It can be disappointing when your crochet project starts to curl and won’t lie flat. There are several reasons why this is happening. You don’t have to worry, there are also ways to fix it.
Why Your Crochet Curls
Your Tension is Too Tight
A tight tension is one of the most common reasons why a crochet project is curling. Tight stitches will make your project stiff resulting in the edges curling in. You can try changing your hook one size larger to loosen the tension.
What is Tension?
Tension is the stress applied to the yarn as you crochet, and getting the right tension can be difficult, especially for beginners. It is essential that you practice in improving your tension to prevent problems with your crochet projects, such as curling. The correct tension will determine the outcome of your crochet project.
When you are working on attaining the correct tension, keep in mind that it shouldn’t be too loose and too tight, as well. You want your tension to be just right. When you are crocheting, you want to make sure that your yarn glides through your hands and fingers at a steady rate. Make sure you are not letting your yarn hang loose or straining it either.
There is no exact way to achieve the right tension because everyone crochets differently. Some would crochet tighter or looser than others. What is important is the way you hold your yarn and hook should be comfortable for you. When the way you hold your hook and yarn feels just right, then it probably is.
If your tension affects your gauge, there are things you can do to fix it. But first, let us discuss gauge.
What is Gauge?
Gauge is the number of stitches and rows per inch that result from a particularized yarn worked with specific hook size. When you purchase yarn from a craft store, the label that comes with the yarn usually lists the crochet sizes recommended for that particular yarn. The gauge that is indicated for that skein of yarn is what you must achieve with the hook and yarn recommended.
I know you are asking, what does the gauge have to do with the tension? Tension isn’t just the way we hold the yarn and hook; it is also how our completed project will look. If our gauge does not match the gauge of the designer, we have to make adjustments. If you don’t make the necessary adjustments, your garment will turn out to be ill-fitting even if you are using the same hook size and yarn that is recommended by the designer.
How to Hold Your Yarn and Crochet Hook to Improve Tension
You have to find the most comfortable position for you. Hold your hook with your dominant hand and the yarn in your non-dominant hand. There is actually no wrong way of holding a crochet hook and yarn. Do what is comfortable for you and you will be okay.
Helpful Tips and Techniques to Improve Your Tension
- Pull from the center of the skein – A skein of yarn has a strand on the inside and the outside. When you use the strand from the outside, your skein will have the tendency to bounce all over the place, and that is bad for your tension. When you pull the strand from the center, the yarn will glide through your hands and fingers easier. Finding the strand in the center can be easy or not because it will all depend on the skein.
- Wind your skein into a cake – Winding up your skein to a cake will help you pull the strand from the outside or inside so much easier. A ball winder is a tool you can use to make it easier for you. You can even combine two yarns with different colors into one big ball with the ball winder.
- Use a yarn bowl – A yarn ball is truly a lifesaver. When you already have winded your skein into a ball, you can place it in a yarn bowl. This will prevent your yarn from bouncing all over. You won’t worry about your yarn being a tangled mess again. Yarn bowls can be made from wood, ceramic, or even glass.
- Try using a tension regulator – A tension regulator is something that you can make yourself. It can be awkward to use at first, but it will truly save the index finger of your non-dominant hand. You can crochet a tension regulator that fits in your index finger, and you can use it to keep your tension consistent while you are crocheting.
- Try using a beginner-friendly yarn – Your tension will also depend on the yarn you are using. If you are a beginner, using a tough yarn may cause some issues in your crochet project. Try using a yarn that is a bit stretchier for starters. Don’t use novelty and variegated yarns if you are a beginner. If you are still getting the hang of your tension, using these two types of yarn will make it difficult to tell if the rows and stitches are consistent.
- Go down or up a hook size – If you notice that your foundation chain is much looser than the rest, you can switch to smaller hook size for your foundation chain. Then you can switch back to the hook size that is recommended for the rest of the pattern. If your foundation chain is too tight, switch to larger hook size.
- Determine if you are a tight or loose crocheter – Our mood can also affect our tension. Crocheting while you are stressed might result in your stitches being too tight in the beginning. You will notice that the stitches will be looser as you crochet because you are starting to be relaxed. If you are a tight crocheter, use a larger hook than what is specified in the pattern. If you are a loose crocheter, use a smaller hook than what the pattern calls for.
Your Hands are Cramped
Sometimes, you just have to adjust the way you hold your hook. If you notice that your knuckles are showing white when you grip your crochet hook, you are probably gripping it too tight. Loosen up, and you will be surprised how much more relaxed your stitches will be. Relaxed stitches mean no curling edges.
The important thing you should consider when crocheting is taking a rest when your hands are uncomfortable. Repeating the same movements over and over again can take a toll on your hands and wrists.
There are ways to prevent hand cramps while you are crocheting.
Tips on Preventing Hand Cramps
- Correct hand position and posture – It’s as simple as changing your position the moment you feel uncomfortable. Change the way you hold your hook, your wrist is positioned, or loosen your grip.
Try to observe your wrists if they are flexed or straight. If you have a flexed wrist, even if you are not doing anything, you can use a wrist brace or guard to help straighten it and align it correctly.
Observe your posture, as well. The right posture is not too rigid but not too slouchy either. You have to find a balance between the two. Once you find the right posture, you will notice significant relief from pain, whether it’s back pain, hand cramps, or shoulder pain.
Look at the way you hold your crochet hook, as well. Holding a crochet hook improperly is one of the main reasons for hand cramps. You can try ergonomic hooks that are specially made to naturally fit your hands.
