What is a Chain Space (ch-sp)?

By Rachel Choi – 108 Comments

Sometimes when you read a crochet pattern, it’ll tell you to work into a chain space (ch-sp). But what in the world is a chain space? Simply put, a chain space is any space/hole/gap in your work that is created by making a chain. The space is located below the chain.

Chain spaces can be created in numerous ways and can vary in size. Often times (but not always), a chain space is made by making a chain then skipping a few stitches on the row to make your next stitch. Chain spaces can be made by any number of chains, for instance you can chain 1 or you can chain 5 to create a chain space. In a pattern you may see a chain 5 space abbreviated as “ch-5 sp”.

Here is a photos of what a chain space can look like:
crochet chain space

Normally when you crochet into a stitch you insert your hook into the font and back loops of the stitch. But when you are instructed to crochet into a chain space, just insert your hook into the space/hole/gap (underneath the chain) to make your stitch.
crocheting into chain space

What this helpful? Let me know!

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  1. Erin says:

    Thank you so much. Now one of my new patterns is suddenly clear.

  2. Renee says:

    That was an excellent description and illustration. Thank you!

  3. Diane says:

    Thank you! I always wondered if I was to stitch into the top two loops (as usual) or INTO the space. Now, it is crystal clear, thanks to you!

  4. Conce says:

    Great! I thought this was the case but was uncertain and often wondered if I was doing this right. Thanks.

  5. […] Don’t understand chain spaces? Learn more here-> What is a chain space? […]

  6. Na'Imah says:

    Thank you! I have been searching everywhere for this answer! I couldn’t even find it in books!

  7. SEJ says:

    OMGSH!!! THANK YOU!!!! I can’t tell you how much you’ve helped me! So many other sources that were trying to explain the chain stitch explained it in a way that couldn’t be understood. Yet, the explanation you give makes it sound so simple! The space under the chain. DUH Thank you so much!

  8. felicia says:

    Ah! thanks so much for making that so clear!

  9. Nina says:

    Thank you so much. I googled “ch sp” and kept reading different descriptions and still couldn’t understand it…until I came to your page. Illustrations make understanding so much easier. Thank you again! Now I can make my scarf correctly!

  10. Lucy says:

    Thank you!! I have been searching the internet for hours, trying to make sense of “chain-# sp” so that I could continue on with my pattern correctly. Your images are super helpful and I’m confident I have this now. 🙂 I love your entire site!

  11. Rebekah Green says:

    very very very helpful! the only picture I found on the web that I could actually see clearly where the space was and what it looked like and how to use it. thank you very much!

  12. Kathryn says:

    thank you so much! I have been searching everywhere to find out what “ch-5 sp” means! clear picture and understandable description.

  13. Sue says:

    Thank you Rachel for your explanation and photos. Super clear. Now I can proceed with my project with confidence.

  14. Shana says:

    Thank you! This was the fifth site I tried before finding not only an explanation but the pics too. Just awesome!

  15. Cyette says:

    Now if only I could find out how to do a “ch 1 into next ch 1 space”…. how in the world you do a chain INTO a chain space………???

    It’s from a pattern available online called “Chris’ Cap For Men” from Knots of Love, Inc.

    • Rachel says:

      Hi Cyette, does it say “ch 1 in next ch 1 space” exactly? If so, I’m not sure how to do that either. But if it is written as a series of stitches done in the chain space, and the ch 1 is one of those stitches, then you would do the other stitches into the chain space, and then make the ch 1 like you normally would.

  16. Qudsia says:

    Hi, love your site.its a great help.I am a beginner.I could make a few things but now I can read patterns and make any thing.Patterns for almost everything is available here.I have told some other beginners about you.

  17. […] working a block over a space, work your middle dc in the chain space. Filet crochet blocks above […]

  18. Jennifer rozens says:

    Oh thank you so much! I am returning to crocheting after severalmyears and i didn’t have a clue!

  19. PArthur says:

    So how would you do a 6 ch-7sp? Does it mean to chain 6 and then attach to the 7 space or create 6 chains in the 7 space? I’m confused

    • Rachel says:

      6 ch-7 sp sounds like a stitch count at the end of a row. You can tell me the instructions for the entire row? Maybe the context can help clarify.

