Knitting Tension is how evenly the yarn feeds into our knitted work from the yarn ball. Our goal is to have a moderate, even tension throughout our knitting both while casting on and knitting. There are a few good reasons we don’t want our knitting tension to be too tight or too loose.
For starters, your knitted piece will look its best when you are knitting with even tension. Otherwise, your work may have stitches that are a mix of tall, short, tight, and loose, resulting in it looking pretty wonky.
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KNITTING TOO TIGHTLY
It is really common for beginning knitters to start casting on and knit too tightly. You’ll know that you are knitting your stitches too tightly when it’s really hard to insert your needle into your stitches.
Remember, your stitches cannot be any smaller than your knitting needle size, right? So there’s no need for your yarn to squeeze your needles. Just lightly wrap your yarn around your needles so it’s touching all the way around, but not holding on for dear life.
Test out your stitches to see if they can move along your needle without too much effort.
Your hands will thank you! Knitting really tightly often results in stressed out hands. If you feel your hands are hurting from knitting, try knitting a little looser. You may also want to take a break and do some hand exercises and massage.
Before knitting, you may wish to check your mood. If you’re stressed out or angry, you may tend to knit on the tighter side. When you’re ready to knit, take this opportunity to check in with yourself, take a breath, and relax into your knitting.
KNITTING TOO LOOSELY
Knitting loosely is not as quite as common for beginning knitters, but it happens. Make sure your yarn is holding onto your knitting needle and not looping around them too loosely.
Test out your stitches to make sure the yarn is holding on to your needles and not in big open loops.
Again, an even, steady moderate tension is the goal! While knitting, make sure your yarn is wrapped around the needle, hugging it with a nice, even tension.
Getting into a rhythm with your knitting is helpful, too. If you find yourself getting interrupted, putting down your knitting a lot between stitches, your tension may become uneven. I like to keep a nice, steady rhythm with my knitting. Of course, a slow rhythm is perfectly fine. I also try to complete all of my knitting stitches, not putting it down until I have completed an entire knitted row.
Once you have gotten into your rhythm and have been knitting for awhile, you will find yourself naturally knitting evenly. You’ve found your groove and are no longer thinking about it!
CHECKING TENSION WITH A GAUGE SWATCH
As you start to check out knitting patterns, you will see that some mention checking your gauge with a knitted swatch. This is a way to determine if you are knitting with the correct tension, and needle and yarn sizes to make a project a specific size.
This is not something you need to concern yourself with now, but I just wanted you to know that once you start creating knitting projects that require correct sizing, you will be creating a swatch to check your tension. For now, just have fun knitting as evenly as possible!
PRACTICE KNITTING TENSION
Keep knitting the knit stitch row after row. There’s no limit to how much to knit, just keep knitting, be mindful of your tension, and proudly watch your knitted swatch grow.
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Happy Knitting to You!