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Yarn Over vs Yarn Under: Which is Better?

Yarn Over vs Yarn Under: Which is Better?

Yarn over vs yarn under: which is better? This question has woven it’s way through crochet groups, online forums and social media with proponents on both sides. And the truth is, each one has merit as well as drawbacks. However, if you’re relatively new to amigurumi and haven’t made up your mind yet, this post will help you decide for yourself which version wins the day. So let’s dive in!

Yarn Over vs Yarn Under: Which is Better?

What is ‘Yarn Over’ and ‘Yarn Under’?

If you aren’t familiar with what I’m talking about, ‘yarn over’ refers to the typical method of making a single crochet stitch.

Yarn Over: insert your hook, yarn over, pull up a loop, yarn over and pull through both loops on your hook.

yarn over example for blog post
Image by Chanel of cbfiberworks.

However, by changing to yarn under (wrapping the yarn under the hook rather than over it), you’ll get a completely different look to your single crochet.

Yarn Under: insert your hook, yarn under, pull up a loop, yarn under and pull through both loops on your hook.

yarn under example for yarn over vs yarn under: which is better?
Image by Chanel of cbfiberworks.

You can also do a combination of the two, called ‘yarn under/yarn over’ or YU/YO.

Yarn Under/Yarn Over: insert your hook, yarn under, pull up a loop, yarn over and pull through both loops on your hook.

I’ll talk a bit more about this variation later on, but for now, let’s go over the pros and cons of each version.

Want to follow along as I make samples for comparison? Check out this video:

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Yarn Over vs Yarn Under Comparison

To accurately judge the differences, I made a few sample ball shapes using the same pattern, yarn and hook size. If you would like to make your own samples for practice, follow the pattern below:

sample pattern graphic for yarn over vs yarn under: which is better?
Image by Chanel of cbfiberworks.

It may be a bit hard to see the differences right off the bat, so let’s break it down.

Yarn OverYarn Under
Yardage9yds8yds
SizeW: 1.25in. x L: 1.50in.W: 1in. x L: 1.25in.
StitchesV shapes stitches, overall stitch is taller.X shaped stitches, overall stitch is shorter.
Stitch DriftThe starting point drifts at a slight diagonal from Rnd 1 to Rnd 12.The starting point drifts only a little bit from Rnd 1 to 12, staying mostly straight.

Yardage: While technically yarn over uses more yarn, it’s only by a slim margin.

Size: It may be hard to tell from the photos above, but the yarn under sample is definitely smaller than the yarn over version.

Stitches: The yarn over stitches are shaped more like V’s and are taller than the X shaped stitches of the yarn under version. These smaller stitches are also more compact and closer together than the yarn over stitches.

Stitch Drift: This is when the start of your round ‘drifts’ diagonally as you work. It’s totally normal and the direction it drifts depends on whether you’re right or left-handed. The yarn over version has a slightly more pronounced stitch drift than it’s counterpart.

Why Do These Comparisons Matter?

While yarn over and yarn under can be interchangeable, sometimes it’s not. If you’re free-handing or creating your own project, then you can use whichever method you like best. However, if you’re following a pattern, it’s important to take note of which version the designer used.

As we saw in the table above, depending on the version you use, the size and stitch drift can change. This will affect things like color work and how no sew pieces or features line up. Tension also plays a role in these things, but that’s much harder to control than the direction you wrap your yarn.

Something else that plays a factor is the fact that yarn under stitches are tighter and more compressed, making them more difficult to work into than yarn over stitches. This can cause hand pain even if you normally have a looser tension.

Yarn Under vs Yarn Over vs YU/YO

yarn under yarn over image for blog post
Image by Chanel of cbfiberworks.

I’m adding in this slight variation to the debate because I personally use YU/YO quite a bit and I know several other amigurumi designers that do the same. The differences aren’t massive, but I wanted to bring it up in case you come across it in your pattern-making travels. Let’s look at the table again, this time with YU/YO added.

Yarn OverYarn UnderYU/YO
Yardage9yds8yds8yds
SizeW: 1.25in. x L: 1.50in.W: 1in. x L: 1.25in.W: 1.25in. x L: 1.50in.
Stitch AppearanceV shapes stitchesX shaped stitchesX shaped stitches
Stitch DriftThe starting point drifts at a slight diagonal from Rnd 1 to Rnd 12.The starting point drifts only a little bit from Rnd 1 to 12, staying mostly straight.The starting point drifts at a slight diagonal from Rnd 1 to Rnd 12.

Here’s my third sample beside the other two as well.

3 samples together for yarn over vs yarn under: which is better?
Image by Chanel of cbfiberworks.

The YU/YO version is much more similar in size to the yarn over version, but it has slightly smaller, X shaped stitches that sit closely together. There isn’t a significant difference in the stitch drift between it and the yarn over sample, which makes it great for substituting on yarn over projects. Plus, since it’s not quite as compact as the yarn under sample, the stitches are easier to work into.

In my personal opinion, YU/YO is great because you get similarly clean stitches as with the yarn under method, without the hand pain that accompanies working into such tight stitches.

Yarn Over vs Yarn Under: Which Version Won?

Well, you’ll find people on both sides. Some will staunchly argue that yarn under is better because it uses less yarn and has a cleaner appearance. While others will say that yarn over is easier and looks better too. The truth is, it’s a matter of personal preference. I prefer to use yarn under or YU/YO because that’s what feels natural and looks good to me. However, I know several people who would rather use yarn under.

If you haven’t made up your mind yet, I recommend making samples like the ones I did above and see which one comes more naturally to you. If you have to constantly remind yourself to yarn under or over with every stitch, then chances are that version isn’t for you. And that’s totally fine. You can make gorgeous amigurumi either way! Just keep in mind that each version has pros and cons, especially when following patterns.

I hope you enjoyed this article and I’d love to hear your thoughts! Which version do you prefer? Share in the comments below.

If you liked this article, here’s a few more you might enjoy:

Have a beautiful day and happy stitching!

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