Jumper, tension and quilting!?

a_strange_boy's picture

After having spent quite a while knitting my first jumper and discovering that it was much much much too large (I might gift it to Hagrid!) I became quite disheartened with knitting and so just did silly wee projects that require much though/time/effort. However, I'm back on track and I've started knitting another jumper, but taking much more care with it; I made sure and knit a couple of swatches to make sure it was dead on, and I'm making sure to follow the pattern exactly. However, I think there are maybe some changes I need to make to the pattern; it says to continue knitting the front/back for 18.5 inches until you start shaping the arm holes...and judging from my last attempt this is too long for my body!? Or does 18.5 inches sound about right?! And if I should change them, by how much?! Is it enough to just hold it against my body and decide when I think it's long enough, or is this method deceptive!?

Another slight problem I'm having; recently when I've been knitting in stocking stitch, all of my plain rows have been really tight, and my purl rows really loose...as a result I put kinda horizontal lines right across the work and makes it look...well...amateur! So to resolve this, I starting knitting really lose, and purling really tight...and whilst it seems to have solved the problem (for the most part) it's still not really nice to have to consciously change my tension when I'm knitting! Has anyone else experienced this?! If so, advice?!

And a final side note; I was going to try making a brief folly into the world of patchwork quilting just to test the waters. However; it would seem that to do it properly you have to have a knitting machine, a rotary cutter and one of those giant massive square ruler things...none of which come cheap! And then when you add the price of materials and stuffing etc. it's completely out of my price range (as a student!!!). So has anyone found, or know of, a cheaper way to try quilting!? I know my mum has all of the above, but I dunno how willing she would be to part with her kit! lol

Sorry...I forgot how verbose I am! Speak soon! x


Kerry's picture

Stuart, I find the length to

Stuart, I find the length to armhole is the length to your armhole not what the pattern suggests. The best way to measure is to take your favourite jumper and measure the length from the bottom to the armhole. If you don't have a favourite, try on some in a shop then measure that jumper. Good luck with your jumper, size is your individual size not some mythical average size.

a_strange_boy's picture

Well I remember when I last

Well I remember when I last knit the jumper I got to about 16.5 inches and I though it seemed about right...so I think I'm gonna do it to then! The only thing I'm worried about is that it might seem misshapen because the armhole/neck shaping will be stay true to the original pattern! Trial and error though I guess?!

Joe-in Wyoming's picture

As far as evening your

As far as evening your tension goes, it all becomes a matter of practice. I can maintain even gauge whether knitting with my left hand [as is natural to me] or using my right hand. That is whether throwing the yarn or "scooping" it, Continental style. However, when it comes to purling, I have to be very careful of my tension - especially if I've not done any for a while. That is just part of the nature of knit vs. purl. Just continue practicing and working on projects until it becomes second habit to automatically change the tension to produce even knitting. A good way to improve purling is to knit purled garter stitch, purling every row. It helps you become comfortable with purling, which makes for even knitting and tension. Good luck on the sweater and quilting, too. -- Books, knitting, cats, fountain pens...Life is Good.

TheKnittingMill's picture

When I'm not knitting fair

When I'm not knitting fair isle, I throw. I'm not so sure I subscribe to the idea that one method of knitting regulates your tension over another. Because of the different morphology of the knit and purl it's a fairly omnipresent problem that the left most knit column has a looser tension in 2x2 ribbing, for instance. There are a few solutions that the Techknitter covers extensively.

I row out badly when knitting flat due to looser purl stitches as well, so here was my solution--I throw on the knit rows and lever knit on the purl rows. It works amazingly well for me and I don't have to change to a smaller needle on my purl rows. You may want to give it a try.

The Knitting Mill

Agreed----Need Speed?

Agreed----Need Speed? Mechanize. But then where hangs the joy of hand work? Go buy it done and complete at the shops for instant gratification. But then, I am an old codger and have lots of patience---three weeks to make a sock---So What.

a_strange_boy's picture

Ahh but if you're going to

Ahh but if you're going to take that approach then surely you have to question how far back you're taking the process?! Why buy yarn from a shop when you can weave it on your own?! Why buy wool in its raw form when you can raise your own flock and shear them yourself?! (okay now I'm getting silly! but you see what I mean!)

I find great joy in hand knitting! But there is also joy to be found in the finished product, and being able to enjoy something that you have personally designed and created! And with quilting what I'm looking more at is the design process; which patterns to use, how detailed should I make them, what materials to place and where etc. And so the lengthy process of individually measuring and cutting each square, and then hand sewing etc. is all a bit too much for me!

Bill's picture

You are going to have to

You are going to have to individually measure and cut each square or piece...there is a limit to how many layers you can cut accurately...and accuracy is essential if you're going to make a decent quilt. Even with machine sewing, making a quilt is a laborious process.
...but that is part of the enjoyment.

Britannic's picture

Another thing to consider

Another thing to consider with the knitting and your tension issue is the style in which you knit and the way you hold your needles. I'm going to assume, for the sake of argument, that you use the English style of knitting. In which, you hold the working yarn in your right hand and throw the yard around the working needle, which is also in your right hand. Depending on how you hold the needles, your tension can vary greatly.

There are two women who knit excellently and teach at my local yarn shop, who use the English style but use what is called a "Pencil hold" when they knit. Gail, who is also the shop owner, says, she feels that once you learn that hold, it is faster and the tension between the knits and purls is very consistent.

Many times, when people learn to knit, they mimic the style of the person who originally taught them. While they adapt to it and work with it, it may not actually be the best method for them. So, my point here is, try and find other styles of knitting or ways of holding your needles that may actually suit you better and produce better work. If you are an English knitter, get some scrap yarn and try teaching yourself another hold or perhaps try the Continental style. There are as many different ways to knit as there are cultures in the world. Explore them.

Bill's picture

Stuart, for quilting the

Stuart, for quilting the rotary cutter and mat really help with accuracy...(and speed)...and the sewing machine helps, but you might be able to borrow one.
You don't need a big cutting mat, because the pieces you'll be cutting for the quilt are small.
The evenness of your knitting will improve as you do more...mos of us have a slightly different tension between knitting and purling.
Hang in there!

Todd1972's picture

The tension thing on your

The tension thing on your knitting is a common problem (in the US it is called "rowing out"). I am not sure what pattern you have, but it seems to be one that is worked flat. Seamless, in-the-round jumpers obviate this issue (and are much more fun to make). I tend to avoid lots of stockinette worked flat for several reasons, "rowing out" being one of them. As far as the sizing, yes 18.5 seems to be too much, even for me and I am very tall (195cm). The best way to figure out how much is to find a jumper or sweatshirt that you like the fit of, and measure that.

hope this helps.


Before al of the above was

Before al of the above was invented, the basic quilting kit consisted of a pair of scissors, a needle, some thread and some cloth to cut up. I'm not quite sure how a knitting machine relates to patchwork quilting, anyway. Sewing machine--maybe, but not necessary.

a_strange_boy's picture

Oops, sorry! I meant sewing

Oops, sorry! I meant sewing machine, not knitting machine!

I guess I know that you could quilt with all that stuff, but for me...that would make quilting a very very long, slow process that doesn't really appeal to me! I'd like to have something that goes a bit quicker than my knitting! One of the things I love about my mum's quilting is that I can go to see her on a Friday and she's just started placing/sizing fabric, and then I can go back on a Sunday night and she's practically finished an entire baby quilt, and it looks amazing! I know much of that is experience...but my mum certainly wouldn't get through it anywhere near as fast if she was using scissors, a needle and some thread!