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?