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March 31st, 2013 at 10:06 am

TIPLET: Starting Chains and The Kite Tail Marker

There are more possible ways to start a project, but the two most commonly know are the “tradtional” Base Chain

Base Chain, aka/ The Base Row From Hell, is something to get past. It causes everyone issues from time to time and probably is responsible for 90% of those who give up on Crochet. You may not be surprised to find that I do not think using a large hook for the chain is a good solution. IMNHO it creates more problems than it solves and makes a sloppy edge – but if it works for you and you are happy with the result who am I to judge?

As an alternative, many of us use Chainless Foundations whenever possible, there are situations when it is not right for the project (thankfully not too many ) There exceptions to the following, but fewer than you might thing – so relax and learn to enjoy the anticipation of getting past the base chain.

But whichever method you choose, a traditional Base or Foundationless chain, be sure to leave a “Tail Marker”

Somewhere along the line I began using the phrase “Tail Marker” Later, in an attempt at discretion “Kite String” – although either can be appropriately descriptive, depends on the age and life experience/attitude of the student – trust me one has to be aware of possible urban connotations when volunteering in an inner city after school program or lots of other places – although the gentleman at the VA did find it amusing when I keep telling then not to forget their piece of tail)

Whether you must use a Base Chain or can use the Chainless Foundation, START with a Chain that is longer.

How much longer will depend on the project and your planned finishing style. If you are working a traditional base chain, it may not be the end of the world – still, if you counted wrong, you don’t have to rip back to add more. When one compares the cost of a yard of yarn with the value of the time to rip and rework – it is an excellent trade off

When the project requires the use of a Base Chain I always make the chain long enough to support at least two or three motifs. So if the Motif requires 6+2, I will make the chain at least an extra 18 or so links.
Aside from counting wrong for the pattern, because of variation in personal gauge, you have feel at the end of that first row it really needs to be a motif or two wider

The excess links now serve as my “marker” for RS/WS – Right Side/Wrong Side aka: FS/BS – Front Side/Back Side .

Determining RS/WS, often difficult for those who crochet, as the work may appear the same on both sides. It is very helpful when a project has been set aside. With the TAIL MARKER, you have a quick reference to get restarted in the correct direction.

It does not matter if you are left or right handed, the principle is the same. The Tail Marker should always be on the same side – since I am mostly right hand dominant, the tail will be on my LEFT when the Right side is facing me .


For those who may have difficulty with CHAINLESS FOUNDATION “counts” the Tail Marker serves to make it much easier to see where the first stitch of your Chainless work begins.

Once you have the concept that the Chainless Foundation is both your BASE CHAIN and YOUR FIRST ROW , it becomes easier to grasp that you now work a turning chain as directed in your pattern at the end of the direct row, turn your work and continue.

If you enjoy experimenting with stitch motifs squares worked in the round, the Tail Maker will help you to avoid accidentally placing the “wrong” up as you

When working in the round, as one does for Grannie Squares, the ” Reverse Tail Marker” is made by leaving a tail at the lower corner. How long that should be will depend on what you have planned for “connecting” pieces of your work/project. A Short length of yarn can be used to connect corners – a hand technique in some thread or scrumbling work.

For example, when ready to assemble squares I often use either the illusion of Stained Glass or Attic/Cathedral Windows blocks. To do this each round is usually finished with at least one row of single crochet. By leaving enough yarn to then use my favorite join, that of using a modified SC – Single Crochet, I don’t have to add yarn – which means one less Russian Join or one less knot and end to weave.

I hope you will find the use of a KITE TAIL MARKER helpful whatever style of foundation you choose.

Always Remember The Point Is To Enjoy The Making


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  • 1

    I’ve come up with a new usage for knitting’s crochet-hook cast-on. I’ve used it to mount the number of chains I need for an afghan. I love it! I cast-on my 217 stitches, and worked my first row of single crochets from the knitting needle. Weird? Yup! But my beginning edge is exactly the same as my finishing edge, and – most importantly – it’s neat and as elastic as my main fabric! What’s not to love?!

    Jessica-Jean on April 1st, 2013
  • 2

    So glad you added this. Kim Guzman was also talking about using Knitting’s Crochet Cast On to create a base row.

    wheat on April 1st, 2013
  • 3

    I won’t admit how many years I actually unpicked all those extra chains before I figured out I could clip them off and just unpick one or two… yeesh!! Old habits die hard, I guess, lol.

    Mattenylou on April 3rd, 2013


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