LK 150 Preparing to Knit

For your first attempts at knitting with your new LK-150, I recommend a good quality smooth hand knitting or coned yarn in size 3, usually called light worsted weight in the US, or a heavy DK in other countries. This yarn should be one that normally knits at approximately 5 sts and 6 – 7 rows per inch. I personally prefer to teach with a good quality acrylic, since my new knitters have the least problems with it. Wool is a second choice, since for some new knitters it does cause problems. Please save cottons for later, after you have some experience. Cottons don’t have as much elasticity, even the expensive ones; they cause problems for many people. After you are comfortable with the machine you may experiment with any yarn you like, but it is much better not to set yourself up for any extra problems which may be caused by a difficult yarn.

center pull skein

Hand knitting yarn, which comes in skeins or hanks should be prepared first. Yarn must flow freely at all times; tight spots or tangles may cause jams and dropped stitches. Any extra tension on the yarn, such as is frequently found in the center of skeins, will cause a row of tight knitting. This looks like a recessed stripe, or “ditch” across the fabric. Even though infomercials show another brand of hobby knitter using yarn directly from the skein, I recommend that you take the time to prepare the whole skein first. Knitting machines use up yarn at an astounding rate.

Even if you actually do remember to pull out enough yarn for the next row, it really takes longer to stop every row and pull out yarn than it does to prepare the whole skein at once. A yarn ball winder is your best choice, but if you don’t have one, please take the time to at least pull out the entire middle of the skein and unwind it into a box or basket. This part of the skein is where the knots and tangles occur. Handknitters often refer to it as “yarn spaghetti” or “yarn barf.” It will cause you untold grief when machine knitting. Be sure to unwind this center blob from the middle toward the end of the yarn; you need that beginning end to thread the machine!

When you pull the yarn into a box or basket, be sure to keep the dogs/cats/toddlers out of it. It doesn’t take much agitation to cause a very tangled knot. (Voice of experience, here!)

no yarn skeins
center pull ball

Never rewind by hand into a ball. It is easy to stretch the yarn just a little while winding it, causing uneven tension and its resulting uneven stitches when knitting. Furthermore, the yarn does not unwind smoothly, since the ball bounces around as you knit.


If at possible, rewind loosely, using a cone or ball yarn winder. Yarn should be used from the center of a ball, and from the outside of a cone.

threading diagram

Threading the Tension Assembly

This is the threading diagram. We will thread the yarn through the right side of the autotension, as follows:
1. Thread the yarn through the eyelet in the yarn guide.
2. Come up behind the Tension Dial (the knob with numbers on it). There is a spring-loaded metal cap that fits on the inside of the numbered plastic dial, and there is also a little extension, or pin, just at the inside rear edge of the dial. If you gently pull out on the metal cap, you will see this pin at the back. Make sure the yarn goes under the pin, then between the metal and the body of the Auto Tension.
3. Thread the yarn from back to front (towards you) through the eyelet at the front of the body of the Auto Tension.
4. Thread the yarn from back to front through the eyelet in the tension spring. Pull the spring down first, then thread yarn end through towards you.

tension dial pin

One of the easiest mistakes to make is not getting the yarn seated correctly under the tension dial. When you look at the tension unit, the tension dial seems to be flush with the horizontal arm that holds the front eyelets. This is not really the case. Again, gently pull out on the metal cap, and be sure the yarn goes under the pin, and between the metal cap and body of the Auto Tension.

adjust tension dial

The Tension Dial should be adjusted according to the size of the yarn. The lower the number, the tighter the tension; the higher the numer, the looser the tension. If you are using yarn that normally produces 4-5 sts per inch, this will probably be 5 or 7; but it can vary, depending on the yarn. Pull the yarn. When adjusted properly, the tension spring should be almost horizontal.

The Tension Dial on the Auto Tension unit should also normally be adjusted so that it matches the number on the Stitch Dial as closely as possible. The illustration on page 10 in the manual is confusing; there are two different Auto Tension units that fit this machine, and I have both. One has settings only for the odd numbers (1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13); the other is numbered consecutively from 1-7. I suspect that the one which has numbers 1-7 was really manufactured for the LK 140, the hobby knitter which was replaced by the LK 150. Parts are interchangeable between these machines; the main difference being that the LK 140 has 140 needles, and the LK 150 has 150.

For this lesson, we will presume that your Auto Tension has the odd number scale (1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13). If the Stitch Dial is set at an even number, try setting the Tension Dial to the closest lower odd number and knit a swatch, then try the higher number to see which you prefer. Knitted fabric often shrinks a little when washed the first time, so when working with completely unfamiliar yarn it is a good idea to try several swatches, wash and dry them, then see which you like best.

yarn clip

When you have completed threading the tension unit, place the yarn in the yarn clip. Thin or slippery yarn may need to be wound two or three times around the yarn clip.

Tutorial Index

This tutorial was copyrighted and uploaded to the original Clearwater Knits website in 1997. It was updated July 15, 2016.