Friday, May 13

Which Foundation Stitch? and Why?

I researched 43 crochet stitch dictionaries and basic crochet how-to books to find out more about crochet foundation stitches (alternatives to starting a crochet project with a foundation chain). For a 2014 update, scroll to the end of this post.

Top to Bottom: Double Chain (dch); "Foundation Slip Stitch" (fslst); Foundation Single Crochet (fsc)
You can read a summary of this research in my Crochet Inspirations Newsletter issue #18, "Deep Crochet Research" (available online for free here. Scroll down to the bottom to sign up for a free subscription.)

Above is a visual comparison of the three slimmest, simplest chainless foundations that I know of. They are all stretchier and easier to work into than foundation chains. (I've omitted fancier decorative ones such as picot foundations.

What follows is a photo tutorial for making each of them: the classic dch, the dark horse fslst, and the popular fsc. By doing it this way I hope to make it very clear how these three overlap yet differ in a few key ways. It's easy to confuse them as being the same thing. This actually keeps us from recognizing that we have more choices in how we start a new crochet project than we thought!

(Below, the step-by-step photos may look a bit jumbled on some people's screens. To view them enlarged in high resolution, and in their original order with full descriptions, you might prefer to see them in this photo set.)

From my research I found that the top/yellow stitch is traditionally called "Double Chain" (occasionally, Double Foundation Chain, Double Chain Stitch, etc). It is consistently abbreviated "dch". By traditionally I mean that I found this stitch with this name and abbreviation in over half of the 43 books, dating from the 1800's to 2010. (In the rest of the books I found no alternative to a foundation chain at all.)

The bottom/blue stitch is much newer than the dch and seems to be gaining widespread acceptance, especially on the internet. I found it in a smattering of books from 2005 to the present; it also appeared online in 1998, thanks to Mary Rhodes. This stitch is by now almost always called "Foundation Single Crochet" and abbreviated "fsc." The ultimate source on it is Marty Miller's article, "Get in the Loop: Foundation Stitches" in the Spring 2007 issue of Interweave Crochet magazine.

The green stitch in the center is my personal favorite of these three choices. I'm not the first to use it, but this exact stitch does not appear in any of the books I have. It simply combines what I think is the best of the dch and the fsc.

The Work at Home Vest
I wrestled with what to name it. "Foundation slip stitch" (fslst) has its pros & cons as do all other names I considered, such as "alt fsc" and "extended slst." I'm going with fslst because in a "family" of foundation stitches like the fsc (and taller versions such as fdc, ftr, and so on), it's a logical name for a slimmer option. Sometimes the fsc is a bit too beefy to substitute for a plain foundation chain. 

As you can see in the top photo, the fslst is the slimmest of the three. It is without a doubt the one perfect foundation for my Work@Home Vest neckline. 
Step 1

Here are the instructions to go with each step-by-step photo.

Step 1: 
To begin the dch, the fslst, and the fsc, chain 2.

Step 2: 
For dch (left/yellow): insert hook in ONE top loop of 2nd ch from hook.
Step 2
For fslst (center/green): insert hook in TWO loops of 2nd ch from hook.
For fsc (far right/blue): insert hook in TWO loops of 2nd ch from hook.

Step 3: 
Yarn over hook and pull up a loop: 2 loops on hook.
Step 3

Step 4:
For dch: Yarn over and pull through both loops on hook: first dch stitch made.
For fslst: Yarn over and pull through both loops on hook: first fslst stitch made.
Step 4
For fsc: Yarn over and pull through ONE loop on hook: 2 loops remain on hook. This chain stitch forms the base, or foundation, of a single crochet (sc) that will be created next. For crocheters new to the fsc, it helps to pinch this chain just made. Now yarn over and pull through both loops on hook: sc made.

Step 5:
Step 5
To make the next dch: insert hook under the ONE strand along the left side (if you're crocheting right handed) of dch just made, yarn over and pull up a loop.

To make the next fslst: insert hook under the TWO strands along the left side (if you're crocheting right handed) of fslst just made, yarn over and pull up a loop.

To make the next fsc: insert hook under TWO strands of the base chain (that you are hopefully pinching with your fingers) of fsc just made, yarn over and pull up a loop.
Step 6

Step 6: 
To complete the dch: Yarn over and pull through BOTH loops on hook. Avoid "yanking" it tight. Repeat Steps 5 and 6 for desired number of foundation stitches.

To complete the fslst: Yarn over and pull through BOTH loops on hook. Avoid "yanking" it tight. Repeat Steps 5 and 6 for desired number of foundation stitches.

