I think I've been knitting wrong for years and years!

arlosmomOctober 28, 2012

I'm left handed, and I learned to knit when I was about nine by watching my ten year old sister head on. I'm not sure she did it right either. I've never been an avid knitter, but I've made about a dozen baby sweaters and several scarves through the years.

Last week I was in a yarn store and the woman who was helping me showed me a pattern for an easy lace scarf (similar to fan and feather). There was an instruction that I didn't understand: k2 tog t.b.l. She demonstrated what "through the back look" looked like. I realized that I have ALWAYS knitted through the back loop rather than through the front loop.

I think my knitting looks fine and I don't think my stitches look twisted, but now it's obvious to me that I knit differently than the rest of the knitting population. Will this cause me problems? Do I need to learn to do it correctly? I watched a couple of youtube videos the other day and experimented with trying to knit correctly, but it feels so incredibly awkward vs. the way I've always done it. Opinions? Help! Thanks.

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There is no one way to knit and no wrong war to knit. If your stitches are not twisted it is correct..or if you like them twisted then that too is right. You may have to research how to make some stitches look as the designer wants it to look. If you are happy with your work..don't change

    Bookmark   October 28, 2012 at 10:15PM
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Annie Deighnaugh

You may have to relearn if your not happy with your results. I used to knit with the yarn in my right hand and decided to learn to go with the yarn in my left hand, but didn't realize I was doing it incorrectly and was twisting every stitch. So I had to figure it out again and relearn, so now my stitches are no longer twisted.

But vickey is right...do what you have to do to yield the results you want.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2012 at 12:04PM
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Thanks vickey and Annie. I think my knitting looks pretty good. I'm knitting with a group of very, very good knitters on Friday and I'll ask them to take a look at my results. I might experiment with one of the "correct" methods to see if it feels any less awkward with practice.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2012 at 7:50AM
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I would suggest that you try a swatch using that pattern, and when it says kbl,knit in the front loop instead. If you like the results,do it that way. If you are happy with the way you knit, it's the right way for you. If you WANT to learn to knit a different way, go for it, but not if you don't want to.

As Vickey said, there is no right or wrong way, except in the opinion of others, who don't always think the way we do!

    Bookmark   October 30, 2012 at 9:30AM
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The plot thickens..I think I purl differently than most people too.

I was just looking at instructions on Lion Yarn's website. When I purl, I bring the yarn to the left of the needle, not the right as they illustrated. My purl stitch then angles in the other direction from most people's (I think), which is why my knitting stitch isn't twisted when I knit through the back loop. Does that make sense? Anyway, I've decided that my way works for me. I'll show my knitting ladies on Friday just to get their take on what I'm doing.

I appreciate your answers and support. I'm not a fancy or skilled knitter, but I do enjoy it.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2012 at 4:19PM
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LOL! I am not a fancy or very skilled knitter either, tho I have been knitting for about 11 years. I probably have the capability for more complicated projects, but not the desire or consentration. If you are happy with it, do it your way. Would love to see some of your work, tho.


    Bookmark   October 30, 2012 at 10:01PM
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arlosmom -
What you are doing is called "combination knitting" where you knit through the back loop and scoop your purl stitches. I knit the same way. It is faster and produces a more consistent stitch. The only time you will notice that your stitches are twisted is when knitting in the round. You may find that you like the twist, or you may need to knit through the front loop to avoid the twist when knitting in the round. Also, you should make a couple of adjustments when knitting lace. If a pattern says K2tog, do so through the front loops. If a pattern says SSK, just K2tog through the back loops. Easy.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2012 at 12:22PM
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The problem I foresee is the one you've already had: What do you do when the pattern says to knit through the back loop? I taught knitting and suggested lefties learn to knit the same way as righties. Unlike crochet, knitting is a two-handed process and if you knit continental style most of the work is actually done with the left hand.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2012 at 5:42PM
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You just have to pay attention to your leading edge and loop orientation. When a pattern says K through the back loop, you just put the needle through the back loop from the far side and you end up with the correct orientation. No big. It just requires a thorough knowledge of what is actually happening when you create a stitch. Granted, not everyone is capable of understanding the technical side of knitting, but those who are will be very, very good knitters.

