Turning Chain Crochet – Easy Guide for Beginners

When working a crochet piece from side to side, you will need to work a turning chain Each time you turn your work to start the next row. This turning chain ‘lifts’ the next row of crochet to the correct height before you start with the actual stitches for that row. For this reason, it is also sometimes called a lifting chain.

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Turning Chain Crochet Tutorial, How to Do a Turning Chain

Turning Chain for Crochet Tutorial

This tutorial will show you how to do a turning chain and the number of chains required for the 5 basic crochet stitches.

A turning chain is always a crochet chain stitch.

BEGINNERS: Also read my article on how to crochet for beginners to get some more tricks and tips to get you started.

Abbreviation for Turning Chain

The crochet abbreviation for turning chain in patterns is tch.

How Many Turning Chains Do You Need?

The length of the turning chain you are required to work depends on which stitch you are using for the row. The taller the height of the stitch, the more turning chains you need to make.

Usually, your pattern will tell you how many chains to work, but here is a summary of the lengths of turning chains to use for each stitch.

Number of Chain Stitches

I am using American crochet terms. See the chart below for the equivalent UK terms.

Turning Chain Crochet Tutorial, How to Do a Turning ChainPin
Turning Chain Crochet Tutorial, How to Do a Turning Chain

How To Work The Turning Chain

When you begin your project, you will need to work the number of chains given as your foundation starting chain.

You then need to work additional chains as your turning chain, depending on the type of stitches you are using for your fabric. Short stitches such as single crochet will have fewer chains for turning. Once you have made those additional chains, you can start working the stitches required into the foundation chain.

How to do a turning chain:

  1. Finish at the end of your row.
  2. Yarn over.
  3. Pull through. This is a single chain stitch.
  4. Repeat for the required number of turning chains.
How to Do a Turning ChainPin
How to Do a Turning Chain

What is the Turning Chain For Single Crochet?

If your crochet fabric is worked from single crochet stitches, the turning chain is not counted as a stitch.

So you will work your row of single crochet into your foundation chain, then chain 1 as your turning chain, turn your work, then place your hook into the first stitch from the hook.

Because the turning chain is not counted as a stitch, you must not work into this stitch at the end of the row. Just ignore that turning chain!

IMPORTANT – With all the other stitches, the turning chain counts as the first stitch of the next row.

What is the Turning Chain for Single Crochet?  It is 1Pin
What is the Turning Chain for Single Crochet? It is 1

What is the Turning Chain For Half Double Crochet?

Add 2 extra chain stitches to your foundation chain.

Turn, work your first row of half double crochet into the foundation chain.

Chain 2 stitches as the turning chain, turn your work and insert the hook into the second stitch from the hook to start the next row.

When you get to the end of the row, work your final half double crochet into the top of that first turning chain.

There is some disagreement amongst crocheters about the half double crochet turning chain. Some feel you should count the turning chain as a stitch, some feel it is small enough not to be counted as a stitch. My personal opinion is that you should count it as a stitch, and I think this is the view of the majority of crocheters.

What is the Turning Chain for Half Double Crochet?  It is 2Pin
What is the Turning Chain for Half Double Crochet? It is 2

What is the Turning Chain For Double Crochet?

Add 3 extra stitches to your foundation chain.

Turn, work your first row of double crochet stitches into the foundation chain.

Chain 3 stitches as the turning chain. Place your hook into the third stitch from the hook, and continue with the row of double crochet.

When you get to the end of the row, work your final double crochet into the top of that first turning chain.

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What is the Turning Chain for Double Crochet? It is 2

What is the Turning Chain For Treble Crochet?

Add 4 extra stitches to your foundation chain.

Turn, work your first row of treble crochet stitches into the foundation chain.

Chain 4 stitches as the turning chain. Place your hook into the 2nd stitch from the row below, and continue with the row of treble crochet.

When you get to the end of the row, work your final treble crochet stitch into the top of the first turning chain.

What is the Turning Chain for Treble CrochetPin
What is the Turning Chain for Treble Crochet? It is 4

What is the Turning Chain for Double Treble Crochet?

Add 5 extra stitches to your foundation chain.

Turn, work your first row of double treble crochet stitches into the foundation chain.

When you go back to count your stitches, you must count that column of chains as one stitch.

Chain 5 stitches as the turning chain. Place your hook into the 2nd double treble stitch from the row below, and continue with the row of double treble crochet.

When you get to the end of the row, work your last double treble crochet stitch into the top of the first turning chain.

In each case, that turning chain actually counts as the first stitch of the row, which is why you have to work into it at the end of each row.

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What is the Turning Chain for Double Treble Crochet? It is 5

Troubleshooting Turning Chains

Many, many crocheters struggle with the turning chains for a couple of reasons. These problems usually only arise when working the taller stitches.

Gaps in Sides

You may find that you have gaps in the sides of your work. This is because although those chains are the correct height, they are still narrower than the actual stitch you are using. This causes a gap at the side.

This can be remedied by working one less chain than is recommended for the turning chain for that stitch. This pulls the chain up more tightly, leaving less of a gap at the side.

Uneven Edges

Others complain that their sides are uneven rather than straight. The solution to this is to be certain that you are working into the correct stitch in the row below, once you start your new row. (See above notes for how to work turning chains for each stitch.)

Another reason for uneven rows is that you have forgotten to work the final stitch of the row into the turning chain. If this is the case, your rows will get shorter and shorter, so do keep counting your stitches to make sure you always have the correct number of stitches per row.

Alternative Turning Chain

The other way to resolve uneven edges is to work with a Stacked Single Crochet, which is thicker than a chain, so you won’t have wide loops on one side of your work and solid stitches on the other side.

Stacked Turning Chains

You work to the end of your row, and you would now work your turning chain. Instead, turn your work and work single crochet directly into the first stitch.

Then, insert your hook into the back loop of that single crochet, pull up a loop, and make another single crochet. You will now have 2 single crochet stitches on top of each other, which will be the same height as a double crochet.

You will then continue with your row of double crochet, starting from the second stitch from your hook in the previous row. Your stacked single crochet actually forms the first of your row, so you must work into the top of it stitch when doing the next row,

If you are working in treble crochet, you will work 3 single crochets stacked on top of each other, and if working double treble, you must stack 4 single crochets up to turn your work.

Turning Chain FAQs

Are Turning Chains Necessary?

Yes, turning chains are certainly necessary. A turning chain lifts a new row up to the height of the stitch you are using. Taller stitches such as the treble crochet, need more turning chains.

Turning Chain for Crochet – In Conclusion

It seems that turning and starting new rows is a common problem for new crocheters, especially keeping the sides of your work smooth and even.

The main thing to concentrate on is knowing exactly where to insert your hook when starting a new row, and where to work the last stitch when making a row. I hope that this detailed summary of turning chains will help you overcome any of these problems!

Don’t get discouraged if your rows are uneven as a beginner crocheter, it is really easy to just pull a few rows out and try again. Don’t be tempted to just leave it and carry on with uneven rows, even if others don’t notice, you will! Get the turning after each row down pat, and your crochet will automatically look neater and more professional! Crochet and knitting are excellent ways to teach yourself patience!

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