- Take a break once in a while – One of the most essential things you can do is simply take a break, to prevent any crochet-related pain. You will be more productive when you rest. It will also keep you feeling refreshed.
Don’t wait until you feel pain in your hands to stop working. Also, don’t dive yourself too much into a project, because you will have the tendency to overwork yourself.
Remember to rest your hands. Give them time to recover from performing repetitive motions.
When you are on a break, get up and about. Walk around your home to increase the oxygen level in your body, so your energy will be revitalized.
- Build strength and endurance – Your hand and wrist muscles are just as important as the other muscles in your body. When you develop your capability to crochet longer, there will be fewer or no hand cramps for you.
Introduce different stretches and exercises that will develop your strength and endurance. Your fingers will be stronger and more reliable when they are accustomed to working through a variety of motions.
Before you start with your crochet work, stretch your hands first. You can shake your hands to get the blood flowing, spread your fingers, or roll your wrists around.
Hand and wrists exercises are also as vital as stretches. Those exercises will make your hands stronger and increase their motion range.
It is also important that you exercise your whole body, not just your hands.
Hand Stretches and Exercises that Can Help with Hand Cramps
- Finger stretches
- Make a fist
- Claw Clench
- Grip Strengthening
- Pinch Strengthening
- Thumb extension
- Finger lift
- Thumb flex
- Thumb touch
- Thumb stretches
- Wrist extension and flexion
- Wrist pronation/supination
- Wrist radial/ulnar deviation
- Hand and finger tendon glide
- Wrist rolls
- Finger, wrist, and shoulder stretch
Other Helpful Tips to Fix Curled Crochet
Blocking is not everyone’s favorite when it comes to crochet projects. However, it can be helpful when your crochet item turned out to be curled. Blocking puts the finishing touch to your crochet project. It also beautifies and enhances any crochet project.
Blocking is also a way to make your item more professional. Proper blocking can go a long way to making your crochet item look and fit better. It can also restore symmetry to an unbalanced rug or afghan. It enhances the drape of the fabric and sets the stitches, as well.
It is great for natural fibers. This method will also ensure that your crochet item will maintain its form after use. You can use this method if your project needs stretching and needs to be shaped a lot.
Don’t attempt to use this method if you used acrylic yarn for your project because moisture won’t affect acrylic.
With wet blocking, you will need a sink, towel, blocking board or any flat surface, and rustproof pins.
- Fill the sink with lukewarm or cold water
- Fully immerse your project in the water.
- Let your project soak for 15 to 20 minutes. If you have a large project, you can rotate it halfway through just to make sure it is entirely wet.
- Drain the sink and carefully squeeze the water out from your project. Never twist when you are squeezing. What you can do instead is take large sections and then squeeze gently.
- Take a towel and then roll your project in it. To soak up excess water, press the towel down gently.
- Spread your crochet project on the blocking board and pin it. Adjust the stitches the way you want your project to look when it’s finished. Don’t be scared to stretch out the fabric.
- Let it dry completely. You can leave it overnight to make sure it is completely dry. Then take out all the pins when you are done.
This method is excellent for natural fibers, and if you don’t want your project to be stretched too much. This method takes less time than wet blocking, so you can use this if you can’t wait to complete your project.
With spray blocking, you will need pins, a blocking board, and a spray bottle.
- Lay your project on a blocking board and pin it.
- Fill your spray bottle with water, then spray your crochet item with it until damp.
- Allow your item to dry, then you can remove the pins.
This method is recommended for acrylic yarn, and if your project needs to be stretched a lot.
With steam blocking, you will need pins, blocking board, and iron with a steam setting.
- Lay your project on a blocking board and pin it. However, some projects won’t require pinning.
- Fill your iron with water and set to steam setting and wait until it has heated up.
- Hover the steam iron over your project. Never touch the iron to the project, or it will melt because acrylic is made of plastic. You can hover the iron at least one inch above the item to be safe.
- Keep steaming until your crochet project is slightly damp. Remove the pins when you’re done.
Making a gauge swatch is as unpopular as blocking with crocheters. A gauge swatch is a sample of the pattern you will be making before you actually start doing the project. With gauge swatch, you will be asked to work up a 4×4-inch square of the pattern. You will need to count the number of rows and the stitches per row. Gauge swatch enables you to work out whether your piece is likely to curl or not without doing the whole project.
When you have completed a gauge swatch, place the item on a hard and flat surface with decent lighting. You can use a gauge measuring device or a ruler to count the stitches and rows in the number of inches indicated in the pattern gauge. The usual practice is counting over 4 inches, but some gauges require only 2 inches or 1 inch, especially for thin yarns.
If you have more stitches and rows than what is indicated in the pattern, you can use a larger hook instead. On the other hand, if you have fewer stitches and rows than what is indicated in the pattern, you can use a smaller crochet hook.
When making your gauge swatch, treat it the way you would your actual project. You can block and wash it just to make sure you are aware of how to properly take care of your crochet project when it’s finished.
So, what do you do with the gauge swatch when you don’t need it anymore? One good idea is to combine your swatches to make bigger projects such as pillows, blankets, bags, or whatever comes in mind. Just make sure that you use swatches with similar yarn for the same project.
Sometimes, the Curl Goes Away
Some projects will look curly for a while, but will eventually naturally straighten out as you add more stitches to your work. Sometimes, the best thing to do is just keep going.
You don’t have to fret when you see your crochet project curl. As you have read in this article, there are ways you can get rid of the curl or prevent it while doing your project. Crocheting takes patience, and when you love the craft, no problem is going to discourage you from continuing.