Getting Good Tension

My suggestions for achieving every knitters ultimate goal – smooth, even stitches. If you’re a tight knitter, this video may also help you.

Links to things you’ll see in this video:
The sweater I’m wearing is my Ombre Dyed Sweater (pattern and video tutorial).

The sweater on the mannequin is a new pattern and video tutorial, coming soon!

The silky purple project bag on the table is by dellaQ Knitting Bags and Cases.

10 comments on “Getting Good Tension

  1. I have found hold the working yarn in my left hand give me good tension. I beleave this way is called “The Amercan Kitting” sytle. I also crochet and knit vary comfortable this way.

  2. It took me a few years to get my gauge right. I tried knitting eastern style after I found the technique described in Ysolda Teague’s book Little Red in the City. That helped but I found it confusing to modify my stitches for more complicated stitches because the stitches looked backwards.

    Ultimately, I changed to knitting Continental style after I found the right video to show me how to hold the yarn is a way that worked for me. I wrapped the yarn around my left pinky finger, under my middle two fingers and then over the top of my index finger. I find it very comfortable and my tension is so much better. The added bonus is that I can easily knit with two colors without too much tangling by holding my main color in my left hand and my contrast color in my right.

  3. You know, I remembered this video recently and made a point of just turning off everything (iPod, radio, music.. kids!) and just sat. And. Knitted. It was very zen! I didn’t have a particular tension problem but it was nice to sort of reconnect with the work itself rather than trying to always distract or entertain myself as I go through the rows. Perhaps the key to TENSION is RELAXING. Funnily enough.

  4. Hello Staci,

    I started the Easy-Knit Sweater Jacket, and I am having a difficult time getting the correct gauge. I am using the same yarn that is on your sample and I am using size 8 laminated wood needles. The gauge on my pocket swatch is 3.5 stitches per inch. Should I try size 7 needles, go down a sweater size, or try to knit tighter? I was going to knit the sweater in size small. I am a left handed knitter and I wrap the stitches by moving the yarn that is on my left index finger. I do not use my other fingers. Visually, the yarn on my index finger looks like a yarn over. I would call my style a modified continental style. I do not hold the yarn or let go of the yarn to “throw” it around the needle.

    Please explain your suggestions.

    Thank you,

  5. Robin – yes, try going down a needle size (or more). I really recommend you work on getting the correct gauge and knitting the sweater as written, and in your natural tension. It is possible to manipulate the needle size only and get correct gauge.

    S t a c i

  6. Hi Staci — just wanted to be the millionth person to thank you for all you do! I’m a new knitter (my friend taught me the long-tail cast on and knit stitch over Christmas, and I’ve been addicted ever since), and your videos have been so helpful and encouraging for me as I pursue this new hobby. Thanks to you, I’ve moved on from simpler scarves to my first pairs of socks and mittens, and I’m picking up new strategies all the time. Last week I watched your video on flicking, and though it doesn’t look nearly as elegant when I do it (I have to wrap it around my ring and index fingers to get the tension), it’s making my work go so much faster and my hands don’t get sore! This advice on tensioning is great, and I actually like that you’re not recommending any quick fixes that might treat a symptom but not a cause. If there’s one thing knitting is teaching me, it’s how to be patient and wait for results! Anyway, thanks again; the high quality of your videos and your friendly demeanor make me feel like I’m getting personal knitting lessons free of charge.

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