Have you ever wanted to knit faster? This technique just might be the solution!
You’ve probably been there. You realize you have a project that’s far from finished, but it needs to be done tomorrow. Maybe it’s supposed to be given as a gift or shipped off to an Etsy shop customer. Regardless of why you need to finish it, you need to finish it NOW. Under pressure and stress, you scramble to get it done as fast as possible, desperately wishing your fingers could move just a little faster so you could finish in time.
Well, believe it or not, the key to faster knitting isn’t moving your fingers faster. It’s all about moving them more efficiently.
You see, there are many different styles of knitting. Every style is a bit different. They all produce the same stitches, but use different methods and motions to do so.
Like many North American knitters, I learned to knit with the English Style. This is the method generally taught in most “teach yourself to knit” pamphlets. The yarn is held and tensioned in the right hand, and is “thrown” around the tip of the needle before pulling the needle through to make a stitch.
Before we go any further, let me point out one very important thought:
As long as you are making the stitches correctly, there is no wrong way to knit. There is nothing wrong with English Style knitting. Every knitter’s preference will be different. There are many English Style knitters who can knit pretty fast, because they’ve had plenty of practice and have become good at it. If you love the English Style, use it! The most important thing is that you use the style that works best for you.
However, there are other knitting styles out there that may be more efficient.
The English Style requires three separate motions to make a stitch:
- Insert the right needle into the next stitch on the left needle
- Lift the right hand (with the yarn tensioned in it) and “throw” the yarn around the tip of the right needle
- Place the right hand back on the right needle and use the needle tip to pull the new stitch through.
The trick to knitting faster is efficiency, so to make a stitch faster, we try to make the stitch in one smooth, fluid motion.
Portuguese & Peruvian Styles of knitting tension the yarn around the back of the knitter’s neck, or on a knitting pin (worn on the knitter’s clothing at the shoulder). These methods are great for speed and efficiency. They are ideal if you are purling in the round, as that is what knitters in the cultures who use those methods normally do.
My favorite knitting style is Continental Knitting.
This style holds and tensions the yarn in the left hand. With the yarn in the left hand, it takes less motion to get the yarn around the tip of the right needle and pull the new stitch through. The right needle just “picks” the yarn up to grab it. I like the speed and efficiency I can get with this method, without using a knitting pin or putting the yarn behind my neck.
There are many ways to wrap the yarn between or around the fingers of the left hand. Some people even like to wrap the yarn around the wrist. However you choose to tension your yarn, the important thing is that the yarn comes over your index finger towards the knitting, and that the amount of tension is right for you. I like to weave the yarn under and over my fingers so it comes over the top of my index finger towards the knitting, but you may find a different method that works better for you.
The video below will show you several ways to work the Knit stitch and the Purl stitch in the Continental Style. These basic methods can be modified to suit each knitter. As long as you form the stitches correctly, it’s OK if you use a little different method to form them.
I recommend trying a new knitting style on an entire small-ish project before deciding whether it is right for you. It may take more than a small swatch for your hands to get comfortable with a new knitting style. Feel free to modify how you hold the needles or tension your yarn to make it work best for you.
UPDATE: If you’re trying out Continental Knitting, and having trouble with your tension, check out this post for my 5 best tips to correct tension problems in Continental Knitting.
What’s your favorite knitting style?
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