Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Changing Your Style.

Knitting style, that is. In an effort to reduce stress on my wrists and maybe even speed up my glacial pace a bit, I have been trying different knitting styles. I am sure you have seen the debate that rages on about changing styles. At least once a week or so, a thread will pop up in the "Techniques" forum on Ravelry asking which is the best, fastest, etc. knitting style. Of course, the responses tend to run the gamut from "knit more to get faster at your current style" to "Continental is obviously the fastest" which is then countered by "the world's fastest knitter knits English" and on and on. At least most people tend to agree that it is good to have more than one style in your arsenal.

I think it tends to be a lot like running. When I was a marathon coach and still now, working a few hours a week at a running store, I am always asked if it is a good idea to change your running style. It is also often for the same reason that knitters want to change their style: to get faster, more efficient and to prevent injuries. But, changing a style that has become second nature can be quite difficult, whether running or knitting.

To my mind, the first and best place to start is ergonomics. Before I decided to try to overhaul my knitting style, I made sure that I was working as efficiently as possible in my current style, which is English ("throwing") by the way. Hey look, here is an old shot of me working a WS row on Hesperides (not looking very ergonomically correct):
knitting hesperides 1

 I looked at my needle types and which were most comfortable on my hands - my KA Switch Bamboo 4-inch interchangebles, by a long shot! I wonder if that has something to do with the fact that they were my very first set of interchangeable needles and that I have been consistently using them the longest of all my needles (and I have a fair few). The next thing I did was make sure that I maintained good posture while seated and kept my arms and knitting supported.

While making these small changes helped quite a bit, I still wanted to try switching things up a bit. Now I already know the basics of Continental ("picking"), but really only enough that I can manage 2-color stranded knitting in the round for small items, like this hat (Opus Spicatum) and mitten (Quo Vadis):


The only problem, is that any time I have tried to do an entire Continental project, especially one worked flat, things went downhill fast. My gauge was all over the map and purling gave me hell! So, I decided to give up on Continental, other than stranded knitting in the round. Then I tried Russian knitting which was kind of like Continental, but kind of like combined. It didn't last long for me...only a few inches of a sad looking tube.

Most recently, I have been playing around with "flicking," shown here. I decided to jump in with both feet and start using it right away on a more complex project, a cable and lace cardigan. My main issue so far has been gauge, I knit much tighter with this method, with slightly looser purls. Also, it doesn't play nicely with my preferred ssk method (slipless method). Because of these issues, I decided to start a pair of socks in mostly in stockinette, so I could play a little more on a project that could be messed around with a bit. Plus, I did not want to have to start that sweater over again, which I will get into in a future post!

Right now, I am back to throwing mostly full-time, with some crocheting mixed in for when my hands and wrists aren't up to knitting and I need a yarny fix. Of course this morning I got an email from Craftsy about a discount on a class they have called "Improve Your Knitting: Alternative Methods and Styles." Yeah, I signed up for it. So, we'll see what happens with that and if I do end up finding a new style that sticks!

How many different knitting styles do you use or have you tried? What is your preferred method? Have you stuck with the style you originally learned? Let me know in the comments!


  1. Have you tried the Portuguese style - yarn either around your neck or through a pin attached to your shirt? Here's the Rav group -

    1. I haven't yet, but I will! I think it is one of the styles the Craftsy class covers it, but if not it is next on the list.

  2. I made myself switch to Continental for the sake of my wrists, and refused to let myself go back to right-handed until it really, thoroughly stuck. It took a solid month of awkward, beginner-looking projects with wonky gauge to get it right, but now it's second nature, and made it much, much easier to learn to knit backward.

    Interestingly, even though I made the switch five or six years ago, I still can't cast on worth a damn left-handed. Bizarre!