Welcome to my series on knitting speed. Over the course of 4 blog posts I hope to be able to show you that there are many ways to knit faster. The first instalment is about knitting faster without learning new knitting styles.
Here's how to really knit faster without learning new knitting styles. People are always looking for ways to knit faster, utilise their knitting time more and be able to work on more projects per year. When they search or ask other knitters "How can I knit faster?" they're usually guided down the path of learning continental knitting, Portuguese knitting or Irish cottage knitting. Wanting to knit more efficiently is absolutely fine but what if I told you that there are ways to knit faster without any requirement of learning a new knitting method?
What if I told you that just organising your time, choosing more manageable projects, taking your knitting everywhere with you and holding your knitting differently provide ways of knitting faster without having to sit down and learn a new knitting style from scratch?
We all want to knit faster and that's understandable when there are so many gorgeous things to make. We live busy, loud lives and we want to spend as much time as we can chilling out and engaging with our hobbies.
We want to get through that yarn stash, we want to use those new knitting needles, we want to do all the fun things so how do we manage to knit more and knit faster without having to learn and you're knitting method? Let me show you how.
Firstly, there are many myths when it comes to which is the fastest knitting style. There isn't a knitting style that is proven to be the fastest in the world. There are knitters who are fast. There are needles that are more more suited to knitting at speed. Learning a new knitting method may not always be the answer, so you may want to try these tips first.
Hazel Tindall is a two-time fastest knitter in the world. Let's look at how she knits to understand how we can knit faster.
Let's watch how Hazel knits. She's doing a variation of Scottish knitting here that has been modified. Traditionally, one knitting needle is placed in the underarm while the other is in the moving hand but for this video Hazel has attached her left hand needle to a knitting belt so that it is supported while she stands up.
Hazel's movements are tiny and precise. The yarn comes over the tip of the finger and pulls through a loop on the left. The thumbs and fingers on her left hand all work in unison to keep pushing the knit fabric towards the tip of the needle.
Methods from this video that can help you to knit faster:
1. Use your thumbs! Watch how Hazel is using both thumbs to secure stitches and push the yarn and stitches in the direction she wants them to go in (I recommend adjusting the playback speed to 0.25).
2. Wrap the yarn around your fingers like you would with crochet. The working yarn is wrapped around the little finger, across the palm and over the top of the forefinger (finger closest to thumb). This is how a lot of crocheters would hold their yarn in their left hand so if you also crochet, you might like to hold the yarn the same way in your right hand when knitting! If you knit with a method that holds the working yarn in the right hand, this might work for you too.
3. Try to minimise hand movements. Having the working yarn resting on the forefinger means the process of lifting it over the needle to make a knit stitch is smooth and requires less movement. You may have heard of "flicking". That's essentially what this is. You're flicking the stitch away with your finger as you let go of it. Instead of all that energy being in your elbow or forearm, it's in your fingertip.
4. Bunch up the stitches on the left hand needle. This not only brings them closer to the right hand needle but means you don't have to wrestle with tight stitches that are spaced out. This takes up time.
5. Consider using yarn from the centre of a cake of yarn rather than a skein or ball. commercial yarn skeins can have tangles in the centre that "barf" everywhere when you're knitting. Balls can roll around and get themselves into all kinds of mischief with your tension (or just cause the yarn bowl to smash on the floor when it falls from the coffee table- as me how I know). In some of these speed knitting competitions, the knitter can have a helped unwinding for them while they knit so do consider the ease of your yarn getting to the needles.
Please note that the method in this video works best with long straight metal needles or the use of a knitting belt. You may not get the same results when working with circular needles for example.
If you do find yourself still wanting to learn a new method, here is someone who can help with that:
Anniken Allis teaches continental knitting which is considered a speedy way to knit. You can find her courses here.