How Many Chains to Crochet

How Many Chains Web edit

How many chains do I make to crochet a …

This is the most frequently asked question that comes to my inbox and social pages. Honestly, how many chains to crochet at the beginning of a project is different in every situation. I’m seeing this as a great learning opportunity!

After reading this article, you will no longer have to guess how many chains to crochet when you begin a new project. You will understand how the total number of chains is calculated when working in a stitch pattern with a specific multiple (don’t worry, it’s simple math!) and it will hopefully save you lots of time in the future.

The Variables: Why it’s different for every situation

  • The Yarn – the size of the yarn effects gauge which in turn effects the number of chains
  • The Hook – the size of the hook also effects gauge which effects the number of chains
  • The Pattern – some stitch patterns require certain multiples of chains
  • The Project – this one may seem obvious but here goes, some projects are larger than others (afghan vs scarf)
  • You – some people crochet tighter or more loosely than others which effects the overall number

That covers the basics. Remember these four variables the next time you start a project and keep them in mind when following the remaining steps in this post.

Now, let’s break this topic down into easy, bite size pieces so the concept really sinks in.

How many chains to crochet: with no stitch multiple

First let’s talk about what I mean by “with no stitch multiple”.

I’m sure you’ve come across a pattern that says “Chain a multiple of 5+2” or something along those lines. This classifies as a stitch with a multiple. We’ll talk about this in the next section.

So looping back around to the scenario with no stitch multiple, here is an example:

  • the entire pattern is worked using one of the basic stitches (single crochet, half double crochet, double crochet, treble crochet and/or slip stitch)

Depending on your project or level of crochet, you may come across this scenario more often than others. Fortunately, this is the easiest scenario to determine the number of chains you need in a project.

Here’s what you do…

You need to have an idea of how wide the project needs to be in terms of inches. I typically use reference charts online to find the common sizes for things like afghans, baby blankets, scarfs etc.

Let’s say we are crocheting a baby blanket and we want it to be 40″ wide. Okay, perfect, we have our target size!

The next thing we need to do is determine which yarn we are going to use. No matter what you choose, this method will remain the same.

Finally, we need to choose a hook. If you’re not comfortable deciding which hook to use, look at the yarn label. It will give you a recommended hook size to use.

Once you have all these pieces of information in place, we’re ready to begin.

How Many Chains Web 2

Since math is only fun for some people, I’ll keep it as simple as possible. I like to work with nice round numbers, so take your hook and yarn and make 10 chains. Now lay your chain along a ruler or tape measure as shown above.

In my example, 10 chains = 2.5 inches.

Now a little bit of calculating…

40″/2.5″ = 16 (sets of chains)

That’s 16 groups of 10 chains. So we need to take it one step further to get the total number of chains.

16 x 10 = 160

Voila! In my unique situation (my yarn and hook selection), 160 chains are needed to begin this project. That’s all you need to do. Here it is written in words to make things a little clearer…

Desired Width Inches / Width of 10 “Practice Chains” = a number x 10 = Number of Chains you Need

One final piece of information to add – don’t forget to add your turning chain to the over all number! (1 for SC, 2 for HDC and 3 for DC)

How many chains to crochet: when you have a stitch multiple

Okay, now lets talk about the situation that occurs most often: when you need to know how many chains to crochet your foundation row but your stitch pattern requires you keep it in a certain multiple (2, 5, 13…)

It sounds like it should be more complicated to figure out, right?

Fortunately, it’s not! If this is your situation, keep reading.

Here’s what you do…

Just like before, you need to have an idea (in inches) how wide you want your project to be. Let’s say we are crocheting a scarf and we want it to measure approximately 15″ wide.

Figure out which yarn and hook you want to use. We’ll need to use it in our measurements.

Refer to your stitch pattern and observe the multiple it says to work in, for example 8+3. In this example, 8 is the multiple and 3 is how many chains you need to add at the very end. We won’t be using this number (3) in our calculation.

Now crochet the number of chains in your stitch multiple (8 in our example above). Lay that chain along a tape measure. Let’s say for our example, 8 chains measures 2″.

A little calculating…

15″/2″ = 7.5 (sets of chains)

That’s 7.5 sets of 8 chains. So again, we need to take it a bit further to get the total number of chains.

7.5 x 8 = 60

And there we have it! We need to make (in this example) 60 chains to start a scarf that is 15″ wide. Now here it is written in words to make it a little easier to duplicate on your own…

Desired Width Inches / Chain Multiple Inches = Groups of Chain Multiple

Groups of Chain Multiple x Chain Multiple = Total Number of Chains

Use this page as a reference

This may seem like a lot to handle at first. It will take some time to commit it to memory. That’s okay! Use this page as reference anytime you need to begin a project and you haven’t the slightest idea how many foundation chains to make. Of course I’ll always be around if you need help.


Brittany copy

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