Reflections on Being a Tight Knitter

I hate when I knit too tightly. I was thinking about this yesterday as I was struggling a bit with the lace scarf I’m working on.  When I first learned to knit this was a much bigger issue but every once in a while my natural tendency towards tight stitches still crops up to bite me in the ass.  So here is my list of why I hate being a tight knitter.

  • My hands start to cramp.  They rarely do this when I knit loose enough.
  • Decreases are a nightmare.  This is the issue I was having with my scarf.  Try doing a k3tog when you can barely get your needle into the first two stitches.
  • Any other sort of complex stitch is far more difficult than it has to be.  A lot of the more complicated stitches require manipulating more than one stitch at a time and tight knitting doesn’t go well with this.  Decreases are just the beginning, think about cables, and bobbles, and more.
  • Circular needles do not like tight knitters.  The major drawback (for me) with circular needles are the joins between the cable and the needle itself.  If I knit loosely this is not an issue but once my stitches start to tighten I have to fight to get the stitches past that join.
  • If I knit really tight even knitting on straight needles is a struggle. My stitches refuse to move along the needle without constant tugging.
  • Maybe this is my imagination but I swear the yarn screams in pain with really tight knitting.  I had a friend once who knit so tight I couldn’t believe the yarn didn’t break.  I cringed every time I looked at her knitting.

Normally my stitches are not too tight and I’m knitting right at the recommended gauge.  I have two approaches to help fix my tight knitting when it does resurface.

First I try to convince myself to stop with logic.  In my head if I knit tight enough then my stitches will always be even. If it’s as tight as possible then how could it possibly be uneven?  There’s so much variance with loose stitches that I have no hope unless I knit tightly.  I have to remind myself that it just doesn’t work out that way.  Stopping to tug your stitches down the needles messes up tension.  Any variation in stitch formation, such as purling or knitting through the back loop, messes up tension.  An even tension/gauge takes practice and it’s not going to magically be perfect no matter how tight I knit.  That tight knitting might fool me for awhile but knitting that tightly also leaves no room to get proper technique or to hide even the smallest mistakes.

When logic is not the issue then it’s my own stress causing the tightness. I have to stop and force my shoulders to relax.  I’ve been told many times that I carry a lot of tension in my shoulders but once I get them to relax it just flows down all the way down to my hands and my knitting is magically back on track.  Really.  It seems like magic to me and I’ve found myself in complete disbelief on how huge a difference relaxing can make.

For a non-magical explanation here’s an article I found that will hopefully help any other tight knitters: Loosen Up.


  1. Pure Klass says:

    Thanks for linking to that Knitty article! Tight knitting is one of my big issues to address… but every time I start to get serious about working on it, I’m in the middle of a vast project and am afraid that if I change my style halfway through, the piece will be appalling. I’m going to have to wrap up my current big projects and then spend a day or two on improving this issue!

  2. Beer helps! 🙂

Leave a Reply