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How to Fix Stitches That Are Too Tight in Circular Knitting

Learn how to fix stitches that are too tight from circular knitting expert Jessica Kaufman in this Howcast video.


I'm going to show you know how to fix stitches that are too tight. This tip is good for circular knitting as well as knitting on straight needles, but it's especially important to not have tight stitches in circular knitting, because of this part of the needle here, this is called the " Join," and this is where the cable joins onto the needle, and there's a huge change in size here between the diameter of the cable and the diameter of the needle. And thinking about the diameter of the needle is what's going to help us loosen our stitches up.

Now if you've already knit a bunch of stitches that are too tight, there's no way to fix stitches that are already made, but I will give you tips on how to loosen up future stitches, but you should never have to be fighting your stitches over the join. We can really hurt our hands if we're really gripping tight for stitch after stitch, project after project, year after year. You're going to save yourself some kind of tendinitis so, it's nice to remember you're making fabric. It needs to have some give, and some drape, and so you don't want your stitches to grip the needle.

A lot of beginning knitters think their stitches need to be really tight, or else they're going to fall off the needle, and the better you get at knitting the more relaxed you'll be, and know they are going to stay there, especially if you're knitting with bamboo which naturally grips the stitches.

So when I make a stitch, I go in from the left side, wrap around the back, scoop up a new loop, and pop off the old stitch. I'm a right handed knitter, so I throw my yarn with my right hand, but if you're continental you'll go into the left hand side, pick the yarn off your finger, scoop up that new loop, and throw it off the back.

So that third step, the scooping up the new loop, whether you do it with your left hand, or your right hand is the key to making good stitch tension. Stitches that are nice and loose. Not so loose that you can see daylight. You don't want a stitch that looks like that, you do want your stitch to touch the needle on all sides, but not squeeze the needle. We don't want strangling stitches.

So the way that I do this is I go in, I wrap around, and when I pull up a new stitch I make sure that my needle is actually pulling towards my body just a little bit, so that I can pop the old stitch off with ease. Then I give just a teeny tiny tug with my right hand, so little that I barely even notice that I'm doing it, scoop it up, just enough tug to lift the yarn back into position, and this just takes lots of practice.

Your tension is going to be kind of uneven when you're a new knitter. In the first year of knitting, you may go from being too loose, to too tight, to being both in the same round, but just keep at it, it will get better.

If you hold it with your left hand, take the tip of the right hand needle into the stitch from the left side, scoop up a new loop, and again pull towards you just a little bit, so when you pop the old stitch off it's got a good slide.

So you really want that join to slide in and out. The number one mistake that people make when they make their stitches too tight is knitting up here on the tip of the needle instead of down here on the shaft of the needle, and this shaft is the size of the needle. You're buying a size whatever your needle is for this size here, not the tip.

So when you make your stitch, if you're making loops up here on the tip of the needle? All your stitches are going to be too tight, so resist the urge to knit all the way up here. You really want to get them down there onto what's called the " shaft" of the needle . So when I stick my needle in, I stick it all the way to the thick part, then wrap my loop, and when I pull it out I again pull it down here to the shaft of the needle.

So with the left hand, stick it all the way in past the tip, scoop a new loop, and then the loop is being formed on the big part of the needle.

Those are some tips on how to keep your knitting nice, and loose, so that it can slide over the join in circular knitting.

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