Why Your Crochet is Getting Wider (And How to Fix It)

Here’s a problem nearly every crocheter will have at least once: they’re working up a dishcloth, scarf, or blanket. But after a while, the project gets wider, and starts to flare out. It was supposed to be a rectangle! But now it’s bigger on the top than on the bottom. What happened?

There are many reasons a crochet project can get wider, including changes in the yarn, using the wrong hook, loosening tension, an overly tight foundation chain, or accidentally increasing by making extra stitches that shouldn’t be there. The widening of a crochet project is an extremely common issue, but luckily the fix is pretty straightforward once you figure out what the cause is. 

To begin narrowing down which of these causes is responsible, start by counting the number of stitches you have in one of the completed rows that you think ended up too wide. 

If you have the right number of stitches in that row according to the pattern, then the root of your issue is likely due to problems with the yarn weight, using the wrong hook, changes in tension, or an overly tight foundation chain. These are covered in more detail in the first part of the article. 

If you discover that your stitch count doesn’t match up with what the pattern says you should have, then the most likely culprit is that you’re accidentally making extra stitches. You may still be experiencing wider rows because of any of these reasons, but most likely, the largest contributing factor is the additional stitches, which we’ll cover later in “Accidentally Adding Stitches.” 

Not All Yarns Are Created Equal

By now, you may have learned that yarns have different weights, or sizes. Yarns of larger weight work up to bigger stitches and therefore a bigger project, while thinner yarns generally make smaller stitches and a smaller project.

But here’s a problem not often discussed: yarns of the same weight, and *sometimes even the same brand* can differ in size. 

This is a frustrating problem I encountered while making an afghan out of worsted weight (4 medium)  yarn. Most of the blanket was made out of Red Heart Super Saver worsted weight acrylic, but one section was made out of Red Heart Soft worsted weight acrylic.

The turquoise section of this blanket was made of Red Heart Soft worsted weight yarn, while the white section was made of Red Heart Super Saver worsted weight. Despite using the same hook throughout, the width of the blanket changes where the colors shift.

Even though they were both worsted weight AND both from the Red Heart brand, the Soft yarn was much thinner. To the naked eye and at first touch, they seem the same thickness. But they weren’t, and it meant my blanket didn’t come out as a perfect rectangle. 

I’ve even noticed this issue with different colors of Red Heart’s worsted weight Super Saver yarn. It seems every black or white solid colored skein is thicker than the majority of the rest of their colors. This has been the case for me over numerous years, shopping at different stores (in different states, sometimes thousands of miles apart.) 

There are a few ways to protect yourself from creating a wonky project due to subtle differences in yarn weight. 

If you’re using different colors or brands of yarn, you may want to measure the actual thickness of the yarn before you start, using the “wraps per inch” method. This is a more precise way of measuring the thickness.

You can do this by wrapping yarn around a ruler – not so tightly that it stretches, but not so loosely that the yarn is allowed to bend or kink. Avoid making any gaps. If you don’t have a ruler, anything with a consistent circumference can do, like a pen or a pencil. 

Measuring the wraps per inch of a yarn
This worsted weight pink yarn has a “wraps per inch” (WPI) measurement of 11.

Count how many wraps of the yarn it takes to reach an inch. Compare this “wraps per inch” measurement among different yarns. Generally, worsted weight yarn is about 9-13 wraps per inch. 

Measuring the wraps per inch of a yarn
This yarn has a WPI of 13.

The higher a yarn’s wraps per inch measurement, the thinner it is. The smaller a yarn’s wraps per inch measurement, the thicker it is 

The turquoise yarn is thinner than the hot pink yarn, even though both of their labels indicate they’re worsted (medium 4) weight.

Both yarns are medium weight, but their differences in thickness can make your project turn out disproportionate.

If you find that some of the yarn in a project is thinner or thicker than the other yarns you want to use, plan accordingly. You may want to swap to a different sized hook to achieve the same gauge. You may need to make a few gauge swatches using different sized hooks so that you can determine which hook with which yarn gets you similar gauges. 

Are You Using the Right Hook?

Another reason your project may be getting bigger is that you may have accidentally started using a different sized hook than the one you started the project with. If you’re using a larger hook, but the yarn, the pattern, and your tension stays the same, your stitches will turn out larger. 

This would lead to your project widening. 


A swatch made in two different hook sizes gets wider at the top
The bottom 3 rows of this swatch were made with a size H-8 (5 mm) hook. The top 2 rows were made in a size K-10.5 (7 mm) hook.

It’s a good idea to keep a Crochet Journal or use Ravelry to keep notes on your projects, and what hook sizes you use. I know it’s tempting to start, and it’s hard to think you’ll forget which hook you used. 

