Tension – How to Crochet Evenly Every Stitch

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.

https://crochetwithpassion.wordpress.com/2013/03/27/how-to-gauge/.

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)

ImageThe Second is a pencil position in what some call the underhand Method. This is when you hold a crochet hook in the same way you would hold a pencil when you write. (picture below)

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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.

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First you take the tail and wrap the yarn over your little finger in one complete circle. (picture above)

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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.

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Then back around your index or pointer finger. (picture above)

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Then hold it between the thumb and middle finger. (picture above)

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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)

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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)

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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.

 

 

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About crochetwithpassion

I have been certified through the Craft Yarn Council both in teaching and Instructor. I also have been teaching people to crochet for over fifteen years. This is what I will be doing through this blog. In the Crochet Master Class there are 18 projects. Some of the projects will be familiar to me such as Hairpin Lace; Tunisian Crochet; Filet Crochet; Double Ended Crochet; painted Crochet; Aran Crochet and Irish Crochet. However there are several in the book that are new and have peaked my interest and that includes the following: Woven Crochet; Tapestry Crochet; Entrelac Crochet; Fashion Crochet; Tassels; Bullion Stitch; Overlay Crochet; Bead Crochet; Bruges Crochet; Free-form crochet and Wire Crochet. Since Crocheting is a time consuming craft I will only be posting once a week. If you are like me and love to crochet but would really like to challenge yourself to go beyond what you are now doing, come along with me and move to the next level. Although the actual patterns will not be posted (copyright law) I will take you through each project and go through the process of each one. This is not a blog about free crochet patterns or selling crochet tools. What I would like to do is take you with me on the journey through this book as I learn and crochet each of 18 projects. I will attempt to crochet each project in the book, and in the process recording in detail my progress and the problems I encounter along the way and the process I went through to accomplish each project. I am hoping that you will not only learn from my experience but that it will inspire you to push yourself to the next phase in your crocheting skills. Until next time; keep those hooks flying.
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41 Responses to Tension – How to Crochet Evenly Every Stitch

  1. kathylashley says:

    Great tutorial and I may send my friends that I teach to this particular blog. I totally agree that learning how to how your hook and yarn is the key to beautiful and successful crocheting. My folks automatically want to make something beautiful but I just say, “Just keep practicing your tension first!”. Thanks for a great blog!

  2. I so glad your enjoyed the information. This is the hardest thing to teach some one I believe, there is just not way to improve on tension without practice, but once that is master the rest seems to comes easier. Thank you, for sharing my blog with people.

  3. daniellajoe says:

    Great post!! I like the pencil method too 🙂

  4. LeeAnne says:

    Great tip Pamela thank you my stitches can bare a little more consistency and I will give holding my yarn differently a try, I just finished a washcloth for my dads car wash kit done all in single crochet and for some reason my single crochet projects are always bunchy other stitches are fine but not single crochet so I will give this a try. Love using the Japanese chain on my last project, the border was so much easier to do at the chain end, Thanks alot for all your great tips.

  5. LeeAnne, I am so excited about you trying the Japanese chain, it is so much easier to crochet into. I am also glad you enjoy my blog. The next time you crochet the single crochet, try working the chain with one hook size larger, then switch back to the required hook, along with the tips in this post. Sometime that has been known to help. Looking forward to hearing more.

  6. E says:

    Ah ha! This would explain why my projects always start out a little tighter and then end up wider on one end. I’m a beginner and lets just say that my nephews’ birthday blankie isn’t exactly a rectangle. I wonder if I could teach him the word “trapezoid”?

  7. The nice thing about tension is that it gets better with practice. Just keep working at it and you will surprise yourself one day soon.

  8. Nina Chichger says:

    I found the blog on holding the hook and tension really useful. I am brand new at crocheting and would like to master the techniques so I can make things for my firstgrandchild who is due in August. My aim is to crochet a baby blanket. Any helpful advise would be welcome. In the meantime I am practising, practising, practising….

  9. I am go glad you found this post helpful. When you are picking out a new project it is important to pick out a pattern that is around your skill level or a little be harder. The biggest mistake I have seen new crocheter make is picking a advance pattern when their skill level is at a beginning stage. Afghans are my favorite items to crochet, when you finish I would love to see a picture of it on my Facebook page (link on the top right). I love seeing projects that people are working on. Happy Crocheting…..

  10. Your comment was so wonderful, thank you for sharing, let me learn many useful content!

  11. stacy H. says:

    When I read your blog I had to laugh at the memories of my great grandmother teaching me tension through practice. She tied the end of the yarn to a door knob and had me sit for hours chaining the length of the skein. Only to have her come inspect it and then unravel it so I could do it again. She did the same thing with each stitch she taught me. Back then how I hated the process, but today I am so glad she didn’t let me slide on learning to hold an even tension. So worth all the hours of practice when you see a nice flat finished project.

  12. Your great grandmother was a wise woman. You have developed good crocheting habits that have lasted a life time. I am so sorry it took me so long to respond and just catching up on my email.

  13. Pips says:

    Thank you. Very glad to have found this!

