I have an old bike thats been in storage for a few years and I am gradually fixing it up, I have replaced various bits and pieces and now it is as new apart from the front derailleur.
I have a knob to shift the derailleur rather than grip shift, 3 cogs, It should jump to the second wheel when at about the 8'oclock position, the 3rd cog when about 10 o'clock, however it doesn't shift to the second cog until I push it up to about 10-11, and 3rd cog when at 11, there is so little space between cog 2 and 3 that they chain will sometimes shift up and down itself.
86 RockHopper,2008 Specialized Globe. Both upgraded to 9 speeds.
Do you have stem or down tube shifters?
It sounds like your "knob" is really a lever?
Symptoms sound like you need to shorten the cable.
Limit screw keeps the FDER from moving off the smallest ring.
Shifting to 2nd is pulling a lot of slack out of the cable before it shifts.
Shift to 3rd doesn't require as much because the slack is out of the cable.
Also sounds like the high limit screw may need to be backed out slightly, but remove slack from the cable first and see how things work.
You might simply be not moving the FDER enough to make a complete shift because the lever "throw" is maxed out.
A pic of the shifter would be useful. (or a better description of the type)