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 getting the right tension
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Chatty Knitter

106 Posts

Posted - 08/14/2006 :  07:17:24 AM  Show Profile Send kcholm a Private Message
I bought an LK140 this spring and am getting started on some pieces in which gauge matters. I'm having some trouble finding the right tension to get gauge. I'm coming from handknitting where you can just size the needle up or down and it's not quite that easy on the machine, I'm learning.
I'm unclear as to how the two tension dials, on the yarn mast and on the carriage, work together. Should they be set at the same number? Does one affect the row count and one the stitch count?
A basic problem I'm having is that the machine-knitted fabric just doesn't look like the hand-knitted fabric to me. The bars between the stitches look too prominent to me. Instead of columns of stitches lying next to one another it looks like columns of stitches alternating with columns of bars.
I've tried a carriage tension of 5 and 7 (out of 7). The 7 was just too loose--you could practically see through the fabric but the tension of 5 looked strange to me also, even after resting the fabric for a few days.
In general, what tension do you usually use with worsted on an LK140? I understand that cotton has less "give" than wool. Would that indicate a higher or lower tension?

New Pal

12 Posts

Posted - 08/15/2006 :  2:09:33 PM  Show Profile Send wrknits a Private Message
Hi, I have Brother machines but I'll have a go at this. Adjust the top tension unit so that when your yarn is in the clip and you pull back on the yarn that is being fed to the machine, the yarn take up wire has a nice bow to it. It shouldn't spring straight up when you let go of the yarn (too loose) nor should it stay at the lowest point (too tight). The wire and the yarn shoulf form a sideways 'D' with the yarn forming the straight side of the 'D'. I hope that makes sense,

When you take your tension swatch off the machine, are you pulling it lengthwise a couple of times to pop the stitches back into place? The machine will tend to stretch the piece sideways so this is a necessary step.

Otherwise finding the right tension is a matter of trial and error. On my Brothers, if there are more stitches to the inch than the pattern calls for I turn the dial to t higher number, fewer stitches means I try a smaller number. Mostly I go for a tension swatch that looks and feels right for the yarn I am using and then I recalculate the pattern rows and stitches for my desired gauge. Yeah, it is a lot of math but it works for me.

Another thing to try is to knit a really long swatch trying different tensions in steps. Start with 30 rows at T7, knit two rows of a contrast color and dial down to T6. Do 30 rows of T6, 2 rows of contrast, 30 rows of T5, etc. until the carriage starts resisting you. And remember to pull the swatch lengthwise when it comes off the machine.

Good luck,

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