Sizing Your Projects with The Tennessee Stitch

Has this happened to you?

Various Size Hooks

Various Size Hooks

You’ve just finished a project.  Congrats and celebrations are in order!  YAY!!  You’ve put down your hook and you hold up your completed work.  Something doesn’t quite look right.  You look back at the pattern and all is well.  Then you take a look at the picture of how the project is supposed to look.  AHA!  What you made is bigger than it is supposed to be (or maybe its too small).

This happens more often than not!  Take a breath and relax.  Let me share with you why this happens.

Understanding Hook Sizes & Yarn Labels

Using the correct hook size will make the end result of a project more desirable and keen to the eye.  When you look at a pattern, at the beginning, there is a treasure chest of critical information:

  • Types of yarn needed
  • Colors of yarn needed
  • Amount of yarn needed
  • Hook size
  • Other instruments (notions) needed
  • Special Techniques
  • Finished Measurements
  • Gauge.
Yarn Label

Typical Example of a Yarn Label.

When we look at the finished project and its too big, we instantly think that going down a hook size will solve the problem.  Most of the time, that is not the case.

Each yarn offers a suggested hook size right on the label.  As a beginner, all I ever looked at was the color that I needed.  But if you look on the yarn label, there is a wealth of information there as well.  The hook size controls the width of the space between the stitches. If you find that the finished project is too wide, you may need to go down a hook size.  If it is too narrow, you may need to go up a hook size.  If the pattern calls for a certain size of hook, it is best to just stick to that size for the best results.

Loose vs. Tight

Tight (front), Medium (middle), Loose (back); Various swatches

Tight (front), Medium (middle), Loose (back);
Various swatches

Since the hook size controls the width, some thing HAS to control the height of the stitches right?!  If your project is too tall or too short, this results more from your personal technique instead of a tool. Most of us crochet differently from one another. This is normal! In fact, this adds character to your work.

When making a stitch, if you pull the yarn tight while you are crocheting, it tends to make the height of the stitch smaller.  This is what I call tight crocheting.

When making a stitch, if you draw the yarn up making large loops, it tends to make the height of the stitch taller.  This is what I call loose crocheting.

There is a happy medium which most of us already perform.  We can also run into problems, even if we are in the middle.  A pattern may be written by someone who crochets tight, but we do not.  That would make our work TOO tall!

How to troubleshoot and solve this issue

Testing your crochet sizing.

Checking your Gauge

The very best advice that I can give you is to ALWAYS make a swatch before starting a pattern.  The “gauging” section at the beginning of the pattern is for MAKING THE SWATCH!  It will tell you how many stitches and how many rows with what type of stitch.  For example:

  • 13 stitches and 11 rows = 4″/10cm square over single crochet

This means that you single crochet 13 stitches across for 11 rows. When you have finished it should measure 4″/10cm width and 4″/10cm height.

Test Yourself

Now to troubleshoot!  You have made your swatch.

  • If your width is too wide, go down a hook size.
  • If your width is too narrow, go up a hook size.
  • If your height is too tall, crochet tighter loops.
  • If your height is too short, crochet looser loops.

Try another test swatch to determine where you are to get the correct sizing. Doing this will help you prepare for completing the project as stated in the pattern.

So my questions to you are:

  • Do you normally swatch?
  • What other advice for this would you share with others?

Connect with Danielle on her blog CrochettoDani and on Facebook Crochetto.

Leave me your comments below on any other tips you may have? Also, if you have another topic you wish for me to investigate, leave me a comment sharing your ideas too!


About danielledyer

I am in my late 20's. I live in the hills of the Appalachian mountains in Tennessee. I love to crochet and invite you to join in on the fun!
This entry was posted in Advice & Tips, The Tennessee Stitch: Daniele Dyer and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

27 Responses to Sizing Your Projects with The Tennessee Stitch

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  6. mawmom says:

    I never swatch, I don’t do things that are to be worn as a general rule and I know I crochet a bit tight so I just adjust. :0)

  7. earthendee says:

    It depends on the project wether I do a swatch or not. If it is a garment then I usually will, but not always. I really need to with every garment because too often I’ve regretted not doing it.

    • danielledyer says:

      I must confess…..I dont usually swatch but I do read over every pattern BEFORE I decide to make it. If I have a hard time reading and comprehending the pattern then I always swatch just in case.

  8. TorryH says:

    Humidity can affect tightness of the stitches. When it’s dry I wrap the yarn around my ring finger; when it’s damp I just hang it over the ring finger, which usually gives me the adjustment I need.

    Back in the ’70s there was a little plastic ring you could buy with a row of holes across the top for varying thickness of yarns. You would thread your yarn through the appropriate hole according to the thickness of yarn and/or tightness needed, slip the ring on your ring finger, and everything would be consistent. I haven’t seen one of these rings in years and I found it invaluable in developing a smooth, even tightness to my work for when I was ready to stop using the ring. I can tell by how the yarn flows over the middle and forefinger of my left hand whether I need to adjust the loop on my ring finger.

  9. Angie says:

    I mostly do afghans and usually do not do a swatch unless I’m doing a stitch new to me. I find the most difference in width of my rows on afghans or other projects (and the reason I have to undo rows) is my frame of mind and/or level of arthritis pain on the days of crocheting those noticeably tighter rows. I always check my projects before resuming on another day to make sure I wasn’t too stressed on the day before so I can go ahead and undo and correct those rogue rows.

  10. Laura Murphy says:

    I always make a swatch when making a piece of clothing.

    • danielledyer says:

      In my opinion, clothing is the hardest project. Because with clothing you have various things that can really destroy it. You have to have the correct measurements, then there is blocking, and lots and lots of sewing! LOL

  11. sharon says:

    Thiswas very informative!!!!!

  12. Vicki T says:

    I’m terrible with or without swatches. I once made a snowman and made three arms just trying to get two near the same size. He’s been tucked away for years now with three different sized arms!

  13. Cheryl goodsell says:

    Great article. I don’t usually swatch, as I make
    mainly afghans and scarves. I am a tight crocheter and have been trying to loosen up my stitching lately.

    • danielledyer says:

      I used to be a tight crocheter!! I trained myself to pull the loops up to make them looser on EVERY stitch. Before long I was right in the middle and now I just rock along 🙂

  14. Rachel says:

    Since most of the projects I do are afghans, I don’t swatch. If I am working on one that I want to be a certain width, I mainly measure against the bed it is for and adjust my number of stitches or rows. This is just personal preference based on the look I prefer. The yarn I usually buy calls for a 5mm hook, but I prefer the look I get from using a 5.5 or 6mm hook. : )

    • danielledyer says:

      I love that you use the bed to measure. When I am making my own pattern, I tend to use the bed or a graph sheet to calculate. 🙂 And I prefer double crochet and an F hook. 🙂

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