When I teach knitting, I teach folks to knit in the way most comfortable for them - throwing, continental, combination, left or right handed rather than forcing people to conform to the way I knit.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2012 at 6:19PM
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Hi, I just saw the new comments from aliceinwonderland and cbcquilter. So there is actually a name for how I knit? I did a quick google search on combination knitting. I need to study all of this a lot more, but it's good to know that my method is "legit". It feels comfortable for my hands and is pretty quick. I'm working on a scarf for my MIL now for Christmas, and am so happy with how it's turning out. Maybe I'll take a picture to post!


    Bookmark   November 23, 2012 at 8:26AM
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When I look at knitting instruction videos (newstitchaday) I can see that my technique is much slower. But the results are pleasing. Being faster would be nice, though. My cast on method is very different as well.


    Bookmark   January 13, 2013 at 1:46PM
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There are LOTS of different cast on methods, all valid. Some are more suitable for specific purposes. The long tail cast on is tight and tends to be better for items where you want the edge to maintain a specific size. There are stretchy cast on methods that are great for socks and sweaters, prettier cast on methods for shawls and scarves. The same goes for bind off methods.

(edited to fix a typo)

This post was edited by aliceinwonderland_id on Mon, Jan 14, 13 at 14:38

    Bookmark   January 13, 2013 at 5:59PM
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Yes, I am going to explore the various cast on methods. The one I use is basic and not all that stretchy. My knitting is very basic as well. :)


    Bookmark   January 13, 2013 at 8:41PM
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If you have specific items in mind to knit, I can point you to good cast-on methods that will work well.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2013 at 11:34AM
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Thank you, AIW! I'll take you up on that. Right now I'm making beanies and scarves and nothing more complicated than that.


    Bookmark   January 15, 2013 at 1:28PM
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For the beanies, if they are ribbed at the edge, I would go with the rib cable cast on. There is a video showing how to do it. The lady in the video is a thrower, but you could do it in continental or combination just as easily. It makes a very nice edge.


Here is great bind-off for a shawl or scarf. It is stretchy and pretty. It also blocks beautifully and pairs well with the knitted cast-on.


If you want a slightly more decorative edge on a scarf or hat, you could use a frilled cast on and a picot bind-off.

Frilled cast on: http://www.knittingdaily.com/blogs/daily/archive/2008/07/30/a-stretchier-bind-off.aspx

Picot bind-off: http://knitting.about.com/od/learntoknit/ss/picot-bindoff.htm

These take a little practice and may seem awkward at first, but the effort is worth it. Enjoy!

This post was edited by aliceinwonderland_id on Wed, Jan 16, 13 at 14:21

    Bookmark   January 16, 2013 at 12:31PM
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Thanks! I will watch all of those eventually when I take a day to just sit and knit. Soon. The frilled cast on/bind off sounds especially interesting to me.


    Bookmark   January 17, 2013 at 10:25AM
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I learned to knit from my Grandma when I was about 9. She was from Germany and told me it was "left-handed"" knitting. I've done it all my life, have knitted lots of sweaters, a few afghans, scarves,etc. Never had a problem till I signed up for a beginners knitting class at Michaels Crafts. The teacher insisted I was knitting "wrong" and made me do it "her" way. I never went back for another class. I still knit the way Grandma taught me.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2013 at 8:39AM
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I made a scarf with half fisherman's rib stitch and wanted a stretchier bind off and came back here. The link above from Alice wasn't a video and the photos were a bit small for my old eyes and laptop screen so I found this very direct to the point video. This bind off works great. Thanks Alice!


Here is a link that might be useful: Stretchy bind off.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 6:32PM
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jannie - Good for you! There is no such thing as knitting the wrong way. Every part of the world has its own techniques that have been passed down for generations. The right way to knit is the way that is most comfortable for you.

barnmom - I am happy to hear it worked out for your. Sorry about the tiny pics. I'll keep that in mind in the future when looking for good online instructions for people.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 11:54AM
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