A turning chain is typically worked in between rows of crochet stitches. Its purpose is to facilitate the transition between one row of crochet and the next row.
After you’ve worked a row of crochet, you typically turn the piece over and work back across. The turning chain helps you to achieve the correct height for your next row of stitches.
A turning chain can be either a single chain stitch or a group of chain stitches.
Turning Chain Lengths
The length of the turning chain depends on the height of the stitch you are crocheting. Tall stitches require more chains; short stitches require fewer chains.
Here are suggestions for turning chain lengths for the most basic crochet stitches. Note that these are only suggestions; feel free to use a turning chain of any length that achieves your objective for the project you are crocheting.
- Single Crochet Stitch: A single chain stitch is usually used as a turning chain when working rows of single crochet.
- Half Double Crochet Stitch: Turning chain is typically two stitches
- Double Crochet Stitch: Turning chain is typically three stitches
- Treble Crochet Stitch: Turning chain is typically 4 stitches
- Double Treble Crochet Stitch: Turning chain is typically 5 stitches
Turning Chains Can Be a Design Element
Turning chains don't always have to be purely functional. They can be decorative as well. See an example of how a turning chain can be used to create scalloped edgings in these easy edging patterns.
Bruges lace is an example of a crochet technique that utilizes the idea of the turning chain becoming a design element. Bruges lace is a beautiful crocheted lace that resembles the more labor-intensive handmade lace of the same name.
Crochet Master Class -- This book includes information about a variety of different crochet techniques; there is a section about Bruges lace, which is how I learned about the technique. I own a copy of this book and highly recommend it!