Foundation Half Double Crochet (Fhdc)
WHAT IS IT?
The Foundation Half Double Crochet stitch technique (abbreviated Fhdc) is an alternative to the instructions at the beginning of a crochet pattern that tell you to chain a certain number of stitches.
This technique simultaneously creates a row of "chain" stitches AND a row of half double crochet stitches (abbreviated hdc) 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 half double crochet that is worked into that row of chains.
Once you've practiced a bit with this stitch and create it comfortably, take a close look at the "chain" part of the stitch as you are making it. You will see how the "chain" is not, in fact, a chain at all but a clever doppelganger of the chain. It serves the purpose of looking like a base row of chain stitches but it is made in such a way that it is more elastic.
Which brings us to our next point…
WHY USE THE FOUNDATION HALF DOUBLE 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 results are 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. No good… not at all…
This unfortunate tightening of stitches doesn't happen when using the Foundation Stitch technique since the "chains" we make are connected to the Half Double Crochet (or Single Crochet, Double, Treble, etc…) we create simultaneously on top of the "chain". The next "chain" we make is created by bringing the new loop sideways underneath the loops of the previous "chain" rather than through the center of the loops like a traditional chain. Since the chain stitches are not directly joined to each other, the tension in one does not affect the tension of the preceding or following "chains." Again, work the stitch a few times and get comfortable with it then go back and watch how you are actually constructing the stitch and this will make more sense.
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!!
Alternately, 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 (wonky even!) beginning chain that we can just hope nobody will look at very closely. And, if you are a details person like we are… that just ain't gonna fly. NOPE!
For the Foundation Single Crochet, be sure to check out our Technique Tuesday walk through HERE. Once you get the hang of these Foundation Stitches, you'll be hooked. See what I did there? Hooked… crochet… hook… Ahem. Moving on…
BREAK IT DOWN
NOTE: If you are substituting Foundation Stitches for chains in a written pattern, work the same number of Foundation Stitches as the pattern calls for chains. For example, if the pattern calls for 120 chains, work 120 Foundation Stitches.
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 Half Double Crochet tutorial for your own personal use from our online store by clicking the photo of our infographic style tutorial below.
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