      • PArthur says:

        Here it is…
        Row 1: Sc in second ch from hook and next 3 ch, ch 7, skip next 5 ch, *sc in next 7 ch, ch 7, skip next 5 ch; repeat from * to last 4 ch, sc in last 4 ch, turn—6 ch-7 sp.
        Row 2: Ch 1, sc in first 3 sc, ch 5, skip next sc, skip next 3 ch, sc in next ch (center ch of ch-7 sp), ch 5, skip next 3 ch, skip next sc, *sc in next 5 sc, ch 5, skip next sc, skip next 3 ch, sc in next ch, ch 5, skip next 3 ch, skip next sc; repeat from * across to last 3 sc, sc in last 3 sc, turn—12 ch-5 sp.
        I’ve included the 2nd row so you can see more information.

        • Rachel says:

          The “6 ch-7 sp” at the end of row 1 is the stitch count for the row. After you complete row 1, you will have a total of 6 chain-7 spaces, that’s 6 spaces that are created by chaining 7 during row 1. You’d don’t have to make the spaces again, it’s just there so you can double check your work and count the number of chain spaces that you already made.

          • PArthur says:

            thanks so much… I was wondering why i would continue the row after turning.

          • Vincent says:

            Thank you for that Rach. That was worth my searching this page and finding what you said,. I’m much pleased that you defined it 🙂

  20. Emma says:

    this was very helpful especialy with the pics as I am new to crochet!!!

  21. Aliza says:

    Thank you very much for the explanation. I have a better understanding now, but still don’t understand exactly what I should do in my pattern. (It is at the end of a granny square, after joining the ends.)

    Below is the instructions for the entire round – I can’t figure out what exactly I have to do for “4 corner ch-1 spaces; 9 dc and 3 ch-1 spaces one each side”.

    Round 4: Ch 3, (2 dc, ch 1, 3 dc) in same space, *[ch 1, skip next 3 dc, 2 dc between last skipped and next dc] twice, ch 1, skip next 3 dc, (3 dc, ch 1, 3 dc) between last skipped and next dc; repeat from * twice; repeat from * to ** once join with slip st in top of beginning ch-3 – 4 corner ch-1 spaces; 9 dc and 3 ch-1 spaces on each side. Fasten off.

    Please help 🙂

    • Rachel says:

      Aliza, the “4 corner ch-1 spaces; 9 dc and 3 ch-1 spaces one each side” is the stitch count for the round. It tells you how many stitches you should have already made on round 4. You don’t have to do any more crocheting for the round, it’s just there so you can double check your work.

      • Aliza Naude says:

        Thanks for the quick reply Rachel! Can’t tell you how much I appreciate it. Everything makes so much more sense now!

  22. Noreen says:

    I decided to take a chance and learn reading more detailed patterns as i’m going along. You’re explaination of the ch-sp is very helpful, but I still cannot understand something in my pattern. When it says sc in next ch-3 sp, am I sc in the next three spaces or in the third space?

    Here is an exerpt from the pattern: Row 2: Ch 4, Increase-shell in ch-2 space of first shell, ch 2, skip next ch-2 space, sc in next ch-3 space, [ch 3, sc in next ch-3 space] 4 times, ch 2, Increase-shell in ch-2 space of last shell, ch 1, dc in 3rd ch of turning ch, turn.

    • Rachel says:

      Hi Noreen, a ch-3 space is a space/hole that is created by chaining 3 on a previous row. So to “sc in next ch-3 space” you’re going to locate where the space/hole is that is creating by chaining 3 on the previous row, and insert your hook into that space in order to make your single crochet. The ch-3 space doesn’t mean to “sc in the next three space” and it doesn’t mean “in the third space” either. Let me know if it’s still confusing and I can try to explain it more!

      • Noreen says:

        Okay, could you explain what it means to ch3 on a previous row? Thank you so much for the help. I’m just such a visual learner, with no visuals for this project, so I’m finding it even more difficult. I appreciate your help!

        • Rachel says:

          Hi Noreen, on your previous row does it ever say to “ch 3”? If so, that’s the chain 3 on the previous row that ch-3 space is referring to. The chain 3, is what ends up creating a “hole” in your work.