  14. Pingback: Stitch Size | collinscrochet

  15. Thanks for visiting “Crochet With Passion” I am glad you found it useful.

  16. Nina says:

    Thanks so much. Just began crocheting again after a lapse of many years. My tension is horrible.As my latest afghan can attest! It WILL get better ..thank so your tutorial!

  17. Just keep plugging alone. It usually gets better with time. I am glad you found the tutorial useful.

  18. Chanel says:

    Very helpful post! Thank you! My main problem is my project stretches too big when I’m finished! Anyone know what I’m doing wrong? I’ve been trying to make an earwarmer with no luck! Measures 18 inches in length when I start and ends up 20-21 inches!

  19. I had a tote bag strip that did the same thing to me. I crocheted it smaller then required, and it solved the problems. It could also be the type of yarn you are using, some stretches more then others. I hope this was useful.

  20. Carol says:

    I have been crocheting for years and thought I had good tension. That changed when I tried to make a shelled baby blanket. The shell homes were huge. This information has helped me considerably. Thank you so much.

  21. I am so glad you found it useful.

  22. Ginny says:

    I will have to remember this post when I pick my crochet needle up again. Great tutorial. My crocheting is way too loose, so maybe this will help me the next time I want to crochet something. Thanks for sharing.

  23. Pamela says:

    Thanks for the words of encouragement. I am glad the information is helpful.

  24. Celeste says:

    I will try this method, I used to crochet over 15 years ago and am starting back up. I find as I crochet, my stitches want to twist. I hope to regain the feel again 🙂

  25. If you are speaking of your chain twisting, I find that I show some students to carefully allow the chains to slide between my thumb and middle finger I can make sure each one is facing the right way before I insert the hook. This helps me to keep the chain from twisting. I hope this helps.

  26. Vijaya Gauri says:

    I am a very new learner to crochet and have problems with tension. But practise makes perfect. Thanks for explaining.

  27. kddomingue says:

    This was a beautifully done tutorial. Should the urge to do another tutorial strike you with a resounding thud, perhaps you could do one that shows what the tension of your stitches looks like at each step of the stitch. When I started crocheting, I had few issues with tensioning chains. But I went crazy trying to find anything that would show me how big each loop of a double crochet should be before I began my pull throughs, for example. Does that make sense? Experienced hookers (lol!) do it automatically and don’t even think about it but it’s a crazy maker for newbies and/or perfectionists! Well, if it sounds like something you’d think about but I wasn’t clear enough, I’d be happy to try to explain it better. You have a wonderful site and I’m tickled pink to have stumbled across it!

  28. Thanks for the suggestion, yes I do understand and agree that would be helpful in understanding.

  29. My brother suggested I might like this website. He was entirely right. This post truly made my day. You cann’t imagine simply how much time I had spent for this info! Thanks!

  30. I am so glad you found this information useful.

  31. I’m a beginner, practicing before I quit smoking- to keep my hands busy. I’ve started and restarted several times now. Thanks for the advice!!!

  32. Crocheting is a great why to keep your hands busy and having something to show for your time. Just keep crocheting, it is a craft that gets easier the more you work it.

  33. Anna says:

    Hello, I am crocheting a vest. There are a lot of double crochet clusters and I’m having trouble keeping the loops uniform size . The pattern is: In each chain 3 space between each set of 2 dc v stitches: sc, 7 dc, sc and continue pattern around. The first sc in the cluster always ends up too small, the loop on the first dc is always larger than the following six and the last sc in the cluster is fine. I’m sure has to do with tension but I can’t figure out what I am doing wrong. I spend just about as much time ripping back as I do going forward. I will appreciate any suggestions. Thank you.

    • Sharon Webb says:

      I have a very similar problem with shells, only my last stitch of the shell is loose at the base. The previous stitches of the shell are always fine. I have redone so many stitches because I can’t tell that it’s loose right away-only after five or six more stitches can I see whether it’s loose or tighter. I have searched and searched and you are the only other person I’ve found with a similar problem. I lose so much of my crochet time because of this! Help, please, Crochetwithpassion!

  34. Agnela says:

    Hi, I have a funny way of holding the thread. I was never taught, I picked it up from my neighbor. I just roll the thread on the left hand pointer finger, but it gets loose and since I have been doing it that way for some time now its hard for me to change now though I am trying. I am holding the needle correctly. With the result my work is uneven with a mixture of large and smaller stitches. I would appreciate any suggestions. Thank you.

    • Stacy Haddenham says:

      The size of the loop on your hook controls your tension, as much or more as how you hold your yarn. So you can simply tighten the loop on your hook to a uniform size with each stitch. Just tug back with the finger you roll your yarn on. You could also try wrapping your yarn around your finger a second time.

  35. thank you for your input…it was so nice of you to help.

  36. CheriPerry says:

    Help…Some days I’m a tight stitcher other days I’m a loose stitcher. How do I train myself to stitch tighter when I crochet?.

    I would appreciate any help.

    Thank you!!

    Cheri

  37. The key to consistent tensions it how you wrap the yarn in the your hand opposite the one that you are holding the crochet hook. You need to focus on loosen or tighten the yarn in that hand. This will then control your tensions.

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