Crochet techniques: Measuring tension (gauge)

Something else that you need to know about for most crochet projects is tension. This is how tight your stitches are, and how many stitches and rows you should have per set space.

Most patterns will give you the number of horizontal stitches and vertical rows over a 10x10cm (4x4in) square. This will often be seen notated as:


10sts and 10 rows per 10cm square.
4 pattern repeats per 10cm


Often when you are working in squares that are sewn together, much like your course project, it will give you the measurements per square, so after your first square you can measure it to make sure you’re in the right ball park. Throughout this project, where applicable to help you, you have been given the tension per 10cm square and for the final square measurement, just to get you used to this practice as you go.

It is important to get your tension right when making garments with a specific size in mind, as you don’t want it to come up too small and be unwearable by the intended recipient. Too big and you have less of a problem, but you want it to be just right.

Projects such as blankets and amigurumi toys may tell you that the tension isn’t important, but may list a suggested final size that they expect you to reach.



Measuring tension

To measure tension, take a ruler or tape measure, and set the start of it at the edge of a stitch, then count how many stitches are visible across the 10cm.


Then repeat this vertically across your work.



If the number of stitches you count is more than stated, then your tensions is too tight. Try to crochet a little looser, or size up your hook by .5mm (eg, if you are using a 4mm, try a 4.5mm, or if you are using a 4.5mm, try a 5mm).

If the number of stitches you count is less than stated, then your tension is too loose. Try pulling your working yarn a little tighter around your hook as you work, or size down your hook by .5mm.

If you are working in the round, and the measurement you are given is for the full square, then you should try again with a hook that is bigger or smaller depending on the size of your square. Throughout this project, if a square is worked in rounds, you will be given the approximate measurements per round so you can check as you go.