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6 Hints for How to Knit Tighter Stitches

When it comes to knitting tension, you want to find a happy medium. If your knitting stitches are too loose, they could fall off your needles or create a too loose fabric. If they’re too tight, you might break a sweat sliding your needle into the stitch.

Knitting gray yarn on circular needle

If your stitches are too loose, read on to find out how to knit tighter stitches

Knitting tighter stitches isn’t as simple as tightening your grip on the yarn. A loose stitch can be caused by many things, from how you hold your yarn to your style of knitting.

 

1. Try holding your needles closer together

This seems to be a challenge that a lot of beginner knitters often face. When you’re knitting, sometimes it’s tempting to pull apart those needles in order to wiggle the needle into the stitch. Try to avoid doing this, since that can pull apart the foundation of the stitch and cause a big gap.

2. Make sure to holding your working yarn

Notice how you’re holding your yarn as you knit. Is it hanging from the back, waiting to be picked up or thrown? Is it threaded through your fingers?

It’s possible that the way you hold your yarn is what’s causing loose stitches. For example, if you’re picking up the yarn with your needle loosely and letting that yarn hang freely when you’re not using it, then the stitch created by that yarn is totally unpredictable.

Check out what happened to a few of my rows in this swatch when I let the yarn hang behind my work between rows without controlling it:

How to knit tighter stitches

Use your fingers to try and control that loose yarn. These tips for how to keep an even tension can also help you tighten up loose stitches, and you’ll even see a few examples for how to thread that yarn through your fingers.

The important thing to remember is that not all knitters use the same techniques. We’re all different, so what works for one knitter may not work for another. Test different types of holds and figure out which one helps you get even, tighter stitches.

3. Consider trying a different knitting style

Some knitters find that their knitting gets tighter if they change up their style. For some people, Continental knitting tightens their stitches. For others, perhaps English style is the answer to a tighter stitch.

Some knitters even find that one style works for knitting, while another style may work for purling. It might take a bit of trial and error to find out what your specific issue is.

Not familiar with all the different methods and styles for knitting? I find Patty Lyons’s class Improve Your Knitting to be helpful. Patty demonstrates each style and method while she discusses its advantages and disadvantages. You can knit along with Patty, then examine your stitches to see how they change. You may find that your current way of knitting just isn’t working out anymore.

4. Don’t forget to check the gauge

If you’re working on a pattern, does your gauge match the pattern’s suggested gauge? If you’re not getting enough stitches per inch, you may need to simply go down a needle size. No big deal! Here’s everything you need to know about getting gauge.

5. Try tightening the edges only

Sometimes the stitches in the center of your work can look fabulous, while the edge stitches hang limply and need a little lift.

If it’s only the edge stitch that’s giving you problems, we have a few solutions for that. Check out 4 Ways to Neaten Sloppy Knit Edge Stitches to neaten up those sides.

6. If all else fails, turn to blocking

Sometimes, stitches can be tightened by simply blocking. If your piece is looking a little wonky, try blocking it before you flip out over the loose stitches.

How do you knit tighter stitches? Share your tips with other knitters!

knitting magic loop

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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in June 2015 and was updated in February 2018.

4 Comments

Jen

Need my knitting tighter to stop holes

Reply
Laura

I found that purling is my Achilles’s heel. I switched to Portuguese knitting style for long rows of purling and ribbing and I have been happy with the results.

Reply
TigerKim

I knit slow & tug the working yarn after every stitch. This has made my loose knitting much more uniform and more professional. Fast knitting is not my concern and this adjustment after every stitch, whether purl or knit, guarantees stitches will be the gauge of the needles, and that is the purpose for needle sizes. I use a modified “throw” hold of the yarn in my right hand and keep tension on the working yarn with my index finger. This method keep my hand & wrist pain to a minimum and allows me to knit much more than established methods. Not zippy fast, but also not cramped/painful, and my knitting has nicely improved.

Reply
Gail

Purling is my problem also. I knit continental holding the working yarn with my left fingers. I learned to knit backwards doing Entrelac and found it made my ‘purl rows’ perfect to gauge!!! Now I do it for all my purling needs!!
Also, if you think your st are too loose but consistent, use a smaller needle.

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