Knitting Styles

Recently I was asked about my knitting style by someone who wanted a tutorial on it. It’s actually something I don’t think about too much, I learned to knit with my yarn in my right hand and until a few years ago I didn’t know there was even other ways of knitting! This knitting style is sometimes known as ‘throwing’ or ‘English style’.

Now I’m not sure if my knitting actually fits the ‘throwing’ style as I never take my right hand off the needle. I lift my right index finger only and my working fabric sits on my right thumb to balance it. I keep my stitches very close to the tip of the needles also to increase speed. This knitting style developed organically for me over the years. I wanted to reduce the number of motions to make knitting more comfortable and also to increase the speed. Often Continental knitters (with yarn in left hand) claim that their knitting style is much faster, but for me personally I never got to grips with yarn tensioning in my left hand and I hate doing the purl stitch!

16 thoughts on “Knitting Styles

  1. This is exactly how I knit as well. It must be the Irish version of throwing! I always thought everyone knitted that way until I started getting patterns and tutorials online.

  2. I too assumed this style of knitting was the conventional ‘throw’ method until I watched your video. I was taught to knit by my mother and, guess what, she was Irish!

  3. This is how I learned to knit in Wales as a child. It’s how we all learned to knit, I have heard it called “English parlour” style. Supposedly it evolved from the style used by that women who had to knit for a living, i.e, using a knitting belt, pit knitting or ‘flicking’. In the Victorian era knitting was taken up as a leisure activity by the new middle class and this ‘parlour’ style evolved to differentiate from women who had to work for a living. It was subsequently taken up by the working class, emulating their ‘betters’.

    I don’t know how true this is

  4. I knit in continental style and for me the thing that looks “silly” and time consuming (even though you do have quite a good pace on the video) is that you have to take your hand of the right needle while throwing the yarn. With continental style you don’t need to take your hands of the needle at all. – I’m really curious about how do you knit in the round with your knitting style? In the video, and lots of other videos, you’re knitting a small swatch, how about when it’s a big knit like a pullover that is knitted in one piece in the round? How do you place your right hand? You can’t get the whole pullover hem to fit to your right palm between the thumb and index finger?

    I’m really fascinated about how many knitting styles there are!

  5. When I am knitting with a larger bulk of fabric my right thumb sits behind the knitting and pushes up on the fabric.

  6. I also knit in this way, but I use my right middle finger, rather than my index finger, to wrap the yarn around the left needle. I have no memory of learning to knit, so I don’t know where I picked up this habit. I have seen a class on that explores different methods and styles of knitting. I havn’t tried it but it looks interesting.

  7. I knit just like this too and thought this was the progression of years of practice, as you say, to minimise wasted movements and increase speed. And its very quick. I cannot understand why you would drop the yarn and wrap and pick it up again. I’ve always thought this was an early stage of leaning to hold and manipulate the needles and yarn.

    When I started to knit fair isle I tried to learn to knit in the continental method but found my existing method was quicker and neater using my index and middle fingers of the same hand to hold the yarn. I thought I’d invented this method as I’d never seen it done like this by anyone else (no internet back then) but apparently its not new.

    I’m absolutely fascinated by the connection to family background with knitting style. My family have Irish and Welsh on the different sides and I haven’t really found many ways this heritage has influenced me until now.

  8. Very interesting to see Carol. Thanks for posting. I love seeing how others knit. I knit in a similar manner to you, but hold my needle under my right thumb. So more in a traditional “throwing” style. But I too do not remove my right hand from the needles to throw the yarn. I work close to the tips and flick it in a similar manner to you. I’ve found (over the years) that it is (as you say) much more efficient. I can get going at a pretty good clip!

  9. I knit this way as well, but I started with a much more obvious throwing method. I have a disability, and over the years I had to slowly adapt my knitting style to what I could manage. Happy to report that though my hands are now officially “100% disabled”, and I even have trouble with my toothbrush, I can knit! So seems like you all are on the right track!

