How to Hold Yarn for Crochet

As you learn how to crochet, holding the yarn can be awkward! Plus, you may see your stitches look different because your tension isn’t even. In this post, I’m going to show you the easiest and most comfortable ways to hold the yarn so that you can stop worrying about holding the yarn and start actually crocheting!

Yarn Tension

First, it’s important to understand yarn tension. Yarn tension is how tight the yarn is between the skein (the ball) of yarn and our hook.

The key to yarn tension is that you don’t want it to be too loose or too tight. When the yarn tension is too loose, your stitches will be really big. When the yarn tension is too tight, your stitches will be really small and you will struggle to get your hook into them in the following row.

How we can ensure the right tension is by controlling the tightness of the yarn with our non-dominant hand. Note: the crochet hook is always held in our dominant hand (you can read more in this guide on How to Hold a Crochet Hook).

Instead of having the yarn go directly from the skein to our hook, we use our non-dominant hand as tension controller. If you ask 100 crocheters, probably everyone has a different way of doing this. There is no right or wrong way to control to the tension with your non-dominant hand. What matters is that your hand helps the tension so that it’s not too tight and not too loose and that the yarn can flow freely.

Ways to Hold Yarn When Crocheting

Now that you have an idea of what the tension is and why it’s important, let’s explore some of ways to hold yarn when crocheting and keep your tension even.

As you try out these different positions, note that they may feel awkward. It’s best to experiment with each of these techniques and pick the one that feels most comfortable. Once you stick to one for a while, it will become second-nature, you won’t even know you are doing it!

The Basic Method

The simplest way to hold your yarn when crocheting is by placing the strand in between two fingers such as between your index and middle fingers.

Hold crochet yarn - basic method

You can place and hold the strand of yarn in between your index and middle fingers or the strand can go in between your middle and ring fingers or your ring and pinky fingers. For this method, you keep the two fingers that are holding the yarn together and those two fingers control the tension.

Some people find they crochet too loosely with this method. As a beginner though, this is a great method to start with and then you can add a wrap around an additional finger (as shown below) if needed.

The Ring & Index Finger Method

To use the Ring & Index Finger Method, wrap the yarn all the way around your ring finger. Then insert and slightly lift your index (the pointing) finger.

How to hold crochet yarn - method 1

This method is a very common way to hold yarn when crocheting. It is what I use. Some people do almost the exact same thing but instead of wrapping their yarn around the ring finger, they use their pinky finger instead. You can try out both and see what you like better.

If you are finding that your stitches are too loose with this method, you can wrap the yarn around your ring or pinky fingers twice.

The Double Index Finger Wrap Method

Another popular hold is to wrap the yarn around your index finger twice.

How to hold crochet yarn - method 2

This is a great method if you are finding your stitches are too tight and this method can help loosen your tension. If you find you are crocheting too loosely with this hold, you may want go back to the previous method and wrap the yarn around your pinky or index finger twice.

These three method of holding yarn while crocheting can all be modified to make them more comfortable.

Additional Ways to Hold Yarn When Crocheting

See additional ways to hold yarn. Some are slight variations of the methods described above.

Getting the Correct Tension

What exactly is the correct yarn tension when crocheting? Think of the yarn going from your index finger to your hook as a tightrope at a circus. You don’t want the tightrope to be too loose because then acrobats cannot walk on it. And if you’ve been to the circus and seen an acrobat walking on a tightrope, you’ll notice that when a acrobat walks on it, the tightrope slightly bends under the weight of the acrobat. If the tightrope was too tight, acrobats couldn’t walk on it. This the same tension you want to achieve in crochet.

Correct tension when holding yarn

The yarn between your index finger and the hook should be straight. There should be no sagging. However, the yarn should be natural and not too tight where you can see the yarn strand stretch and it makes a dent in your index finger. If your yarn is a straight line to your hook without being stretched and not causing a dent in your index finger, you have the correct tension.

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Tips for Holding Crochet Yarn

Be Aware of Your Tension

We’ve been talking about yarn tension but your tension (how tightly or loosely you crochet) also impacts your work. We all crochet with different tensions. In fact, our mood have a big impact on our tension. If you do half a project when you are stressed and then half when you are relaxed, the stressed part of the project may be tighter than the relaxed part. Before you start crocheting, take a breath and enjoy the benefits of crocheting and be aware of your tension.

Focus on Both Hands

As a beginner, we often focus only on the hook and the stitches. It’s just as important to look at how you are holding your yarn and how tight the yarn is. Watch what both hands are doing at all times.

Always Have Slack

How your yarn comes off your skein can impact your work. It’s important to always have lots of slack and never wait until there’s absolutely nothing left before pulling more. One tool that has been a game changer for my tension and my overall enjoyment of crochet is this Wool Jeanie. This Wool Jeanie keeps your tension even, stops your yarn from flailing everywhere and prevents you from having to constantly pull and pull yarn from the skein the entire way through the project. Find more tools like this in my list of Best Supplies for Beginner Crocheters.

Check Your Gauge

Your tension (how tight your stitches are) + your Crochet Hook Size + your Yarn Weight = Outcome of your work.

Since each of these elements (tension, hook size and yarn weight) all play a major role in how your project will turn out, it’s important to check your gauge for every project if size matters.

Practice Makes Perfect

Always remember that there is no right or wrong way to crochet and practice makes perfect. Everyone is different and it’s okay to do things in another way. Find out what works for you!

I hope this guide on how to hold yarn when crocheting has been helpful. Now that you can hold the yarn, here are some free crochet patterns & crochet gift ideas you might like. Want to learn more? Learn and improve with these crochet resources.