Knitting: Basics and Tension Squares
Hello and welcome back to the blog! Yesterday was our first day back in the shop and it was great to see some fellow crafters again. From now, we will be open from 10am until 4pm on Wednesday to Saturday.
In today's post, we will look at the basics of knitting and learn how to make a tension square. A tension square is a square that you knit before you start a project or pattern to make sure that you have the right needles and you are knitting tightly/loosely enough. I have covered some of these steps on previous posts so some of you may find this a little basic; however, there are some new things in here that you may find useful, such as how to adjust a pattern according to your tension. So, let's start
Step One: Setting Up
In order to knit a tension square, you need the right equipment. You will need
In the bottom right-hand corner of this image, it tells us to use 6mm needles, cast on 14 stitches and do 20 rows in order to make a 10cm by 10cm square. If yours requires a smaller needle size you will do more rows and stitches and vice versa. First, we need to cast on 14 stitches or however many stitches your tension square states.
Step Two: Casting On
The very first stitch will be made by creating a slip knot. To do this, create a loop about 15-30cm away from the end of the yarn. Then, pull a loop through this and keep pulling until the knot is secure. Finally, place it on the needle and pull the two strands so that the loop fits around the needle securely but not too tightly.
Then, to create the second stitch, hold the needle with the stitch in your non-dominant hand (for me this is my left) and the needle without in your dominant hand (i.e. my right hand) Put the empty needle into the first stitch, wrap a loop of yarn around this needle, pull the loop through the stitch and place it on the needle.
To create the rest of the stitches, we will repeat this but instead of starting by putting our needle into the most recent stitch, we will put it between the two most recent stitches. The last photo shows how it should look once you have created all of your stitches in this way.
Step Three: Knit and Purl Rows
Now that we have all the stitches we need, we can start doing the rows. For the first row we will do all knit stitches. These are very similar to the casting on stitches as you put the needle in the stitch in the same way, wrap a loop around this in the same way and pull the loop through in the same way. However, instead of putting this onto the needle in the non-dominant hand, you slip it off of the other needle, leaving you with a stitch on the needle in your dominant hand and a stitch less on the other needle. Keep doing this until you have knitted all the stitches.
Well done - you have completed your first row! Make sure you keep track of this so that you do the correct amount for your tension square.
Next, swap the needles so that all the stitches are in your non dominant hand and your empty needle is in your dominant hand. We are now going to do a purl row.
With the knit stitches, we would put our needle in from the front to the back but with purl, it is the opposite. Put the empty needle into the stitch from the back of the stitch to the front. Then, wrap a loop around this, pull this back and slip the stitch off of the other needle. This creates a purl stitch and moves your strand of yarn to the front - make sure you keep it this way for the rest of the purl row. Keep repeating until your purl row is complete.
Well done - another row completed! Keep alternating between these rows until you have done the amount stated on the ball band (for me, this meant doing 20 rows - 10 knit and 10 purl). This technique is called stocking stitch.
If your forget what type of row you need to do, you can work it out from the side of it that you can see. The side you see when you are on a knit row looks like this (a sort of fishtail pattern). This is called the right side.
The side you see when you are on a purl row looks like this. This is called the wrong side.
Once you have done all of the rows, it is time to measure up and see if your tension matches the ball band.
Step Four: Measuring
The measurements you need to take are the height and width. Here are my measurements.
If both the height and width of the square are smaller than 10cm by about the same amount, it means your tension is tight. Experiment by making tension squares with larger needles. Alternatively, having both measurements over 10cm by about the same amount indicates you have a loose tension, which can be resolved by reducing the needle size. However, it can sometimes be a little more complicated. If your width is fine but the height is too short or long, you may want to do more or less rows when you do the pattern. If the width is the problem, you could do more stitches if it is too narrow or fewer stitches if it is too wide. For me, as my square is pretty much the right width but a little over and quite a few centimetres too long, I would probably do less rows and would possibly consider a smaller needle size too.
After you have done it, you could undo your square and use this yarn in your project, but you may wish to keep your tension squares and make them into something. Once I have gone through crochet tension squares, I will show you a few things that you can make with tension squares, but for now I will leave it there. Next week, I will look at some things that you could try making after you have learnt these basics, but until then, happy knitting!
My name is Sharon the Sheep, the owner of Avicraft Wool Shop in Bromley Kent..