Tension: it’s a good thing

We all know that knitting is relaxing but I hope that at the same time that you’re knitting and enjoying yourself, you’re also just a little bit tense as well. In your fingers, that is, in particular with how you advance your yarn into your stitches.

Having a nice even tension while you knit helps produce stitches that are evenly sized and symmetrical throughout your piece. This allows textural stitches to really shine and promotes a nice drape to your fabric. It just looks better!

How do you achieve this perfect balance? By regulating how easily the yarn passes through your fingers and to the stitch that is being created by the right needle. You can see in the photo above that: A. I knit continental (hey, my mom came from Germany, what can I say?) and: B. I have wrapped the yarn around my left index finger 3 times for the right amount of drag necessary for this yarn on this day (yes, I keep my finger sticking out like that 100% of the time). Experience has taught me that I need the yarn to stick to my finger a little so that I have to give a bit of a tug with each stitch I create. If I have to tug or pull too much with my right hand I know that the stitch will be too tight and so I’ll drop a loop and go down to 2 wraps. If the yarn is especially slippery, I may even go up to 4 wraps. It’s all in the feel and how the yarn slides (or doesn’t).

But, wait! (I can just hear you say) you don’t knit continental. Or wrap on that finger or whatever. Doesn’t matter, somehow you feed the yarn to your working stitch. Whatever your method is,, control it! Put a drag on the yarn; not too tight and not too loose. Strive for an easy flow of yarn that doesn’t stop you from actually knitting. I find that I often have to rewrap my loops to maintain the right amount of contact, but I just do that automatically now.

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