But sometimes, you use that same hook for another project. Or life gets busy and you’re not able to crochet for a couple of weeks, and you forget which hook you started with. It happens. If you don’t have a crochet journal or a printed copy of the pattern to write the hook size down on, a neat trick is you can take a picture of every project you start using your smartphone. 

Include the project, the pattern, the yarn brand and colors, and the hook size in the photo. That way, if you forget, you can scroll through your photo album until you find this picture again. 

For a more detailed explanation as to how hook size can affect your project, check out our article on Why Crochet Hook Size Matters (And How to Choose the Right Hook).

Your Foundation Chain May Be Too Tight

If you know that you’re making the right number of stitches per round or row, but your project is still getting wider at the top, then your foundation chain may be too tight. 

This is a common issue crocheters run into. The chain stitches of that foundation chain then end up too small, so when they’re worked in, there’s not enough slack in the chain stitches for that foundation chain to be as wide as it should be. 

As they work into it, the project gets wider, but the tight foundation chain “cinches” the bottom of the project, keeping it more narrow.

A swatch made with a tight foundation chain
A telltale sign that your foundation chain is too tight is when your project curls into a crescent shape, where the foundation chain is narrower than the most recent row.

An easy fix for this is to go up 1 or 2 hook sizes when making your foundation chain.

Then switch back to the smaller hook after the foundation chain is done. Don’t forget this step! I’ve made that mistake too, and paid the price by spending hours undoing my work and restarting my project. 

Your Tension Loosened

If you’re certain your foundation chain is fine, you’re using the right hook size, your yarn weight hasn’t changed, and your stitch counts all add up properly, then the problem may be that your tension got looser partway into the project.

This can happen because often, at the beginning of a project, you’re still learning the stitches and carefully focusing on figuring out the pattern. That intense focus and unfamiliarity with the pattern can cause you to crochet a little more tightly, because you’re concentrating hard on trying to master the stitch. 

But after several dozen stitches, you may have grown comfortable with the new stitch and the pattern. At that point you might have relaxed and started crocheting more loosely.

Or, you may have started to get bored of the project, and started crocheting more loosely and quickly to “get it over with.” 

Changes in tension can also be due to:

  • Your mood: stress, excitement, or anxiety can cause you to crochet more tightly
  • Temperature in the room: you may crochet more loosely if it’s too hot or cold
  • Tired or achy hands: you may crochet more loosely to cut your hands some slack
  • Being distracted by conversation or Netflix
  • Being new to the craft

Beginners often have inconsistent tension. With more practice, you’ll eventually settle on a tension that is most comfortable for you, and muscle memory secures it and keeps your tension pretty much the same even if you pick up the project after weeks of inactivity. 

If you know your tension is different, you can compensate by using a different hook size

Reach for a bigger hook if your tension is too tight. 

Use a smaller hook if your tension is too loose.

One method you can use to tell if your tension has changed is to use a ruler and measure your gauge. Gauge is usually measured in the number of stitches per square inch. Measure the most recently made part of your project and find the gauge. 

Measuring gauge of a swatch

Then measure an earlier part of the project (before the narrowing happened.) These stitches should be the same kind of stitch, meaning you shouldn’t compare single crochet gauge to something like double crochet gauge.

If you find your gauge is different, you may want to undo the wider part of your project. Then  adjust your gauge by changing your tension or the hook you use. 

Accidentally Adding Stitches

A very common cause of crochet projects getting wider is that extra stitches are being made.

For example, if your project is supposed to be 10 stitches wide, but you’re making more than 10 stitches in the row, your project will get wider. If you repeat that mistake in later rows, your work will just get wider and wider. 

Figuring out whether or not you’re doing this can be tricky, but once you get it, resolving it should be pretty straightforward. 

You can add an extra stitch anywhere by accidentally making a stitch into the same place twice, when you’re only supposed to be making a stitch there once. This is why it’s important to count your stitches at the end of each finished row, to make sure you aren’t missing or adding any. 

But the mistake of adding extra stitches almost always occurs at the end or the beginning of a crochet round or row. This is because that’s where the turning chain usually is. 

Two ways you can end up adding an extra stitch are: 

  1. The turning chain is counted as a stitch, so on that same row you aren’t supposed to work into the base of the turning chain. But you’re accidentally making a stitch in that base, leading to an extra stitch.  
  2. The turning chain is NOT counted as a stitch, so on the next row, you’re not supposed to be working into the top of the turning chain. But you are, leading to an extra stitch being made. 

If either of these explanations leaves you confused – don’t worry! I’ll break this down into easy to understand bite sized explanations. 

First, you’ll need to understand what a turning chain is. Then, you’ll need to figure out whether or not a turning chain is counted as a stitch. If you already know these two things, feel free to scroll down to “Where’s the Extra Stitch?

What’s the Turning Chain? 

The turning chain is the series of chain stitches made in the beginning of a row (sometimes at the end) that is used as a method to get the hook up to the level of stitches to be formed on the next row. 

