Six Ways to Make Your Arm Knitting Tighter

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How do I get my arm knitting tighter? This is the question I get asked the second most often about arm knitting, only just behind how do I put down my arm knitting in the middle of a project.  The tightness of your stitches has to do with a number of factors, including knitting tension, needle (arm) size, and yarn thickness. Most people want their stitches to look full, not loosey-goosey or net-like. I’m with them! I like my stitches to look like a traditional full knit fabric, only on a humongous, eye-popping scale! The good news is there is a lot you can do to tighten up your stitches. Welcome to the second post in my Arm Knitting Know How series.

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If your stitches are too loose and your fabric isn’t full, it may be because you aren’t working with yarn that is thick enough. You can easily increase your yarn size by adding an additional strand or two of yarn. I arm knit with anywhere from 1 to 6 strands of yarn at a time. Additionally, if your arm size is bigger, it is like knitting with bigger needles, your arm size will influence your stitch fullness. You may need to bulk up your yarn to match your “needle”/arm size.

The remaining issue to address is tension. Tension basically refers to how tight or loose you knit. Generally, a sense of tension is fairly ingrained in knitters. If you are a tight knitter, it’s difficult to make yourself a loose knitter and vice-versa. I find that knitting tension tends to be correlated to uptight and relaxed personalties as well (ahem, I am a tight knitter, mind you!). Regardless of your natural proclivities though, there are some very simple ways to make your arm knitting tighter.

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First, when you arm knit, keep your stitches as condensed and close to your hand as possible. Do not use your entire arm to hold the stitches of your arm knitting. Your “needles” get much bigger as they get closer to your elbow. This lends itself to inconsistent stitch size.  For consistent and smaller stitches, keep your stitches snugly together on the lower third of your arm. The closer to your wrist the better, even if they overlap a bit. Your stitches should be snug, touching your arm all the around (though not so tight that you cut off your circulation)!

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The second thing to think about is try to keep your hands close together as you knit. Do you pull your arms apart when you’re actually making the stitch? This will make your stitches grow. Sometimes people grab the working yarn (the yarn that goes to the balls) close to their hand (great technique!) and then pull their arms apart from each other as they are making the stitch. Anyway you do it, when you pull your hands apart from each other, you are increasing your stitch size. Make your movements small and keep those hands close together, and your stitches will be smaller!

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Next, make every effort to grab the working yarn close to the last stitch you made as you knit. This means you will make the next stitch with as little slack in the working yarn as possible. Don’t forget to keep your hands/wrists/arms close together as you pull the old stitch off your arm to make the new stitch.

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You may notice that the last stitch you made won’t actually lock down tight. This frustrates a lot of beginning arm knitters.  Here’s the trick, focus on the stitch you made just before the last one. You can tighten this second to the last one by pulling on the working yarn snugly with each stitch.

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In other words, as you arm knit, think about tightening the stitch prior to the one you’re currently knitting so that it is tightened snugly to your wrist.

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Lastly, you can always manually tighten your arm knit stitches by starting at the stitch close to your elbow and pulling each one snug against your arm, progressing from your elbow, and going towards your hand. If you’ve been orienting the stitches correctly, each next stitch will tighten and pull well from the leg (or side) of the stitch that is behind your arm.

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Pull on one stitch, then move to the next stitch towards your hand. Continue to tighten each stitch against your arm moving the excess yarn towards the working yarn at your hand.

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Making Arm Knitting Tighter

In summary, keep your arm knitting tighter by following the following tips and tricks:

  1. Make sure your yarn is thick enough! Add strands if necessary.
  2. Keep your stitches on the lower third of your arm, with the stitches snug to your arm.
  3. Keep your arms and hands as close together as possible while you work.
  4. Grab the working yarn for the next stitch as close to the old stitch as possible.
  5. Tighten the stitch prior to the last one made by pulling the working yarn taut.
  6. Tighten your stitches manually by starting at your elbow and working towards your hand.

These tips and tricks should get you started on making your arm knitting tighter. But, if you have a hard time with it, it’s okay! Arm knitting is supposed to be fun, not stressful! If your arm knitting continues to be loose, roll with it! It’s your natural jam! In this case, if you still want your stitches looking fuller, I would return to the idea of bulking up your yarn. Give it whirl!

  1. Pingback: Picks of the Week for April 8, 2016 | Hands Occupied

  2. sarah

    thank youfor this post!!

  3. Monica Beeman

    What is the yarn you are using in the photos for this post? Is it only 2 strands? I love the look and I can’t wait to try your suggestions for a tighter knit on my next blanket!

    • Hi Monica! it is only two strands. It is a specialty yarn, similar to Loopy Mango or BagSmith or LoveFest fibers. Take a look at those places to see if you can find something similar.

  4. Patricia

    How many spools need to make a full size blanket? And how do you connect when running low and not completed?

    • Hi Patricia, I suggest about 250 yards to make a blanket. You will need multiple strands depending on what yarn you use. I like to use four strands of super bulky, which means 1,000 yards in all. When you need to change skeins, I just attach a new skein to an old skein with a sliding knot (the kind used for adjustable jewelry). Because you are using four strands, these little knots are hidden in the bulk of the yarn – just make sure that you do this at different spots so all four knots aren’t together.

  5. Suzy Dolbin

    What is the content of the yarn you sell in arm knitting blanket kit?

    • Hi Suzy, The yarn is 100% Peruvian wool. Let me know if you have any other questions. Thanks, Anne

  6. Shelby

    Hi I’m new at this and just made my first blanket last night (before finding your page) and my blanket does look rope like. How do you do multiple strands at once?

    • Hi! As you arm knit, hold three or four or even five strands of the yarn you are using to create a full fabric. You basically create a much bigger yarn by knitting from multiple balls at the same time. Does this make sense?

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