Beginners are often discouraged when their first row looks loose. But you do not need to panic! The first row of knitting is usually loose because your work needs more rows before it tightens. It also usually has something to do with your tension or cast-on method.
Remember that it is always best to practice your knitting to get better tension. And trying a different cast-on could also help improve your loose first row of knitting.
Many beginners have problems with their loose first row of knitting. And I am more than happy to share some tips and tricks in this post to help you with that! So, please continue reading to find out more.
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How to make the first row of knitting tight?
As I mentioned, your cast-on method is one reason why your first row of knitting is so loose. You need to learn a better cast-on method that will give you tighter knitting.
You should remember that the backward loop is not intended as a general cast-on, although you can learn it quickly. The backward loop, or any of its variations, normally gives loose and loopy edges. So it is a common culprit to the loose first rows in knitting!
The backward loop cast-on is a specialized method used for casting on a few extra stitches at the end or in the middle of a row. It is an uncommon situation that new knitters encounter. But you should at least know where and when you can use it.
You will typically get loose loops of string wrapped around your needle when using the backward loop. And if you are not careful enough, you will create slack between your needles and every stitch you knit.
So what should you do? I suggest that you do the long-tail cast-on or knitted cast-on methods.
How to do long-tail cast-on?
The long-tail cast-on is an easy method to learn and one of the fastest ways to get stitches onto your needles. It is versatile and will work well for almost any knitting project. Follow this guide on doing the long-tail cast-on:
- Begin by forming a slip knot. Start with a long tail and form the stitches using both the tail and the yarn attached to the ball. Make sure that the tail is long enough for your project.
- Place the slip knot on your needle and hold it in your right hand. Then, position your work, so the yarn attached to the ball is in front.
- Insert your left thumb and index finger between the two strands of yarn. Do this step by wrapping the ball-end yarn around your left thumb, going counter-clockwise. The tail should then go over your index finger and loosely hanging between your two fingers.
- Slip the tip of the needle under the ball-end yarn wrapped around your thumb. Then, stretch your needle back over the other strands and behind the yarn around your index finger.
- Slip your needle under the long tail, then through the loop formed around your thumb.
– You are going back over the thread that is around the back of your thumb. You should also find that you went back to the thread under the loop around the front of your thumb.
- Finally, slide the loop of your left thumb and pull the thread, so it holds onto the needle.
How to do knitted cast-on?
The knit cast-on is perfect for new knitters because you can learn how to form knit stitches as you add them to your needle. It can also be a solution to your loose first row of knitting! Follow this guide on doing a knitted cast-on:
- Make a slip knot, then cinch it onto your knitting needle. Ensure that you do not make it too tight, so it will not make things more challenging. You also need to remember that your working yarn comes from the back.
- Insert your empty needle into the first stitch with your working needle in your left hand. Then, wrap the yarn around your needle as if to knit. This step means wrapping the yarn counter-clockwise and over the top of the right knitting needle for beginners.
- Knit into the stitch, but keep it on the needle. Pull the loop up and towards you without slipping it off.
– Do not worry if you want to give it some length, as you will end up cinching it close in the following steps.
- Twist the loop to the right. Keep in mind that doing so should open the stitch for the next step.
- Insert your left needle into the loop from front to back. Meaning, you need to move your left needle point through the loop on your right needle.
- Finally, drop it from the right and slowly cinch it closed with the loop on your left needle. Remember not to make the stitches too tight because you should easily move the stitches on your needle.
How to improve tension in knitting?
Besides trying a different cast-on method, improving your tension in knitting may also help solve your loose first row. There are different issues about tension, and there are various solutions for them too. Follow these tips to improve your tension in knitting:
- Check how you hold your yarn.
- Check your mood.
- Check your needles.
- Check your knitting style.
- Consider investing in a ball winder.
Although there is no right or wrong way to hold the yarn, it should feel comfortable. Remember that the point of winding your yarn around your fingers should create a steady tension from your yarn ball to your needles.
Many new knitters are not aware that their mood can affect how their knitting looks. Your mood, whether you are happy and relaxed or upset, will reflect on your work. So, it is best always to be mindful of your mood before you start knitting.
Find a type of needle that you feel comfortable working with because they also affect your work. Your needles should not be too clunky, too long, or have too much friction. It is best to find a pair that works well for you.
There are different knitting styles which some people find more comfortable than others. Try switching styles and find something that feels more comfortable for you.
Ball winders will wind your yarn into a center pull cake, which helps you get good tension. The yarn in the winder comes from the center, so it is not rolling all over your working area.
Ball winders essentially allow your yarn to come from a center point. It helps the tension from your ball of yarn to your needles to be more even.
How to fix loose knitting?
You would know that your knitting is loose if all the “v” in your stockinette stitch looks as if they are popping out of the project a little bit. You may also find that you have fewer stitches compared to your pattern. Here are some tips to fix loose knitting:
- First, ensure that you are using the correct yarn with your working needle. Accidentally using your loose yarn will not give you the tightness needed for a nice and neat piece of fabric.
- You might want to try and pull your yarn a bit tighter every time you wrap it around your needle. The feeling of control that tighter stitches give you will be worth it.
- Knit practice swatches as much as possible before you start working with your fabric. Doing so will help you ensure that you get the right tightness needed for your project.
How to fix tight knitting?
It is easy to feel and know when you are knitting too tight. You do not have enough space to wiggle your needle into your work. Your hands may also hurt because your work got too tight. Do not worry too much because you can resolve it! Here are some tips to fix tight knitting:
- First, ensure that you are not knitting at the tips of your needles. Although they are easier to control, they are much smaller than your needle’s actual size. Because of their smaller size, they will produce smaller stitches too.
- When you rule out improper stitch placement, you can find easier ways to fix the problem. Start by relaxing while knitting! Loosen your grip on the yarn in your right hand. Do not pull much or at all, and just pull your yarn through.
- It is also essential to knit a swatch before working on your project. It will test your gauge and prevent knitting that is too loose or too tight.
How to fix uneven knitting?
If you are a new knitter, you will eventually discover that uneven tension is one of the most common problems in knitting. You will find that some stitches are too tight while the others are too loose. Here are some tips to fix uneven knitting:
- Have longer, fewer knitting sessions. You will find that the more rows you knit in one sitting, the more even your tension is.
- Try changing your needles. Different needles may cause stitches to become too slippery, which can affect some stitch types.
- Consider switching knitting styles. Your inconsistent tension maybe because of too much control that your current knitting style gives you. Although you may find it uncomfortable at first, it may resolve your uneven knitting.