Knitting Help – Good Tension Between Knit and Purl Stitches

This video is sponsored by Eucalan, the wool
soap that I use in both my business and for the knits that I knit for myself and my family. This is a no-rinse wool wash. They’ve been in business for 25 years. This is the wool wash that I really use. I love it. I wanna get some of this copyright here correct
here. Non-toxic solution is formulated without petrochemicals,
bleach or optical brighteners, making it safe and gentle for your most luxurious fibers
and heirloom knits. It’s also just a good delicate fabric wash
because it’s no-rinse. Anyway, they have five different scents. There’s unscented, and lavender, and eucalyptus,
and jasmine called Wrapture and… What did I miss? Eucalyptus, lavender, grapefruit. I think I got all of them. Anyway there’s… They have a lot of different sizes and if
you’re knitting gifts for people, they do have these little bottles like this, including
little or our little packets that are one kind of a single-serve of the wool soap. It’s a great idea to get these and include
them in gifts that you’re giving, hand-knit gifts that you’re giving, that will let people
care for the things you’ve knit properly. Anyway, many thanks to Eucalan for sponsoring
this video. In this video I’m going to show you the technique
that I use for getting really good tension between knit and purl stitches. And I’ve covered this technique in a few different
tutorials that I’ve done, but I wanted to pull it out and have it as a separate video,
because I do get this question all the time from people and it comes up in the podcast
all the time. And the reason that it’s come up more recently
is because I knit this scarf. This scarf is from June Cashmere and it’s
called His or Her Scarf. And I knit this and it’s a really simple pattern
but when you look at it close up, you can see that there’s really good stitch definition,
mainly because it’s cashmere. But also because of this little technique
that I used to make sure that the tension between knit and purl stitches is the same
as it is between two knit stitches or two purl stitches. Well, we can get right into it and take a
close-up look at the scarf as well. So, this is the stitch pattern in the scarf. You can see, it’s just a really simple… Well, I mean, it’s a simple because it’s just
knit and purl stitches, there’s no cabling or anything else going on. But it makes this really pretty design. So the key to this is to use a beautiful yarn
like June Cashmere or to…and to really watch your tension on the whole thing. So this is what I’m gonna show you. This is what I’m gonna demonstrate. This is exactly what I do. I have these two samples here. On this first one, I did not do the technique
and on the second one, I did. And there is a dramatic link the difference
between the two. The one where I didn’t do the technique is
about an inch longer. And granted I’m using a pretty bulky yarn
with this, but if you take a close-up… Let me make sure I’ve got this right. I’m not doing one side. I think I was. Is that the same? Yes. You take a close up look… No, no. That’s the same. You take a close-up look at the two and overall
they look the same. I mean, there isn’t really enough of this
pattern going that you can really tell what the pattern’s going to look like. But when you start looking at individual stitches,
especially where it changes from knits to purls, you’ll see that there are tension differences. This is just a tidier piece. You can…like right here, this is…these
stitches…yeah. These stitches are all kind of wonky right
here. These look better. Then we move across, these look pretty wonky
while these look better. These all look pretty wonky and these look
better. So, that’s the difference. It’s a really simple thing. So it’s worth showing you. Information about the pattern, and the scarf,
and the yarn, and everything will be in the video description field and on my website. So here’s the technique. I have… Actually, this pattern calls for me to slip
the first… Why don’t I look at the pattern to figure
this out? Okay. This is one of those patterns that has you
slipping the edge stitch, which is fine, but someone’s gonna ask, I don’t ever slip unless
the pattern tells me to. Okay. Now, I’m going to knit three purl three twice
as part of this pattern, and this is… You’re going to see the technique here. Knit three and then I yarn forward to purl. Purl that stitch, and then this is where,
you can even see the way that this purl stitch is distancing itself from the knit stitch. The active yarning forward for this purl stitch
creates a drag on the working yarn between these two stitches. And that’s where the looseness comes in. So after you work that purl stitch, yarn back
again and tug. That’s going to eliminate the drag, and now
you see the stitches are all consistent and the last stitches as close as the others. And so, I’ll purl the next two, yarn back
to knit three. We don’t have the problem switching from purl
to knit. It’s just switching from knit to purl is where
I use this technique. Yarn forward to purl one and then to eliminate
the drag, yarn back and tug. Do you see how much slack that picked up? And then work the rest of my purl stitches. Knit three. I’m not sure I’m following the pattern anymore. I’m demonstrating the technique more than
I’m following the pattern. So I switched to purl, yarn back, tug, yarn
forward, complete the rest of purl stitches. And that’s the technique. I don’t use it…I don’t find it necessary
to use it, definitely if I’m working one by one rib. If I’m switching every other stitch between
knit and purl stitches. And I don’t even really do at home working
two by two rib just because I’m gonna be yarning back to knit again, just with one more stitch. But when I have a length of three purl stitches
or more, that’s when this technique really makes a difference. And you can also experiment with it. Use it or not use it. Just be consistent throughout the piece if
you decide to use it or not. Anyway, I hope that answers people’s questions. And all the information about everything you
see in the video will be in the video description field as well as on my website. Good luck.

