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I am an amateur when it comes to crocheting. I was making some simple king's crowns for my kids and myself of course. I had planned on making changes to the pattern to adjust for the different sizes however my inconsistency with my stitch sizes made it so that was not a problem.

I was following the same pattern without adjusting for size. I ended up with Goldilocks problem as the first one I made too loose and it fit my head. To compensate I made my stitches tighter on my next one. The end result was small enough to fit my 3 year old's head. I then compensated and made one that was in the middle of the two.

Since I made 3 of the same thing I got a decent gauge of what I was doing but if I was making something from a pattern with no concrete concept of the end result I worry that I will make it too tight or too loose.

Are there any general tips in this regard? At a minimum I will assume it is a matter of experience but perhaps there is more to it. Most of the things I do will be in the size range or 4.5 to 6 if it matters.

  • If you want to change the size of something meant to be worn, wouldn't it be easier to adjust the number of stitches around rather than the tightness of the stitches? – Kareen Apr 27 '16 at 4:56
  • @Kareen I was more suggestion that my inconsistent stich size netted me different results. I should have been able to make the same hat 3 times but instead I ended up with some very different each time. I updated the question to try and make that more clear. – Matt Apr 27 '16 at 5:03
  • Of course, hence the comment, just in a case. I also consider myself an amateur and wondered often if there was some sort of generally accepted tightness for all the patterns. But since I don't generally make wearables, it's less of an issue for me. – Kareen Apr 27 '16 at 5:05
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    @Kareen this is not always the case. Imagine a pattern using largish elements, where you have only 6 or so repeats around. Here, removing one element will dramatically tighten the finished work. – jkadlubowska Apr 27 '16 at 13:21
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Good quality patterns, especially for clothes, have information about 'gauge'. These numbers will tell you the tightness that the creator of the pattern intended: how many stitches fit horizontally and vertically in a square of 10x10cm (4x4 inches) or 1x1 inch (2,5x2,5cm). Before you start working on the piece itself, you should crochet a sample: a small piece of fabric using the pattern. When you reach a bit more than 10x10cm in size, measure the gauge of your sample and compare with the pattern. Crocheting a sample is especially useful if the pattern calls for a certain brand of yarn and you want to use a different one.

The gauge is partly determined by the weight of your yarn and the size of your hook. All yarn skeins should have labels with information on suggested hook size and expected gauge. This page has a table of all commonly used yarn weights descriptions and their adequate hook size and gauge.

A gauge information may look for example like this: example from http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/asymmetrical-jacket Suggested yarn is the brand the creator used, but you should be able to use this pattern with any other Aran weight yarn (checking the page mentioned earlier you can see that it's also called Worsted, 4, medium etc.) and a 6mm hook. Your sample should have 12 stitches horizontally in 10cm (4in), but there is no information on vertical gauge. In this case you can just crochet 4-5 rows of single crochets and check if the tightness is good.

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I suggest you find a tension you are most comfortable with. Make a gauge swatch with the yarn you want to use to see how it compares to the size of the gauge in the pattern. And adjust your hook size, not tension. At least that's how I do it. Also, making hotpads/potholders as practice really helps technique.

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