“I struggle with my stitches being too tight, and my projects are always the wrong size when I’m done.  I’m about to throw all my yarn away and give up.  Help!”

–Marlene S.

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.yarn ball

Comments
  • This is the solution I have needed. My foundation is always so much tighter than the rest of my work and never has any stretch even when I use a larger hook for the foundation. Thank you so much.

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  • I learned to crochet with thread, so when I switched to yarn, I had a heck of a time with tension. I finally tried a hook 1-2 sizes larger than the pattern calls for, and it worked! I also purchase at least one extra skein of yarn to ensure I have enough to finish the pattern. Then I have plenty of scraps for my true-granny-squares projects!

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  • Switch to starting with single crochet foundation stitch or double crochet foundation stitch. It’s a little confusing to learn but easy once you have done it a few times. Also it makes the foundation stretchy – to match the rest of the garment.

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  • Teresa Kerins

    My aunt was an expert at crocheting and knitting; when I was visiting, I asked her how to make the stitches looser. I showed her my project and she immediately knew that I wrapped the yarn around the hook instead of picking it up with my right hand (I’m a lefty). She told me to make sure the loop on the hook was looser even if I had to adjust it each stitch and to wrap more loosely and not to tighten the stitch at the end by pulling down on the loop on the hook. It took me awhile to do this automatically. I was repairing a baby afghan I made 30 years ago (actually pulling it out and re-crocheting most of it). I had used an H hook at the time and when I reworked it to get the same gauge I had to use an F (two sizes smaller) hook. Don’t give up. Maybe do some projects at first where the gauge doesn’t matter as much — blankets, scarves, etc. until you can crochet looser. Don’t be afraid to change hook size from the recommendation and always buy one or two extra skeins of yarn to make up the difference.

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  • Marilyn McNemar

    I too was a tight crocheted. My Mother told me to lighten up on how I held my needle and how tight I held my yarn with other hand. I just needed to relax and enjoy. God rest her soak she was right as always. Stay strong love, you can do it.

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  • Karla Conner

    I used to have that problem, stitches too tight. I only used “in line” crochet hooks and NEVER the tapered neck hooks. With a tapered neck and any tension at all the loop gets smaller as it slides down the neck. In line hooks is the same size from the hook end all the way to the thumb rest. Plus, you will love the shape of the hook itself. The hook itself is flat with a deep groove that helps one to grab the yarn and keep in in the hook through all kinds of stitch maneuvers. I Just bought two sets at Michaels. Hobby Lobby has some. Some of the crochet bloggers and sites probably have them too. I agree with the checking gauge and doing swatches. With “in line” hooks my gauge is usually right on with pattern.

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  • I know the feeling! You’ve worked so hard and it doesn’t fit. The advice given above is all good about swatching first, monitoring your tension and choosing the correct needle/hook size. I’ve had moments of total frustration where I was literally on the verge of gathering up all of my yarn and accessories and throwing the whole bunch in the dumpster. Fortunately, my better judgement prevailed and I still have all of my yarn!!

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  • Priscilla Laybolt

    I agree with the above, just remember if I can do it so can you, have more confidence and try the different sizes and how you hold your yarn or thread. You may surprise yourself and go on to enjoy many years of knitting and crocheting. Good Luck, TRUST YOURSELF.

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  • Thank you for this information. I have this problem all the time and appreciate your suggestions that I will immediately try. Thanks also for letting me just view it from the original site since I do not have the ability to “download” a PDF because my system crashes when I try. Keep up the good work! It is appreciated.

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  • Ruth Challenger

    when I have on the hook I bring it up on the hook where it is the same size as the head and make sure it slides easily but not real loose and that keeps my stitches just about right.

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  • my problem isn’t with the main stitches its my foundation chain! I have a project which is almost finished but when I went to try it on, the top foundation chain makes the garment too tight, is there a way of loosening the chain without having to frog the whole thing? in hindsight I know I should of used a larger hook!
    Please any advise?

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  • Helen Jordan

    There’s another couple of things you can try…
    Make sure you don’t allow the loop on the hook to tighten as it slides down into the throat (the sloping section just before the hook head). Also, grip the loop on the hook to ensure it gets neither too tight nor too loose.
    You can also lift you hook a little higher, if the rows are to short!

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  • Karen Brueck

    About my previous comment, I guess I didn’t proofread it! But anyway when casting on for knitting or doing that first row of chain stitches for crocheting, I find using one size larger works very well on that first row. Proceed from there with the needle that you’re planning to use for the entire project.

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  • Karen Bru

    I find that one I cast-iron were needing or make the change to just one crochet that they are tight unless I use a hook or needles one size larger for the first row only.it works every time! Also practice makes perfect. The more you knit or crochet the better your tension will become . Relax and have fun

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  • Robert Jenkins

    When I first started crocheting I worked to make the stitches tight. I thought that was they way there were supposed to be. I found out that made the work harder because the stitches was too tight to insert the hook. I found out that if I hold the tension I can make them looser.

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  • I have not tried this crochet ring because it’s a bit pricey (by my standards), but from looking at the construction it appears that it might solve your problem and should you venture into the world o crocheting with two or more colors at the same time it would definitely be of help to keep the yarns from becoming tangled.

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  • I located a crochet/knitting ring online that might help with tension problems. It’s a bit pricey (by my standards). I have not tried it, but just by looking at the way it is constructed it might be the solution and if you ever venture into the world of crocheting with two or more colors together it would definitely be of help in keeping the yarn from getting tangled.

    Reply

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