  10. I used to knit like this, only I ‘threw’ with my middle finger like another commenter, ‘Maeve’, mentioned. Then I changed to holding my hand over the needle, like holding a knife, as my hands were starting to complain at the angle of the wrist that’s required for the pen hold. And then a few years ago I learnt about continental knitting and its advantages for moss stitch, so I taught myself to knit like that as well. (It took dedication, but I like a challenge!) Now, I interchange all of these methods depending on what I’m knitting and how long I’m knitting in one sitting. I love that there is no ‘right’ way to hold your knitting!
    Wendy x

  11. I knit like this too except I hold my right hand needle more like a knife. I tried holding the needle over my thumb like you do, Carol, and I found it awkward keeping the fabric flowing but I’m going to practice and see if I can get better at it! I can also knit continental style but I find I have to keep my eye on my work all the time whereas I can watch TV and knit using our method. Also, I have tension issues too especially with purling. I learned to knit from my mother and I assume she learned from hers and we are of German descent!

  12. I knit the same as Cheri and LeeAnn I think. I hold the right needle in the same way as I hold the left needle, like a knife. i hold and the throw the yarn just like Carol, Cheri and LeeAnn I suspect. I keep the tension as it slides through my fingers but I never have to let go of the needles either. I don’t know how people keep the tension when they drop the yarn between each stitch….or they grip it like a set of keys which doesn’t seem relaxing to me. I’m American and taught myself from the standard U.S. “Learn to Knit” books when I was a child. My mother knits the same way and she is of German descent but that is how she was taught by her German grandmother. It amazes me though when I take a class and see that no one seems to knit the same!! Most people seem to knit the way their Grandmother did since that is who taught them!

  13. I was thrilled to find this video online. I took your short row class on Craftsy (Thank you!) and I thought your knitting method was amazing and I was wondering if I could learn it. I will definitely give it a try. It is amazing how many different methods of knitting there are from around the world. What works for one person may not for another, but we can all learn something new from one another. Thank you so much for sharing your skills with the world!

  14. Carol, you are AWESOME! I thoroughly enjoyed your first tutorial on Craftsy about short rows. Wish I had waited a few months more so I could purchase the new one. :( I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your designs and patterns! And I enjoy your blog tutorials. I have learned better techniques from them. Thank you so much.

    I knit very much like you, except for the way I hold the right needle. I tried your way but couldn’t get my wrist into neutral and finally gave up on the ‘hold.’

    The technique we use to NOT throw, is called Lever Action. It WORKS! Here is a link for those interested in learning the technique:

    Continental knitting, though I tried hard to master it, doesn’t work for me. My left hand is useless and I couldn’t get an even tension on anything I knit. Continental, for me, went out the window. However, for those whose left hand functions better than mine, I have something more to share. I found this in the latest Knitting Daily (weekly) Newsletter in the comments section.
    “When you’re purling, hold the yarn on top of your left thumb only and with a small quick flick you’ve completed the stitch.”
    I believe that movement would be more comfortable than pointing ones index finger down so far and holding it through the duration finishing the stitch. Feedback?

    Today, while viewing your latest book and other patterns, I saw another photo of you smiling. Carol, you always look so somber in your photos when you don’t smile. It always makes me feel as though you are not DELIGHTED with the beautiful new offering you have created. I’m going to be your Mother right now (I’m old enough!) and tell you what a beautiful woman you are, and that you need to SMILE MORE. I am quite certain everyone will agree with me… even your own beautiful mother.

    Thank you for another great tutorial.

  15. I learned to knit this way from a German lady who told me she was taught to knit like this by her grandmother in Germany. I’ve since been learned that Andean knitters in Peru use this same style. A knitting friend from Finland also knits this way. I guess this knitting style is more widespread than anyone thought.

    Wow. This is so much my style, I would think it was my hands in the video.

    How about posting of video of how you purl for those wanting to learn both stitches?

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