Home » Afghans, Crocheted, My Patterns » No Beginning Chain Lacy Shell Afghan

No Beginning Chain Lacy Shell Afghan

8 September 2012

The first row of an afghan with homespun or bouclé or other knobby style yarn can be frustrating. This afghan does not require finding chain stitches, even for the first row. The lacy shells keep the afghan light even with a heavier yarn.

This pattern was designed to be easy for homespun or bouclé style yarns, but it can be made with just about any yarn. Make it in a solid color or with as many color changes as you like.

The example is made in Caron SnoSpun.

Size: This blanket can be made any size. Five widths are given in the directions.

SizeWidth (Inches)Length (Inches)Ounces of yarnYards of yarn
Extra Small30.3340.447.71472.7
Extra Large4965.3320.121233.49

Yarn – Sizing given for Bulky yarn but other weights can be used
Size J (6mm) crochet hook

ch = chain
ch sp = chain space
dc = double crochet
sc = single crochet
tr = triple crochet

Special stitch:
Shell – work the following in the ch sp or over stitch indicated: (1 dc, ch 1) three times, 1 dc


Instead of a beginning chain, the blanket is begun with a first row of chain and tr spaces.

For these widths, start with this number of chain and tr spaces:

30.25″ = 25
35″ = 29
39.75″ = 33
44.25″ = 37
49″ = 41

There is a chart for this pattern available here.

Row 1: Ch 5, sc in first ch, (ch 3, tr in last ch sp) odd number of times, ch 3, dc in last ch sp.

Do not turn.

Row 2: Ch 1. Without turning the work, sc over dc just made. Working across the tr stitches, ch 1, shell over first tr, ch 1, ** sc over next tr, ch 1, shell over next tr, ch 1. Repeat from ** across all the tr stitches. Sc in ch 5 sp at end of row.

Row 3: Ch 4 and turn. Sc in first ch-1 sp of first shell, ch 3, sc in third ch-1 sp of same shell, ** ch 3, sc in first ch-1 sp of next shell, ch 3, sc in third ch-1 sp of same shell. Repeat from ** across all the shells. Ch 2, dc in ch space from row before shell row.

Row 4: Ch 1 and turn. Sc in ch-2 sp. Ch 1, shell in first ch-3 sp, ch 1, ** sc over next ch-3 sp, ch 1, shell in next ch-3 sp, ch 1. Repeat from ** across all the ch-3 spaces. Sc in ch 4 sp at end of row.

Repeat row 3 and 4 until afghan is desired length.

For straight sides – End with a row 3. Finish off and weave in end.

For scalloped sides – You will need to have an odd number of shell rows. End with a row 4. In same ch sp, ch 1, shell, ch 1, sc. Working across the ch-4 spaces on the side, (ch 1, shell in next ch-4 sp, ch 1, sc in next ch-4 sp). At the last ch-4, after the sc, also work, ch 1, shell, ch 1, sc. Working across bottom of afghan in the ch-3 spaces, (ch 1, shell in next ch-3 sp, ch 1, sc in next ch-3 sp). After the last sc, in same sp also work, ch 1, shell, ch 1, sc. Working across last side of dc stitches,  (ch 1, shell over next dc, ch 1, sc over next dc). At last corner also work, ch 1, shell, ch 1. Join with sc from the beginning of the last row 4. Finish off and weave in end.

The blanket can be made in a solid color or can be made with any number of color changes. The best way to make a color change is to finish all but the very last pull through of the two loops of the last stitch of a row. Cut yarn with a few inches of tail and join with new color next to stitch. Pull new color through last two loops. Weave in ends.

10/27/16 – added chart link
8/24/18 – corrected last segment of scalloped sides to include “shell”

Restrictions on the use of this pattern are available at http://stitcheryprojects.com/using-my-patterns/.

Afghans, Crocheted, My Patterns

72 Comments to “No Beginning Chain Lacy Shell Afghan”

  1. Absolutely lovely! I needed a throw for my living room that looked fancy and intricate but was easy to do. This pattern fit the bill exactly. Made this in green with some stashed Lion Brand Suede. I hate working with suede but the finished product was well worth the hair-pulling. You’re a generous soul for sharing this pattern. I’ve got some Homespun in plum that I’m going to try next. Bless you!

  2. What a nice fabric. This would be a great pattern for charity blankets, prayer shawls, scarves. Thanks!

  3. I guess I’m old-fashion I like a base chain style. I never did this style. Do you chain 25 w/trs spaces? I can’t figure it out. But it is lovely. I love the pattern.

  4. I fall in love with chunky yarns but then cannot crochet with them and have to pass them on to knitting friends. Now I can make prayer shawls for my church using all the different textures and colors of yarn. Thank you so much!

