How to Knit Even Stitches

How to Knit Even Stitches     by Janice Jones     |Published 03-03-2020

If you are new to knitting, you might be comparing your knitting with someone more advanced than you and wondered how their knitted pieces looked so perfect.  Is there a secret to knitting even stitches?  

I want to assure you that you're not alone.  When I first started knitting as a child, I often looked at my work and compared it to a sweater my grandmother knitting. I'd wondered if there would ever be a time when all my stitches looked the same.  That was a long time ago, and we didn't have internet or videos to watch.

I've gotten a little better over the years, but I still remember those early feelings of a letdown.

My grandmother always assured me that "practice makes perfect," but I think there may be more to it than that.  Yes, practice is essential, but I now know some tricks I can share with you to speed up your progress.

knit even stitches:  knitting sample with green yarn and needles

How to Knit Even Stitches

You want your knitted piece that you worked so hard to create to look good. Right?  So let's see how we can make those knit stitches a bit more even.

Holding the Knitting Needles Correctly

Everyone knits a bit differently.  But if you are clenching those needles in tight hands, not only are your hands going to tire quickly, but you may notice that your entire body feels tense.  Pick up a ball of yarn and cast on a few stitches.  

Notice how your body feels,  how your hands feel.  Is your body relaxed?  Great! That's the way it should be.  But many new knitters tend to hold the needles and yarn in their hands in such an intense way that their stitches are incredibly tight. 

If you have stitches on your needle that you are having difficulty moving to the other needle, then you might be guilty of this one.

How to Knit Even Stitches?  Practice Tension

Now there's not wrong with this if it feels right to you.  But what sometimes happens is that this tight grip gets tiring, and we begin to relax. 

My point is that tight stitches mixed with loose stitches cause knitting to look a little off.  One of the first tasks that new knitters must master is that of tension or gauge

Practicing new stitches by making small projects such as washcloths can help you figure out how your tension is improving.  Being aware is the first step.

Stick with One Method Throughout the Project

One mistake I found myself making was trying to practice knitting using both the continental method the English method, all within one piece. 

My tension was different depending on the method I used. From the voice of experience, pick a method and at least use that one method until you finish your work.  Then switch, if you like.

Different Size Stitches

Do you see size differences in your stitches?  Check where on your needle you are working the yarn and stitches.  Are you working the stitches at the very thin tip of your needles?

Or, Are you taking advantage of the total diameter of the needle (the fattest area)?  If you are working some of your stitches on the needle tips and some on the fatter area, you aren't taking advantage of the needle's size. 

Tips of needles are thinner, sometimes much thinner, and the result means that stitches will look uneven.  

Dropped Stitches

Everyone drops a stitch now and again. It's going to happen.  Beginning knitters might do well to use plastic, wood, or bamboo needles as stitches may not fall off those needles as quickly as they would steel needles.  

You might find you lose stitches if you set your knitting down at the end of the row, and the stitches slip off, especially if you have a lot of stitches on the needle.  Using needle protectors might help here.

What is important is knowing how to pick up that dropped stitch and get it back on the hand without twisting it. It's also a good idea to fix a lost stitch as soon as you lose it. It's just easier to fix. 

You can either use your knitting needle to pull the stitch back or a crochet hook if you have one.  A crochet hook makes the job so much easier.

Steps to Repair Dropped Stitches

How to Repair Dropped Knit Stitches

  1. Work your way along the row until you get to the dropped stitch.  Place it on a stitch holder if you like.

  2. Knit down the row until you get to the dropped stitch.

  3. Work on the front side of the fabric.  Place your crochet hook into the dropped stitch.  You will see bars of yarn between the slipped stitch and the needle.  Each bar represents one row, so if you see three bars, you will need to work the stitch three times, one time for each bar. The bars will be in the back, and your dropped stitch out in front.

  4. With the dropped stitch on your hook, grab the first bar on your hook and pull it through.

  5. Continue grabbing each bar onto your hook and pull through until you reach the top of your work.

  6. Place the stitch on the left-hand needle and then knit.

Steps to Repairing Dropped Purl Stitches

  1. Work along the row until you reach the dropped stitch.

  2. Fix the stitch on the wrong side of the fabric.  Place your crochet hook into the dropped stitch.  Notice how many yarn bars.  (You may need to turn your work over to the wrong side for this method)

  3. Grab the bar onto the hook and pull through just as you did for fixing a knit stitch.  Continue working until you used up all the bars and your stitch can be placed on the needle. Turn onto the right side and continue knitting.

Stitches in the same pattern look different:  Twisted Stitches

If you see most stitches that look similar, but a few stand out as obviously different, and it's not because you lost a stitch. It could be where you are placing your needle. 

When we knit, our right-hand needle picks up the stitch's front loop on the left-hand needle.  If you are picking the front loop of the stitch some of the time and the back loop at other times, you are twisting your stitches. 

Some patterns call for picking up the back look, but most projects will either specify front or back, not both.

There are Holes in Your Work

Holes typically mean you've created a yarn over unintentionally.  This often occurs when your working yarn is in the front when making knit stitches. 

You may not notice that the yarn loop has been placed on the right-hand needle until you get to the next row.  The only way to fix this is to rip out those stitches you made after your accidental yarn over and re-knit them.

Another way that holes show up is if you are knitting a row and then set your knitting down.  When you pick it up to knit again, you start knitting in the opposite direction.  Always check where your working yarn is and assure it is attached to the needle in your right hand.

Holes will happen with dropped stitches, but you usually will also see the little yarn lines or bars showing you that you've lost a stitch.  If you see those bars, use the instructions above to pick up your stitches.

Loose edges

All of your stitches in the interior of your project look relatively uniform. Still, the stitches at the beginning and end of the rows are loose or bigger than the others.  Loose end stitches are relatively common, and a slight tug may be all you need to make them tight.

When you get to the end of the row, give the yarn a little tug.  Do the same with the first stitch of the row.  These stitches tend to be loose, so a gentle pull on the yarn will even out your stitches.  

Gaps Within Rows

Gaps are a common problem when doing a stockinette stitch.  You see the gaps within rows on the reverse side of the fabric.  Gaps with rows happen when your tension is not identical when you knit and purl. 

You might be making tighter knit stitches and looser purl stitches or vice versa.  This happens when we are working the stockinette stitch on two needles and not in the round.  Remember that the stockinette stitch is worked in the round by just making knit stitches.

Final Words

These are some of the most common scenarios that beginners report. Beginners may become so frustrated with any one of these that they decide to quit.  I hope that doesn't happen to you.   

Practice does make perfect, but it sure helps to know how to fix things when they occur.  I hope these tips have been helpful.  

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