A variety of stitches are used in any crochet project to create different patterns and textures. All crochet stitches have different heights. It is essential to know and understand how the basic crochet stitches are different in terms of their heights. Learning about crochet stitch heights will help you in understanding and following the patterns much more easily. You can also learn about the turning chain in the context of the basic crochet stitches and stitch heights.
What is A Turning Chain?
Crochet stitches have varying heights and when you transition from one row to the next, you need a turning chain. It helps in achieving the correct height for the stitches in the next row.
The turning chain can be a single chain stitch or a series of chain stitches, and that is determined by the type of crochet stitch you are going to make in the row. The turning chain ensures that your work is shaped correctly.
Let’s talk about each of the basic crochet stitches and their recommended turning chain length.
Basic Crochet Stitches
As you learn to crochet, slip knot and chain stitch is the basics. Once you have mastered those, you will find that there are a few basic stitches in crochet – single crochet (sc), half double crochet (hdc), double crochet (dc), treble crochet (tr), and double treble crochet (dtr).
Note that these terms and abbreviations are written in US pattern terminology; check out the term differences between the US and the UK patterns.
Here is a picture showing all these stitches and a few more – triple treble crochet (trtr) & quadruple treble crochet (qtr).
We will cover the five basic ones in more detail as they are most common. You will rarely come across the other two in crochet patterns. Notice here how each stitch gets progressively taller by one chain.
Another point to notice here is that each stitch is worked by doing one extra yarn over from the previous one before inserting the hook into the stitch in the beginning.
Single crochet (sc)
Insert hook into stitch, pull up a loop, yarn over & pull through both loops on hook.
Turning chain height: 1 chain
Half double crochet (hdc)
Yarn over, insert hook into stitch, pull up a loop, yarn over, pull through all three loops on hook.
Turning chain height: 2 chains
Double crochet (dc)
Yarn over, insert hook into stitch, pull up a loop, yarn over, pull through two loops, yarn over & pull through remaining two loops on hook.
Turning chain height: 3 chains
Treble crochet (tr)
Yarn over twice, insert hook into stitch, pull up a loop, (yarn over, pull through two loops) twice, yarn over & pull through remaining two loops on hook.
Turning chain height: 4 chains
Double treble crochet (dtr)
Yarn over three times, insert hook into stitch, pull up a loop, (yarn over, pull through two loops) three times, yarn over & pull through remaining two loops on hook.
Turning chain height: 5 chains
Here’s an image that shows the difference between the sizes of five crochet stitches and their heights with the help of swatches.
More About Turning Chain
When you start crocheting a new row, usually, you make the turning chain in place of the first stitch of the row. However, for a row of single crochet (sc), the turning chain does not take the place of the first stitch.
What that means is, let’s say if you had to crochet a row of single crochet (sc), then you would make 1 chain as the turning chain, and make the first single crochet of the row in the same stitch as the turning chain.
For taller stitches like double crochet (dc), at the start of a new row, you would make 3 chains as the turning chain, and this turning chain is considered to be the first stitch of this row. Next, you will make the second stitch from the pattern.
As an example, in many crochet patterns, you might have noticed the instruction “ch 3 (counts as first dc)” at the start of a row. This “ch 3” is the turning chain for that row, which is made in the first stitch replacing the dc stitch.
This is the most common scenario; however, there are exceptions. Some patterns specifically mention that the turning chain does not count as a stitch.
Remembering how many chains make up a turning chain for each type of crochet stitch can be tricky. Most of the written patterns will provide specific instructions. Still, sometimes if you are following a video tutorial or trying a new stitch pattern, you might not have explicit instruction for the turning chain. Here is a handy reference chart for you to help you quickly refer to the information that you need!
The crochet stitches and the length of turning stitch in the chart above are the ones you can most commonly find in crochet patterns for different projects.
There might be patterns where you will need to make a higher or smaller number of chain stitches to match the height of the stitch you are making. It will also depend on the yarn, or the hook, or the tension in your crochet project.
The most important thing is to make the turning chain as tall as the stitch you are making in that row!