    • I am going to try making prayer shawls also with this pattern!!! No need to know how many chains to start out with to come out right!!!! I have tried to size some afghan patterns down to make shawls and its frustrating to keep trying and trying to it comes out right enough !!!! lol

  5. My daughter is expecting and I’m going to try this pattern because I didn’t know what pattern to make so I’m going to have fun thank you so much.

  6. I am so glad you added the way to proceed with a foundation chain. Now I think I can do it. I learned to crochet from my grandmother over 50 years ago and everything she taught me began that way.

    • Brenda,

      You wrote:I am so glad you added the way to proceed with a foundation chain. Now I think I can do it. I learned to crochet from my grandmother over 50 years ago and everything she taught me began that way. ” I cannot find this info. Will you send it to me? I also prefer a starting chain.
      Thank you!
      Theresa re: No beginning chain Lacy Shell Afghan

      • Since this blanket has the border option, I will give a chain alternative that preserves the loops so that the border can be added.

        For these widths, start with this number of chains:
        30.25″ = 108
        35″ = 124
        39.75″ = 130
        44.25″ = 156
        49″ = 172

        Row 1: Sc in 5th ch from hook, (ch 3, skip 3 ch, sc in next chain) across to last 3 ch, ch 2, skip 2 ch, sc in last ch.

        Row 2: Ch 1. Turn. Sc in ch-2 space. Ch 1, shell in first ch-3 space, ch 1 ** sc in next ch-3 sp, ch 1, shell in next ch-3 sp, ch 1. Repeat from ** across to last ch sp. Sc in ch 5 sp at end of row.
        Then proceed with Row 3 of the pattern.

  7. Thank you for this pattern. It’s exactly what I need! I have some white bucle that I started working with and had a terribly frustrating time with. I’m going to try your method. Thanks again!

  8. I’m gonna try this pattern for my expected sister. She’s having a baby girl, so I’m gonna use pink.

  9. Thanks for the pattern. I have some boucle yarn that I needed to find a pattern for. This fits the bill.

  10. I’ve tried with foundation chain, did as instructed skipped Row 2 but unable to understand how you can go to Row 3 when you have no shells or chain 1 between shells to crochet into. What am I not understanding? The pattern is beautiful and I would really like to make it. Thank you

    • I don’t know how I managed to do this, but the chain beginning alternative I had given was for a different blanket (the crazy block). I am so sorry to lead you astray with that. I have deleted all that incorrect information from the comments now.

      Since this blanket has the border option, I will give a chain alternative that preserves the loops so that the border can be added.

      For these widths, start with this number of chains:
      30.25″ = 108
      35″ = 124
      39.75″ = 130
      44.25″ = 156
      49″ = 172

      Row 1: Sc in 5th ch from hook, (ch 3, skip 3 ch, sc in next chain) across to last 3 ch, ch 2, skip 2 ch, sc in last ch.

      Row 2: Ch 1. Turn. Sc in ch-2 space. Ch 1, shell in first ch-3 space, ch 1 ** sc in next ch-3 sp, ch 1, shell in next ch-3 sp, ch 1. Repeat from ** across to last ch sp. Sc in ch 5 sp at end of row.
      Then proceed with Row 3 of the pattern.

  11. Thank you so much for your very quick reply. Baldness does not become me!!!! I will now begin the beautiful pattern. Should keep me busy for a few days. Look forward to more of your gorgeous creations. Thank you Thank you Thank you!

  12. love the pattern! thanks so much! I have tried this in several different “homespun” yarns and gave that up simply because, while it works up ver easily and quickly, the pretty stitch pattern doesn’t seem to show in the final product as it does in you sample. so I did it in a “solid” spun bulky yarn (one without all the extra “fuzz” on homespun) and the pattern is very visible. an aside, as a former hand-spinner (had the sheep, the spinning wheel, etc) most handspinners I ever knew would be very unhappy if their final product looked anything like what a yarn mfg company calls “homespun”. THAT, slubby, sloppily spun yarn is usually the first one you spin before you learn how to do it properly! truely well done HANDspun yarn (homespun by definition) is smooth, even, neat…just a laugh we can all share!

  13. i used your no chain beginning and made a scarf with bobbles instead of eggs it turned out quite nice if i say so myself thanks for the tips and all the lovely patterens

  14. This is a beautiful afghan, I have made at least 100 blankets in my life time and I have always had the problem
    with homespun yarns that I did not purchase them any more.
    Now thanks to you, I can, but how come they shed when being
    used? I just finished a granny stitch ripple afghan using
    regular yarn and your instructions, it turned out absolutely
    gorgeous. I’m working on another one, but I wanted to try
    your lacy shell afghan first. Thank you for sharing your
    instructions, you are a genious, love everything you make.
    God Bless, Irene

  15. Super easy and fast pattern. Love it. I’ll send a picture when I finish it. Thank you.

  16. Hello, I love this blanket and plan on making it for my daughter for her wedding gift, But I noticed that the ounces of yarn don’t seem correct.
    Width(Inches) Length(Inches) Oz of yarn Yards of yarn
    30.33 40.44 7.71 472.7
    35 46.67 10.27 629.33
    39.67 52.89 13.19 808.34
    44.33 59.11 16.47 1009.73
    49 65.33 20.12 1233.49

    because a 49×65.33 blanket is going to take more then 20.12 oz of yarn, heehee, Is it possible for you to correct it so I can make it for my daughter, thank you so much!

