I have started using my tension ring on my left hand, my first attempts were not successful and I pulled them out. But then I got more of the hang of it and made some sample squares (rectangles), and then moved on to start a sampler blanket.
The first few squares were still uneven, but I definitely improved by experimenting, with how to position the ring and feed the yarn through my fingers. For me it works best with the ring on my middle finger and the yarn feeding through under my ring finger.
I’ve tried comparing the later treble crochet samples with samples I made before, and they seem very similar, for instance with the tension ring:
- 4mm hook stitch height 1.00cm ~ stitch width 0.58cm
previously (holding yarn in my hook hand):
- 4mm hook stitch height 1.04cm ~ stitch width 0.57cm
The difference is within the accuracy of my measuring, so I have decided to move on to a “proper” project, making a blanket for my 4yo grandson who selected the brightest colours on the style craft colour chart.
Earlier posts about How I crochet and Changing Yarn Holding Hand
Previously I made the Sirdar Tank Top for both my elder grandsons, but they have both grown. So I have made new ones for both of them, and the new grandson. When I originally made then I used the recommended yarn (Sirdar Snuggly DK), this time I used Stylecraft Special DK. Each one is a different size: The Matador red one is 4-5 years, the larger Denim blue is 2-3 years, and smaller is 1-2 years. I’ve weighed each finished top and they weigh: 126g, 129g and 95g, respectively. Now I would have expected the red one to be heavier as there are a couple more stitches per row, and it is slightly longer. So I am now wondering if the Denim dye is heavier than the Matador? In which case I will need to revisit my earlier samples I crocheted.
I am planning to make a baby blanket using a Ravelry pattern called “Hugs and Kisses” .
I am going to use some Stylecraft Special yarn, so in advance of starting the blanket I made a couple of samples:
The top multicoloured samples with a 4.00mm hook, while the lower one is with a 4.50mm hook, the tension/gauge across the 8 rows of the pattern (not counting the foundation chain or row 1) and 1 wave (valley to valley), based on 2 measurements of each is:
The drape of the 4.50mm sample is better than the 4.00mm, so that is the size I will use for the project.
My local crochet group are making Christmas things for charity. I decided to have a go at making Snowflakes following a pattern by Allison McDonough on Ravelery. It also seemed a good opportunity to experiment with tension/gauge. So I made six snowflakes on different sized hooks, using the same DK yarn throughout (I don’t know the brand it was leftovers from a jumper I knitted for a grandbaby jumper a few years ago).
Measuring the snowflakes in all three ways and taking an average gave the following results:
The snowflakes did get bigger as the hook size increased, there was little difference between the size with 3.50 and 3.75mm hooks.
I like all the snowflakes and haven’t got a preference about the feel.
I was planning to make a blanket for a toddler who likes hiding. I was looking for something robust as he will pull it around as he plays. A couple of people at my crochet group suggested Waffle Stitch. So I made a few samples, with different hook sizes, all using Stylecraft Special DK.
The 4mm hook gave a very stiff fabric – would be good for a bag but not for a blanket. The 5.5mm and 6mm ended up very similar sizes and a bit loose, while 5mm gave a good material.
So I made the blanket with the 5mm hook, and I am very pleased with it (I’ve edged it with Linen stitch).
I decided to recalculate the tension/gauge with the finished blanket and I was surprised by the measurements: stitch height 2.19cm; width 1.88cm. Similar to what I would have expected with a hook 0.5mm bigger!
There are a couple of reasons I reckoned that could cause this:
- crocheting looser as I become more use to the pattern
- the weight of the project changing the tension.
To test whether I had become looser I made another sample with the 5mm hook, that gave me: stitch height 1.84cms; width 1.81cms
1.80 x 1.66 (original sample)
2.19 x 1.88 (blanket)
1.84 x 1.81 (final sample)
Tentatively I can conclude that with the waffle stitch heigh-wise my gauge (tension) increases by 20% when working on a big project, while width-wise my gauge increased as I became more use to the stitch.
I taught myself to do the corner to corner stitch (C2C) using a tutorial from Craftsy, the instructions use US terms, but since there is essentially only 1 stitch to use a US dc which is a UK tr it wasn’t difficult to convert as I worked.
