The foundation single crochet is a stitch that can be used in place of a starting chain. Its ability to allow an on-the-fly decision about project width can save you time and anguish, so let’s take a look at why the foundation single crochet stitch is an essential stitch for any crocheter who doesn’t like ripping out their work!
What is a Foundation Single Crochet Stitch or FSC?
The foundation single crochet stitch, or foundation sc (FSC), is a single crochet stitch that is made by anchoring into itself, instead of working into an existing chain stitch row. This means that if you want 10 single crochet stitches in your first row, you don’t need to make 11 chain stitches first. You can go right into making your 10 single crochet stitches as your very first working row.
Why Do Designers Use it?
Not having to work a starting chain row can be useful in so many ways, especially for designers who are starting a pattern from scratch! When you want to start a project with a certain width, and knowing your gauge, you can guesstimate at how many stitches you’d need to start with. You add 1 to your desired number of stitches and that’s your starting chain stitch count. At the end of the chain stitch row, you turn and work single crochet stitches into each chain stitch. However, sometimes you find that the resulting row is either too long or too short. If that happens, you have to rip out the entire single crochet row, and often the entire chain stitch row as well, since those stitches tend to get stretched out and gives the piece a messy edge.
However, if you start with a foundation single crochet row, or a chainless single foundation row, you’re making up the width as you go. When you stop at your target number of stitches, you can make adjustments right there by adding or ripping out individual stitches instead of entire rows. The row you start next will be your SECOND working row, instead of your first working row. How cool is that?
I love starting with chainless foundation rows when I’m experimenting with a new design. It really gives me the flexibility to make changes to the starting row without wasting a lot of time or energy. And no one likes ripping out rows of work!
Another benefit that I find in working chainless roundations is that the stitches are much stretchier than traditional chain stitches (shown below). I tend to make my chain stitches tighter than my working stitches, in the mindset that I want to preserve a clean edge. That means that my starting edge can sometimes end up tighter and less stretchy than the rest of the piece. It also distorts my gauge measurements at the start of my project.
You can see that I’ve used a foundation single crochet row to start my Fox Fingerless Gloves and my Bunny Cozy. Both of these projects need some extra stretch at the beginning of the project, without adding too much extra stitches into the round itself. I also used foundation single crochet stitches at the beginning of my top-down Wonderland Cardigan, again because I didn’t want an overly tight or constricting collar.
How Do You Decide When to Use a Chainless Foundation?
Besides a foundation single crochet stitch, there’s also a foundation half double crochet version, and a foundation double crochet version. They are all similar to each other and produce stitches like their traditional counterparts. The foundation double crochet row would be the tallest of the 3 options.
You can use a foundation single crochet row anytime a project calls for a row of single crochet stitches in its first working row. If you’re unsure of your gauge or if you need to alter a pattern for fit and sizing, you may want to consider starting the project with a chainless foundation. Even if the pattern asks you to work a certain number of chain stitches, you can convert that to foundation single crochet stitches. Here’s how:
Let’s say a pattern asks you to work 26 chain stitches. Then starting with the 2nd chain from your hook, to work 1 single crochet stitch in each chain stitch across, for a total of 25 single crochet stitches. To convert that to a chainless foundation, all you have to do is work 25 foundation single crochet stitches! Then you can turn your work and follow the rest of the pattern as written. This way, you can easily adjust patterns if you’re gauge is not quite correct, and gives you more control your own project.
Things to Watch Out For When Working Chainless Foundation Stitches
A single crochet foundation row can be stretchier than a chain stitch row, which can be a bonus, or it can actually detract from your project is it’s too loose. One way to combat this is to use a smaller hook for the foundation row. If the pattern calls for a 4.00mm hook for the body of the piece, you can try using a 3.5mm or a 3.75mm hook for the foundation single crochet row. This will give you the stretch you want without looking too ruffled.
Another tip to keep in mind is if right side and wrong side rows are important in your pattern, or if it’s important where your beginning tail lies. When you work a chain stitch row, and then work a single crochet row back across, your beginning tail will be on the bottom left of a right facing row. Your second row (the single crochet stitches) is your right side row. Working a chainless foundation row will keep the beginning tail on the bottom right of a right facing row, and your second row will be your wrong side row. The tail placement shouldn’t be important in most cases, but if you need that tail for seaming or for an accent, it’ll be important to note. And if you’re doing work where right side and wrong side rows are important, you’ll want to take care in how this affects your design.
Foundation rows in general also take longer to make. You’re essentially working 2 rows at the same time, and there’s more steps involved with each stitch. I do believe the benefits are worth it though!
Breaking down the Foundation Single Crochet Stitch
Ok, now that you know when and how to use a foundation single crochet row, let’s dig into how it’s made! Because we’re working chainless, a foundation row will create its own chains at every stitch. So each foundation single crochet stitch will create its own chain stitch to be used by the next FSC. It’s making its own foundation as it goes!
If you’re a video learner, just click the video tutorial below and see how I work a row of foundation single crochet stitches. You can also find this video on my YouTube Channel, along with a foundation half double crochet video tutorial and a foundation double crochet video tutorial.
Written Instructions for the FSC Crochet Stitch
First, tie a slip knot onto your hook.
1. Start with 2 chains on the hook.
2. Insert your hook into the first chain (it’s the 2nd chain from hook). Yarn over and pull up a loop.
3. Yarn over and pull up through ONLY the first loop on hook. This creates your first “chain stitch”.
4. Yarn over and pull through both loops on your hook. This completes your first foundation single crochet stitch!
5. To create the second single crochet stitch, insert hook into the “chain stitch” you created in Step 3. Depending on the yarn, this chain stitch may be a little difficult to see. If you find you have issues, you can always add a stitch marker when you make the chain stitch to mark it until you are more familiar with recognizing the chain stitch.
6. Yarn over and pull up a loop.
7. Yarn over and pull up a loop to create your next chain stitch.
8. Yarn over and pull through both loops on hook to complete your next single crochet stitch.
And so on and so forth. For each foundation single crochet stitch, work into the previous chain stitch made, and pull up a loop. Create another chain stitch, and then complete the single crochet. You can see the stretch right away and adjust accordingly!
The bottom of the foundation row looks like full chains, which gives your edge a nice clean look.
The stitches you’ll work into on your next row are at the top of the foundation row. They’re also an easy to recognize V-shape. To begin your next row, simply chain the indicated number of stitches, turn, and work into the Vs of the previous row (as indicated by the white arrows below).
I hope this tutorial gives you a good understanding of what foundation rows are and how to have better control over your crochet work!