I was just reading a post by a woman in a panic. She saw a knitting video and it turns out she’s been knitting WRONG! I’ve seen this happen a couple of times before, mostly in Spanish speaking forums. I know how horrifying it can be since it happened to me too. Just like that woman, I couldn’t believe my mom (in her case her granny) had misguided me.
What’s the problem? When we knit we pick up the stitches from the back of the loop (right to left), and when we purl, from the front (front to back). But after some reading, I found out we are not knitting wrong, we are just knitting DIFFERENTLY. It even has a name: “Combined Knitting” (the non-combination method is known as Western). Here are some images of both methods: knits and purls.
Another way to know which method you are using is to look at the way the stitches slant in your needles:
Millions of people knit this way. I know it’s the most common way of knitting in Mexico, for example (that’s where my mom and grandmother learned to knit.) As far as I know, most combined knitters also knit continental.
This method has its pros and cons:
- The knitting is supposed to be more even, but I haven’t really noticed a difference.
- You knit at the speed of light. When you insert the needle, the thread is right there. There is no need to wrap the thread around it, just pull it.
- It’s easier to learn.
- I also read that it’s easier on the wrists.
- Increases and decreases don’t slant in the same direction. Many combined knitters don’t know they are combined knitters, so they just follow instructions (usually written for Western knitters) and things end up looking funny. Fortunately, there’s a handy conversion table by Grumperina to make any pattern a combined-knitting one.
- It just doesn’t work for all knit or all purl (garter stitch or knitting on the round). What happens when you knit combined is that you twist the stitches on the knit side, and un-twist it in the purl side. If there is no purl side… Let’s just say I have my share of twisted hats, globes, and even a Joda-like knitted toy cat. Some moms I’d rather not mention by name forget to point this out to their daughters when they first teach them to knit.
Another pro to combination knitting is that it makes me unique. While all the other ladies at my knit night knit English-Western style, I knit Continental-Combination. I’m just that special!