  23. Lila J. says:

    Hi Rachel! Omgosh, this helped sooo much. Thank you so much for the clear explanation and pictures. I was wondering why my piece was looking so “tight” – duh! Haha… I will definitely add your website to my favorites =) Now, let’s see if I can get this right ^.^

  24. Nessiya says:

    Thanks so much for such a clear post–it took a lot of searching to find it, but I managed to fix a mistake I didn’t even realize I was making!

    I just have a quick question–I’m following a shawl pattern, and there’s a part of it that doesn’t make any sense to me, even after a lot of attempted research. This is the part I’m stuck on:

    Rnd 3: Slip stitch in first ch1 space, ch 4, dc in same stitch, ch 1, *(dc, ch 1) in next ch 1 space, (work SmShell: dc, ch1, dc, ch1) in ch 1 space of next Shell, Place Marker in center of SmShell just worked*; repeat from * to * around. Join with slip stitch in 3rd chain of beginning ch4.

    I’m confident that I’ve crocheted correctly up until where it says to work SmShell in ch 1 space of next shell–the pattern never mentioned making shells, and what I have so far is circular. If you could explain this to me, I’d be very grateful 🙂

    • Rachel Choi says:

      Hi Nessiya, I don’t know what you already made on round 2, but a shell is typically and bunch of stitches (normally about 5 stitches) that’s made into one stitch. So if you did do something like that on round 2, maybe your pattern is telling you to work into the ch 1 space what was apart of those shells.

      • Nessiya says:

        Hi, thanks so much for the quick reply! Unfortunately, I’m pretty sure there isn’t anything quite like that on round 2…this is the beginning of the pattern:

        To Start: Ch 10, join with sl st in first ch to form circle.
        Rnd 1: Ch 4 (Note: counts as first dc and ch 1 now and throughout), (dc, ch1) 11 times in center of circle. Join with slip stitch in 3rd chain of beginning ch4. (Total of 12 dc)
        Rnd 2: Slip stitch in first ch1 space, ch 4, dc in same space, ch1; (dc, ch 1, dc, ch 1) in each ch1 space around. Join with slip stitch in 3rd chain of beginning ch4. (Total of 24 dc)

        Is there something that could be a shell in that?

  25. Elaine Plunkett says:

    In my baby blanket it says to kchin 3, sc, in ch 1 sp. What do they mean by “chin”

  26. Audree Lyles says:

    yes, this was helpful! thanks!

  27. Brittany Wiese says:

    Okay, I am kindof a newbie. I need help with * skip next dc, (dc in next dc, ch 1) twice; repeat from *. The problem I am having is that I also have chain spaces in the previous row, and if I follow the pattern, it would sometimes need to be inserted into that instead of a dc… Am I missing something?

    • Rachel Choi says:

      Hi Brittany! From the way it’s written it doesn’t look like you should be working into any chain spaces, just the double crochets. Maybe there is an error in the pattern you’re working with? If it’s a Crochet Spot pattern, let me know what it is and I’ll take a look at it.

  28. Genesis says:

    Ah!! Maybe you can help me figure this out?
    Rd 2: Ch 4 (counts as first dc and ch-1 sp). (Sk 1 sc, dc in next sc, ch 1) across to corner. (Dc in same sc, ch 1) 2 times more (corner turned). Repeat around for next three sides of blanket, only repeating last (dc in same sc, ch1) one time in last corner. Join with sl st to 3rd ch of 1st ch-4.

    Not sure what it wants me to do after I chain 4. Do I just skip the parentheses after ‘Ch4’ and go on to ‘sk 1’?

    • Rachel Choi says:

      Yes, the (counts as first dc and ch-1 sp) is just telling you how to count the ch 4 you just made when you count your stitches for the round, it’s not telling you to crochet anything. So yes, after you do the ch 4 you’ll go on to do the (Sk 1 sc, dc in next sc, ch 1) across

  29. Mia says:

    Thank you sooo much!! This is so helpful and such a perfect description!! Thank you!!!

  30. Tonja says:

    You actually make it appear so easy with your presentation but I in finding this matter to be actually one thing that I believe I might by no means understand.
    It sort of feels too complex and extremely huge for me. I am taking a look forward on
    your next post, I’ll attempt to get the hold of it!

