So you are learning to crochet, right?  And you just got through last weeks tutorial on the crochet chain and feel like you’ve got the tension of each loop pretty consistent, and the hand movements are feeling more comfortable.  Now, what do you do with all the chains you have practiced?  While the chain stitch is just the first in a long line of decorative stitches that produce beautiful results, it can be an important part of a crochet project all on its own.  As its own  project, the yarn often makes the chain special.  What I mean is, there are hundreds if not thousands of different kinds of yarn available today.  And if you don’t like what is available there are tutorials on how to make your own fabric yarn, not to mention wire crocheting, and well, you can pretty much make a chain stitch out of anything these days.  Choose a yarn that fits your personality, and see how it chains up.  Use different hooks to see how the tension affects the yarn,  you might want to use a smaller hook to get a stiffer close-knit stitch, or a bigger hook to create a lacy effect.

Here are a few ideas chain stitches can be used for.

  1.  Make a wrap bracelet.  The idea for this is to make a long chain, long enough to wrap your wrist three or four times.  Personally, I like to use a small hook with crochet thread for wrap bracelets, this creates a tight durable stitch that doesn’t stretch as easy as a loose stitch.  After wrapping, tie the ends together and you are done.

    It's Irish Fest week in Milwaukee, so I thought I'd show my Irish pride!
    It’s Irish Fest week in Milwaukee, so I thought I’d show my Irish pride!
  2. Tie with a bow.  Bows are great for giving an extra special detail to an outfit, or decoration.  You can use any kind of yarn, or multiple yarns together for your chain.  I like to use chain bows to hold multiple presents together for birthdays.  They always add a personal touch, and friends and family always knows who they are getting the present from!
  3. Replace an old drawstring.  Ever have a drawstring on a purse or outfit break on you? Chains are the easiest way to replace them quickly.  Yarn and hook size is important when making drawstrings.  You want to keep the stitches tight enough so that they don’t stretch too much, and the yarn should not be of stretchy material.  Cotton usually is a good choice.
  4. Make garland.  If you have chained a long piece you can always hang it in a window, or along a wall.  I like to have my toddler color cut out pieces (eg. I cut out stars for the fourth of July, and she paints or colors them) and hang them on my garland.  This is a great activity to do with your kids too!
  5. Make stiffened jewelry.  I saved this one for last because it is the most involved.  For this project, chain to your desired length.  Using a fabric stiffener, soak the chain until completely covered.  Then take an old rag, and fold the yarn inside, squeezing gently to remove any excess “glue”.  On a blocking board, or I use a cork board (making sure to put wax paper underneath), pin the chain to the desired shape.  Let the piece dry completely, this could take up to 24 hours.  You will then have a fabric shape to adorn your ears, or hang on a necklace, or whatever creative ideas you can come up with!

How have you used crochet chains? This simple stitch is the foundation for crochet, and can be used in multiple ways on its own.  I’d love to hear what you are creating with your chains.  Thanks again for reading, have a good week!

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