A question came from Sheila (along with the image to the right) asking "Say you chain 11 and start crocheting in the second chain, always keeping 10 stitches per row. Why is it that the first row always seems shorter than the rest of them? In the pic below, my starting rows are at the top. See how they curl?"
Great question, Sheila! (I hope you don't mind that I "wrote" all over your image.)
First, let me state that when we crochet it is natural for the first row to curl. After we do a few more rows, there's enough "meat" to give the fabric weight to stop the curling effect.
Now, if the work "tapers" as it looks to be doing in the image Sheila provided, then that's a tension issue. (See the letter "B"?) Since we all tend to crochet a bit differently, it's learning to control tension that will prevent that taper look -- or, when all else fails, we should cheat. This is also known as "fudging."
One of the pages on my website offers Tips & Tricks ... and there I talk about using a different sized crochet hook for starting your work. If you've found that the beginning rows are too tight -- then start your work with a hook one size larger, then switch to the hook you intended to work with. If you've found that the beginning rows are too loose, then do the opposite. Use a hook one size smaller, then switch to the hook you intended to work with. This will result in the rows lining up (see letter "A".)
If you find your ends are curling -- well, then that's a "TURNING CHAIN" issue. What happens is that when we create our rows, we need to make a chain that's equal to the height of the stitch we're working with. If we don't, then our work will not have that "lift" and the fabric tends to curl up. Give the Turning Chains page by the CGOA website a visit. It does a great job of explaining how many chains are required for which starting stitch AND where it's placed! ... and that also will answer the question on why your work might be "FANNING OUT" ... if you're making your starting chains incorrectly, you could be increasing or decreasing your stitches!
I hope this helps you, Sheila, and possibly other Crocheters out there.
I want to give one more tip on this subject: If you think you're in the last stitch of the row and it's NOT a slight struggle -- then it's not the last stitch of the row! Remember: struggle=last stitch! And don't forget to count those stitches after finishing each row! You'll be glad you did! :)