Maintaining yarn tension in your knitting is essential to keeping your stitches even. If you do not place your yarn loops on the needles evenly, your knitting work will end up irregular, saggy, or filled with holes. To prevent these knitting problems, practice wrapping each stitch around your needles with the same tightness or “tension.” Making sure all your stitches match one another will help your final knitting to look even and consistent.
Pay close attention to how your stitches wrap around the needles. Ideal knit stitches are looped with just enough tension that they fit around the needle with no gaps. On the other hand, stitches should not be pulled so tightly that the loops get stuck in place; if your stitches cannot slide down the needles easily, you will have a hard time working into them.
How tightly you knit can greatly impact your finished object. If you do not have the correct tension, you can end up with very differently sized knit pieces, even when knitting with the same yarn and needles. Loose tension will create larger stitches, while tight tension creates smaller stitches.
Below you’ll find video and written guides, which I hope will help you improve your knitting tension.
Video Guide: Knitting Tension
Written Guide: Knitting Tension
Practicing different yarn holds can help you with your knitting tension. Try holding the yarn in several ways, wrapping it around your hand or fingers until you find a comfortable option to keep your string taut.
With each stitch, try to ensure that you loop the yarn around the knitting needle snuggly. Take care not to knit your loops too tightly, however, or you will have trouble inserting your needle into the stitches for the next row. The key to knitting tension is to place each stitch on the needles in with the same moderate tautness: not too tight and not too loose.
Another way to maintain even tension is to keep a close eye on the stitches that you have just worked. If you notice a stitch on your needles that is too loose, you can adjust that stitch before you knit further. A loose stitch on your needles can be tightened by pulling the excess yarn back towards the yarn ball, one stitch at a time.
Improving Tension by Adjusting Stitches as You Go
Adjust a Loose Stitch, Step 1:
Identify the loose stitch by noticing that it sticks out from the righthand needle a bit more than the other stitches.
Adjust a Loose Stitch, Step 2:
Gently pull on the first stitch to the left of the loose stitch; this will tighten the loose stitch, while loosening the stitch on which you are pulling. Once you have achieved the desired tightness in the loose stitch, let go of the stitch you just pulled.
Adjust a Loose Stitch, Step 3:
Pinch the next stitch to the left and gently pull it to tighten up the previous stitch. Continue gently pulling the stitches, one at a time, moving toward your left. Ensure you are tightening the previous stitches to the correct tension as you go.
Adjust a Loose Stitch, Step 4:
When you reach the last stitch on your righthand needle, pull the working yarn to tighten the last stitch to the correct tension. The loose stitching should be fixed, and you can resume knitting your pattern.
Practice With My Knitting Patterns
If you’ve been following my lessons, you now have enough information to knit all of the washcloths and face scrubbies in my Simple Washcloth Knitting Pattern Collection. Happy knitting!
Everybody makes mistakes. In the next lesson, we will learn how to fix two of the most common knitting mistakes: twisted and dropped stitches. (Tutorial coming 3/20/2021).