Consistent tension can elevate a knitting project into a work of art. There’s something awe-inducing about the rhythm and balance of beautifully even stitches, and it’s frustrating when it seems no amount of trying will turn our wonky stitches into perfectly-formed loops of yarn.
But, don’t fret – there might be something you can do!
I’m sharing 5 tips for even tension that you may not have tried.
HOW DO I KNOW IF MY KNITTING ISN’T EVEN?
You may be in no doubt that your knitting is wobbly if you can see your stitches differing in size – some might be small, and some large. Perhaps you can feel yourself wavering between knitting tightly and loosely?
Other times it’s not so obvious our stitches don’t stay the same throughout our project. You might only notice when you move from knitting in the round to knitting flat and find that your stitch gauge changes.
It’s common for knitters to work their purl stitches more loosely than their knit stitches, and once every round is knitted and those loose purls removed, their tension tightens up.
You can check if that’s likely to happen to you by turning your work to the reverse side. If you can see “ridges” at regular intervals throughout your knitting (like in my photo above), then it’s very likely that you’re working your purls more loosely than your knit stitches and your tension will change once you begin working in the round.
TIPS TO KNIT MORE EVENLY.
Knit more. It can be that simple! The more you knit the more practice you’ll get and, just like they say, practice makes perfect, especially when it comes to knitting.
- Learn to tension your yarn with your fingers. Many knitters loosen their grip on their needles to wind yarn for a stitch, and this can create uneven tension by regularly changing position. There are a myriad of ways to hold your yarn, but figuring out a comfortable method that enables your needles to remain in the same position, can revolutionise your knitting. You’ll likely find it more comfortable (eventually), and it can significantly improve your tension.
- Hold your needles differently. Try holding your needles close together when you work, work right at the tips of your needles, and not pulling your yarn too tight. It’ll help your stitch slip easily and smoothly over the barrel of your needle. With practice, your knitting may feel smoother, resulting in more even stitches.
- Learn to recognise when to swatch flat and when to swatch in the round. Many knitters find their tension changes between knitting flat and knitting in the round. It saves time, angst and gets a better result when you spend a little time before you cast on your project, figuring out if your gauge changes between the two.
- Use a different needle to purl. Many knitters find they purl more loosely than they knit. Try purling with a smaller needle when knitting flat to create a slightly smaller stitch. (Another great tip is to use a smaller needle on the left when you’re knitting in the round – it’ll help your stitches slide smoothly to the end of your needle.)
- (whoops, did I say 5?) Learn to “purl Eastern”. It’s a game-changer. An Eastern purl winds the yarn around the needle clockwise. It uses a slightly shorter length of yarn than a regular purl wound anti-clockwise and can make all the difference to your tension. I always use an Eastern purl to even up my ribbing.
Good luck, and keep knitting!