Why Does My Knitting Machine Drop Stitches?

Knitting machines are wonderful tools that allow you to create beautiful and intricate knitwear. However, one common issue that many knitters face is dropped stitches. Dropped stitches can be frustrating and can result in uneven or incomplete patterns. Understanding why your knitting machine drops stitches is crucial in troubleshooting and resolving this problem. In this article, we will explore the various reasons behind dropped stitches and discuss how to address them.

1. Incorrect Tension

One of the most common reasons for dropped stitches is incorrect tension. Tension refers to the tightness or looseness of the yarn as it is fed into the machine. If the tension is too loose, the stitches may not be properly formed, leading to dropped stitches. On the other hand, if the tension is too tight, the yarn may not move smoothly through the machine, causing the stitches to become tight and prone to dropping.

Here are some possible causes of incorrect tension:

  • Improper yarn weight: Different yarns have different thicknesses and weights. Make sure you are using the appropriate yarn weight for your knitting machine. Using a yarn that is too thin or too thick can affect the tension.
  • Incorrect tension setting: Most knitting machines have a tension dial or lever that allows you to adjust the tension. Ensure that the tension setting is appropriate for the yarn you are using.
  • Uneven yarn feed: Uneven feeding of the yarn can lead to inconsistent tension. Make sure the yarn is feeding smoothly and evenly through the machine.
  • Worn-out tension discs: Over time, the tension discs in a knitting machine can become worn or dirty, affecting the tension. Clean or replace the tension discs if necessary.

By addressing these issues, you can achieve the correct tension and minimize dropped stitches in your knitting machine.

2. Needle Issues

The needles in your knitting machine play a crucial role in creating stitches. If there are issues with the needles, such as misalignment or damage, it can result in dropped stitches. Here are some needle-related problems that may cause dropped stitches:

  • Needle misalignment: Check if the needles are properly aligned in the needle bed. Misaligned needles can cause the yarn to skip stitches or drop them altogether.
  • Bent or damaged needles: Inspect the needles for any signs of bending or damage. Bent needles may not catch the yarn properly, leading to dropped stitches. Replace any damaged needles with new ones.
  • Dirty or sticky needles: Dirt or residue on the needles can interfere with their movement, causing them to skip stitches. Clean the needles regularly using a soft cloth or a recommended cleaning solution.
  • Wrong needle type or size: Ensure that you are using the correct needle type and size for your knitting project. Using the wrong needle can result in dropped stitches or uneven tension.

Regularly inspecting and maintaining your knitting machine’s needles will help prevent dropped stitches and ensure smooth knitting.

3. Yarn Issues

The type and quality of yarn you use can also contribute to dropped stitches. Here are some yarn-related factors to consider:

  • Slippery yarn: If the yarn you are using is very slippery, it may not hold the stitches securely, leading to dropped stitches. Consider using a yarn with more texture or grip.
  • Uneven or tangled yarn: Yarn that is unevenly spun or tangled can cause the stitches to catch or snag, resulting in dropped stitches. Check your yarn for any inconsistencies or tangles before using it.
  • Yarn breakage: Weak or brittle yarn can break during the knitting process, causing stitches to drop. Choose yarns that are strong and durable to minimize breakage.

Using high-quality yarn and ensuring its compatibility with your knitting machine can help reduce the occurrence of dropped stitches.

4. Machine Maintenance

Regular maintenance of your knitting machine is essential to prevent issues like dropped stitches. Neglecting maintenance can result in problems with the machine’s mechanisms, which can affect stitch formation. Here are some maintenance tips:

  • Cleaning: Regularlyclean your knitting machine to remove any dirt, dust, or yarn fibers that may accumulate. Use a soft brush or cloth to gently clean the needle bed, tension discs, and other components.
  • Lubrication: Lubricate the moving parts of your knitting machine as recommended by the manufacturer. This helps ensure smooth operation and reduces the chances of stitches dropping due to friction or sticking.
  • Check for loose parts: Inspect your knitting machine for any loose screws, nuts, or bolts. Loose parts can affect the machine’s performance and lead to dropped stitches. Tighten them if necessary.
  • Replace worn-out parts: Over time, certain parts of the knitting machine may wear out and become less effective. Check for worn-out parts such as sponge bars, needle retaining bars, or needle presser bars, and replace them as needed.

By regularly maintaining your knitting machine, you can ensure that it operates smoothly and minimizes the occurrence of dropped stitches.

5. User Error

Sometimes, dropped stitches can occur due to user error. Here are some common user-related factors to consider:

  • Incorrect threading: Ensure that the yarn is threaded correctly through the machine’s guides, tension discs, and needles. Improper threading can result in dropped stitches.

  • Incorrect carriage movement: The carriage of the knitting machine needs to be moved smoothly and consistently. Jerky or inconsistent movement can lead to dropped stitches. Practice smooth carriage movements to avoid this problem.
  • Not following the machine’s instructions: Each knitting machine has specific instructions and techniques that need to be followed. Not following these instructions can result in dropped stitches or other knitting issues. Familiarize yourself with the machine’s manual and guidelines.
  • Knitting too fast: Rapid knitting movements can put strain on the machine and increase the chances of dropped stitches. Take your time and maintain a steady pace while knitting.

By being mindful of these user-related factors and practicing proper techniques, you can minimize the occurrence of dropped stitches on your knitting machine.


Dropped stitches can be a frustrating issue when using a knitting machine, but they can be addressed by understanding the underlying causes and taking appropriate measures. By maintaining correct tension, inspecting and maintaining the needles, using suitable yarn, performing regular machine maintenance, and avoiding user errors, you can significantly reduce the occurrence of dropped stitches. Remember to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and seek assistance from experienced knitters or professionals if needed. With patience and practice, you can enjoy smooth and successful knitting on your machine.


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