How Many Chains Do I Need to Start My Project?

Every project is a little different. You need to consider stitch multiple and project width.

We’ll show you 8 steps to figure out how many chains you need to start your next project.

Chances are, you landed on this page because you found a stitch pattern you’re in love with and you want to try your hand at turning it into a project. But you realized you don’t know how many chains you need to make to get things started.

In this guide you’ll learn how to take that stitch pattern and start your project.

First things first, there’s a couple things you need to know:

  1. The stitch multiple
  2. The width of the thing you want to make

The stitch multiple and why it matters

Aside from the basic stitches (single crochet, half double crochet, double crochet etc.) most of the stitches you’ll work with have a “multiple”.

The stitch multiple is the number of stitches required for a single pattern repeat.

If you have more or less stitches than required, the stitch pattern simply won’t work out. You’ll have a break in the pattern.

It’s incredibly important because it must divide evenly into the foundation chain number for your stitch pattern to work out.

How to find the stitch multiple (and a few examples)

It may vary from source to source (where you found the stitch pattern) but the multiple is usually found some where before the pattern instructions. It’ll look something like this:

“8 + 4” or “chain a number of 8 + 4”

No matter what numbers appear in the multiple for the stitch pattern you want to use, the first number will always be the stitch multiple. The number after the plus sign is handled a little differently and we’ll get to that in just a bit.

In some cases the multiple will be a single number like 5. It goes without saying, that number is your multiple.

In other cases the multiple will be “even” or “odd” numbers in which case you would take a mental note of that rather than record a multiple number.

Finally, other stitches will have no multiple. This means you can work the pattern over any number of stitches.

Stitch multiple is one (of two) important things you need before moving on to determine how many chains you need to start your project. In addition, you need to know the width you want your project to be.

How wide do you want your project to be?

After you have your stitch multiple figured out, the next thing you need is the width you need the project to be. We have a few resources to help you with this.

Scarves

Between 6 and 8 inches

Shawls

Between 32 and 43 inches

Body Measurements

(source: Craft Yarn Council)

When you have these two pieces of information (stitch multiple and project width) you can now figure out how many chains to start your project. Here’s how.

8 Steps to Determine How Many Chains You Need

Step 1: With the yarn and hook you plan to use, make 10 chains.

Step 2: Measure the length of those 10 chains. Be as exact as possible.

Step 3: Divide the desired project width by the measurement from step 2.

Step 4: Multiply the answer from step 3 by 10 (the number of chains you made in step 1)

The result is how many chains you need for the width of the project with your yarn/hook combo. If you have no stitch multiple, you’re all set. Go ahead and chain this number to start your project.

If your multiple indicates even or odd, add or subtract one chain to make it odd or even.

Step 5: Divide answer from step 4 by stitch multiple.

If the result is a whole number, you’re in good shape and you should jump to step 7 but more than likely it won’t be.

Step 6 (only if answer from step 5 wasn’t a whole number): Find the number closest to the answer from step 4 that your multiple will divide evenly into.

Step 7: Chain the number from step 4 (for no stitch multiple) or step 6.

Step 8: Add the number of chains after the plus sign in your stitch multiple (if you had one)

Let’s look at an example…

Project Width
38″

Multiple
7 + 3

Measurement
10 ch = 2.5″

Step 3: 38 / 2.5 = 15.2

Step 4: 15.2 x 10 = 152

Step 5: 152 / 7 = 21.71 (not a whole number so proceeding to step 6)

Step 6: 154 is the closest number to 152 that 7 will divide evenly into.

Step 7: Chain 154

Step 8: Add 3 chains for a total of 157

additional resources

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