100 thoughts on “Knitting Help – Good Tension Between Knit and Purl Stitches

  • Thanks! Now to remember. Love your videos and podcasts. I always recommend your site to knitters who ask for help learning techniques or wanting to improve their skills.

  • Thanks for this Staci! I'm currently working on a project called the "Byway Wrap", which has panels of moss stitch and then cables. It really helped neaten up my work, but now I'm looking back at what I already knitted.. it's making me decide whether I want to be a process or a project knitter lol!!!

  • Perhaps, tension troubles are more evident with those that throw, or flick, rather than those that have working yarn in left hand (I think it's called continental)?

  • Oh wow, this is unbelievable! Just yesterday I was wondering if you had a video on this very subject, because I struggle with this problem all the time. There's always a huge drag-issue between my knit and purl stitches and it annoys the crap out of me. Thank you so much for this video! 😁

  • I'm wondering if this would work with cables too. I always have a problem with little gaps between the knits and purls when I do cables. Definitely using this in the future!

  • It didn't even occur to me that I was doing anything wrong, but now you've pointed it out this makes so much sense!!!

  • As a side note, it would be interesting to see a video weighing up the different techniques for making tidy work on edges–you mentioned that you don't usually slip the first stich unless the pattern calls for it. What do you usually do?

  • Thank you for sharing this technique.Β Β  As a fairly new knitter, even the simplest hints on techniques are very useful to me πŸ™‚

  • Your expertise is amazing and inspiring. I bought my first knitting needles off a dinosaur but I always learn something from you. Thank you!

  • I've just started the matterhorn scarf and I'm using baby yarn to make it and my stitches are wonky and uneven. Since I've only completed one round of the scarf, I'm binding off that portion and starting over to use this technique! What a perfect coincidence you came out with this video πŸ™‚ Thank you so much!

  • Thanks so much for this video! Since your piece came out smaller do you think it will affect the gauge of the project? Or is it an insignificant difference?

  • Thanks Staci for the technique. It is so pertinent for me right now since I am knitting your basketweave moebus cowl. I noticed the gaps/looseness. I was pulling the yarn tighter at these points but I was not yarning back before pulling tight. I will starting doing this now.

  • thank you so much!! i've been knitting for about 6 years, and recently have noticed bad tension from my knit to purl stitches — i can't wait to try your technique!!

  • I find knitting continental eliminates this issue entirely. Knitting continental with tension in your left hand your keeping the same tension throughout regardless of where your yarn is!

  • oh! and here I thought i dreamed this technique up myself πŸ™‚ been doing it this way for a few years now. it makes a big difference.

  • So thankful for this tip! As always, love your videos. Question about the scarf – Will the stitch definition look as good using a less expensive dk yarn?

  • thank you thank you thank you! this is exactly what i needed. i love your videos! they're always so helpful and informative. πŸ™‚

  • I knit in a style very similar to continental knitting, and I rarely have this issue with tension between knits and purls. I knit all my knits by wrapping clockwise and all my purls by wrapping counter-clockwise, the only "issue" this presents is the stitches are not facing the same direction, which for some would lead them to twist knit stitches. But I like that this is a simple technique to fix a common problem πŸ™‚ Thanks for posting!

  • It is always a pleasure to watch your videos. You are an excellent teacher. The needles are wonderful and would be very much welcome.

