I'm trying to crochet a slouchy, cowl-type scarf. I have general knowledge of how to crochet, but the pattern directions are, shall we say, limited, and I'm encountering a problem. Google has turned up nothing, much to my surprise, and my trusty all-encompassing Reader's Digest needlepoint book has no instructions on this sort of thing.

I've done the main body, which is basically a wide rectangle. Now it calls for a narrow panel at each end (top and bottom) to finish it. (The scarf will be turned sideways and the narrow panels will overlap and button closed when the scarf is worn.) I've already tied off, as directed, but I can't figure out how to start the new section at the bottom. The new row has to be worked into the very first row I crocheted, the original chainstitch row, so there's no obvious place for each stitch. Do I just pick random gaps to stick the hook through and hope they're evenly spaced?

My other issue is, how do I start this new section? Do I tie the yarn into the first stitch gap, and then start crocheting? Or do I slipknot the yarn onto the hook as if I am starting a new piece, then stick the hook into the first gap and start crocheting? I feel like that could lead to the new section unraveling, so I'm leaning toward tying the yarn first, but I honestly don't know.

I hope this makes sense!