How to Change and Control Your Tension

March 09, 2018

Most guides about crochet and tension talks about how tight you hold the yarn with your non-dominant hand. This is only half the story, though.

Tunisian Crochet - How to Change and Control your Tension

What you do with the right hand (dominant hand) and what you do with your hook, is also important.

In the samples, I'm using Tunisian stitches, but some parts can also be used if you work on a regular crochet project. Awareness of how tension can be controlled, can improve our work.

Why Worry about Tension?

This subject IS geeky! But, it can also solve issues and answer questions up front. Being in control of your tension means you get an advantage, when you work on things like:
  • color stacking or color pooling projects
  • finding the right gauge for a crochet pattern (along with trying different hooks).
  • stitch substitution (see more below) 
As a nice side-effect: A looser tension can give you a softer drape and more attractive piece of work.

Stitch Substitution

Not all stitches have the same size. Say, you want to substitute a Tunisian simple stitch (TSS) with a Tunisian knit stitch (TKS). You might run into trouble, if you are working on a piece of garment. Because, the knit stitch is more compact than the simple stitch. Working on your tension, can help you out here.

Tension Control. An advantage for stitch substitution.

What about Width?

Why not just choose a bigger hook? Because, your swatch will be a lot bigger, but both taller AND wider. With a different tension on a Tunisian forward row, the width will not change much. Provided - of course - that you keep a normal tension during the return pass.


I'm sharing my personal experiences here, and my 4 levels of tension for a Tunisian forward row.
What works for you might differ, but hopefully this will still be an inspiration of what you can do.

I currently work with 4 levels:
  1. Tight: let the hook stay in front of the work, when you have pulled up a loop.
  2. Normal: pull up a loop and place the hook on top of your work. Let the hook decide the size of the loop.
  3. Loose: loosen the yarn and pull your hook up, to get a bigger loop.
  4. Looser: use your index finger to pull the last loops on the hook.
See the details and samples in the video.

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Let me know, if you have questions/comments or if you have something useful to add, that others might benefit from too.

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