Learn to Knit for Beginners – Lesson 4, “tinking”

Welcome back to my Learn to Knit for Beginners course.  I’m sure by now you are getting into your knitting and may have been making some easy knitting mistakes.

If you’ve missed them, you can find the Introduction to this Learn to Knit course here.  In Lesson 1 and Lesson 2 We’ve been learning how to knit and purl and put them together to make some simple knitted textures.  In Lesson 3, we learned how to read a knitting pattern and put it into practice on this Free Knitted Scarf Pattern.

In this fourth lesson we will be looking at some beginner knitting mistakes and how to spot and more importantly correct them!

So let’s get started!

Tension Issues

One of the hardest things at first (I have found) when you first learn to knit is to make sure that each stitch has an even tension.  As easy knitting mistakes go, this is simple to fix, it just takes a bit of practice!

What might it look like?

You might spot uneven tension by noticing that some stitches seem bigger, loser, baggier than others, or tighter and smaller than others.

What to do about it?

Hold your yarn so it “slides” through your fingers

The first way to make sure you are doing this is by finding a way to hold your yarn so that it slides through your fingers.  That way you can control how much yarn you “feed” each stitch.  Have a look back at Lesson 1 of this Learn to Knit for Beginners course for my tips on how to hold your yarn and needles.

If you’ve tried that but you still have some stitches that are tighter than others, look at where you are making your stitches…

Don’t make stitches right at the end of the needle

If you do, the stitches will be tighter (because the needle is thinner there).  This is an easy knitting mistake that some people will find obvious.  I’ve included it because it was something I found difficult when I was first learning to knit.


Instead, make them further down the needle, it’s easier to keep them consistent here!   Sounds obvious I know, but as this part of the needle is always the same size, stitches will be the same size.  As you can see, the tip of the needle tapers and so its harder to keep them the same size.  Another easy knitting mistake that this will solve is stopping your work is getting too tight generally.  Stitches should slide nicely along the needles, if they don’t chances are you are knitting too tightly.


Check you’re not “bunching up stitches”

This is also a good time to check that you aren’t bunching your stitches up on the needle.  If you are, it will be harder to make the stitches further down the needle.

When you first learn to knit, it is normal to want to hold the stitches all the time.  You may also feel that you have to hang on tight to the stitches and the needles so they don’t fall off!  Trust me, shuffle them further down the needle and they wont!

Holding on tightly might also be causing your hands to ache or feel crampy.


The easiest way to stop them falling off is to have them further down the needle.  It will also help you loosen your grip on the needles a bit (I hope!)


Experiment with what feels best for you. If you are feeling crampy, I’ve posted some tips on stretching your hands here.

You will have to keep sliding them up the left needle to be able to knit. Also remember to slide them along the right needle to give yourself room to knit though!

How to “un-knit” if you have made a mistake

There are so many easy knitting mistakes and you will make some or all of them as you learn to knit.

To fix that mistake, you will need to get back to the place in the row that you made the mistake to be able to fix it.

To do this, you’ll need to know how to knit backwards to get back to the place in the row.  Don’t panic though, it’s actually more simple than knitting!!  This technique is often called “tink-ing” (tink being knit backwards!).

Trust me, I’m a pro at “tinking”, I’m forever absent-mindedly doing something wrong and having to go back and fix it!!

Here is a video explaining how to “tink” on knit and purl sides.

Now its time to have a go yourself!

So that’s the end of Lesson 4.  Hopefully you should now understand how to resolve issues you’re getting with uneven tension.  Hopefully you’ll also understand how to knit-back to the place that you made a mistake so that you can correct it. In the next lesson we’ll look at some specific easy knitting mistakes and you’ll need to know how to do this to fix these problems.

Have a go at knitting a few stitches and then “un-knitting” them again to get into the practice before we look at the specific issues you might be having next week.

Join me in lesson 5, where we’ll look at what happens if you end up with a different number of stitches at the end of the row than when you started (more or less!).  I’ll show you some of the things that you may be doing wrong and how to fix them!

I am here to help!

Whether you are knitting the pattern I’ve shared, or another pattern, if at any point you have any issues, question, comments, please post them either below in the comments section, or you can find me on facebook here or here. I really am here to help so please don’t struggle in silence. If you are struggling with something, chances are that someone else is too, so think of it as helping them!! 🙂

Please show me how you’re getting on!

I’d really love to see what you’re up and I know you can’t add pictures to the comments on my blog so:

If you’re on facebook – please share them on my facebook page Jo Creates Facebook Page or if you’re sharing them in your own newsfeed, please tag me so I can see what lovely knits and purls you are making!

If you’re on instagram, please post pictures of your knitting practice using the hashtag


Thanks folks! 🙂

See you next time!








9 Responses

  1. OMG, I remember teaching myself how to tink when I was a beginning knitter. I didn’t want to admit to my grandma that I’d made a mistake (she was teaching me to knit) so I spent a lot of time figuring it out on my own. Tinking is a good skill for a knitter to have, though. 🙂

      1. I did a lot more tinking before I learned how to ladder down to a mistake to fix it. Still, not enough teachers show you how to fix mistakes when they teach a new skill!

  2. Your video on ‘tinking’ is clear and easy to understand, and I shall try the technique soon. Does it work though if you only discover an error after you’ve knitted several more rows since the mistake. Or would I, in this case, have to resort to my usual trick, ie dumping a load of yarn in a nearby wastepaper basket? Love to hear your thoughts on this frustrating topic. Have you ever thought of offering a tinking service (at a v. small fee, obviously 🙂 for anyone like me who may be nervous of doing their own tinking. Knitters would send their mangled projects, including attached knitting needles, through the post. Could be a real money spinner lol.

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