I’m Learning About Different Knitting Styles

I have been knitting regularly for about three years now, ever since I finally understood how to do a knit and a purl stitch. Yet it is only now that I am learning about the different “styles” of knitting – the way one holds the needles and yarn while doing so. I think you could call my current style cackhanded English. It is purely based on me picking up how to do the basic stitch from YouTube videos. For those who don’t know, this is primarily how I learned to knit. I had been shown by several patient women in person prior, but it was by looping clips of a knit stitch from a tutorial, over and over and over again, that I finally picked it up. When I mention to people that I knit, sometimes they will tell me that they can’t knit, that they have tried and they just can’t do it. I am the most impractical, slow-learning, bad-with-my-hands person with no spatial awareness out there, yet I was finally able to learn by watching one knit stitch on repeat.

Here is me, knitting! I’m usually faster and smoother with my stitches, but I was filming myself so this slowed me down.

For a long time after that lightbulb moment of “yay, I know how to knit!” I wasn’t bothered about the correct way to wrap your yarn, or the fastest knitting method, or the smoothest technique. I just wanted to get on with the knitting. But then I started noticing other women knitting, whether in my charity knitting circle or friends, or women on the bus. I noticed that many looked a lot more elegant and deft in their movements, and really quick too. I’d love to be able to churn out socks and jumpers quicker than three months!

So, very recently, I decided I was ready to learn the longtail casting on method, which involves just one needle and your hands, so I went on YouTube and started learning that. I ended up then having an evening of YouTube browsing, first doing a search for “elbow knitting” and went from there. I noticed that the skilled knitters I’d seen out and about were holding their working needles under their arms with their arms bent. I didn’t know that it had a proper name. I didn’t know that how I was knitting had a proper name. I just knew that I knitted by holding both needles firmly in my hands. The first helpful video I found was this one by SweetGeorgia, and thus I discovered “Irish Cottage Knitting” or “Lever Knitting” which are the well-known names for that technique.

I then found this one by Cheryl Brunette which focuses more on how to hold your yarn:

This one by Roxanne Richardson is on continental knitting which is different but helps you gain speed if lever knitting isn’t your thing:

I really really want to do lever knitting but I’m struggling with it at the moment. In fact, I’ve struggled with continental knitting too. Right now, I am much faster doing my usual English knitting but that might just be because I am used to it. I am going to keep practicing anyway!

Here is a video by Northern Lace that just popped up on my YouTube home page before I started this post. I think I this gadget might help me in my quest, and I might just have to buy it!

And lastly, this is the video I found the most helpful for learning longtail cast-on, by WoolAndTheGang:

If you’ve made it this far, thank you for making it through all these video links! How do you knit?


Published by alicemowse

Writer. Occasional performer, stitcher. One book published so far, my collection of poems 'Saved by Porpoise' available on Kindle. Featured in the anthology 'Around The Mulberry Tree'

3 thoughts on “I’m Learning About Different Knitting Styles

  1. Good post. I appreciate the links to different methods. I was taught English but I’m trying to learn Continential as I think it’s less wearing on my elbow/shoulder. I know from an ergonomics standpoint it’s good to switch between methods as well. I’ll have to check out some of the other methods mentioned in your post.


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