Overview of the Turning Chain in Crochet

Turning Chain Example: This is a turning chain for treble crochet stitch.
Turning Chain Example: This is a turning chain for treble crochet stitch. It consists of 4 chains. Photo © Mike Solovay.

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.

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

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!