Why Stress Affects Your Crochet Project and How to Avoid It

Most people I know don’t do a gauge swatch. And if I’m honest I don’t unless it’s either something I will be wearing or a new stitch I want to try (before doing a big project in it). But did you know stress affects your crochet? Understanding how it can affect it, and knowing things that will help combat it, will lead to a better finished project.

I want to show you an example. Don’t worry too much about the math. I showed it below so you could see how I figured it out, but I really just want you to see the overall difference in size.

Let’s say my gauge is normally 16 sts = 4 inches. That’s 160 sts over 40″ (my example will use a 40″ bust).

When I’m stressed out my gauge tightens and now I’m working 17 sts into 4 inches.

Doesn’t seem like that much of a difference, right? After all, it’s only 1 sts over 4 inches.

But what if I’m making a sweater and it has a 40″ circumference/bust?

If I’m “stressed out” my 40 inch sweater is going to ultimately be about 37.5″. Not a huge problem if it’s a more relaxed fit, but if you bought the pattern and want it to fit like the designer shows, this will be a problem!

Let’s reverse that scenario.

You start a project on a really stressful day.

You work up a gauge swatch and you adjust your hook size to match the designers gauge.

A few days into the project you go for a massage (hey, it’s hypothetical, so I’m dreaming!) and all of a sudden you’re a bit more relaxed. The next time you pick up your hooks you loosen up your grip without even realizing it.

Now your 40″ sweater will have a 42.5″ bust.

Not to mention, if you’re gauge changes mid project then you’re going to see a difference halfway up (or down) the sweater and it may not look very attractive.

So, how do we avoid this?

Tips to Help Relax Your Gauge

  • Have specific projects just for destressing – If you’re working on a project that requires concentration, and you already know you’re stressed out, don’t pick up this kind of project! Instead work on something with an easy 1 or 2 row repeat. Something you can without a lot of brain power or thinking. This is the kind of project that your body will find relaxing!
  • Think calm – Mentally tell yourself to calm down and relax. Visualize it. Breath deep and know that better days are coming. For this to actually work so your tension won’t affect your gauge, you need to believe it will work!
  • Create a relaxing atmosphere – Put on calming music. Or sometimes I will put on a motivational/personal development audiobook. You can also try putting on a Netflix series you’re into that will distract your mind. This last one may or may not work. Usually this only works for situational stress for me, not life stressors (like my husband’s health).
  • Exercise – Do any physical activity before sitting down to crochet. Even if you don’t want to do it, you will feel better when you’re done and it will help relax you. If you’d like some stretches to do mid-crochet to loosen you up and relax you, you can get these 3 Simple Stretches for Crocheters.

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