    • The chart is correct based on the SnoSpun yarn that I used for my example. A skein of SnoSpun has 105 yards and is only 1.76 oz. Using any other type of yarn, the yardage is going to be the more accurate measurement to determine your yarn needs. Yardage to complete a project is going to stay fairly consistent from yarn to yarn, but ounces can vary significantly from heavy cotton yarns to lofty acrylic boucle yarns.

  17. I am making this beautiful and fun pattern but it feels like each row is getting wider. I am afraid to continue for fear of making a giant ruffle. Am I doing something wrong?

    • Make sure you have the same number of shells on each row. A mistake that is easy to make is to put an extra shell in the ch-3 space that is in-between shells. All shells should be formed in the ch-3 spaces that are above shells.

  18. Found out if you a plain yarn (like Red Heart) with Homespun, it’s sooooo much easier to use. You have to go up a couple sizes on the hook or needles…..

  19. I haven’t tried this pattern yet but I do love working with the loops over the chain. I will be trying this as soon as I complete the one I am working on.
    The loop foundation is so easy to work with. Thank you for your lovely patterns.

  20. Absolutely love this pattern! Would never make it for a baby becasue of the open “holes” but will make it for a wedding. Beautiful! Thanks for sharing!

    • I’ve made several baby blankets with patterns that create “holes”, and the Mothers all tell me their babies love to be able to put their fingers through the “holes”; and that my blankets then grow with the children into toddler stage where the “holes” make for great carrying and for “silky rub areas”. Maybe reconsider your baby blankets. Just sharing my thoughts and experiences.

  21. I LOVE your no beginning chain instructions. I have used your brick pattern several ties and Just figured out the Quick as a Whip pattern. Still haven’t figured out the asymmetrical shell pattern, but hope to one of these days.

    I have EVEN used the beginning chain to make ‘regular’ items whether they are dc afghans or sc wall hangings!
    I HATE the foundation chain. I’d rather be beaten than struggle to do the second row!!

  22. This is adorable I’m using the pink bouncle yarn and going to put purple butterfly appliqués on it for a friends granddaughter….I may try to fillet her initial in the middle of the blanket in white

  23. Is there a way I can copy your beautiful patterns without wasting ink on all the comments? Thank you, love these! :)

    • arlene-
      when you hit print a range of pages should come up. click the dot and put in the pages you want ie…1-3 and you will only get the pages you want.hope this helps

  24. I love this pattern but when it’s finished the shells do not seem to be as straight (a little off square) as yours. Do you block yours when finished?

    • I’ve made several of these and never had to block it. I’d love to see a picture of yours and see if I notice anything that might be the cause.

      • Mine is also ‘listing’ to one side. I’ve only done 10 rows, so I’m curious to see if anyone can tell me what I’m doing wrong…it seems that when I make the initial row of shells, they ‘lean’ to one side, but I don’t know why :-/

        • EUREEKA!! I’ve figured it out! On each ‘row 3′, I was putting the Dc into the ch1 from the previous row, NOT into the ch2 space from the row before the shell row. That moved each row one stitch to the right. I’ll have to ‘frog’ this one (for the 3rd time), but now I’ll get it right.

  25. Love the looks of this pattern. My friend just got engaged and I’m thinking about doing this blanket for her wedding.

  26. I am new to crochet so forgive me if this is a silly question, but I have tried 2 patterns that had shells. One had me use 5 DC for the shell and the other had me use 3 DC for the shell. When you say shell in the next space, do I put in 3 or 5 DC?

    • Shell means something different in any pattern. Any pattern that uses the term Shell will have to explain what Shell means for that pattern. In this pattern, Shell is explained in the special stitches section:

      Shell – work the following in the ch sp or over stitch indicated: (1 dc, ch 1) three times, 1 dc

  27. I love this pattern but don’t know how you finish it. Could you please tell me how to end the afghan? Thank you

    • At the end of the pattern I have instructions for two ways to finish it. It can just be finished with straight edges or a scalloped border can be added.

  28. Just finished my second blanket using this pattern. Thank you!!!! I am a beginner and found this so much fun to make. The finished projects are beautiful!!!! Thank you again for sharing your expertise .

