I'm too tight

Here's the scoop. I just started and I have got the casting on thing down and I understand the basics of "knit" but the stitches are so tight that its almost impossible to go much past 2 rows. What am I missing. I have been practicing every day but it seems no matter what I do the stitches cling to the needle for dear life.


YugiDean's picture

The best advice I can give for this (which I struggled with when I first started knitting a couple of years ago) is to either consciously force yourself to knit more loosely (don't give your yarn that "little tug" with each stitch) or use large-size needles for the time being. As you become more and more comfortable with knitting, you'll find that your knitting tension will change somewhat and you'll eventually (hopefully) stop having this problem. I hope that helps!

"Men can starve from a lack of self-realization as much as they can from a lack of bread." --Richard Wright


"Men can starve from a lack of self-realization as much as they can from a lack of bread." --Richard Wright


MMario's picture

This is a very common problem with beginner knitters. This and hand strain from the "beginners grip of death" (we've all been there!)

a) relax.

b) you might want to make sure you are inserting your needle fully, and wrapping the yarn around the shaft, not the tip of the needle.

c) relax

d) you may be tugging the yarn too hard after a stitch

e) relax

f) when you form the stitch, take the time to make sure it is not tight on the needle. Once your tension becomes second nature you can work on speed (it will probably happen without you having to work on it as you get more comfortable)

g) relax.

MMario - I'm not divorced from reality - we're having a trial separation

rharris63's picture

I love your advise. I am sure its great advise for knitting but its great advise for me for life!

TomH's picture

Yes, we've all been there. When I first started to learn to knit I thought I'd have to use a hammer to pound my right hand needle into the left hand stitches. Never fear, it just takes practice. My advice. Just get a skein of yarn and knit, knit, knit, knit, knit. And don't try to "make" anything. Just knit for the sake of knitting. It reminds me of a famous artist who once gave the advice (loosely stated) ... You need to paint at least 100 paintings before you can even think of yourself as a painter.

potterdc's picture

when I landed my first pottery apprenticeship, my teacher told me that I'd have to throw 500 bowls before she'd let me keep one. I laughed; she said "No, really." When my 500th bowl came off the wheel, she said "Cut it open and let's take a look." So, I sliced through the wet clay (thus destroying the bowl) and she said "Hmmm, great bowl. Too bad we cut it open. Throw another one..." It was two days before I could throw one that good again!


Think less, enjoy it more.

Think less, enjoy it more.

albert's picture

You make a good case for pneumatic needles.

Veni, vidi, kniti.

QueerJoe's picture

All excellent advice. One more piece of advice I always share with new knitters is have an experienced knitter look at how you're creating your stitches to make sure you're inserting the needle correctly and wrapping the yarn in the correct direction.

If you do either differently than usual, you may be twisting your stitches which would create a very tight, dense knitted fabric that might make it all the more difficult.

rvicarus's picture

Great Advice!
I was a notoriously tight knitter when I started too... the more I stressed about the tension, the tighter it got. Or I would cast on so tightly, I had to pull the yarn very taught to pull it through the stitch, and wound-up with super tight fabric... Also, when I started, I used to knit "English" style, where you loop or "throw" the yarn with your right hand... this is an easy way to learn, but at first it is harder to control you tension. I now knit "Continental" style, where I never let go of the yarn, and the feed and fiber-tension are controlled by my left hand. Neither is "Better" in my opinion, but I personally find it MUCH easier to control my tension, and I knit MUCH more quickly, and I have less wrist fatigue in my hands.

Possible Solution:
I used to cast-on to a larger needle, or even cast-on to 2 needles, and then just remove one before starting my first row. This works when gauge is not an issue, and you just trying to get the feel for the yarn... I sometimes resort to this if I need a particularly stretchy CO edge. (hats or socks)

Now I have a much looser cast on, and like MMario says... Relax! No worries... it's a skill, and takes time to settle into a rhythm. Once you find yours, fast or slow, it'll relieve more stress than it causes... we promise!

Best of luck ~ Roberto

YarnGuy716's picture

Lots of good advice here. Just try to relax, be sure you aren't knitting on the points of your needles and keep knitting. The best way to get better at knitting is to knit. Keep at it, you will see improvement. We were all there at one time.

Jaredsfa2004's picture

Do you knit English or Continental? If you're not sure the answer, English is where you throw the working yarn with the right hand over. Continental is when your working yarn is held with your left hand. I find that it's easier to keep yarn loose working Continental. Also If you are using wooden knitting needles, such as bamboo... I would recommend switching to metal. It allows the stitches to slide off easier. Make sure also, that when you're working your stitches, work them on the largest part of the needle, some people work on the tips, and it just gets tighter and tighter and tighter, until you can't knit anymore.

NonStopAndrew's picture

Or there is the Andrew method. I throw with my left hand.

daveballarat's picture

Tight knitting x 2 Hey, I've noticed that not only is there a difference in tension due to bamboo or metal but also circular needles and normal needles. My sleeves that I am currently doing are both on the same sized needles but on is on str8 needles and the other on circular, the tension is such that it looks like a handknit on the str8 needles but almost like a machine knit on the circular... but the overall difference is not so obvious, only if you look close. No I'm not pulling out ... and doing one of the sleeves again, I'm too close to the end... at my snails pace of knitting things up, I'm sticking to it... my deadline is Friday to be finished....then a pic up on the Net of it ...
Istanbul, Turkey


steve kadel's picture

too tight, you say? never thought that was a problem :) at my age, i wondered if it's possible to be too loose :) everything works out with practice and the right tools :)

we put birds on things

Thomasknits's picture

I had the same problem when I started. Try to consciously loosen your knitting as you go. Also, be sure that you use the entire diameter of the needle. The stitches that become the row below as you knit should hang off the bottom of the needle instead of being pulled tight up to one side. Does that make sense?


rc_in_sd's picture

As a beginner, I used to knit WAY too tightly, too. I actually snapped a plastic needle in half because there was so much tension on it. It's as if I was at sea lashing my last barrel of fresh water to the mast of a ship in the face of an approaching storm. I'm pretty well over that now.

There's a lot of good advice already, and here's my two cents. When it comes to casting on, I'd suggest that after every stitch or two, you test whether you can slide the stitches back and forth on your needle - if not, pull them off and re-do them. Your needle shouldn't just fall freely, but it should be able to move with a very slight effort.

While working stitches, you could try pulling more yarn through than you need, i.e. make a large loose loop on the right hand needle. Then, when wrapping the working yarn for the next stitch, snug up that slack, but only gently. Just so the yarn is comfortably around the widest part of the needle - don't cinch it down.

Finally, I find there's less friction with metal needles than with wood, which can help snug stitches slide a bit easier.

I hope this helps. And welcome to MWK and knitting in general! You'll find a good tension before you know it.


BriscoeCountyJunior's picture

My very first scarf was Cast On with the help of an excellent knitter and the Binding Off was super crazy way too tight... with some tight spots here and there... I have been tempted to tear it apart and redo it... then I realize it is my first completed piece and it just wouldn't be right!

My suggestion would be to make smaller swatches where you practice specifically on the tension. Perhaps pick up some cotton yarn and make swatches the size of dish clothes! You can practice making the loops so that you can get your needles through... and the size helps get a project done quickly so you don't feel constantly frustrated by not getting anywhere!

I wanted to knit perfectly from the very beginning and like many things in life it takes patience and practice to get the end results you desire!

Good luck!