Friday, May 11, 2018

Recognizing Tension Issues

This will be a fairly short entry.  I'm right in the middle of ordering yarn for the designers of the next issue of Cast On.  It takes much more effort than you would think.  The Summer issue of Cast On went live on May 5th and the 7th was the deadline for proposals for the Fall.  It really is a bit of a merry-go-round.

I received very few lessons to review which was actually a good thing.  It takes quite a bit to get the magazine out.  Send them in now!  I have will lots of time next week to review lessons.

The tip this week was prompted by something I saw in two very well know knitting publications last week.  Cast On is different in many ways from other knitting publications since we are the sponsors of the Master Hand Knitting Program that certifies Master Knitters.  The standards by which we evaluate candidates' work is very stringent and for that reason we have to be careful about the garments we have in Cast On, particularly as regards tension and finishing.  If something slips by, we will hear about it from our members who require to develop a critical eye towards their own work.  If you don't know that something can be better, you can't fix it.

In the magazines I was reviewing I noticed two sweaters that had very poor stockinette tension.  Both sweaters had reverse stockinette on the RS and there were clear gutters.  Not only is it unattractive, it can effect row gauge adversely. 

If you aren't sure what poor stockinette looks like, examine the photographs below.

This photo shows the WS.  Notice the very distinct gutters.  Imagine a cabled sweater with the filler stitches looking like this.  Ick.  This swatch also has another very common problem.  One side is much longer than the other.  This happens when the tension problem is worse at the selvedge.

By the way, the photo above and the next photo were lent to me by Binka Schwan.  She is the instructor of the Taming Tension class offered by TKGA and she is a miracle worker.  She not only helps her students with this type of problem but also ribbing, seed, etc.

This photo shows the RS of the same swatch.  Notice how the size of the stitches vary from row to row.

What causes this problem?  For the vast majority of knitters, they purl looser than they knit.  I see it much more in the work of Continental knitters or knitters that work primarily in the round.  I tell my Basics students, they don't need to tell me how they knit.  I generally can figure it out.  Many knitters have just a tension issue at the selvedges.  One fix you can try for that is to begin each row a little tighter & end each row a bit looser.  It will take some practice.

Every knitter has tension problems at times.  Some yarns are more prone.  Generally inelastic yarns, like cotton and linen are more prone to tension issues.

If you have a tension issue and can't solve it, you can use darker yarns which hide the problem, particularly on the stockinette side and avoid patterns which have reverse stockinette on the RS side.  If you are doing the Masters Program, this is something you have to fix before you progress any further.

I'm not going to give any further tips for fixing tension or do a video.  Fixing tension might require trying several different methods and a lot of practice.  If you are a TKGA member, I can recommend Binka's class.  As I said, she is a miracle worker.  I can also recommend looking at some blog entries from a former Co-Chair of the Masters Committee.  Suzanne Bryan is a very analytical knitter:  Suzanne Bryan, ridges and Suzanne Bryan: Enlarged BO stitch

Once you realize what good tension looks like, you will find yourself looking at knitting magazines in a different way!

Salon will be this Sunday from 1:30 - 3:20.

I'm still waiting for yarn for my Cast On projects.  I finished the socks with the yarn left over form the Tea Roses, just time for warm weather! 

I then made a very long infinity scarf...500 yds of Zen Garden Serenity Silk.  I used the whole skein.  The stitch pattern is one of those elongated stitch patterns.  I like it.

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