  29. My first attempt, using the foundation chain, had to be pulled out. Since I was starting over, I decided to attempt the ‘no foundation chain’ method. I found it to be quick and easy. Now I’m on my way again, and loving this pattern. I’m using Caron Simply Soft in Autumn Red for my daughter’s new apartment. Thanks so much for the pattern and clearly written instructions.

  30. I tried few times your pattern. It is very hard to follow and confusing. First and 2nd lines are very confusing.
    I love the pattern. I bought the yarn and now i can not do it. I have been crocheting for many years. I am not new but cannot follow. Very sorry.
    Can you simplify the pattern ! Thanks.

    • I’m so sorry I’m just now getting back to you on this. Do you like diagrams? I could diagram the first few rows, if that would be helpful.

      Also, I haven’t made a video for this particular afghan (and don’t have a good setup at the moment for making videos), but I do have videos for some of my other No Beginning Chain afghans. This one is different on the ends, but otherwise very similar. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2SBl9lptG4g

      As soon as I have the right kind of setup and can make videos again, this pattern is definitely one I need to do since the ends of the rows are different than my other blankets.

  31. Hi there,
    I am confused by the beginning of your instructions. When you say “For these widths, start with this number of chain and tr spaces:

    30.25″ = 25
    35″ = 29
    39.75″ = 33
    44.25″ = 37
    49″ = 41

    —Do you mean pick one of those and chain it. then start on the first row instructions? I can’t wait to try your pattern. Thanks !

    • You can start with any odd number of chain/tr spaces for the first row. I’m giving guidelines for how wide the blanket will be if you start with a sampling of possible first row lengths.

  32. I have been looking for SnoSpun yarn with no luck. I seem to have difficulty finding replacement ideas. What do you suggest ?
    For another project, a rug, “Big stitch Alpaca Yarn” is used. $150.00 a skein isn’t in my budget, and I would prefer synthetic anyway. Any ideas for that ? Thanks.

    • The most similar I have found is Purl Essence Boucle at JoAnn.com, and it is very affordable. It is a bit lighter than the Snospun but looks very similar.

  33. Love this style. I am always looking for something new. I have never started a project this way and it was so easy. I am making a baby car seat blanket for my second grandchild, a girl. Thank you.

  34. I love this pattern. I’ve made several afghan using this pattern.
    I basically only crochet afghans, not into clothes or scarfs thus always enjoy something new regarding crocheting afghans of all different styles and sizes.
    Thank you for your unique pattern.
    Looking forward creating another afghan pattern of your design.

  35. Love your pattern ! I intend to make a loose vest. Could you share the beginning chain detail that’s not size based, but pattern based for any size ?

    • You can start with any odd number (5, 7, 9, etc) of the tr/ch loops. You can roughly equate it to a regular beginning chain by not counting the non-chain stitches of the beginning row. This accounts for the way this beginning method curves per loop rather than just being a straight row of chain. So count each tr/ch as 3 chains of another pattern rather than 4.

  36. Beautiful! Also, thank you for making them so easy to dowmload! I am a beginning crocheter, but am saving up patterns for when I get better! I am already starting a yarn stash (I think it becomes an obsession quickly–there are so many beautiful yarns and you have so many beautiful patterns!) Thank you!

  37. Can’t figure out why whole pattern will not print, only gives me the last page. This has happened a few times now.

  38. I really like this pattern but I am looking for a pattern to make a queen size blanket. Can you tell me how I can convert this to about 90″ X100″. or do you have an open pattern similar to this for a queen size blanket?

  39. Willow Fredericks Abrams

    What is the formula needed to make the blanket wider if need be, example 5+1. Also, could you put up a chart so I can visualize the project? I don’t want to make any mistakesense. Also, I’m going to be using lion brand home spun yarn, will this makes any difference in the # of tr/check to make the proper width?

  40. Hi, wondering if you can share photos of the top corners for the scallop borders. Having trouble figuring out the instructions. Thanks.

  41. So excreted can’t wait to start thank you

  42. I am on – working on ast side of dc stitches, (ch1, over next dc, ch1, sc over next dc) Is it suppose to be ch1, sc over next dc, ch1, sc over next dc. I think there is a stitch that is missing. Please let me know. Thanks

    • You are correct that this portion was not complete. Thank you for letting me know. It should say “shell over next dc”. I’ve corrected it in the pattern.

  43. I am a very new beginner, I am hoping that this is “the” one I can make. Your directions, and chart look very in depth compared to others I have looked at. Thank you. I may even attempt the scalloped edges.

  44. Thank you for your wonderful patterns. They are so easy to follow. and the finished product is spectacular!!! I copy your patterns, show the finished product to my crochet students, and next thing I know, they’re on their way to their own wonderful product. I adjusted the widths so the pattern can be made into a prayer shawl instead of a square.

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