Foundation and Crochet

Foundation Single Crochet, that is.  In the years since I began using the Fsc as an integral part of my designs, I’ve worried about why many who try the Fsc are having so much trouble with it. I might be part of the problem.  Here I hope to be part of the solution.

I do not claim to have invented this technique.  The chainless foundation has been in use forever as one of the wonderful things you could pull out of your crochet bag of tricks if you knew about it.  But I had never seen the Fsc specifically written into a pattern, even when the design would have been greatly improved by its inclusion. There was an incredible amount of editorial resistance in 2004 when I first dropped the Fsc bomb in my own design patterns.  Resistance proved futile. 🙂 Resistance also equals V/I, depending on what sort of post you think you’re reading.

At the time there was no standard published name for the technique. In the vacuum I gave it my own title (no, I did not name it after myself), Base Ch/Sc, because it makes a base chain and a row of sc in one pass.  I did not want to use the word foundation in the name because to me a foundation row is the first pass of the actual stitch pattern which sets up the repeats upon which the fabric will grow.  After a bit of scrambling among the members of industry’s elite corp of technical editors, one generally accepted title prevailed.  This method of the chainless beginning of a piece of crochet is now known as Foundation Single Crochet.

The Fsc is one of many chainless foundations, elegant solutions to the problems inherent in the traditional chain start.  I’ve written extensively about the beauties of foundation stitches, but haven’t addressed the major angst it has engendered among newbies to crochet and to the technique.

One of the important aspects that I never thought to mention because it seems so obvious while you are crocheting it is that it comes out upside down. It has the feeling of making a long, skinny strip that is one stitch wide, and for those who are familiar with Tunisian crochet technique, it resembles the way the edge stitch is worked as you begin a return pass in TSS.

The sc as you make them will not present themselves as a horizontal row going from the hook back to the start of the row the way normal rows look.  This foundation will hang  down from the hook, with the “chain” edge running on the forward side (in the direction of your work, to the left if you are a righty, to the right if you are lefty) and sort of on the top. The “sc” edge is running behind the hook (back from the direction of your work, to the right if you are a righty, to the left if you are lefty) and sort of on the bottom of the strip.

Keep your eyes on the “chain” step of the Fsc.  I tell people to physically grab the chain after you make it; pinch it and keep it relaxed and open so you can 1) find it for the following Fsc, and 2) work into it without struggle.

Here is where some confusion has been generated. The “chain” edge of the foundation is on top and to the left.   Working into the “chain” of the previous stitch under two strands means that you insert the hook so that two strands stay on top and to the left.  You need those two strands to run across the “chain” edge of the Fsc to form the sturdiest, most elastic foundation.

So, in case you’ve been looking for an overwrought, obsessive account of how to do this useful technique, I’ve excerpted some stuff from my DJC Designs pattern, Birthday Girl skirt.  It is written specifically for the beginning of a top down skirt, however the information can be generalized for working other types of projects in rounds (like top down sweaters) or worked flat without connecting into a ring.

Fsc (foundation single crochet): This creates a beginning row of single crochet, each with its own chain at the bottom, for a sturdy, elastic foundation.

Start with a slip knot, ch 2, insert hook in 2nd ch from hook, YO and draw up a loop, YO and draw through one loop on hook (the “chain”), YO and draw through 2 loops on hook (the “sc”).  The following stitch is worked under the forward 2 loops of the stem of the previous stitch (into the “chain”).  *Insert hook into the face of the “chain” and under the nub at the back of the “chain” (under two strands), YO and draw up a loop, YO and draw through one loop (the “chain”), YO and draw through 2 loops (the “sc”).  Repeat from * for the length of foundation.

— To work with Fsc as a ring, let the foundation hang vertically from the hook, with the sc edge running down from the last loop on hook (on the right if you are right-handed) and the ch edge running down the left.  Making sure the foundation is not twisted, take the lower end (beginning end with the tail) and curve it up to meet the hook, with the sc edge on top, sl st in the beginning sc to form a ring.  With the sc edge of the ring now on top, do not turn, start with first round of stitches.

— This foundation has height.  You have connected the stitches at the sc edge, but the ch edge is not yet connected.  Eventually, whenever you get to it, at least before you go back and put the waistband on the skirt, thread the beginning tail onto a yarn needle and loop it through the last ch of the foundation to close the gap, weave in the end.

There is one other caveat I can offer that might relieve some aggravation.  In many of my top-down top designs, the foundation will not remain flat or straight.  Don’t be upset when it becomes curved after laying on the following rows of stitch pattern.  It is suppposed to curve.  By squeezing more stitch pattern onto fewer foundation stitches you are giving a jump start to the increase shaping of the yoke and are on the road to creating the shoulder bumps that fit so nicely.

Curvy not flat.


24 thoughts on “Foundation and Crochet

  1. I have just used Fsc for the first time, and did not find the technique particularly difficult. However, your visuals here are very instructive for anyone still struggling with it.

  2. Yay! I’m so happy to hear you talking about fsc. It’s such an amazing technique to know. I, too, grab my chain as I make the stitch. I think that’s a particularly helpful tip for fsc newbies. I have an fsc tutorial on my craft blog that includes a video for anyone who is a visual learner:

  3. I was going to comment when I read this last night. I didn’t because I just seemed to be reiterating what the other comments said. But sometimes it’s good to just get a lot of validation, yes? Anyway, I’m also happy to see more written about fsc because when I discovered them several months ago, I was so happy (I admit, I’ve never loved the chain start to projects) to find an alternative! And when I learned to hold on to the chain while making the stitch, (that was a self-discovery bit) it became much easier.

    This is a terrific addition to the directions out there. It always surprises me to find a new crochet book on the shelves that teaches technique but does not mention the foundational stitch start.

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  5. i am LOVING fsc!! i find the “pinch” the chain as you make it tip very helpful also! I really don’t like the regular chain foundation method… i find it frustrating! but i love this method. i find it does not “twist” as much as the regular chain does and results in a more even stitch throughout.
    I am wondering if the FSC can be substituted anytime/anywhere a pattern calls for a standard chain?
    and, what if the first row is not a sc, but say a double crochet… can this fsc be altered to fit that stitch?
    thank you doris! love your patterns!

  6. I’m a leftie and my mom was a rightie so I’ve always had to learn everything backwards.I fell in love with your designs from the TV show ,Knit and Crochet Today and my dear sister bought me three of your books when I had a stay in the hospital.I’ve tried ,with some limited success, to do the foundation chain stitch and I wonder if anyone teaches your work in classes in Pennsylvania?

  7. You speak of other foundation chain techniques similar to the Fsc. What is a good source for learning these alternate stitches to build my technique? I have been crocheting since a child (taught by my mother) but have never used patterns. My mom just taught us visually starting first through afghans designs that were passed down to her from women in her family, some she made up herself, or she saw. Her way of crocheting could be compared to someone who only plays piano by ear. She could just see stitches and recreate them. I have a similar way to me. I can read patterns but I do much better when there is a picture of the finished garment or pattern repeat. Thanks in advance for any advice you may have to offer.

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  13. I’d love to learn this, but I have a had time understanding written instructions. If you could, please post some pictures on how to do this. Thank you.

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