Struggling with crochet tension is common problem. Whether you are a beginner or an expert, you’re bound to have some issues with tension at one time or another. I’m going to show you how to fix your crochet tension using the golden loop.
When learning to crochet, it can seem overwhelming to think about so many things at once..how to hold your hook, how to hold your yarn, what each stitch comprises of! But once you’ve become more comfortable with the basics, you can start to think about what can affect your overall tension.
Equally, if you’re skill set is more advanced, you may be working on a pattern, struggling to hit gauge and unsure on how you can fix it.
crochet tension categories
We’re going to split these ‘types’ of crochters into 3 categories. Now, I will mention that this information has come from my research of the technique…so I didn’t name them okay?! They are known as:
The photo below shows 3 different swatches. Each swatch is made using the same yarn, the same hook and has the same amount of stitches and rows. The width of each swatch is the same, but the height is different. We will get more into the reasons why later in the post.
The photo below shows the three categories represented in a swatch. From left to right, you have Yankers, Riders and Lifters.
What’s the best type of crochet tension?
In an ideal world, your style of tension would be to fall into the rider category. However, their may be time when you want to adjust your tension to suit a particular style project, for example, you may want to make a floaty shawl, so you make your tension looser in order to give the garment more drape.
The Golden Loop
So you might be wondering, what exactly is the Golden Loop? Well, the answer is pretty simple. The golden loop is the first loop on your hook when you pull through a stitch. In these examples, I am using a Treble Crochet (US Double crochet) but this can apply to all stitches.
This golden loop will determine how tight or loose your stitches are. It’s here that the crochet tension categories come into play.
Yankers will pull on their working yarn, hence the word ‘yank’. This will cause the golden loop to be pulled downwards close to or in front of the stitch below. Due to this, the overall stitch will be shorter in height.
Riders are the middle of the road when it comes to tension and an ideal type to aim to be working to. When you’re a Rider, you keep your hook resting on top of the stitch below in order to keep even tension.
Lifters product the loosest tension. Tension on the working yarn tends to be slack and the golden loop is pulled upwards in an ‘lifting’ motion. Due to this, the stitch becomes taller in height.
Adjusting your Tension
Now you understand what the Golden Loop is and the different types of crocheters. I encourage you to pay attention to how you are crocheting to discover what type you are and adapt if you need to.
You can also use this information if you are trying to match gauge for a crochet pattern. Matching gauge is particularly important if you are making a garment so that it comes out to the intended size. Imagine a designer is a yanker and you are a lifter…your stitches will be taller in height so those sleeves would be much longer than anticipated! More about matching gauge below.
So now we know that our stitches can vary depending on what type of crocheter we are. How do we apply this to matching gauge?
Generally in a crochet pattern, you will be given a gauge to work to. This will consist of how many stitches and rows are within a certain measurement. This measurement is usually 10cm x 10cm.
For example: 18 sts X 8 rows per 10cm X 10cm using treble crochet.
Here’s what you would do:
- Go ahead and make a swatch (Ideally larger than 10 cm X 10cm so that you can measure within the swatch) using the hook stated in the pattern.
- Lay a ruler down from side to side over the swatch starting at the beginning of a stitch and count how many stitches you have up to the 10cm mark.
- Lay your ruler down from top to bottom over the swatch starting at the base of a row. Count how many rows there are up to 10cm.
If you have too little or too many rows within your swatch, you can use the golden loop to make your stitches taller or shorter.
But what if you have too many or too few stitches within the row? This will require you to experiment with your hook size by going up or down. If you have too many stitches, go up in half sizes until you hit the correct gauge. If you don’t have enough stitches, down in the same way until you hit the correct gauge.
The image below show 2 swatches made with ‘rider’ tension but with different size hooks.
As with most things, we never stop learning when it comes to tension. I’d highly recommend you read my blog post which contains 6 more tips for tension.
Prefer watching a video? I explain the same techniques in the video below.