For a while I had a theory
that tight knitters kept perfect houses, offices,
desks. If you tweak every stitch an extra
time, it would make sense that you'd also
take the time to snatch each bit of clutter
off any surface. I'm not a tight knitter and
my house and office look, well, lived-in.
But one day I took a poll of my knitting students.
They laughed at me. "I wish," said
one. "Give me fair warning before coming
over to my house," said another. A third
nodded in agreement, but she's got five children
and, as she said, if she doesn't keep up she'd
be buried in mess.
What all these tight knitters did
have in common was their assumption that
knitting tightly was just their way. They
reminded me of my former college writing
students who would proclaim blithely, "I
can't spell." As if it was genetic,
like height or shoe size, something with
which you're either cursed or blessed. And
something you certainly can't change. But
you can, and should, loosen up your knitting.
1) really care about needle tips because certain kinds
make it easier for you to ooch your way into the next
2) have to move up two or more needle sizes in
order to get the right stitch gauge,
3) notice that your finished knitted fabric never feels
as soft as the yarn did in the skein, and 4)
find yourself buying two or three times more yarn than
the pattern calls for...
pay attention. One of my students
who had used up three $20 skeins of yarn
to knit a scarf that called for one skein
learned how to fix her problem. Now she's
knitting more, spending less money per project,
and her hands aren't so tired.
The whole tight-knitting problem can be
traced to one wrong move. Well, all right,
it's a move that tight knitters make after
each stitch, but it's just one itty bitty
If you knit American or English style,
the four steps to
making a knit stitch are:
1) place the needle in the stitch,
2) wrap working yarn around right needle,
3) pick up stitch, and
4) move the finished stitch from the left
needle to the right needle.
In either case, if you're adding that fifth
step, that extra tug, you are in fact tightening
your new stitch twice.
To break the habit, try concentrating on
your knitting process for 20 minutes or
so. Go to a quiet place, away from phones
and conversation, and watch yourself knit.
When you finish step 4 of your knit stitch,
you'll have the urge to tighten. Ignore
it. Watch as each succeeding stitch neatens
up the preceding one. Let the physics of
knitting do the work for you.
Do one row this way, then another row.
After the first row, you'll notice how much
easier it is to place your needle in each
stitch. After a few more rows, touch the
finished fabric. Notice how much softer
it is. Not only is it all right to knit
more loosely than you have been, but doing
so allows the yarn to show all its beautiful