Ch 3 (counts as first dc), turn.
These are some of the most familiar words in the crocheter's language. They signal the end of one double crochet row and the start of another. That chain 3 works to get your yarn up to the proper height for the next stitch. It's also (in my opinion) a fiendish ploy designed to drive the stitcher crazy.
You know what I mean - you've been there yourself. You're zipping along, you and your hook, dancing through the yarn and crocheting like the dickens, when all of a sudden you reach the end of the row. Screech! The happy momentum comes to a crashing halt as you poke around in the turning chain, looking for the right place to put your last stitch.
That lovely little chain-3 has tightened up so much it practically requires surgery to get your hook through. And which part of the chain do you stitch into? Front loop? Back loop? Both? How about the back loop and back bump? And that's not all. You finally wrestle your hook through to make the last stitch - and now there's a gap at the edge of the row. The chain-3 is just too skinny - there's no way it can pass for a double crochet.
There must be a better way. There are, in fact, several better ways:
One is to pull up a very tall loop of yarn and use it to make a standing double crochet (click here to see a video demonstration by TXCr1cket).
Another is to make a stack of single crochets to the desired height, as demonstrated in this video by Bethintx1.
I like to use a variation of the second method - I'll call it a Foundation Turning Stitch (since it reminds me of foundation single crochet). The Foundation Turning Stitch works equally well for half-double or double crochet, yielding straight sides and, more importantly, a nice normal stitch at the end of each row - no more fumbling with tiny turning chains!
Here's how the stitch is made:
At the end of the row, turn, but DO NOT CHAIN. The working yarn should be behind the work.
Keep your work loose and your loops a little larger than normal.
Step 1. Insert hook into first stitch of row, front to back.
Pull up a nice roomy loop.
Pinch the working yarn between your thumb and forefinger, then...
...yarn over and pull through both loops on hook. Don't let go of that strand of yarn just yet - you'll be putting your hook under it in the next step.
Step 2. Insert your hook through the two left "legs" of the stitch (marked with dots below). The yarn you're pinching is the back leg. You can let go as the hook goes through.
Yarn over, and pull up another nice roomy loop.
Yarn over, and pull through both loops.
That's it! Now you have a normal stitch to work into at the end of your row.
Just look at the straight sides on this beauty (and no gaps!):
The foundation turning stitch is also very easy to work into if you want to add a border - lots of loops and spaces, with no knobbly knots.
This stitch works perfectly for half-double crochet, too - just tightening or loosening the tension makes it very versatile.
P.S. You can make the Foundation Turning Stitch even taller if you like, by repeating Step 2.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~