The Weigh-down on Stitches
Struggling to work the first row or two of your knitting?
by Jackie E-S
When you are hand knitting, do you sometimes struggle with the stitches while working the first row or two of your knitting after the cast on? Or sometimes you might even continue to fight the stitches further into the knitting?
A couple of seemingly obvious remedies are to
- Work with a pointier knitting needle, or
- Attempt to loosen the tension on your working yarn
But let's just say that these are not possible, or maybe just are't doing enough to help – e.g. you don't have other needles to use, or you just are in a stressful "hang onto the yarn for dear life" kind of mood.
One of the things to note is that weight on the underside of stitches can help make your knitting easier (and speedier). Any weight on the knitting beneath the row in progress helps to elongate the underside of the stitch(es), thereby making the job of slipping the needle point through the stitch take less
That is why you may have noticed that your knitting gets "easier" after a few rows have been worked. There is some weight pulling down on those stitches! If you are just starting out, try pulling down on the underside of the stitch simultaneously while the point of the working needle starts to enter the stitch. There isn't much to hold onto just after a cast on row, but you can do it if you try! When knitting with fine lace yarns, continue to be mindful about "weighing down" your stitches as you knit, and you might save your fingers from using really sharp, pointy needles.
The importance of weight on the underside of the row in progress is well understood by those speedy lace knitters. Example in point (excuse the pun): The Russian Orenburg lace knitters sit on the end of the scarf/shawl when it is lengthy enough to do so, and this provides the added tension weight for those
gossamer fabrics without the need to do so with the fingers or fight to enter the stitches.
Keep your heart light, but remember that a little weight on your stitches might be a good thing!
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