A Better Starting Chain

*Edited May 3, 2017: Please note, if you need your starting chain to be a specific length, this method does shorten the chain more than normal. Double check your length as you go!

Have you ever FINALLY finished an afghan only to think, “Crap I need to put a border on this to hide the foundation chain!”? I have, many, many times. Luckily, I was looking for coffee collar patterns and found THIS by Sheri Goad at Frogging Along. She starts the pattern by specifically telling you to crochet in the back loop of the chain. My first thought, “Why in the world would you do that?” Then, while trying to start it the first time, “This is a real pain in the butt.”  When I finished the first one, “OH MY GOD THIS IS AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Today I am going to share a picture tutorial to show how to do this, and don’t worry, it gets a lot easier after the first stitch. It also gets a lot faster the more you do it. We are going to start with just 10 stitches and use a single crochet, it’s small enough not to need a ton of yarn but long enough to start to get the hang of the technique.

Step 1

Tie a slipknot, and chain 10 just like you would normally do.

Starting Chain 10.png
Standard chain of 10


Step Two

Flip the chain over so you can see the backside of the chain.

Back Loops of Chain.png
Backside of chain 10

Do you see how there is a horizontal bar of yarn going across the chains? This is the back loop of the chain.



Step Three

Insert your hook from the bottom to the top under the first horizontal bar you can find. Hint: there aren’t any extra chains needed using this technique, or at least my version of it, 10 chains, 10 single crochets by the end of the row.

First Insert
Insert your hook under the first horizontal bar.

Step Four

Yarn over, pull one loop through (two loops on hook). Yarn over and pull through both loops creating your first single crochet (ending with only 1 loop on the hook).

First Yarnover
This is the first yarn over. Make sure you can still see your horizontal bars so you aren’t twisting the chain
Second Yarnover.png
Second yarn over, completing the first single crochet

Step Five

Repeat steps three and four until you have 9 completed single crochets. It should look like this:

Last Stitch of the Row
The arrow shows the placement for your hook for the 10th single crochet

By the end of the row the horizontal bar is hard to see. When you insert your hook, it now looks like the top of the chain. Make sure you only insert your hook through one of the loops in the chain. Yarn over, pull up one loop, yarn over and pull through both loops, completing your 10th single crochet.

Now to start the second row.

Step Six

Chain 1 and pull it tight. “What?” you say, trust me on this one, you’ll see in just a minute.

Start Second Row
The white arrow is pointing at the chain 1 that has been pulled tight. The purple arrow is pointing to the insertion point for the first single crochet in the second row.

Step Seven

Insert your hook under both loops of the single crochet at the end of the last row. Yarn over, pull up one loop, yarn over and pull through both loops to create a single crochet. Continue doing this until you have completed 9 single crochets in the second row. Your piece should look like the image below.

Last Stitch Row 2
This is what you should see when you have completed 9 stitches in the second row. The purple arrow shows the insertion point for the 10th stitch.


Step Eight

Insert your hook into the last space of row 1 (Pictured above). Make sure your hook passes under TWO  strands of yarn. Yarn over, pull up one loop, yarn over, and pull through both loops.

Booth Loops of Last Stitch
Make sure you catch both strands of yarn when completing the 10th single crochet of row 2.



Step Nine

Continue on your merry way until you have completed as many rows as you need for your project. You should be able to use this for any existing pattern, but remember, we only chained as many chains as we needed for the actual piece. We did NOT use turning chains. Check your pattern to see how many stitches you have at the end of the first full row and use that number as your guide.

Step Ten

Stand back and compare!

Traditional Chain Finished Product
Traditional Foundation Chain. Notice the holes at the bottom of the piece in the first picture. The second picture is the top of the stitches of row 2. The third picture is the bottom of the starting chain. See how noticeable the difference is between the top and bottom?


Backloop Finished Product
Back Loop Foundation Chain. No unsightly holes at the bottom, and the bottom of the chain looks just like the top of the stitches. Goodbye border cover-up! Hello nicely finished project!



By The Way…

Remember how I said to trust me about tightening the chain 1 at the beginning of each row? I have found that this provides much cleaner edges, and a completed project that stays square much easier. You can say goodbye to rows that create a zigzag edge. I have found that it is pretty much essential to pull it tight using a single crochet with Bernat Blanket yarn. Otherwise I was getting loops at the beginning of each row that just looked unprofessional. 

Love the technique but aren’t sure how to use it with a different stitch? Check back soon, that’s what I will be writing about next!





11 thoughts on “A Better Starting Chain

  1. Great tip! I always try to work through the back loop of the starting chain too, but sometimes I forget – I only learned the back loop trick about a year ago and it’s hard to break the lifelong habit of just going to the top loop. It really does give a much cleaner edge to work with! 😀


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