Each pattern in the book states a tension or gauge - the number of stitches and rows per centimetre or inch that should be obtained with the given needles, yarn and stitch pattern. Check your tension carefully before starting work. A slight variation in tension can spoil the look of a garment and alter the proportions that the designer wanted. A too loose tension will produce uneven knitting and an unstable fabric that can droop or lose it's shape after washing, whilst too tight a tension can create a hard, unforgiving fabric.

To make a tension square use the same needles, yam and stitch pattern quoted in the tension note in the pattern. Knit a sample at least 12.5cm/5in square. Smooth out the finished sample on a flat surface but do not stretch it. To check the stitch tension place a tape measure horizontally on the sample and mark 10cm/4in with pins. Count the number of stitches between pins. To check the row tension place the tape measure vertically on the sample and mark 10cm/4in. Count the number of rows between the pins. If the number of stitches and rows is greater than that stated in the pattern, try again using larger needles. If the number of stitches and rows is less, use smaller needles. If you are only able to obtain either the stitch or the row tension, it is the stitch tension that is the most important to get right, as the length of many patterns are calculated by measurement rather than the amount or rows you need to work to achieve it.

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