Knitting technique - how do you knit?

G'day all!

On my local knit list (SNB Melbourne), we are having a bit of a discussion about how different people knit. Apologies for the local Melbourne references. Here is my experience. I'd like to hear about yours!

When I started knitting I used to drop the needle and loop the yarn around - very clumsy and slow I felt. I am left handed and knit the right handed English/throwing way. That is how Mum taught me. I wanted to knit fast like Mum. I was probably between 9 and 13 when I started knitting. I had definately knitted my first jumper (blue and white thick and thin wool in a cable pattern) by the time I hit puberty and I wore that jumper long enough to wear out the elbows bewfore I grew out of it.

For a while I also knitted left handed by reversing all the motions, but figured out I twisted all the stitches if I did a right handed row then a left handed row. I was at uni before I figured that out, knitting something very apricot and 80s sitting on the 703 bus from Blackburn to Monash uni. ICK! I don't think I ever finished that top. LOL

It took me months to work out how to knit like Mum did - yarn wrapped once around my little finger as a tensioning device and yarn running under the two middle fingers, then up and over my right index finger. I was very slow at first but just like knitting it started to click. The tension was the hard part. Then I figured out that that sort of tension only really works for 8 ply and smaller yarns, and mostly only smooth ones. Anthing thick and or textured only needs to run between my fingers - it weaves through my fingers. I can modify my grip on the needle to increase or decrease the tension. I've been knitting like this for at least 20 years now so it has become automatic for me.

When I knit, I use my fingers on my left hand to feel what is happening. My right index finger also picks up if there is a problem - a missed stitch, a stitch that is split, all sorts of things. I feel what is happening with the stitches and the yarn. I've been watching how I knit and it is quite complicated. People say I am a fast knitter but jeez, it took *forever* to make the cardi I've got on and Nathan's sock, started before christmas, is still on the needles. Hopefully it will get a mate but argh....

I took a continental knitting class at marta's last year. It was very very interesting but I could not get the hang of tensioning the yarn by wrapping it around and around my left index finger. I have quite big hands and every time I unwrapped a loop of yarn I couldn't lift my finger high enough to tension the yarn. So I started just looping it around my little finger like I do for my right handed knitting. Voila! And for thicker yarns and big needles, continental/picking is fabulous! I can whip out a scarf on the budgie sticks (20-25mm rocket needles) in about two hours.


So how do you knit?



  1. I always thought I knitted continental, but thanks to the internet and lots of bloggers, I find that I used the combined method, with a modification though. I too am left handed and my mother converted right handed continental knitting to left handed for me. So instead of having the right needle being the working needle and the stitch supply in the left, I have it the other way around. I loop the yarn on my right index finger and then around the outside of my hand. The stitches to be worked/fixing is done by my right middle finger, which also (and I hand to pull out some knitting and do this to remember it) wraps the yarn around the needle. I have to admit, it is an awfully fast way of knitting and I don't have tension issues. I do have very small hands.

    The combined (eastern uncrossed) also puts the purl stitches on the needles "backwards" in that the leading edge of the stitch on the next row will be on the back side of the needle rather than the front. It does mean that something like a SSK is meaningless to me as I don't have to slip/slip to get the stitches mounted in that direction as they already are. Only time I care about the SSK is when I'm knitting in the round. My K stitch is wrapped in the right direction, it's just the purl that is odd.

    More than you wanted to know I'm sure :)

  2. Anonymous4:02 pm

    I usually knit 'English', and hold my work very like the Yarnivorous description. I also find that I 'read' my knitting with my fingers. People often comment at how little I look at my work, even when I'm doing textured patterns. I also tension the yarn around my little finger and over my forefinger - agree that it doesn't work so well for thick yarns & chunky needles.

  3. I think the way I knit is the same way as your mother does. I dont really know if its exactly the same or if it has a little kattism to it! lol. I never put much thought into the way I knit or if its the same as what other people do. I just knit. I knit the way I was taught. I use to be able to knit with knit going the way it does for right handed people and then without turning the knitting around I use to go back the other way with purl. It was something I taught myself. Dont know how to do it anymore havent done it for 10years.


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