  31. Laurie says:

    Thanks – this helped. Love the pictures.

  32. carol says:

    Thankyou, you explained it perfectly with picture and words!

  33. Steve says:

    ThankS for explaining the ch sp. In the pattern I am doing it is stating to do a ch sp incr. Not sure what to do at that point.

    • Rachel Choi says:

      Hi Steve, try looking at the beginning of the pattern or within the pattern instructions, it may tell you what a “ch sp incr” stands for. It sounds like it wants you to make a chain space increase by making multiple stitches into the chain space. You can try to contact the designer of the pattern for clarification if you don’t see the instructions within the pattern.

  34. Susan Honse says:

    Any chance you might be able to show this left handed?

    I’m having trouble figuring out where the hook should go and I’m left handed.

    • Rachel Choi says:

      Hi Susan! It looks the same left handed. You’re basically inserting your hook into whatever space that is created by chains on a previous row. In the example in the photos it’s the giant space that the arrow is pointing to. You’ll insert your hook into the big space.

  35. skat says:

    Hi Rachel, So how do you chain into a chain space?
    Now working inside your chain 3 spaces…
    Chain 3 – 2 DC – Chain 1 – 3 DC all in same space, Chain 1, 3 DC in next space, Chain 1, *3 DC – Chain 1 – 3 DC all in same space, Chain 1, 3 DC in next space, Chain 1, *Around, slip stitch to join to the top of the first chain 3, fasten off.

    • Rachel Choi says:

      hello! You don’t really chain into the chain space. You would make the chain stitches like you normally would, then work the other stitches (such as the double crochets) into the chain space.

      • skat says:

        Thank you, Rachel. That was kind of what I thought, but I hated to continue when I might have to pull it all out.

  36. Andy says:

    A great simple explanation! I’ve been to a few other sites to find this information out but they haven’t been at all clear. Much appreciated

  37. Soraya says:

    Thank you very much!!!!! I’m spanish and I didn’t understand a part of a pattern 😀 and i didn’t know if google with “ch sp” would found something good and YES! so THANKS!!* Now I can continue. 🙂

  38. FRANCES says:


  39. Karoda says:

    Please help me understand “skip next ch-2 space”

    and when the 3 turning chains count as a dc and I’m instructed to dc in the next 4 dc, does that mean I go into the chain that is 3rd from the hook for my first dc?

    Thanks so much.

    • Rachel Choi says:

      “skip next ch-2 space” means you are going to skip the next chain-2 space. A chain-2 space is a space that was created by chaining 2 on the previous row. It should look like a hole in your work, similar to the example above in this tutorial.

      When the ch 3 count as a double crochet, you’re going to skip your first dc on the row and work into the next dc. The ch-3 will act as the first dc, so you don’t need to put a dc into the first one on the row. You’re not going to work into the chain, just the double crochets on the row.

  40. Cybdi says:

    I am coming back to crocheting after life getting in the way for many years, and I can’t seem to remember what this means sc in next ch-3 space, (ch 3, sc in next ch-3 sp) twice, ch 2, its the twice part I can’t figure out, do I single crochet and chain 3, single crochet again in same sp or do I single crochet in sp chain 3 go to next chain 3 sp and single crochet again, my brain is getting so confused

  41. laurelckriegler says:

    Very useful, thank you!!!

  42. Sandra says:

    Hi! This seems to be the place for getting help with crochet patterns 😊 I’m making a hobo bag for my mother in law and the only sentence I’m stuck on is this:Ch 3, sl st to the 3rd ch of the first ch3 sp to join.And then the next row starts with sl st two times, that means five sl stiches after one another? Its made with shell crochet’s where you bunch four dc in a space, skip 3 and repeat but at the end of the row that little snag makes me confused, I am chaining 3 then I’m supposed to follow those instructions and I get stuck..am I supposed to slip stitch my way on top of the previous shell until I get to the chain 3 space? Because if I do the pattern looks askew, and if I fasten it into my previous row I end up starting the new row too far down…please help! / Sandra

    • Rachel Choi says:

      Hi Sandra!
      The “sl st to the 3rd ch of the first ch3 sp to join” is just one slip stitch. The slip stitch will be make in the third chain of the chain 3 that you must have made somewhere in the beginning. Sounds like you are joining the end of the row to the beginning.
      The 2 slip stitches at the beginning of the next row is probably moving you to the proper position in the row to start it.

