example 1 of a tension patch example 2 of a tension patch

Tension Notes

Increasing Accuracy of SW and SH

When designing knitting with maths the stitch width and stitch height are used in almost all calculations. Here are a few ways to make our measurement of them more accurate.

1. Relax

You've just made your tension patch. The next step is to go and make a cup of tea.


tea time

OK, OK you can have a coffee instead, or how about a refreshing fruit juice? The important thing is that you leave your tension patch alone for a few minutes so that it can relax into its natural shape before measuring. This way you stitch measurements will reflect the fabric "at rest" and not straining in an odd direction.

2. Knit a Bigger Tension Patch

By taking a bit more time and knitting a bigger tension patch you will be able to get a more accurate average measurement.

Imagine you have just made your tension patch and are trying to measure the width (arguments regarding height are so similar that we won't look into them here). No matter how neatly you knit the edges of the tension patch will go in and out a little. This means that you can not be sure that your measurement is accurate.

If we say that each edge can wobble in or out by 2mm (this is about average for knitting done on 3mm needles) then the measurement of the width may be different from the true width by ±4mm.

errors in measurement

Example 1 - A Small Tension Patch

If a tension patch is 10 stitches across then each stitch width is accurate to ±4mm ÷ 10 = ±0.4mm

This means that an ODDknit made from a design that is 20 stitches across might be up to 8mm bigger or smaller than you expect. This is a lot of difference in a small object so you should probably knit a bigger tension patch.

Example 2 - A Larger Tension Patch

If a tension patch is 40 stitches across then each stitch width is accurate to ±4mm ÷ 40 = ±0.1mm

An object made from a design that is 20 stitches accross might be 2mm too big or small (it would be hard to measure any difference at all). An object that is 100 stitches across might be 10mm too big or small, it is up to you if this is accurate enough.

3. Make Sure Any Pattern Repeats Exactly

When patterns are knitted individual stitches may be different widths. We want to find the average stitch size so make sure there is an exact repeat of the pattern across the width of the row.

Row height may also be affected by a pattern so make sure you work complete sets of pattern rows. If the pattern has plain rows count the cast on stitches as one plain row and begin the pattern from there.