Don’t worry Marlene, you aren’t alone! Stitches that are too tight is a common problem and one that can easily be remedied. When I am teaching, adjusting the tightness of stitches is often one who class and I hope we can help you get stitches that you’re happy with.
For many, the reason for tight stitches can be found in two areas – either your tension is too tight or your hook is the wrong size for your yarn. A combination of the two will result in the tightest stitches ever, and you’re probably not enjoying yourself at all, verging on frustration!
First, be sure to take a look at your pattern and determine the gauge required. Then it’s important to go ahead and work up a swatch falling the stitch pattern given in the gauge section of the pattern. I say this all the time, but always always always swatch before you start a new project. Even if you know what your gauge is. For example, I know that if I work with Red Heart Love yarn and a size US J hook, I will almost always get the same gauge. Notice that I said “almost always” – this is because depending on my situation, my gauge might be slightly different. This could be because I am working when I’m particularly stressed about something in my personal life (too tight), or I’m working while enjoying a glass of wine and movie and I’m distracted (too loose). The reason for the swatch is so that you can adjust yourself before you get started on a huge pattern – and then if you get too tight for a row or two you can easily remove it, rather than having a whole project be wrong from the start.
If your gauge is completely off from the pattern, I’d suggest adjusting what size hook you are using. Go up a size, or even two, and see what happens. This usually alleviates stitches that are too tight. As a result, you’ll probably find yourself crocheting at a much faster rate, too. Working stitches really tightly slows you down because you’ll be fighting to get your hook through the loops.
While you’re at it, you might want to try a different brand of crochet hook. Different people have different results with each brand. This can be because of the shape of the hook at the top or the ergonomics of the handle.
Finally, you may need to look at your tension. Tension is adjusted by how you are holding your yarn. Experiment with how you are holding the yarn and work on taking a lighter grasp. I find that I need to have the yarn wrapped twice around my forefinger to keep my tension as I like it, but my mother needs the yarn only lightly draped. So, experiment and see if you find something that you can still control and that will result in loser stitches for you.
So, Marlene, don’t give up just yet! Grab some scrap yarn and play with different ways to hold your yarn and different hooks. The key here is “EXPERIMENT!” and have fun. With just a little bit of research, you’ll be able to have an enjoyable crochet experience and make something beautiful.