7 common crochet crises and how to solve them

You're getting on fine with your crochet scarf - until you look down and realise your sides are uneven. How do you stop this, and other common crochet crises, from ruining your projects?
Our simple guide will stop you panicking and keep your crochet on the straight and narrow.
1. Tight foundation chains
If you often find that your foundation chain, the so-called easy bit of the pattern, is so tight that it's difficult to crochet into, then there's an easy cure. Just make your foundation chain with a hook one size bigger than that recommended for the project. This way your chain will be nice and loose and your project will stay at its intended tension. Don't forget to change down once you've done the foundation chain, though!
2. Start rows in the right place
Turning chains are a major cause of confusion for crochet beginners. They are needed simply to make sure that your hook is at the right height to continue a row of stitches. If you do not have a turning chain, your first stitch will be lower than the rest in the row.
3. Where does the first stitch go?
Should you stitch into the turning chain, or go for the second stitch on the hook? Generally in single crochet you will ignore the turning chain and not count it as a stitch, but in double crochet it is often counted. The best rule of thumb is to ignore the turning chain unless you are specifically asked by the pattern to stitch into it. The first stitch in a row is the last stitch worked in the previous row, not the turning chain you add just to get up to the right height.
4. Why do I lose stitches?
A major cause of stitch loss is failing to put a stitch into the last stitch of the row. The last stitch can get quite tight and may not look like a 'real' stitch - but it is. The easiest way to be sure that you have stitched the complete row is to keep count, but when you're a beginner, with so many things to think about, that can be one stage too far. I've found it useful if making a scarf just to jot down the number of stitches in my first row (not the foundation chain but the first row of stitches worked) on a piece of paper or the notes section of my phone. That way I don't have to count every single row, but if I start to suspect a stitch may have been swallowed up somewhere, I can do a quick verification and sort things out.
5. Why do I gain stitches?
You may find that your crochet starts to gain the odd lump and bump as you somehow add a stitch, or just grows outwards at an angle. If so, you are allowing extra stitches to creep in. The cause could be a fluffy yarn which you are mishooking, breaking the strands into two where you should be crocheting one, or possibly adding one or even two stitches at the beginning or end of your rows. If you continually add stitches, there is only one real cure, and that is to be vigilant about counting your stitches. Don't worry, this tends to be something you do only as a newbie and soon you'll wonder how you ever did it.
6. Dropped stitches
I've always found it very easy to drop stitches when knitting, but haven't found it a problem in crochet. Others may beg to differ! If you find you've left the odd hole in your crochet, there are two ways of dealing with the problem. If you can't bear to unravel your work and rip back to where the hole occurred, then you can often take some yarn and your trusty tapestry needle and sew the stitch up. If you think this would be too noticeable, then you'll have to take a deep breath and rip back. Remember, half the joy of crochet is the process, not the end result.
7. If in doubt, read the pattern
It always pays to read the pattern through once before you start a project, just so you're aware of any surprises in store. And, if things start to go wrong, it is doubly important to have another really good look at your instructions. Sometimes there is a tiny note in the pattern that explains what you are doing wrong, sometimes it takes a few goes to realise what the designer is driving at - but the answer will be there somewhere.
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