  • I am so glad to have found this video. I have been trying to practice knitting and purling in the same row, but it was loose. Thank you for making this.

  • This is so helpful. Thank you. I've tried just about everything else including wrapping the first perl stitch the opposite direction with the working yarn., which orients the stitch backwards on the reverse side. :-/ this is a great alternative and so much more efficient. Also wanted to comment on your needles here in this video. I have the set and adore them. They are totally my go-to for just about every project. :)) love you and keep the videos coming. βŒβ­•οΈ

  • wow I can't believe how fast you knit, I just started knitting but I'm about 20 times slower than you. great video!

  • The most sensible solution I've ever seen! Many, many thanks for sharing all of your knowledge and helping others. All the best

  • I have messed up one row in the middle of my work…. how in the world do I fix it without tearing it all out and without doing it one stitch at a time?????? HELP PLEASE!!!! I'm doing it in stripes. I was going to just mattress stitch or sew them but that would mess up my pattern severely. I would say ehh it's ok but I'm almost done and it looks so pretty but that ONE line is so noticeable…. I want to cry and give up all together

  • My ribbing actually looks like ribbing now instead of weirdly spaced apart. I was going crazy trying to fix this problem! I thought I heard this tip in another video…but I couldn't find it when I needed it. Thanks for another great video tutorial!

  • Thanks, Staci that was very helpful – much easier than the way I had been doing it. I was completing a knit, then bringing my yarn forward, giving it a good yank upward and holding it taut while I completed the purl. It helps, but your way seems to result in a much more even tensioning of the yarn, and is easier to execute so I'll be doing that from now on. Little tricks like that can make such a difference!

  • I recently learned how to knit and I am loving it. I have crocheted for many years. It's just getting expensive getting all the tools.

  • I've been knitting a lace pattern and wondering HOW to tighten up my stitches when going from knit to purl. I just hate that gap! Thank you so much for this – can't wait to try it!!

  • Thank you Staci! I've just begun a knitted square for our guild afghan and the pattern calls for knits and purls in each row. Your technique will improve the look of my square, and keep it at 9".

  • I like this trick and will certainly be trying it on my next project. Who knew! Knitting for over 36 years and I still learn new things. Tha ts why I love knitting! Thank you, Staci.

  • This tip is awesome Staci. Thanks for sharing. I've been teaching myself lever knitting and haven't noticed as much of the drag, but I do the tug anyway. I love cables, and this really helps them to look neat and tidy with less notice of holes that seem to result from cabling. My first pieces in cables all have noticeable holes, but not my latest piece, a stag horn cable ear warmer. The difference is truly amazing. Really lovely result using this simple but effective technique. Thank you!

  • When I first saw this I really doubted I would bother all this forwarding and backward movement. But this has long been an issue for me with really really gappy stitches when switching to purl in a knit-and-purl row, so I thought I'd give it a try. It has made SUCH a HUGE difference to my work. I'm finding that occasionally if I'm feeling my second purl stitch is also a bit sloppy I'm repeating the snugging-up procedure for that stitch too. Thank you so much for all your videos – but for this one in particular. I'm off to check out any other tips you have on tension (especially lace where I seem to relax a little too much at times).

  • Thanks so much! That explains a lot about my WIP. I'm doing a checkerboard design, and the squares seemed loose from each other. I'll know better next time.

  • A bit late but maybe someone will see this and it will help. You mentioned in another video (avoiding ladders in magic loop) how pulling too tight in magic loop will actually create ladders and not fix them, that helped me with this too. To avoid ladders between k&p in 2×2 ribbing (because it is a hassle to do this when you're going to bring the yarn in back in one more stitch, like you said) I will actually loosen up. While keeping my stitches on both needles close to the tips, when I go to yarn forward for a purl, I barely pull on the working yarn. When you pull the new stitch through, use the left needle to move the stitch as close as you can to the last stitch on the right needle, and slide the left needle out of the new stitch instead of using the right to slide it off the left. Then tighten the stitch. So hard to explain in text! Maybe I'll make up a little video to send to you so you can check it out. Probably nothing new lol.lovelovelove your videos x93736378292948

  • Very Pink to the rescue once again! I have just frogged back to a lifeline (also learned from VeryPink!) I put in after the fact. Thankfully I remembered this tutorial and that there is a way to make my chevron pattern look better. I hope!