To complete the fsc: Yarn over and pull through ONE loop on hook. Avoid "yanking" it tight. (Pinch this stitch to mark it for yourself that it's where you'll start the next fsc.) Yarn over and pull through both loops on hook to complete the fscRepeat Steps 5 and 6 for desired number of foundation stitches.



  1. Ooh, very interesting! Will try!

  2. Fantastic newsletter/blog post this week.

    This ex-librarian would love to know what books you researched.

  3. Thank you!
    Ros: I'm working on creating an online space where I have a list of the particulars of each book (my bibliography), and then for each topic I research, I can easily refer to the sources (faster, easy-on-the-eyes footnoting). Sort of like putting my crochet library holdings online, and then being able to cite them with hotlinks.
    Maybe others could link up their own crochet holdings somehow, so that crocheters could finally have a complete global research library. (Just to be clear to anyone reading this, I don't at all mean any kind of copyright infringement such as uploading the content of whole books.)

  4. Vashti, thank you so much for posting this tutorial!!! I've been using fsc for most of my project now, but not always 100% happy with the way it looks. I think fslst will solve all of those problems!!!! I think I wound my new favorite stitch.

  5. Thanks so much for this, it's all very interesting. I have never heard of "double chain" but I really want to try it, and your fslst method looks good, too. Good to have different options for different projects.
    Thanks again!
    Caz from Never Knew :)

  6. thanks so much for this tutorial! i found it on pinterest and had been about to seek out a tutorial last week. awesome to have the three options side-by-side.

    i tried the blue on first, because i liked its bulk. but it didn't come as easy as the green one. so, i've got one down and will come back to practice the other later.


    p.s. and it's also nice to think there's still more to discover re: crochet!

  7. Thankyou for the super clear instructions. I am always looking to learn new crochet tips and techniques...great!

  8. You're so welcome, glad to help fellow crocheters! Thanks for commenting.

  9. Thanks for sharing the instructions, I love it!
    Good day!

  10. Marty's excellent article has now been reprinted in Best of Interweave Crochet, making it pretty easy to access.

  11. This is exciting!!! I have been wanting to learn more about crocheting. Thank you :):)

  12. I thought I had thanked you before for this...but I see now that I didn't. So sorry for that oversight! This tutorial has been a help for me on several occasions when my brain just can't seem to remember how to start one of these foundation rows! Thank you! I'm going to link to this post from my own blog, just to make sure I never lose it...and of course to let others know who may be missing out! Love and prayers, Cara Louise, Cara's Handcrafted Crocheted Ornaments

    1. Hi CaraLouise, thanks for your comments, they make my day!

  13. Wonderfull. :)
    Gracias desde EspaƱa

  14. Just found you. Thanks for showing how to do the foundation stitches. I have tried all kinds of sites and can't seem to get it. I think I finally got it through my thick brain. I think????????

  15. Thanks so much for putting these foundation stitches together. I will be trying them soon. Your time and efforts are very much appreciated.

  16. You're very welcome, I'm glad it's useful!

  17. Thanks for this. One of my crochet customers was asking for help with this and your page was the clearest for her.

  18. Hello Vashti, thank you very much also from germany.
    I read a lot about foundatin stitches, but never really get the way they´re done. I didn´t search for a tutorial, but now on pinterest your´s jumped on me. So here I am and it absolutely works fine.
    Just have to decide wich one´s my favorite ;)

    Thank you for your whole blog :D


  19. Thanks a lot for this! Your fslst was just what I needed for the stem on my flower bookmark project! :-)

  20. Omg! Thank you, this tutorial has been biggest help with fdc

  21. Thanks for this, it's very helpful. It looks like foundation single crochet is the most difficult, since one is liable to get confused. Which explains why I'd given up on it. But now you've shown us these alternatives, I can try again!

  22. Did you ever experience a situation where the light bulb comes over the head and everything falls into place? Finally, this makes sense, looks great and I thank you!

  23. Thanks so much for comparing the 3. I have used the fsc, but had a pattern that called for a dch. I have searched all over the place for how to do it correctly, but most mistake a fsc for a dch. The pattern I am doing explained it 100% wrong!! Thank you for helping my little brain!!!

  24. OH MY GOODNESS...WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN ALL MY 40yrs of CROCHET'G LIFE?????? I appreciate your knowledge and that you share where everyone gets something from it. THANK YOU!!!!!!

    1. :) You're so welcome.
      I'm happy to hear people are still finding this post years later.

    2. Absolutely, I have this post bookmarked ... so informative!


On-topic questions are welcome!