The embroidery common chain stitch can be used as a method for preparing a kitchen towel to add a crocheted towel topper. This photo how-to shows close detail of the steps for doing this.
You can add this across the center of a whole towel, eliminating the usual hemming that is needed when using the method of cutting a towel in half in order to to add a crocheted top.
The common chain embroidery stitch has been in use since at least the late 1800s (I found a diagram for that stitch in an embroidery manual that was published in the year 1899). However, using embroidery as a way to prepare fabric for adding crochet is a newer method.
First, mark towel center: Fold the towel in half to find the center of the towel. You can mark this with sewing pins or with a fabric disappearing ink marker, if you wish to. In the towel that I used, there is a checkered background, which already provided a line across in the design, that I used as a guideline.
Step 1, shown in photo above: Bring the yarn up from the back through to the front of the towel, leaving a length of yarn in the back that you can use to secure the yarn end later. From the front, insert the needle into the same spot where the yarn came up through the fabric, then bring the needle back up through to the front of the fabric a distance away from the spot where the needle was previously inserted, looping the yarn around under the needle (as shown in the photo) and pull on the yarn until it forms a loop.
Step 2, shown in photo above: Repeat this process to form each additional loop. This photo shows one loop made with the next loop in progress, not pulled quite tight enough yet so that you can see the details of the points where the yarn comes through the towel.
Photo and text copyright 2007 by Sandi Marshall