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.
- Determine the exact problem
- Experiment with different knitting styles to correct problem
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
January 18, 2007