You can usually identify the turning chain in a written pattern. It often looks something like this: 

… chain #, then turn … 

 where the # symbol is any number between 1 and 3, but sometimes more. 

In single crochet, the turning chain is usually just 1 chain stitch. For half double crochet, the turning chain is usually 2 stitches. In double crochet, it’s often 3 chain stitches. For treble crochet, it’s 4 stitches, and so on. 

Turning chains are necessary (particularly for taller stitches) because if you don’t bring the hook up to the height of the stitch you’re making, then your rows are going to look “squashed” instead of even and level. 

Think of your crochet rows as stories of a building. If you’re constructing that building, your walls all need to be of a certain height so that when you build the ceiling, it’s going to be nice and flat, and at the right height. 

Two swatches showing the difference a turning chain makes

These turning chains can serve a second purpose. Sometimes, the turning chain also counts as a stitch. This means that despite being just a series of chain stitches, it’s supposed to be considered one of the stitches in that row. 

So if your project is made out of double crochets, then your turning chain (made up of 3 chain stitches) is supposed to count as a double crochet (even though it doesn’t look exactly like one.) Or, in the case of your project being made out of single crochets, your turning chain (of 1 chain stitch) is supposed to be considered a single crochet. 

Whether or not the turning chain counts as a stitch matters because it dictates where the rest of the stitches in the project are supposed to go. 

How Can I Tell Whether Turning Chain Counts as a Stitch?

The pattern should say whether or not turning chains count as stitches. 

Sometimes, this information will show up in the actual pattern instructions. For example, the second row of the pattern may read:

“Row 2: Ch 3 (counts as a dc) …”

In this case, the turning chain does count as a dc. The author may not mention this in every row, because generally, it’s assumed that this will apply to the rest of the pattern, unless specifically stated otherwise. 

Sometimes, patterns will have a “Notes” section in the beginning (before the actual crochet instructions). In here, authors may state whether or not turning chains count as stitches. This is generally the case in downloadable pattern PDFs. 


Throughout this pattern, turning chains do not count as stitches.

If the pattern doesn’t explicitly state one way or the other, you can still figure it out using some sleuthing.

Look at the end of each round or row of crochet instructions and see if there’s a total stitch count for that row. In the following example, there is, and it’s 10. 

Round 2: Ch 3. dc in next 10 stitches. (10 sts)

Then read the instructions for that row and see if the sum of the stitches equals that total stitch count. In this case, it does, so the turning chain (Ch 3) doesn’t count as a stitch. 

If, on the other hand, the total stitch count was “11 sts” instead of “10 sts,” then the turning chain would count as a stitch. 

A basic rule of thumb is that if the pattern is using almost exclusively single crochets, then turning chains generally DON’T count as a stitch. Single crochet turning chains are short and often hard to work into, so it’s usually used just to reach the top of a new row, but not as a stitch. 

On the other hand, patterns that use many taller stitches like double crochet and treble crochets often count turning chains as stitches. 

Where’s the Extra Stitch

If the Turning Chain Counts as a Stitch:

If the turning chain counts as a stitch, then the first stitch of the new row is the turning chain. When making the second stitch, don’t work into the base of the turning chain. The base of the turning chain is going to be the top of the very last stitch of the previous row. 

If the turning chain counts as a stitch, skip the first stitch and work into the second stitch

Instead, you should work into the second stitch. This is also going to be the second-to-last stitch of the previous row. 

Here’s where you might have made a mistake. If you do accidentally work into that base, you’ll be adding an extra stitch, and your crochet rows will get wider (assuming this was the only mistake you made.) 

A swatch where a stitch worked into the base of a turning chain results in an increase
A stitch was worked into the base of the turning chain. This stitch wasn’t supposed to be here, so that means this row will have an extra stitch, and will be wider.

Additionally, on subsequent rows, the last stitch you make in each row is going to be worked into the turning chain. More specifically, you’ll be working into the topmost chain stitch of the turning chain. This is because the turning chain counts as a stitch, so you have to work into it, just like you worked into all its other brethren stitches in that row. 

If you fail to work into the top of the turning chain on the next row, you’ll be missing a stitch, which can cause your crochet to get narrower, assuming nothing else went wrong. 

If the Turning Chain Does Not Count as a Stitch: 

If the turning chain does NOT count as a stitch, then you should not work into the top of the turning chain on subsequent rows. The turning chain is just there for you to use to build height. It isn’t counted as a stitch, so don’t work into it like you would other stitches. 

Diagram showing turning chain
You’d stop working on this row at this point, and perform the turning chain to start the next row. It may seem like we need to make one more stitch, but if you count the number of stitches in each of the three rows, you’ll see each row properly has the same number of stitches.

