Has this happened to you?
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
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
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
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.
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?
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!
- To Frog or Not To Frog (thecrochetcrowdblog.com)
- How To Hold Your Crochet Hook: The Tennessee Stitch (thecrochetcrowdblog.com)
- Ten Tips to Get You Started Crocheting (cattscrochet.wordpress.com)
- Peapod Baby Sundress Crochet Pattern (thecrochetcrowddotcom.wordpress.com)