Have you ever finished crocheting a project only to see that some of your stitches are big while others appear small. Or maybe you crochet the same stitch with the same crochet hook but your gauge keeps coming up different. If this describes your work maybe your problems are not with your stitches but rather your tension.
Note: if you are new to crocheting and do not know how to hold your hook and yarn this post will be very useful to you.
One of the most obvious tell tale signs in an amateur work compared to a professional looking crochet project is in mastering the basic skill of tension. Good tension means to keeps your stitches even, neat and consistent in appearance throughout your entire project. Your tension will be determined by how you hold your hook and how tightly you pull the yarn.
In the beginning a lot of crocheters have trouble with crocheting too tight or too loose. If this describes you, don’t be so hard on yourself since this is a very common problem. In my experience, it is one of the hardest thing to teach because it is usually only mastered by practice, practice and more practice.
Tension and gauging go hand in hand. If you have not read my post on gauging you might want take the time to read it. Both of them together with give you the full explanation of the importance of mastering both of them to achieve good tension.
If you are having trouble creating even stitches, you need to first examine two areas, the way you hold the hook, and the way you hold your yarn.
How to hold your crochet hook:
There are two basic ways to hold you hook. One is the Knife position or what some call the Overhanded Method. This is when you hold the hook similar to the way you would hold a knife. This is an overhand grip that gives you as much control as if you were using a knife. (picture below)
Which ever method your chose make sure you are holding your hook at the thumb grip.
Some people will only use one method while others choose, dependant on what yarn they are using. Take for example that we are crocheting lace; some people might prefer the pencil position normally but since they are crocheting using a heavier yarn on this project, they would switch to the knife position You might be more like me and get better results by holding the hook only one way. I personally prefer just using the pencil position.
How to hold your yarn:
There are as many ways to hold your yarn as there are crocheters. The one I am going to show you is the tried and true method that if used, will give you even tension and good control over your yarn. At first this may feel awkward and even harder to hold your yarn this way, but once you master it, it will become as natural as holding a pen or pencil.
Whenever I teach this I have to stop and really think about method because it has become so much a part of me thatI now do it without thinking. You will to, the more practice you do. So let’s go through it step by step. It will be the same for a left or right hander, just on the opposite hand of course.
First you take the tail and wrap the yarn over your little finger in one complete circle. (picture above)
Next cross the front of your ring finger and middle finger. (picture above) The tension will be controlled by how tight you hold the yarn in these three fingers. You want to find a balance, so play around with it. You do not want too be tight or too loose, again this will become easier with practice.
Then back around your index or pointer finger. (picture above)
Then hold it between the thumb and middle finger. (picture above)
You will use the index finger and thumb to help hold your work. (picture above)
More to think about.
First if you are having a hard time achieving even tension, try working from a ball of yarn rather then a skein.
If you are like me you cannot wait to get home and start crocheting. Technically, you can crochet from the skeins of yarn, but if you are wanting to achieve better results with your tension take the time to wind your skein into a ball first. I know! This is not the funnest part of crocheting, but it will help you achieve better tension in your final piece.
There will be no more pulling for slack on the yarn.
By rolling your yarn into balls, it will help you avoid tangled-centers that come as you pull yarn from the center of the skeins. Most skeins eventually collapse and tangle.
The yarn also can tangle easily towards the end. Balls of yarn are less likely to tangle. You also will avoid that tangled mess in the middle of your project. You know the time I am talking about. When you only have an hour to crochet that day, and you spent twenty minutes of it untangling your yarn.
You can place the ball in a bowl, a project bag or box to keep it from rolling across the floor.
If you decide to roll your skeins into balls do not throw away your yarn labels. You can put them in a sandwich baggy or in the bottom of your crocheting bag. Just make sure your keep until the end of your project. This will be very helpful if you miscalculate the amount of yarn you needed. You would be surprised at how many different shades of the same color there is. Just knowing it is Red Heart green would not be enough. This is when you can go back to the label and remind yourself exactly what your brought.
Secondly, make sure your loop is on the shaft of the hook. This is the part of the hook that is designed to make all the loops the same size, so that is where you want to put your yarn to get the correct size stitch. Always slide the yarn back onto the shaft, (picture below)
Look for the teardrop shape. When you look at your stitch head on, you will see that your yarn has the appearance of an upside down teardrop that should fit snugly around your hook. The point of the tear drop is where your hook will be sliding through to create the stitch. (picture below)
If you are a new crocheter or having trouble being consistent in your stitch sizes then check for the tear drop at every step until you more consistent in your work.
To get a nice even gauge, you will want to check these loops to make sure they are the right shape and size at every step. A lot of new crocheters have trouble with tension. It takes same practice to develop even consistent stitches.
Thirdly, look at the foundation row of your work, if it looks puckered or tighter then the rest of your work, try crocheting the chains in hook larger then the hook you crocheted your project with. For example if I need a G to obtain the desire gauge in my project I might use an H to crochet the chain. This is not really noticeable but it takes some of the tightness out of my chain making, and it is easier to crochet into the chain and makes the finished project look nicely uniform.
I hope you find this information useful. Again, do not be discouraged if this does not happen in the first day. Play around with yarn, get use to the feel of it in your hand and most importantly, PRACTICE, PRACTICE AND PRACTICE.
Until next week, keep those hooks flying.