Foundationless Crochet

 - Advanced

If you've ever struggled with that tricky first row of crochet and working into those starting chains then you'll be pleased to know there is a way around it.
This is a really clever technique which means you can just start working crochet stitches straight away, without working a starting chain first.  In effect, the starting chain is being made as you crochet.

Foundationless Crochet Stitch Links:

Foundation Double Crochet (fdc)   -   US term: Foundation Single Crochet (fsc)
Foundation Half-Treble Crochet (fhtr)   -   US term: Foundation Half-Double Crochet (fhdc)
Foundation Treble Crochet (ftr)   -   US term: Foundation Double Crochet (fdc)



You'll find this is a good method to use if you have problems working into tight starting chains or if you have a problem with your starting row being tighter than the rest of your work.  This can cause particular problems on long pieces of work, like blankets and scarves and can make it appear like your rows are getting wider and wider as you work more rows.

It works in two ways, first of all you are making the starting chains and the stitches at the same time, as one long fluid row, so your tension will be more consistent.  Also, the construction of the stitches means that there is more natural springiness to the starting chains, which will match with the tension and feel of the rest of your work.

 This picture shows the difference in tension and flexibility of the first rows....

The top two rows are double (single) crochet
The pale green row is double (single) crochet made into a starting chain in the normal way and the darker green row is foundation double (single) crochet.  As you can see this row can be stretched out wider than the regular starting chain row.

The bottom two rows are treble (double) crochet
Again the pink row is regular treble (double) crochets made into a staring chain and the blue row is foundation treble (single) crochet which has more springiness and stretch than the standard row.


One of the key things in getting the foundationless rows right, whichever stitch you are doing is to make sure that you insert your hook into the right place when starting to work a new stitch.  I give clear directions in each of the stitch tutorials (linked above) of how to do this but here's a little more information to make sure you are on the right track.

 First of all, lets look at the difference between a regular first row and a foundationless first row.

The pale green row is the regular crochet, made into a starting chain.  When we look underneath, you can see that it has just one loop at bottom of each stitch.

The dark green row is the foundationless crochet.  At the bottom of these stitches you can see that there are two loops, making a little 'V', just like it does at the top of the row.

This is another great benefit of the foundationless technique, because if you do ever need to work into the bottom of your crochet, when making a blanket border for example, it'll be much easier to work under these two loops as it is just like working into a regular row.

It can be quite easy to work the foundationless stitches incorrectly.  This picture shows two rows, both made with foundationless treble (double) crochet stitches.

The top, dark blue row, is made correctly by working under two loops each time a new stitch is made and has the 'v' shape at the bottom of the work.

The bottom, light blue row, has been made incorrectly by just working under one loop each time a new stitch was made.  As you can see this has made a series of quite loose, single loops at the bottom of the row.  It looks a little more untidy than the correctly worked version but also will mean that your row will become very loose and stretchy and not a very stable base for the rest of your crochet rows.

You can see what I mean in this picture above. 

The top row of crochet is the regular stitches made into a starting chain.

The middle row is foundationless crochet, worked correctly, which has a nice amount of stretch to it.

The bottom row is foundationless crochet too, but this row was worked by only putting the hook under one loop to make each stitch, so it stretches out really wide.  This isn't a problem if you are looking for a really loose start to your work but can cause problems depending on your tension.

A starting row made this way will probably be a fair bit looser than the rest of your crochet rows and so could cause the bottom row to appear flared out and not lie nice and flat.


Here's a few examples of the first rows for each type of stitch so you can compare you own stitches and make sure you're on the right track:

Double (Single) Crochet

Top: Starting chain and regular stitches

Middle: Foundationless crochet

Bottom: Incorrect Foundationless crochet

Half-Treble (Half-Double) Crochet

Top: Starting chain and regular stitches

Middle: Foundationless crochet

Bottom: Incorrect Foundationless crochet

Treble (Double) Crochet

Top: Starting chain and regular stitches

Middle: Foundationless crochet

Bottom: Incorrect Foundationless crochet

Next Steps:

✽  Find out how to make a magic loop to start working in the round