Uneven stockinette--help please?

I mostly knit in the round because my stockinette stitch on straight needles is so lumpy. I end up with ridges every other row, and I can’t tell whether the purl or the knit is too tight or too loose, or how to fix it. I would of course like to end up with a smooth expanse of beautiful stockinette stitch! I knit in continental style, if that makes it easier to answer my question.
Thanks so much, all you experts,


Hi Kirinphoebe–

I am not sure what you mean when you say you get ridges every other row. Any chance you could post a picture of an example?

In the meantime, I will tell you that it probably does have to do with your tension, and knitting and purling with different tensions. The advice I can offer is–try learning to knit and purl English style and see if that makes a difference or try a different needle size with the same yarn. It really does take a lot of practice to get your stockinette nice and even. It took me a long while.

Also, have you tried making a swatch and blocking it? If you are using animal fibers especially, that will often take a lot of the unevenness out of it.

It’s called “rowing out” and here’s an example http://nonaknits.typepad.com/nonaknits/2007/04/rowing_out.html though it’s more noticeable on the purl side. You can experiment by using first a smaller needle on the purl row for a couple inches, then switch to a larger needle. You should be able to tell which fixes the problem.

Thanks Sue-I’d never heard that term before.

It’s easier to see on the purl side. Happens to me sometimes with uneven tension. It looks like 2 rows of purl bumps then a wider gap between the next 2 rows of purls.

WOW! What do you know–there’s a name for what I’m doing! Rowing out–sounds like using oars to get to deeper water.

And I do feel like I’m in deep water. I think I should take some lessons at the local yarn shop. I don’t like to purl and I am sure the tension is wrong, and my stitches are also uneven (one description said “one leg longer than the other”).

Thanks for all the good advice, which I shall try.

Have a great weekend, all. Smooth knitting!


Yep, the knit designer that does combo knitting says with her method she does not get “rowing out” The Book is [B]Confessions of a Knitting Heretic [/B]by Annie Modesitt

Yes, rowing out.

You can use 2 different needles to help yourself to determine which row is the problem…

but the real solution is not to knit with size 6, and purl with size 5–

its to learn to control your tension on the purls.

1–just do it
2–learn to knit differently (knit english? learn to knit continental! Knit continental? learn the norwegian purl! Know how to norwegian purl? Learn combo knitting too…
then go back to your normal style… just learning all these other methods will help…
(because what you need more than anything else is practice!)

Really you’ll find that just KNOWING you tend to purl looser is the first step to better tension with your purls… (and less rowing out!)

Combo method (my prefered way to knit) is PHYSICALLY easier, but MENTALLY harder.

it requires you know a stitch, (a knit, a purl) and that you can immediately ‘recognize’ how it is mounted (front leg forward or rear leg forward)

it requires some attention to decreasing…–since it requires you to reverse decrease directions (direction say K2tog? with combo, you do something like a ssk. directions say ssk, you K2tog!)

But its much easier to work a combo purl, and many times easier to control tension/gauge and to not row out…

So… the answer is easy… PRACTICE! and continue to learn! (d’oh… i know, you wanted the quick fix… but there really isn’t any quick fix!)

The Combined version of Continental knitting evens out your stockinette because the yarn travels a shorter distance to make a purl. Your purls thus become tighter and more like the tension of your knit stitches.

It’s also a much easier way to purl – less wrist twisting.

I’m not a “pure” Combined knitter: I use it for stockinette and for some rib stitches. I use regular Continental for garter stitch (because no purling is involved) and fancy stitches such as lace (because I’m too lazy to “translate” the increases and decreases).

It’s worth the sort learning curve to get beautiful stockinette. Go here: http://www.modeknit.com/knit.html

Or, if you have Mary Thomas’s Knitting Book (and IMHO, everyone should), look for “Eastern Uncrossed Knitting.”

I have also had a terrible problem “rowing out”. It can be terribly frustrating! Following are several things I have learned to correct the problem: 1) Practice, practice, practice. 2) With a non-forgiving fiber like cotton yarn, knit a swatch of 20 stitches and 20 rows (garter stitch). Bind off. Put a marker on this swatch to identify it as being the “knit” swatch. Now purl a swatch of 20 stitches and 20 rows, with the same yarn (also garter stitch). Bind off. Compare the two swatches. Which ever is smallere is the type of stitch you are executin more tightly than the other. This is where the practice comes in. Again, using your cotton yarn try knitting in Stockinette Stitch, different methods to see which is more even… English, Continental or Combined. I have found the Combined Method to be more helpful (as stated in a post above).

The best method I have recently learned, is to kniw “Portuguese” style with a knitting pin, or the yarn around your neck. I prefer the “pin”. There are websites dedicated to this style of knitting. My own knitting now looks like it was produced by a machine! Enjoy, Relax and have fun - isn’t that why we all knit?

it is really not a PROB. You really must just keep knitting and do not worry. this happend to all knitters. you just want it to be perfect. me to! it happens to me also. if you give it as a gift they won’t notice. they are just happy to get it!!!

good luck knitting!!

Mega 734