Dear Ms. Solovay,
I have tried to crochet, with marginal success. I can make the loops, hook the yarn and otehr basics. I need your pearls of wisdom on "tension of the yarn -- how to, etc. Thank you kindly.
I am so glad you've decided to learn how to crochet. Sounds like you are off to a great start!
Tension is one of those things that most beginning crocheters have a hard time with. Usually, a beginner will use a tension that is either too tight or too loose. In my experience, practice will solve most tension issues. I don't know of any surefire way other than practicing, practicing, practicing.
You can also make it easier on yourself by switching crochet hooks if you need to. If you find yourself crocheting too tightly, choose a larger crochet hook. If you find yourself crocheting too loosely, choose a smaller crochet hook.
In the beginning, my own crochet work was much too tight. It took me longer to solve the problem than it should have, because I never switched hooks. I wrote about those experiences in an article called lessons learned from my favorite crochet hook.
One other thing you might find helpful is watching some experienced crocheters to see how they hold their hooks and yarn. Everyone has a different way of doing it.
We have some free crochet videos available that you are more than welcome to watch. I think you will find them helpful.
Edna Kurtzman is our video instructor, and the videos are filmed in such a way that you can clearly see how Edna holds her hook and tensions the yarn. Like I said, everyone has a different way of doing that, so if her way doesn't work for you please don't stress about that. I hold my hook and yarn differently than she does.
I am right-handed, and I hold the crochet hook in my right hand. I usually use the ring and pinky fingers on my left hand to manipulate the yarn and regulate the tension as I work. With my left hand, I also hold my work-in-progress. In the beginning, my left hand can hold the whole piece. As it grows larger and heavier, my right hand will also help hold it, but my left hand does most of the work.
If you take a look through my stitch tutorials, you can see pictures of how I hold the hook and yarn:
You didn't mention whether you are left-handed or right-handed. If you're left-handed, you might also be interested in reading about how other left-handed people hold their work:
I hope this information will be helpful to you, but if there is anything you're still wondering about, don't hesitate to ask. If you need immediate help, you're invited to visit our crochet forum.
Our forum regulars are a friendly and helpful bunch. Even if you don't have any pressing questions, you're welcome to visit and let us know how your projects are coming along. We'd love to see you there!
You're also invited to subscribe to my free crochet newsletter. Newsletter subscribers receive weekly emails with links to the latest free patterns and crochet tutorials that have been posted on this web site. I think you'll really enjoy it, but in the unlikely event that you don't, it is easy to unsubscribe at any time.
Best of luck with your future crochet projects.