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If you’re new to crocheting and wondering why each row is shorter than the last, you’re not alone. This is a really common problem for beginners and even experienced crochet enthusiasts alike, and there are simply three reasons why this would happen. It’s either you’re not counting your stitches or not keeping consistent tension, or worse, you didn’t check your gauge right at the start.

Keeping a Consistent Tension

If you feel that your stitches are either too tight or too loose, it means that your tension could use a little bit more improvement. Having consistent tension is a very important to master in crocheting. Apart from helping you to keep your stitches even, consistency in tension allows you to maintain a neat and consistent look throughout your entire project. Unfortunately, there is no standard measure of what good tension means, as this is largely determined by how you hold your hook and how tightly you pull the yarn.

One of the best ways you can make your tension more consistent is to make sure your loop is always on the shaft of the hook. The shaft serves a very good purpose in making sure all the loops are of the same size, so that is where you want to put your yarn to get the correct size stitch all the time.

You should also look for the teardrop shape as you’re stitching. If you have trouble locating where or what the teardrop is, it’s the appearance your yarn makes when you look at your stitch head on if it fits snugly around your hook. If you’re not seeing the teardrop consistently, it means your hook is not sliding through the same point every single time you create a stitch.

Another way to address inconsistency in your tension is to look at the foundation row of your work. If it looks tighter compared to the rest of your project, it might help to crochet the chains in a hook larger than the hook you crocheted your project with. This solution is an easy workaround to make your finished project look more uniform, although it may not always be the case. Truth is – the only way to maintain very good tension is to practice making chains regularly until you can finally say with confidence that you have very good control. Do not be discouraged if you’re not getting it right during the first few weeks. It takes time, so you just have to be patient.

Checking Your Gauge

Since every person’s crocheting style is different, it’s important to determine what your stitching style is and to make adjustments once you know the size of your stitches. Even if you already know it by heart whether you are more inclined to make tighter stitches or looser ones, it still helps to make the recommended gauge swatch anyway. Why? Doing a gauge swatch will help you ensure that your finished item turns out just as pictured on the pattern and in the size you want it to be. Only by testing it out can you actually get a feel of the number of stitches and the adjustments you need to make, so don’t act all overconfident and skip this step. Doing so can have a big repercussion in the appearance of your project as you go along, so apart from just making a swatch to fulfill this requirement, it is highly recommended that you also make your test swatch large enough for you to be able to get an accurate feel of your gauge for this certain project.

Counting Your Stitches

Unless the pattern says otherwise, you’re typically supposed to have exactly the same number of stitches per row. However, it’s such a common mistake for most people to miss the beginning and end stitches of each row, even if they’ve had many years of experience. Reality is, even if you just skip one stitch in each row, as you build more and more chains on top of them, your overall pattern will get narrower as a result.

The best way to avoid this problem is to start counting and make sure to stich with it. When you know exactly how many stitches you’re supposed to have, it is easy know if you’re missing any. This way, you can still add the stitches if necessary before you move on.

Yet, it’s so easy to lose count of your stitches, isn’t it? One way to keep track of the number of stitches you have made is to put a stitch marker for every five or 10 chains you’ve made. It also does wonders to put a stitch marker into each end stitch until you get used to where you should be putting your stitches. A nifty workaround is to use bobby pins, as they are not only much cheaper than stitch markers being sold in store, they’re also easy to flick out of the way. Just be mindful not to count the loop on the hook as a stitch, as this will set your count one stitch off.

Easy Solutions to Fixing the Problem

While prevention is better than cure, sometimes you can’t really help but only discover the problem until you’re really far into your project. Unfortunately at this point, fixing it can be really frustrating because there is just no easy way to add the stitches you’ve missed back into the rows buried deep down in the middle, now that you’ve worked past the rows where they should have been.

The cleanest solution is to simply find the last row where you worked the correct number of stitches, and remove all the rows you’ve done past that point. However, an easier fix for you is to just try and learn the art of freeform crochet. It banks on edging, so you can hide some of the oddities of your work and pretend as if the mistakes never happened.

While it can get really frustrating to encounter this problem, it’s rather normal for people to deal with this. The best way to avoid it is to make the necessary preparations beforehand and just simply start counting.