  • thanks for this great video! I also find this technique works very well when knitting cable knit hats. It completely eliminates the drag and laddering that happens in between the knit and purl stitches when cabling.

  • Fabulous tip! Thanks, Staci! I just started doing this in the middle of a project and the difference is visible and fantastic.

  • This is quite interesting. My technique for firming up those sloppy purls, when they appear as a pattern on the right side, is to do a lazy purl. By that I mean I wrap the yarn the wrong way. I have to remember that the stitch is seated incorrectly on the next row, but Ii haven't found that to be a problem. Now i have another option. Thank you Staci. Your videos are always so helpful.

  • Hi Stacy, thanks for the great video! Is there a similar technique for continental knitters? And, if so, is there a difference when you do a β€œnormal” continental purl or a Norwegian purl?

  • So my problem is that I'm doing a p2 k1 rib in a hat on circular needles. I know how to avoid a gap on the beginning round of a hat, but on the first p2 k1 of the round it is SO loose coming to the k1. And this happens every round. Is there any tips for helping tension when moving from purl to knit?

  • Oh, my goodness!!! Why did I not find this video BEFORE knitting my beautiful cable throw that has longer spaces between K and P stitches, and I had no idea why? Now I want to take it all apart and do it the right way (but I won't πŸ™‚ ) Thank you so much!!!

  • I have been searching for a solution to this problem for years. Can't wait to try your technique. Have tried so many others but nothing worked.

  • Lol, I watch you video, and I did it but I did it on the knit not the purl. I was wondering why it wasn't working, ok next time I will remember. Thanks again

  • Thank you!! I'm a beginning knitter and was getting so frustrated because my transitions between knitting and purling were so loose. This is super helpful!

  • It's been awhile since I watched you on this tip for tidier knit purl tension. I wanna say thank you for this little advice.

    Since I'm continental knitter, I had to try figuring out how to apply your technique, this isn't usually talked about for continental knitting; I do like you, bring the yarn back, but while the yarn is coming from the left hand, I use my right index to push down the yarn to bring the purl closer to the knit, thus tugging them, I tried tugging with the left but it didn't work, I think due to the direction, using the bare right hand to tug it rightward works magic!

    Thanks again to you, you're like my distance teacher! Thanks

  • Hi (I searched but can't find out what your name is, so I'll call you penguin . .) Hi Penguin πŸ™‚ I'm a brand new knitter and want to thank you for all your great videos. You're very sweet. Hugs from Israel, Maytal.

  • Omg. Thank you so much! I am trying to do a two sided pattern in two colors. I almost gave up because my purls are so much looser than my knits.

    It makes sense that when you pull on the yarn to purl, you are loosening the yarn! That tuck is the proper way to tighten a purl stitch.

  • Really like this video and technique. I will definitely be using this one the time with more than 3 purl stitches after knitting. Thank you so much!

  • Never would have thought to do this but it definitely works, I thought I was doomed to sloppy looking k/p. I’ll be seeing soon how it works with cables

  • I think a lot of people would not understand the connection between how evenly spaced the active stitches are on the needle, to how they relate in the final product. Great illustration!

  • Ty, this is gonna improve some of my tension issues. Question: on patterns that call for me to slip the 1st stitch, the edge with slipped stitch sometimes looks a bit sloppy & looks like I'm having a tension problem. What causes this & how do I resolve the issue, so my slipped stitch edges look neat & tidy (and a whole lit nicer looking)? Please help?

  • I LOVE turkey with cornbread dressing, but realize that what makes OH SO WONDERFUL is the gravy. This technique is absolutely the gravy and after 50 years of knitting will, I believe, take my knitting to the next level! Thank you so much Staci! AND I’ve been trying to decide which woolen wash to use and gift with knitted items. You are such an amazing help!!! Thank you so very much!

  • I knit continental style and i have problems with tension in my ribbing. One of the problems is the cast on row is actually a lot looser than the rest of it and also getting over all consistent tension in ribbing. i feel like its my knit stitch that is the problem but i am not sure. i also seem to have problems when i am knitting with wooden needles and although i know there is more resistance with those, sometimes its all i have depending on availability for a project. I have lots of issues with my hands but i refuse to give up my knitting!! Is there anything i can do?

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