Your knitting speed questions answered

Thanks to our current collaboration with ICHF Events to see how quickly knitters can complete a row of 100 stitches, for the Nations’s Fastest Knitter competition, we’ve had more than a few questions about how to knit faster.

The first thing to say is that often with knitting you can have a bad case of more haste less speed, in that when you try to knit really quickly, you can end up dropping stitches, splitting yarn or making other mistakes that mean over all your knitting takes longer.

So rather than thinking about speed, it is better to think about finding an efficient knitting style which allows you to get into a steady rhythm and where each stitch takes very little movement.

Needles

The first step is to work out what sort of needles you are most comfortable using. For some people this means using long needles they can tuck under their arms, for others it is working on circular needles (even for rows) because they find it easier only to move the short tips.

Flicking

Once you have established what needles suit you, it is time to look at how you make your stitches. If you look at the speediest knitters they have a very economical style where they don’ t move their hands or yarn much for each stitch.

One way to do this is known as “flicking”. Knitters with this style hold the yarn with their right hand and use their index finger to move or “flick” the yarn round the needle without ever letting go of the right hand needle. This allows them to work at a stead rhythm with very little excess movement.

You can see how the yarn and needles are held in this picture by Stacie of VeryPink.com who has made a video showing the technique.

knitting technique flicking

Continental knitting

Unlike in the “English” style of knitting most commonly learned in the UK, in continental knitting you hold and tension the yarn with your left hand.

The right hand needle is used to pull or “pick” the yarn through the stitch as in this video from Knitting Help.

Again this creates a very efficient movement, that allows you to knit smoothly.

Combination knitting

The main difference with combination is in how the purl is worked and the technique is often combined with the continental knit stitch.

Here the yarn is held with the left hand and scooped up through the stitch as in this diagram from Annie Modesitt.

The result of this technique is that when you come to knit your stitches on the next row, you will find they are orientated differently to usual. This means you have to work the knit stitch into the back of the loop which can affect your decreases.

It is worth trying these various techniques to find which is most comfortable and effective for you.

And if you are in Birmingham this week, why not come along to the Hobbycrafts and Sewing for Pleasure shows, where you will find us in Hall 12. Our knitting doctor can show you these knitting styles in person or you could see how fast you can knit 100 stitches.