Are you struggling to get the perfect tension on your yarn when crocheting? Everyone from the novice, to the experienced have trouble with their crochet tension at times. It is a very common issue to come across when crocheting.
Some people have too much tension, others don’t have enough, and others don’t have the same tension throughout their work. So, how do you get the perfect tension in crochet?
Understanding the importance of having correct tension in your crochet work will help you focus more on getting this right. We’ll discuss why the right tension is essential and how you can perfect it with practice. Having perfect tension is something beginners who are learning to crochet, and experienced crocheters both struggle with.
Understanding how to adjust or fix tension problems when following a crochet pattern is essential!
What is Tension in Crochet?
Before discussing how to get perfect tension in crochet, we must first establish why this is an essential factor. The tension of a crochet project refers to how loose or tight the yarn is when crocheting—having less tension on your yarn results in it being looser. As a result, your stitches will also loosen, and the resulting holes will be bigger.
On the contrary, more tension means that the yarn is kept tighter while crocheting. The crochet pattern will then also be tighter and the holes smaller. Some people prefer a looser crochet pattern, while others like to keep theirs tighter.
Of course, if your yarn tension is too little and the pattern too loose, it will lose shape. But, if your yarn tension is too much and the crochet pattern is too tight, you won’t be able to get the crochet hook through the yarn to continue crocheting.
Uneven Tension Problems
But a more significant concern than having too much or too little yarn tension while crocheting is when you have uneven tension. If you start with more yarn tension and the tension gets less as you progress, your stitches will get bigger. If you start with less tension, and it increases as you progress, your stitches will become smaller.
This is a problem when knitting a sweater or other items that need two parts of equal length. If you don’t keep consistent tension on the yarn throughout the project, your two sleeves won’t be the same length.
Therefore, having even tension when crocheting is essential if you want to have a uniform pattern or require multiple items of the same size when crocheting clothes.
Testing Your Personal Tension
The perfect tension for your crochet pattern starts with choosing the best size of crochet hook. You should start by using the size of hook the yarn label recommends.
On a yarn label, you can expect to see a swatch gauge like in the above image on every skein. Inside the graphic will identify the hook size that is preferred with that particular yarn. In this case, it is a J hook.
With perfect tension, your swatch of 12 rows of 11 single crochets each should come out to a size of 4 inches by 4 inches (10×10 cm). If your swatch is too small (meaning there are more stitches per square inch), then your tension is tighter than normal. If your swatch is much larger than that, it is looser.
- Looser Crochet Tension: Less number of stitches per square inch
- Tighter Crochet Tension: More stitches per square inch
We suggest redoing the swatch over and over until you get it the right size. This will show you exactly how tight to hold your yarn when crocheting.
If you are following a specific crochet pattern, then it should also mention what your gauge swatch size should be. Just like with the gauge on the yarn label, if your swatch is too big, then your tension is too loose. If your swatch is too small, then it is too tight. The only difference here is that your tension will need to match the designer’s tension.
Advanced Crochet Tension Testing
Don’t forget to test your tension working from the wrong way of the project as well. Working from the opposite direction can – and usually does – make your tension change as well.
If you’re looking for a challenge, you can always try your tension when crocheting with your non-dominant hand. This is not for me… I’m right handed, and cannot crochet with my left hand for the life of me.
How to Get Perfect Tension in Crochet
When you first start crocheting, you will notice that your tension is either loose or tight. Either is technically OK, just as long as you keep the same tension even throughout the project. Here are some tips to help you ensure even tension throughout your crocheting project.
1. Choose The Right Size Crochet Hook
If you want even tension when crocheting, the first thing to do is choose the right size hook. Crochet hooks are available in a variety of sizes and are made from different materials. Fortunately, crochet hooks are inexpensive and worth having more than one hook size.
If your tension is too loose, switch to a smaller hook for a finer pattern. If your tension is too tight, switch to a bigger hook for a looser pattern. Many expert crocheters also advise using a bigger crochet hook when casting your stitches to give you more room for crocheting.
2. Hold The Yarn And Hook Correctly
There are various ways to hold the hook and yarn when crocheting. For example, you can hold the hook like you would hold a knife or a pen. Furthermore, you can hold the yarn in various ways, depending on how much tension you want.
Trying different ways of holding the yarn and crochet hook will help you find the most comfortable way. In addition, this will help you establish the tension you need on the yarn for an even crocheting pattern.
3. Secure The Yarn
Another factor to consider if you want even tension when crocheting is how you secure your yarn. Whether working with a skein, ball, cake, or other shape, you should ensure that the yarn you are working with doesn’t pull on the ball as you are working. This will create additional tension and could result in your crocheting becoming uneven.
You can secure the yarn by placing it in a bowl or simply unrolling some of the yarn beforehand and letting it loose. This will ensure that the yarn you are crocheting with doesn’t have additional tension.
4. Practice Makes Perfect
The more you practice, the more even your yarn tension will become, and you can then move on to crocheting more complex projects.
What If Your Tension Is Wrong When Crocheting?
While practicing, you will likely notice that your stitches aren’t even widths. While practice will resolve most of this, you can switch between the crochet hooks to a bigger or smaller crochet hook depending on your yarn tension.
If your tension is becoming too much, opt for a bigger hook. If it is too loose, opt for a smaller hook. Then, you can also adjust how you hold the yarn to put more or less tension on it while crocheting.
Watching expert crocheters is the best way to learn how to hold your yarn for even tension. There are many online tutorials for crocheting where you will gain valuable tips for having perfect tension on your yarn and getting a beautiful crochet pattern.
Getting Tension Right
Getting the perfect tension in crocheting is essential if you want a uniform pattern. To get even tension, you must consider the crochet hooks you are using, how you hold the hook and yarn, and how the yarn is placed when crocheting.
By practicing crocheting on swatches first and then progressing to more advanced projects, you can adjust your crochet technique for a consistent pattern. In addition, there are multiple online tutorials to learn from. Still, the only way to perfect the tension on the yarn when crocheting is to practice.