A few weeks ago as part of my Swatch Sampler Project I made couple of C2C tension squares:
I decided for C2C that stitch height/width should be calculated based on the square height/width (the alternative I considered was using the diagonal – but that seemed just confusing). I would expect that height and width would be the same given the way the stitch is worked, and for both samples they are similar:
4mm (on the right) the calculation gave both height and width as 1.43 cm;
5mm the calculations gave height as 1.67cm and width 1.66cm.
I had some yarn for a baby blanket and decided this stitch would be a good one to use, the sample with the 5mm hook had a nice drape (the 4mm hook sample was a bit stiff for a baby blanket).
The blanket (above) used the following Stylecraft Special DK colours: Sage, Plum, Spice, Gold and Citron, I used about 80 g of each (the blanket weigh 404g), with a 5mm hook. I changed colours every 4 rows. At the central 2 rows ( in Spice) I decreased at the start of the row and increased at the end. This meant that the colour pattern kept even, but the blanket is not quite square! It is 51 stitches in height (measuring ~86cm) and 50 stitches wide (~85 cm). So across the blanket the tension is 1.69/1.70 per stitch, slightly more than my sample.
Carrying on with my geeky experiment I have now made 7 squares using the UK half treble stitch (that is usually abbreviated to htr it is the same as a half double crochet – hdc – in US terms).
I used the same approach to making the squares and measuring as described in Double Crochet Tension, and the same yarn (Stylecraft Special DK and KnitPro hooks).
If we ignore the square produced with 3.25mm and 5mm hooks the width and height of the stitches are more or less increasing in proportion.
The 3.25mm square does seem to be an anomaly in the stitch height it produces. I may try making another square with this hook size.
The difference between the stitch heights and width is slight when moving from 4.5mm to 5 mm hook with this stitch.
I am making more samples so there will be more geekiness coming soon!
I wanted to understand a bit more about my crochet tension, so as I’m a geek I decided to set up a series of experiments.
For this experiment I used Stylecraft Special DK and KnitPro Waves hooks.
I made sample double crochet squares (each about 14cm x 14cm) using: 3mm, 3.25mm, 3.5mm, 3.75mm, 4mm, 4.5mm and 5mm hooks – giving 7 squares in total.
(Note: I’m using UK term – a US single crochet (sc) is the same as my double crochet (dc))
Using my ruler and pins I measured out 10cm square and counted out the number of stitches and the number of rows. I used this to calculated the stitch width and height. I double checked my figures by counting 10 stitches and measuring that, and 16 rows and measuring that and recalculating stitch width and height, and to be certain I then repeated all my measurements/calculations. Then I graphed my results:
This shows by changing hook size:
- I make my stitches wider,
- I have varying impact on the stitch height.
I was particularly surprised that with the 3mm, 3.25mm and 3.5 mm hook there was hardly any change in height.
As part of my Swatch Sampler Project I am intending to repeat this experiment with different stitches, and probably redo the double crochet in case there was some anomaly with my stitching, the yarn or something else.
In crochet there are many subtle different versions between UK and US English, one of these is in providing information on how tight you need your stitches need to be, in UK English patterns this is usually referred to as tension, while in US English the term gauge is used.
- 20 rows x 17 dc stitches = 10cm x 10 cm (4” x 4”) using a 4mm hook
- Each 14 st pattern measures 7.5cm (3”), 7.5 rows in pattern measures 10 cm (4”) using a 3.5 mm hook.
Both of the above examples assume that you are using the recommended weight of yarn.
If your tension is different to the designer’s than you finished item will be a different size, and you will use a different amount of yarn.
You may be making something such as a scarf where a bit of difference in size doesn’t matter and if you have plenty of yarn there is no need to worry about tension.
However if you are making something where size matters, such as a jumper or socks then you do need to be confident that you are going to get the size you want.
The recommended way of checking tension is to make a swatch, that is a sample of the fabric you will be making.
I must say I usually don’t bother – I get started and start measuring and adjusting as I go along! But I would like to understand my tension and so I am inventing:
“The Swatch Sampler Project”
I will construct a number of experiments, making swatches with different hooks, and I hope I will understand more about my tension, practice some stitches/techniques, and produce a pretty blanket,