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How To Diagnose And Fix Stockinette Tension Problems To Improve Hand Knitting For TKGA Swatches

As I mentioned before, improving my tension was my biggest challenge in the TKGA Master Hand Knitting program. After weeks of repeating the same mistakes, I decided to take a more scientific approach.

  1. Determine the exact problem
  2. Experiment with different knitting styles to correct problem
  3. Practice what works until it is your new mindless knitting routine

I assumed, like most knitters, that I purled looser than I knit. I googled how to tighten up my purl stitches and tried all the usual approaches. My problem only got worse. Figuring I was doing it wrong, I tensed up even more until I got carpel tunnel problems. Nothing was working.

In desperation, I actually started looking at my rows and realized it was my knit stitches that were too loose, not my purls.

A simple swatch proved my problem.

Get two different shades of wool. Cast on 20 to 25 stitches, as if you were knitting a TKGA swatch. Change colors every four rows by loosely bring up the opposite color from its resting place below. Don’t cut the dropped yarn and don’t worry about the edge stitches.

TKGA knitting guild of America master hand knit program how to correct fix stockinette gauge knit purl tension swatch problems

Try to relax and knit as normally as possible. Tense knitting will throw off your experiment. You want to replicate how you knit when you’re not under the perfectionist gun.

When you have at least five blocks of alternating color, bind off and look at the purl side.

TKGA knitting guild of America master hand knit program how to correct fix  stockinette gauge knit purl tension swatch problems

Do you see any ugly guttering, where some rows appear wider than others? You may need to stretch the swatch to find the offending rows. If yes, stick a pin or the tip of your knitting needle through a bad loop and look at it on the knit side.

TKGA knitting guild of America master hand knit program how to correct fix  stockinette gauge knit purl tension swatch problems

If the tip is in rows 1 or 3 of a color band, you knit too loose. If the tip is in rows 2 or 4, you purl too loose.

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January 18, 2007

4 comments

1 Bernadine { 09.17.09 at 5:38 am }

Thanks for posting this! I have just started on Level 1 and know that I too need to overcome this particular issue. Your instructions on how to identify if the purl or knit stitches are the ones that are too loose are very valuable to me.

2 Linda Hershey { 10.30.10 at 5:23 am }

Thanks for your tips. I have been trying to figure out what I have been doing wrong for years and have sought help from many knitters and have tried everything I. Could think of. Noone had heard of my problem. I thought I was just weird. I too called it a gutter every other row but couldn’t figure out which stitch was my loose stitch. Will give this a try today. Thanks.
Linda

3 renee { 09.25.11 at 5:28 pm }

I was ignoring this problem by knitting in the round. Doesn’t always work when project get more complicated than socks and hats. I thought if I knitted enough years…It would eventually repair itself. How wrong! Turns out you can make the same mistake repeatedly and just get better at making the same mistake.
I am glad you posted this. I will do this exercise now to diagnose and hopefully overcome. I too am taking on the Masters as inspired by yourself. I can no longer be OK with the wavy stockinette.

4 janet(new comment) { 04.18.12 at 8:44 pm }

Did any of you ever finish level 1. I just started and am doing the research.

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