What do yarn weight, hook size and tension got to do with it?

If you find yourself asking…

  • Why are my crochet stitches too loose or too tight?
  • Why are my crochet rows or rounds uneven?
  • Or, why did my crochet project turn out a different size than the pattern said it would?

Then chances are you have an issue with the yarn weight you selected, the crochet hook you are using or your stitch tension. But this still begs the question, how do yarn weight, hook size and tension impact your crochet projects?

Simple Answer: Yarn weight, hook size and tension determine the size of your stitches, spacing and ultimately the size of your finished project.

When do I need to worry about Yarn Weight, Hook Size and Tension?

If you need to be precise for sizing, especially wearable items or blankets, you will want to use the same yarn weight/type and hook size that the pattern recommends.

Yarn weight mostly impacts the size of the stitches.  Hook size and tension (tension being how tightly you are pulling the yarn as you stitch) mostly impact the spacing between stitches.  Weight and hook size can both impact size and spacing, but the previously mentioned explanations have the biggest impact on each element in my experience.

Yarn Label Identification for Recommended Hook Size and Yarn Weight
Yarn Label Identification: (1) Recommended Hook Size, (2) Yarn Weight

Can I use a different Yarn than a pattern recommends?

You can modify patterns for different yarn types and weights, but as a beginner crocheter, that can be frustrating and you may also have to add or remove elements of the pattern to get the desired result.  This can even be difficult for intermediate and advanced crocheters as well.

However, if you are interested in experimenting with your own creative flair, this can become easier with practice and can even become more of a fun challenge, rather than a frustration point.

Is following a Pattern foolproof?

Something to note, even if you buy the exact yarn and the same amount of skeins that a pattern recommends, you can still end up with extra yarn or run out before you finish your project.  This mainly happens due to tension. As a beginner, tension can be hard to get a handle on, which is why practicing on yarn other than the yarn you bought with a specific project in mind is important.  Consistent tension is what sets apart a professional looking project from an amateur looking project.

A good rule of thumb with tension is to only pull the yarn enough to keep the yarn taut (not too loose that the yarn slacks, but also not so tight that you feel a lot resistance in your fingers).  This is obviously easier said than done, but that is why practice makes perfect!

Check out my video tutorial on how to improve tension and yarn grip for technique tips.