A tension swatch is used to ensure that you are working at the tension called for in the pattern. It is essential to check this, otherwise your finished garment is likely to be the wrong size!
Crochet a small square of just over 10 x 10cm/4 x 4in in the main yarn and stitch used in the pattern, then count and calculate the average amount of stitches per cm.
Chain a few more stitches and work more rows than the tension in the pattern suggests youâ€™ll need for this size. Once you have completed the swatch, use a measuring tape or ruler, place some pins at 0 and 10 and take some average measurements â€“ count how many stitches and rows to 10cm at different points over the swatch.
If you find you have more stitches per cm than indicated in the pattern, then your tension is too tight and you need to work more loosely. The best way to do this is to increase the size of hook youâ€™re using by a quarter or half millimetre until the tension is as close as you can get it. If there are fewer stitches than required, then you are crocheting too loosely, and you need to decrease the size of hook used in the same way.
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