Chain Stitch Tension: Part I

Aug 6, 2009

In this week's enewsletter, I talk about learning how to do the most basic crochet stitch–chaining–all over again in order to make the Shawlette in Chains by Kristin Omdahl in Crocheted Gifts by Kim Werker.

I'm using laceweight for the project, but it's a bit too slender for clear pictures of tensioning. So I'm illustrating with a DK yarn.

Here's how I crochet with close tensioning:

Note the left index finger, positioned close to the project. I “throw” the yarn over the hook.

To help even out the chain stitches, I did this:


If I hold the yarn away from the project and “pluck” the yarn with the hook, I can create tighter chains. It took me a whole panel (that's 864 chains) to “get” this. On the final two chain lengths, I felt the “ping” of perfect chaining. This is where my spinning experience comes in. When you spin, you reach a “zen” point where you are working with the fiber rather than against it. There is a feel to the fiber as it moves from fluff to fiber that lets you know you have the right tension.

Tune in later for more tips on working this project, as well as seeing how quilting helped me out.

Meanwhile, please leave your own thoughts on tensioning.

Happy crocheting,


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sherril775 wrote
on Aug 6, 2009 11:53 AM

When my grandmother taught me to crochet, she told me I had to think thoughts of love every third stitch for the person the item was for. It took me a long time to realize that what Gramma was doing was teaching me to relax, to find my zen if you will, so that my tension would always be the same. I have taught many people to crochet over the years and I have always invoked Gramma's "Every Third Stitch" rule.

Marcy Smith wrote
on Aug 6, 2009 12:16 PM
Wow! That is an excellent rule! And a lovely way to find your zen.


on Aug 7, 2009 5:55 AM

Dear Sherril775,

Your grandmother's advise is excellent! I learned to crochet when I was homesick and halfway around the world. I thought of my recipient with love during the project. I aimed for every stitch, but I think aiming for every third stitch would be more attainable.

Thank you for sharing your story and the "Every Third Stitch" rule!!

Best regards,

Kristin Omdahl

tu_madre1 wrote
on Aug 26, 2009 2:00 PM

My grandmother told me to use my left hand as if it were the sewing machine bobbin and that was the way of keeping the tension the same. Also keeping good thoughts of the person for whom the item was being made. Nice to know others using the same system.