SPOTLIGHT ON: Horizontal Chain Stitch

SPOTLIGHT ON: Horizontal Chain Stitch

If you've bought one of my patterns only to encounter a stitch you've never heard of before and can't find a video tutorial for it, that's because many of my stitches, stitch combinations, and motifs are original proprietary creations! 

One of the reasons I got into writing patterns was because I wanted to create designs with loop yarn that weren't found anywhere else, and coming up with new ways to use it (or interpreting existing knitting techniques for loop yarn) is part of what keeps finger knitting exciting for me.

While I don't currently have any intention of making full-length video tutorials (the reasons why are a bit too long to detail here, but in short, I don't have the skill or technology to do so, and it would also be so time-consuming that I would be able to also knit and write patterns), I thought the occasional blog post to explain special stitches might help. I've received multiple requests for these, so I hope you find them useful!

Brioche Knit Style Blanket in mustard yellow chenille yarn

Today's special stitch is the HORIZONTAL CHAIN STITCH.

You can find this stitch in several of my patterns, and it is the basis for my Brioche Knit Style designs:

Horizontal chain stitches are not new, per se - if you google this phrase, you'll find it as a standard knitting stitch technique. But at the time I began writing patterns, no one was using it in loop yarn knitting (and at the time of this post, I'm the only one using it in finger-knitting patterns).

When I began writing loop yarn knitting patterns, there were only a certain number of stitches out there in regular practice: knit, purl, criss-cross, cables, increasing and decreasing stitches, binding or casting off, and eyelet stitches (see the Yarnspirations Multi-Texture Blanket). 

I had designs that I wanted to create which required horizontal lines, with no way to knit them. So I created my own technique!

There are a few things to remember when using this stitch:

It's purely decorative.

The horizontal chain stitch doesn't add any length or width to your blanket. It's more of an adornment.

This stitch adds superficial texture to your blanket, but it isn't a true 'row' (although for the sake of clarity, it's treated that way in your pattern instructions). For this reason, using many horizontal chain stitch rows in a pattern can alter the overall 'squareness' of your blanket and make it irregular-shaped (although I think that adds to the hand-crafted feel of the design).

It's a very yarn-heavy technique.

Because it sits on top of your blanket design, but doesn't actually add length to your project, you'll use double the yarn for each row of horizontal chain stitch you include. While this obviously adds cost, it also adds weight. Patterns like my brioche-knit style blankets are extra-squishy and heavy - and that also makes them suitable for things like rugs or pet mats.


To begin the first stitch of a horizontal chain, you will point your first working loop in the direction of the chain. I recommend turning your blanket so that you are working your chain upward, but you may not find this necessary once you grow accustomed to the technique.

Orange chenille loop yarn showing a row of knit stitches. The row of stitches lie vertically with the working yarn lying perpendicular to the left.

Now take your working loop and place it over the first stationary loop. They should be perpendicular to each other in a + shape. You will then take the next working loop after that, and pull it up through both of the two stacked loops. 


The bottom loop you pulled through to make your first horizontal chain stitch becomes the top loop for your second chain stitch, and you will repeat the process for as many links in your chain (stitches) that the pattern calls for. 

A row of horizontal chain stitches in orange chenille loop yarn

Each horizontal chain stitch consists of a sandwich of three loops:

  1. The top horizontal loop is your first working loop.
  2. The middle vertical loop is your stationary loop.
  3. The bottom horizontal loop is your second working loop (which then gets pulled up through the other two loops, closing the chain).

I've made a rudimentary video clip to show these stitches in process (apologies for the quality - this was shot with my phone, using a cheap stand and no second set of hands!).


At the end of your chain links, you will be left with a loop sticking out (this is the last working loop you pulled up through your previous stitch). This loop needs to be incorporated by your next stitch. 

For example, if your next stitch is a knit stitch, you will place your horizontal loop underneath your stationary loop, and pull your next working stitch up through both loops. This 'hides' the horizontal loop so that the next stitch just looks like a regular knit stitch. You are sandwiching the last chain link in the centre of your knit stitch.

Orange chenille loop yarn showing a row of horizontal chain stitches. A hand holds the next loop in the row.     Orange chenille loop yarn in a horizontal chain stitch. A hand holds the last loop of the row which is in a knit stitch.


After you create a string of horizontal chain stitches, you will be left with a following row that is 'missing' loops. To knit this row you will need to access the top of the stationary loops of your previous row (which are sandwiched in the middle of your chains) and pull working loops through the tops of those loops.

If you feel along the horizontal chain, you will feel the 'nubs' of the top of the stationary loops that are sandwiched in between the chains.

Purple chenille loop yarn showing a horizontal chain stitch, held vertically. A hand pulls on the stationary loop under the chain.

To create the knit or purl stitches for this row, you will pull working loops through these stationary loops. Here is a short video clip demonstrating knit stitches on these loops.

I hope this makes things a little clearer! I look forward to seeing your horizontal chain stitch designs - tag me on instagram at @iloveblanket.


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