary.
P.S. Share your tips for working with foundation stitches.