How to Crochet a Tension Swatch

Learn how to crochet a tension square, how to measure a tension swatch and the simple ways to adjust your tension. By creating a gauge swatch before starting a crochet pattern, you can prevent hours of wasted crochet time and feel confident that your finished project will fit! 

How to crochet a tension square | Learn How To Crochet

If you’re one of those who skips making a tension square before beginning your crochet project, you’ll learn why it’s simply so important to create one!

How to measure a tension swatch

Tension and Gauge can be scary words when learning how to crochet. In fact, I know many crocheters who just wing it when it comes to checking their tension and by not checking their tension end up very disappointed when their project is finished and is not the size expected.

A tension square will allow you to gauge your stitches and adjust it to will prevent you spending hours making a garment or accessory only to find that it doesn’t fit when its finished.

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What is Gauge?

The gauge is simply the number of stitches and rows you create within a 10cm/4 inch square.

The pattern will tell you the stitch to use to create your gauge swatch and the recommended hook size to create the crochet pattern:

e.g. 10.5 stitches and 7 rows = 4in (10cm) over HTr (HDc) using 8mm crochet hook.

If you were using a different yarn or wool to complete your project, creating a tension square is the best way to check your selected yarn will work with the pattern. 

Video Tutorial:

To follow along with the video tutorial further down this page, you’ll need the following materials:

  • 8mm crochet hook
  • Chunky/bulky yarn
  • Knitters Square or ruler (these options are a much better choice than a measuring tape as they can become stretched over time)

Crochet A Tension Square

The crochet pattern will usually give you instructions on the stitch and hook size to be used to crochet a tension square.

Using the recommended hook size and the yarn you will be completing your project in, chain longer than 4 inches and with enough chains to complete the pattern repeat (if stated in the pattern).

Your square will need to be a square slightly bigger than 10cm/4 inches in size to allow you to measure within the square (and not have to deal with curled up edges).

Measuring a Tension Square

If your project will require blocking once it is finished, you will need to block your tension square before measuring.

Set Up For Success

On a level surface (your lap is not a good option!):

  • Pin your square in place to prevent it moving around while you measure.
  • Line up your Knitters Square or place ruler along a row.
  • Count the number of rows within the square 4 inches/10cm – make a note of this number.
  • Count the number of stitches within the square 4 inches/10cm – make a note of this number.

Compare the number of stitches you have to the gauge provided in the pattern.

  • If the gauge matches the pattern, you’re good to start your project.
  • If you gauge doesn’t match the pattern, read on for the easiest way to adjust your tension.
How to crochet the loop stitch

Adjusting Your Tension

If you have MORE stitches or rows than the tension given in the pattern, your tension is tight.

Remake the tension square with a bigger hook. For example, if you made your square with a 4mm hook, try a 4.5mm or 5mm hook.

If you have LESS stitches or rows than the tension given in the pattern, your tension is loose.

Remake the tension square with a smaller hook. For example, if you made your square with a 4mm hook, try a 3.5mm or 3mm hook.

Click here for 5 Easy Ways to Adjust Your Crochet Tension

Have you been converted to making a tension square before starting your next big crochet project?

I really hope so! It will give you so much more confidence to make garments when you are certain your tension matches the pattern!

Click the button below to see my FREE Crochet patterns:
FREE Crochet Patterns 

How to crochet a tension swatch

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