Weights Are Not Always Necessary

I’ve been meaning to write a post about this for a long time. In my opinion people use too many knitting weights, and you do not need them.  Too many weights distort the knitting and cause all sorts of gauge problems.  Calculating how much weight one uses on a swatch and then trying to figure out how much one needs for the project is plain ridiculous!

Except for edge weights to make sure those pesky edge stitches knit properly, you do not need to use weights to knit flat bed knitting (unless you are using the Bond).  I knit SS, tuck, slip etc. without weights, I dislike them and I’ve learnt to knit without them.  Let the brushes and/or rubber wheels on your carriage arm do all the work, they are designed to push against the knitting to ensure the row and stitches knit off properly.  You don’t need weights to cast-on either.  Here is a list of things to check:

  1. Make sure the brushes and rubber wheels are spinning freely, ever so often take the screws off and check for yarn that might have wrapped around the posts.  Also make sure they aren’t worn or fraying, if they are, replace them with new ones.
  2. Make sure your tension mast and stitch size is right for the yarn you are using.
  3. For testing purposes and for waste knitting I always use the weaving cast on, it’s quick and easy.
  4. I always use waste yarn to start and end a project, even if the cast-on is closed.  I like using acrylic yarn for this, so that when the piece is blocked, the acrylic yarn can be “killed” and the two edges lay nice and flat, makes for easier blocking.
  5. Even on the Brother machines, I NEVER use the cast on comb it’s just not necessary!
  6. Install and use the tuck brushes that came with your machine when knitting tuck stitches.
  7. I ALWAYS put the weaving brushes into work.  They are not just for weaving, they help all other stitch patterns knit off easily.  I use them for every stitch pattern, except SS
  8. Finally and the most important, knit SLOWLY at an even pace, if you race the carriage across the bed you will drop stitches even if the work is weighted.

You’re probably thinking, for Pete’s sake surely you need weights for lace knitting.  Yes you do but not as much as you think, I use say 3/4 claw weights over 100 stitches evenly spread.  For this purpose I do like using the Brother cast-on comb, if you don’t have the comb, then use a circular knitting needle to weave in and out and hang the weights off it.  I also have a blocking wire which I use in the same manner.  If you are using the Singer/Silver/Studio/Knitmaster lace carriage, make sure it’s calibrated to work with your knitting machine.  It’s never mentioned in any of the manuals but if you speak with a good maintenance and repair person, they will tell you this.  There is a small and easy adjustment needed (sometimes) to make the lace carriage work smoothly (ask me how I know).  Often this is what causes dropped lace stitches, it has nothing to do with weight.

I admit, I can’t stand weights and I won’t not use them if I don’t have to.  If I have to, I’ll try and get away with as little as possible.  This is one of the reasons why I don’t use ribbers, I hate using the cast-on combs and weights.

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