  43. Cyndi says:

    Hi I am doing a tre skirt special stitch is shell: 7 dc in next ch sp, however isn’t a shell 2 dc 1c 2 dc? iam kinda lost

    • Rachel Choi says:

      A shell can be any number of stitches that creates a shell shape. In your pattern the shell is the 7 dc made into the chain space. In another pattern, as you mentioned the shell is 2 dc, 1 ch, 2 dc.

  44. Cyndi says:

    *dc in each of next 2 sts, ch3, v-st in next v-st, ch 3,sk next ch-3 sp, sc in next ch-4 sp, [ch 4, sc in next ch-4 sp] twice, ch 3, v-st in next v-st, ch 3, dc in each of next 2 sts**, ch 5, rep from * across, ending last rep at **, and a few more stitches after this, I am lost I think at the ** and what to do from there or I am lost on the whole round

    • Rachel Choi says:

      You will repeat from the first * to the last * until you are all the way across the row. On the last repeat you’ll stop at the ** instead of the last *, so you won’t work the ch 5 that is after the **.

      • Cyndi says:

        so instead of the ch3 after the 2 dc I will ch 5 till I get to **?

        • Rachel Choi says:

          No, you will work “dc in each of next 2 sts, ch3, v-st in next v-st, ch 3,sk next ch-3 sp, sc in next ch-4 sp, [ch 4, sc in next ch-4 sp] twice, ch 3, v-st in next v-st, ch 3, dc in each of next 2 sts, ch 5” over and over again. You will work this repeat a few times, how ever many it takes you to get to the end of your row. On the last repeat you’ll work all of it, except for the last ch 5 that’s at the end.

          • Cyndi says:

            This is what is confusing me, the only way I can make this work likwe this is if I do 2 dl cr in next 2 sts and chain 5 and start over at * if if those last 2 are done in the top of the last part of the v-st in previous row,, I will do the whle round that way and see if it works

          • Cyndi says:

            I found my mistake 3 rows back, doing a pineapple crochet thread Christmas tree skirt, had to frog 3 rows but looks like when I get to the one driving me nuts it will all work, thanks you for helping me see it and think it thru again, I over thought it last night

  45. Brenda says:

    I now understand space. Thank you! The instructions say to pull a loop in the chain space. Not sure what that means

  46. Lesley says:

    Thanks so much for the clear instructions and photos. I was completely stumped with only 2 rows of my garment to go! Very grateful 😀😀

  47. Patricia Collette says:

    I am sure you hear this a lot but I am also really new at this, I can do the regular stitches but I came across this pattern and cannot get past the first row. I have chained 15, sl to 1st ch sp,ch 1 turn. Rnd 1. 34 sc in CH 15 sp.

    This is my problem-I do know from you example above that ch 15 sp means: chain 15 into chain space. but how is the chain space made. and where do i do the 34 single crochets. Please explain the Rnd 1. thanks

    While I have you I also tried to make a coaster and came across this same problem in the round 3. Ch 3(counts as first dc, now and throughout), 2 dc in last sp made on Rnd 2, Here is where i got lost: 5 dc in next ch-5 sp: 6 ch-5 sps.

    Thanks for your help

    • Rachel Choi says:

      Hello! It looks like the “chain 15 space” is made when you chained 15 before round 1. So when you do round 1 you are going to make the 34 sc into that space which was created when chaining 15.

      In your second question, the 5 dc are going to be make into a ch-5 space that was created some time on the previous round. The “6 ch-5 sps” is the stitch count and is just telling you that you will have a total of 6 spaces that were created by chaining 5.

  48. Daphen K. says:

    You really helped. Thanks

  49. Stephanie says:

    9 ch-1 sps ?

  50. Ailsa Millar says:

    Thanks so much. Like others before me in it became so clear with the pictures! For some of us we need both words and clear pictures! I did know as I have been crafting for the last 74 years and crochet was in and out of fashion. The written word changes over the years and I thought the abbreviation was for a new way of doing something else! Silly me!!!!

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