Tension in crochet is the “stress” that we apply to our yarn as we use it, or crochet with it in this case. Practicing your yarn tension is important because it can ultimately determine the outcome of your project.
The first thing that I need you to know is that there is no “right” or “wrong” tension to have. The number one MOST important thing is consistency. It’s okay to be a “tight” crocheter for instance, as long as you are consistently crocheting tightly. However, there are a few things you can do to crochet in that sweet spot between crocheting too tight or too loose.
One thing that I’ve noticed about my own yarn tension is that it will change depending on my surroundings, or even my mood that day. If I’ve had a rough day or if I’m sitting in a position that isn’t the most comfortable, I notice that my yarn tension does seem a little tighter than usual. Your physical and mental state can affect your crocheting in that same way.
As you crochet, really sit there and think about what you are doing. You want the yarn to glide through your fingers at a consistent rate and pressure. If you feel like you are tugging at the yarn to pull it through your fingers, you may need to adjust the way you are holding your yarn. You don’t want to be straining yourself to hold on to the yarn, and you also don’t want the yarn hanging off your fingers loosely, there’s definitely a happy medium you want to strive for.
Everyone crochets differently, so always keep that in mind. Not everyone will have the same tension, just like not everyone holds their hook or yarn in the same way. Do what is most comfortable for YOU.
Because everyone crochets differently, you will notice that your gauge will also be different from other crocheters. Gauge sounds like it may be a confusing concept, but I promise that it’s really not! Gauge is simply the number of stitches you make per inch or number of rows per inch based on the yarn and hook that you used. So depending on how loose or tight you crochet, that could affect your gauge. Understanding your yarn tension will help you read patterns when the pattern designer has a different crochet tension than you.
What do I do if my gauge doesn’t match the gauge in the pattern??
If your gauge doesn’t match the pattern designer’s gauge, no worries! All you have to do is make a few adjustments! If you don’t make any adjustments, then your completed work could end up in the completely wrong size. For some projects, it may not matter much, but for others, the gauge is SUPER important. For example, the gauge will be more important while crocheting a sweater than a blanket. We will discuss matching gauge in a later post, so stay tuned!
Quick tips to improve your tension!
Here are a few tips to improve your tension, if you would like to read my full list, check out my post, 10 Ways to Improve your Tension.
My number one suggestion is to simply practice. Practice makes perfect after all, right? Find a comfortable spot to sit down and grab your favorite hook and yarn and practice crocheting as consistently as possible. Try crocheting a simple square, use single crochets, or half double crochets. While you are crocheting notice how you are holding your yarn and your hook. Are you comfortable? Once you find your groove your tension will start to become more consistent.
Wind your yarn into a ball or cake
If you are finding that your yarn skein is bouncing around all over the place, it may be time to invest in a yarn winder. You can also wind your yarn into a ball. This will allow the yarn to glide more smoothly.
Use a different crochet hook
If you can’t seem to get comfortable, or something just doesn’t feel quite right, it could be your crochet hook. You can explore different styles of hooks, or you can even try holding your hook in a different way.
Let me know in the comments what your biggest struggle is with tension, I would love to offer some insight that may be helpful!