Note: For the purposes of this article, I will only be focusing on foundation chains worked separately from the first row of stitches. For a discussion on foundation stitches, which work the foundation chain and first row of stitches at the same time, please see this post. For those of you completely new to crocheting, please see our article "All About Chains" for more information on the foundation chain.
As you may have noticed, the front of the foundation chain resembles a braid with a top loop and a bottom loop.
Most of us are taught to work our first row of stitches in the top loop of the foundation chain, so this is the first technique we will discuss.
This technique is great for beginning crocheters because it helps them to recognize the "Vs" of the stitch. The Vs are formed where the top and bottom loops meet and are a characteristic of almost every other crochet stitch that exists. The disadvantage to this technique is that the bottom of the crocheted piece will be thinner than the top, and there will only be a single row of loops along the bottom instead of two.
This brings us to the second technique. One way to solve the issue of thickness is to work the first row through two loops of the foundation chain instead of one; specifically, the top loop of the "braid" and the back hump of the chain. Both of these loops can be seen when the foundation chain is turned on its side.
This technique results in equal thicknesses of the top and bottom of the crocheted piece, but still results in only having a single row of loops along the bottom instead of two. Additionally, it may be difficult for the beginning crocheter to determine which loops to work.
The third technique is our personal favorite and is done by working only in the back hump of the chain. The back hump can be seen best with the back of the chain facing.
Working in the back hump only results in a crocheted piece that is not only equal thicknesses in the top and bottom edges, but also has a double row of loops along the bottom edge. This symmetry gives the finished crochet project a tidy, professional look and is the reason why it is our favorite.
Even though we prefer the technique of crocheting in the back hump, there is no right or wrong way to work into your foundation chain. One should choose a technique based on the desired look of the crocheted piece and comfort level. There are more ways to work the foundation chain than simply the way you were taught, and knowing the advantages and disadvantages of each technique will help give you that attention to detail that is the hallmark of an expert crocheter.