Foundation Single Crochet (Fsc)
What is it?
This technique simultaneously creates a row of "chain" stitches AND a row of single crochet stitches (abbreviated sc) without making two passes. Basically, it takes the place of two rows of stitches: the "chain" row that makes up the beginning base and the next row of single crochet that is worked into that row of chains.
The Foundation Single Crochet stitch technique (abbreviated Fsc) is an alternative to the instructions at the beginning of a crochet pattern that tell you to chain a certain number of stitches.
For this Technique Tuesday we are specifically talking about the Foundation Single Crochet stitch… look for other Foundation stitches in the coming weeks.
Why use the Foundation Single Crochet?
A row of chains at the beginning of a section of crochet tightens up significantly once the next row of stitches is worked into it. This is because the loops of the chain are, naturally, connected to one another and pulling on one of the loops by inserting a hook into the chain and making a stitch there tightens the neighboring loops. The result is a chain that is significantly shorter than we probably need and a fabric edge with little or no elasticity at all. And, unfortunately, even the almighty fix-all techniques in Blocking will only get you so far… fibers only stretch so much before they are ruined or "killed" zapping them of all bounce and elasticity.
Don't be a fiber killer… just say no, kids…
With a little practice, the result of using this technique is a consistent tension that maintains itself without having to fuss and cuss our way through making a row of stitches into a row of chains only to end up with a tight hem, armhole, cuff, or neckline that we can't really use because it is suddenly three or four inches too tight and we just about rip off our ears trying to get it over our head or nearly lose a hand from cutting off the circulation in our wrist. And don't get us started on pinchy bottom hems… GAH!!
Usually when a crocheter encounters a tight row of chains that doesn't fit the given gauge for a pattern, they resort to going up a size in hooks. Makes logical sense and it's what we are told to do in patterns… to adjust our hook size to achieve gauge. The problem with that is the rest of the stitch pattern might look better with the smaller hook size as indicated in the pattern. But, because a regular chain row can end up tight enough to play the Prelude of J.S. Bach's Suite for Solo Cello no. 1 in G major on, we go up a hook size to make it. This might fix the elasticity issue of a chain row but the rest of the fabric is now being worked at the wrong tension and, at best, just doesn't look quite right or, at worst, sags and bags like an elephant's behind (oh stop… you know exactly what I'm talking about because we've all done it!).
The other fix is using a larger hook for the chain row THEN going back to the smaller hook for the rest of the fabric stitches. This MIGHT do the trick but… more often it results in a wobbly looking (dare we say wonky?) beginning chain that we can just hope nobody will look at very closely. And, being a details kinda designer, that just isn't going to fly.
Foundation Stitches at exposed edges like hems, cuffs, and necklines have a clean, polished look. If you are going to work to create a custom, handmade piece, why not start it with symmetry and polish. Start Like a Pro, Finish Like a Pro!
Break It Down
So here it is… the Foundation Single Crochet broken down for you step by step with lovely photos by Shibaguyz Photography for those all-important visual cues.
NOTE: It is SO important that you insert your hook under both loops of the "chain" made in Step 2 exactly as shown in the Step 4 photo. The most common goof we encounter in teaching this technique is only inserting the hook under one loop of the "chain." The result is very different. Not horrible… it won't bring on the zombie apocalypse or anything… but it's not what we are going for.
NOTE: If you are substituting Foundation Stitches for the first row of a pattern that states to chain XX number of stitches, you will make the same number of Fsc as you would chains.
Like any new skill, this might take a few times to get your stitches to line up all nice and pretty like in the pictures. Just be patient with yourself and give yourself permission to learn
Make sure you bookmark this post for future reference and download a free copy of the Foundation Single Crocht tutorial for your own personal use from our online store by clicking the photo of our infographic style tutorial below.
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