Simple Way to Improve Knitting Tension

Simple Way to Improve Knitting Tension

If your knitting is too tight, too loose or uneven, I hope you’ll find this tutorial helpful. It is about a simple trick that helped me fix my own problem with knitting tension.

My purl stitches are looser than my knit stitches. That’s why the wrong side of my stockinette stitch often shows gaps after every other row.

Simple Way to Improve Knitting Tension

For years, I coped with this issue by wrapping the yarn around my little finger once in every knit row and twice in every purl row (we discussed this method in this tutorial).

Then I accidentally stumbled upon a solution that is easier and more effective than the “single vs double wrap” fix. I’ve been using this new way for a few months now and it works remarkably well for me.

Now, that this little technique has been tested, it is time to share it with you, my friends.

It all comes down to the angle of our knitting needles. Apparently, we form looser stitches when our needles are almost parallel to each other at the time when we wrap the tip of the right needle with the yarn.

Simple Way to Improve Knitting Tension

And we work tighter when our needles form a right or even acute angle.

Simple Way to Improve Knitting Tension

How can we use this information to fix our problems with knitting tension? Well, that depends on the type of problem.

Here are solutions to the four most common ones (they are also explained in this video tutorial):

PROBLEM #1 – KNITTING TENSION IS TOO TIGHT

If your stitches are so small that you struggle to get the right needle into a stitch, try to keep the needles almost aligned as you knit and purl.

Simple Way to Improve Knitting Tension

Of course, remember to move stitches to the thicker part of the needle and make fewer wraps around your fingers. All these aspects affect our knitting tension.

PROBLEM #2 – KNITTING TENSION IS TOO LOOSE

When you insert the right needle into a stitch to knit or purl it, keep the needle at a right angle to the left needle. Don’t change the angle as you wrap the needle with the yarn and pull that wrap through to form a new stitch.

Simple Way to Improve Knitting Tension

This adjustment will make all stitches a bit tighter and your tension will improve.

PROBLEM #3 – PURL STITCHES ARE LOOSER THAN KNIT STITCHES

This is the issue that I used to have with my knitting tension. It usually shows as gaps on the wrong side and lines of visibly bigger stitches on the right side of a fabric made in stockinette stitch.

If you see those gaps on the wrong side of your knitting but are not sure whether your purls are looser than your knits or vice versa, follow instructions in the first part of this tutorial to find out.

If you are like me and your purls are looser than your knits, then keep the needles almost parallel to each other as you knit a stitch and move the right needle so that it forms a right angle with the left needle when you purl a stitch.

Simple Way to Improve Knitting Tension

PROBLEM #4 – KNIT STITCHES ARE LOOSER THAT PURL STITCHES

This is a “sister-problem” to the one that we’ve just discussed. It also reveals itself as gaps and lines of bigger stitches that are most noticeable in stockinette stitch.

If you know – after making a stripy test swatch suggested in this tutorial or from your own observations – that your knit stitches are looser than your purls, then keep the needles almost perpendicular to each other when you knit a stitch and hold them at an obtuse angle when you purl a stitch.

Simple Way to Improve Knitting Tension

I haven’t tested this simple trick to see whether it works equally well when we use the English knitting style. Even though I can knit with the yarn in my right hand, I don’t do it fast enough to uncover any inconsistencies in my knitting tension.

So if you knit using the English knitting style and would like to improve your knitting tension, please, give this little technique a try and let me know whether you noticed an improvement. Thank you 🙂


If you enjoyed this tutorial,
here’s something else you might find helpful:

“Neat Side Edges” Book

Learn twelve ways to make side edges of a knitted project nice and tidy. Plus, ways to fix side edges, and a way to improve edges of finished projects.


Happy knitting!

Maryna Shevchenko - www.10rowsaday.com

Let’s be friends on GoodReads 🙂

Simple Way to Improve Knitting Tension | 10 rows a day
Simple Way to Improve Knitting Tension | 10 rows a day
Simple Way to Improve Knitting Tension | 10 rows a day