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Tension in Knitting: Too Loose, Tight, or Inconsistent

Tips to diagnose and prevent issues with tension in knitting. Unfortunately, you can’t go back after and correct tension issues, making it all the more important to prevent them from the get-go!

This is one of 5 posts dedicated to Common Knit Errors and how to fix them.

Knit Errors And How to Prevent And Fix Them

This is one of 5 posts that address certain knit errors; how to diagnose, prevent, and fix them. See the other posts here:


Knitting tension is how tightly or loosely you pull your stitches when knitting. I am a tight knitter; some are looser knitters.

Beginning knitters often pull the yarn much too tight, making it difficult to knit the next row as it’s difficult to slide the stitches up and down the needle. Additionally, it is also hard to get the point of the needle into a stitch. Knitting too tightly will also affect how the finished project looks: it will not lay flat and will most likely be smaller than you want.

Loose knitters produce a loose and saggy fabric. Like Goldilocks, you don’t want your tension in knitting to be too tight or too loose; but at minimum, you need to keep your tension consistent throughout your work.

Knit Tension: Too Tight

Knitting too tightly is very common in new knitters, but some of us *ahem* older knitters struggle with this as well. 🙋🏼‍♀️ So, how do you know if you are knitting too tightly?


  • You are having a hard time getting your right hand needle into the stitches on your left hand needle
  • The fabric you knit is stiff.
  • Your shoulders and hands ache after knitting for a while
  • Your gauge swatch has more stitches per inch than the pattern gauge.


Well, that’s easy! Don’t knit so tightly! 🤣

But REALLY, how can you loosen up your knitting?

  • Make sure you aren’t just knitting at the tip of your needle. Instead, make sure your new stitch is pushed down to the wider part of the needle.
Image showing needles and knit fabric and forming stitch at the wide part of the needles to prevent too tight knitting tension.
Instead, slide your new stitch down to the wider part of your needle.
  • Relax your hands and shoulders
  • Hold the needles and yarn looser
  • Keep your needles in more of a horizontal postition
  • Try wooden needles
  • As a last resort, go up to the next size needle

Knit Tension: Too Loose

On the flip side, how do you know if you are knitting too loosely?


  • Your gauge swatch has fewer stitches per inch than the pattern gauge.
  • The fabric you knit is loose.
  • Your stitches look ‘droopy’


  • Don’t force your new stitch too far down on the right hand needle
  • Don’t pull the needles apart as your form your new stitches
  • Give the working yarn a bit of tension
  • Hold your needles at a right angle

Knit Tension: Uneven/Inconsistent


  • Your work from day to day differs in tension.
  • You can visibly tell that some stitches are loose and some are tight.
  • You might notice that on Stocking Stitch, your purl stitches stand out more than your knit stitches; having a looser tension when purling is not uncommon.


  • Carve out longer period of times to knit, helping to develop a consistency.
  • Practice, practice, practice
  • For beginner knitters…the best prevention is to develop good habits right from the get go
  • If your purl stitches are looser than your knit stitches, then keep the needles almost parallel to each other when you knit and then move the needles so that it forms a right angle when you purl.

If you want to learn how to knit or are looking to brush up on your knitting skills and knowledge, pop over to the How to Knit page, which houses all of the posts that teach knitting skills. Or, you could go ahead and visit each one by clicking the links below.

All About Knitting

To refer back to this discussion on Tension in Knitting, bookmark this page or pin the following image.

Image of a piece of knit fabric on knitting needles which shows inconsistent knit tension.
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