Here’s where you might have made a mistake. If you accidentally work into the turning stitch, you’re going to be adding an extra stitch to that row, causing that row to get wider. If you make this mistake row after row, you’ll add even more stitches with each subsequent row. 

This is an easy mistake to make because the topmost stitch of the turning chain may blend in with the other stitches you’re supposed to work into. 

By now you may have learned that most crochet stitches have that sideways “v” that you work into. 

Crochet stitches look like sideways "v"s


But the chain stitch at the top of a turning chain doesn’t always look exactly like these v’s, in part because when you turn your work, this chain gets slightly twisted. Some crocheters are able to use this to identify the turning chain so they can avoid working into it. 

The top of the turning chain may not resemble the tops of other stitches

A foolproof method for always knowing where the turning chain ends up is to insert a stitch  marker into the topmost stitch of your turning chain, right after you make it. I generally like to put a stitch marker into both loops of the chain stitch so that the stitch marker shows exactly where that stitch is, so I know to avoid working a stitch into there. 

A red stitch marker marks the top of the turning chain
A red stitch marker is inserted into the topmost chain stitch of the turning chain.

You can color code your stitch markers. I like to use red stitch markers to indicate stitches I should NOT work into. Red is a signal for me to “stop.”

A second method for avoiding working into the turning stitch is to insert a stitch marker in the FIRST stitch of every row you made (which comes immediately after you make the turning chain.) This stitch marker will show you where you need to work the last stitch of the subsequent row. I like to insert the stitch marker under both loops of the marked stitch, to show exactly where my hook needs to be inserted. 

A bright yellow-green stitch marker marks the first stitch of the row
A bright yellow-green stitch marker marks the first stitch of the row, which is the last stitch I should work into.

I like to use yellow or green stitch markers to indicate that I should work into that stitch. For me, this bright yellow green color means “work into here, but prepare to stop soon after this.”

The Importance of Understanding Turning Chains

Turning chains are important to understand, even if your stitch counts are adding up properly. It’s possible to end up with the right number of stitches if you make more than one mistake. Two mistakes can cancel the consequences of each other out, in terms of stitch count. 

For example, if you accidentally skip one stitch somewhere but then accidentally add another extra stitch elsewhere, since you lost one stitch but gained an extra, your stitch count still comes out as correct. But this is like the math class equivalent of getting the right answer even though your work was wrong.

I explain this in more detail in the sister article to this post, Why Your Crochet Rows Are Getting Shorter (And How to Fix It).” 

I Found the Problem. What’s the Fix?

If your issue was a difference in tension, you may be able to get by with blocking your work. 

You can give this a shot if it’s something that doesn’t need to be absolutely perfect in terms of presentation, like a washcloth or dishcloth that only you’ll use. 

On the other hand, if the project is wider because you accidentally included extra stitches, or the item is a gift or a piece of decoration you definitely need looking perfect, then your best option is to undo it. 

You can frog your project back each row and count the stitches in the latest row to check if you have any extra stitches. Keep frogging rows until you end up with a row that has the correct number of stitches according to the pattern. Then you can start over safely. 

This can be painful and time consuming, but given the nature of crochet, there’s no good way to perform corrective surgery on the item without the rest of the project falling apart. 

Double Check Your Work By Counting

Save yourself time and frustration when you crochet by counting the number of stitches at the end of each row, and making sure they match up with the number of stitches the pattern told you to make in that row. 

It may sound tedious, but I assure you, it’s not as bad as realizing 6 long rows later that you inserted an extra stitch, and that the only way to fix it is to undo the last 6 rows. 

Plus, as you work, you’ll have peace of mind. After your first frogging debacle – knowing you didn’t miscount will put you at ease. 

4 thoughts on “Why Your Crochet is Getting Wider (And How to Fix It)

  1. I am making a mesh scarf with occasional rows that form a butterfly motif. I messed up once on the turning chain — five chains instead of four ie one double, chain, one double, so it looked like there was space for two stitches (duh), also added an extra stitch in the 4th row, as well as didn’t get back to the proper stitch count when coming out of the butterfly motif…..sigh. It’s only two spaces wider on one side and one space wider on the other…I think I can block it, or do an edging. Thanks for your advice, it made me really look and count (at least I’m only about 1/4 done). I’ve been crocheting – mostly thread crochet — for a couple of years and I still make that turning chain mistake a lot! Not all patterns are created equal tbh, sometimes I’ve followed instructions to the letter and gone huh? And can’t find the mistake because the mistake was in the pattern. So if the math seems off…get someone to take a second look so you know you’re not crazy!

  2. Thank you so much for this easy to understand explanation. I just started learning to crochet, and have been watching videos on YT. They’re good at teaching some topics, but not the absolute basics like this info. I wish my grandma was still alive to I could have her teach me, but sadly she passed long ago. I don’t have anyone else to ask, but thankfully I stumbled across your site. Thanks again!

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