Lessons in tension

I learned a lesson on tension from my latest project, this Latvian Christmas Stocking.  This stocking called for size 2 double point needles.  Since I am more comfortable with a circular needle, I started with a size 2, 12 inch circular needle.  I knew eventually I would need to change to double point needles as I decreased stitches in the lower stocking.  I made sure my circular and double points were the same size, material and brand to avoid any size differences.   Despite this forethought, the bottom of the stocking turned out too small for the top.  This picture was taken after blocking, so the size discrepancy isn’t as obvious.  However, you can still see where I changed to the double points just below the second row of large red flowers.  My children, who are always brutally honest about my knitting, immediately asked if the foot of the stocking wasn’t too small.  I started to wonder, “Why did this happen?”

The answer is in the tension.

The very reason I wanted to use a circular needle is because I am more comfortable with circular needles than with double points.  In my knitting (and many other things in life too) more comfortable=less tension, or looser tension.  When I changed to the double points, even though the needles were exactly the same size, the knitting seemed more difficult to me and my tension became tighter.  This tighter tension resulted in the lower stocking and foot, being disproportionately small compared to the upper stocking.

This stocking was slated to be my last knitting project before Christmas.  However, I am now determined to make another stocking with more even tension.  The solution to my problem is to use double pointed needles for the whole project.  I will let you know how it turns out.

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