When you learning to crochet you are eager to do some awesome fancy items right away of course. But like with everything in life: practice makes perfect and the more understanding and knowledge we have the better we are at the given task.
Most crochet work starts with a chain though my beginner items are worked in a round since making a square can be somewhat tricky. The beginners I observed have the tendency to start a row helter skelter and do not end up with a square, but a somewhat un-shapely unique form, not bad – just different than what they have expected.
Anyway, when you make a chain the loop on the hook NEVER counts as a stitch, abbreviate =st. Plural is sts. You might as well get used to the lingo while you learn.
10 chains = ch means 10 PLUS the slip knot and PLUS the loop on the hook. BUT the turning ch ALWAYS counts as the FRIST st of a new row or round, EXCEPT when you single crochet (sc).
The difference between a ROW and a ROUND is:
A row has a distinct start and a distinct end. A round goes around and around and is endless. The new round is usually marked by a marker, which can be a thread, a stitch holder, a safety pin. My favorite marker is an app 4 ” long nylon thread with a knot in one end. It slips quickly between the stitches to be marked and is easily pulled out, yet if I stop working, travel with my piece, the knot holds the marker in nicely.
When you work a ROW it is important to make a straight edge on BOTH sides.
To begin a row of single crochets (sc), you begin each row with 1 chain ( ch), THAN turn and work the first single crochet in the FIRST stitch of the previous row.
To begin a new row of half double crochet (hdc) chain 2, THAN turn and work your first half double crochet (hdc) in the SECOND stitch of the previous row.
To begin a row of double crochet ch 2 (or 3 if the yarn is thick), THAN turn and work the first double crochet in the SECOND stitch of the previous row.
To begin a row of triple crochet ch 4, THAN turn and work the first triple crochet in the second stitch of the previous row.
When no specific directions are given ALWAYS poke your hook UNDER BOTH top loops of the stitch in the previous row. AND be consistent in all of the above, because then you will have an even edge to the rows and do not have to concern yourself to unravel. If you practice this correctly from the start later on you can read more advanced patterns with ease.