How do you hold the working yarn?

jennOctober 16, 2007

I'm teaching myself to knit (again... last time I started this was 20+ years ago). I use the English method because of issues with my left wrist and thumb.

I'm finding that holding the working yarn between my right thumb and forefinger seem the most natural and comfortable for me. Every time I switch to wrapping the working yarn around my right pinkie then over my forefinger, I automatically revert back when I change rows. When I make a stitch, I let the yarn glide through my thumb and finger just as if it was held otherwise. It just feels natural to me, and I vaguely remember doing it when I knitted years ago.

I've never seen this method taught, yet I know we do whatever feels best to us.

I'm wondering what you do, and if anyone does the same as me.

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Jenn, sometimes I hold the working yarn in my left hand, going over my index finger, then under my middle finger and kind of channeled through the rest of my fingers around it. And then sometimes I hold it in my right hand, as you described, wrapped around my pinkie, under my fingers, then over the index finger. I've seen it done the way you do, but it doesn't work for me. But I encourage everyone to do what feels comfortable to them. And that sometimes changes as your knitting skills progress. Gosh, I remember when I learned to knit in junior high school, I held the yarn so tight I could hardly get the needle through the stitches!

    Bookmark   October 16, 2007 at 10:36PM
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I learned to knit holding the yarn in my right hand...I weave it through my fingers, and up over the index one. Some time ago I saved a few tv shows demonstrating how to knit with the yarn in the left hand, and I thought eventually I would try it as it is a time saver. But right now, I manage to go pretty fast with my more awkward method.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2007 at 1:19PM
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I think you'll find it much quicker to knit holding the yarn in your left hand...I have it going over my left index finger, and use this finger to 'throw' the yarn over the tip of the needle. Luckily for me, this was the way I was taught by my grandmother, for I do think it's quicker.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2007 at 2:26PM
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If it feels natural, continue doing it the way you prefer. I learned to knit as a child, and as an adult I made many sweaters and a 63 square afghan. Then I took a knitting class. The teacher insisted I was holding the needles and yarn wrong. Try as I might, I couldn't do it her way. I will continue knitting MY wat.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2007 at 6:05PM
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Jenn, that's just how I hold my yarn! I thought I was the only one. I learned (reluctantly) as a child, then a few years ago began knitting again. Try as i might, wrapping the yarn around my fingers - and I've tried different ways - just doesn't feel right. So, even though I'm knitting slower, I'm comfortable, and for me, knitting isn't just the product, it's the process.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2007 at 6:58PM
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I'm getting a laugh out of this discussion because it sounds like my knitting circle. All the younger girls hold their yarn in their left hand while us older gals use the 'throw' method with our right hand. And we are just too set in our ways to change. They must have changed the manner of knitting at some point when I was busy with my kids and had put down my needles. It went from English to Continental or vice-versa, I never can remember which is which, and I missed the revolution.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2007 at 11:33PM
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I'm glad that we can do whatever is comfortable for us and achieve the same outcome. In knitting the scarves I practice holding the yarn either between my thumb and index finger or woven between my fingers and always go back to the thumb/index grip and I'm practicing letting the yarn slide through as I slip the stitch off the needle, rather than hold a death grip on it as I did when I first started knitting.

Sandra: My left hand is problematic to start with so I know I won't like using it to knit, and knitting quicker isn't a big deal to me, at least not now. I get stiffness/discomfort in my wrist and thumb if I use them for fine-motor-skill activities such as knitting. I just know I will not enjoy it as much if I use that hand.


    Bookmark   October 19, 2007 at 12:49AM
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I tried for years to teach myself to knit and it was so difficult and took me forever to make anything. One day I noticed a gal knitting and holding the yarn in a different way. She showed me how and I wished I had known "the other way" before. I do what I think is the English method. I went to some knitting classes and the instructor told me it was the "pick" method. Works great for me, yarn in my left hand and I "pick" with my right.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2007 at 8:36PM
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posieh, Sounds like you are knitting continental, with the yarn in your left hand. English is holding it in your right hand, and "throwing" the yarn around the needle with your right hand. How ever it works best for you is the right way.

On the other hand, when I purl continental, my stitches are backward on the needle on the next row! So I am doing something wrong when I do it. I like my English way! I have also learned what is known as the Wong way, with the yarn running thru a pin with a hook on it and throwing the yarn with my left thumb. Google Andrea Wong. She was taught by her mother, who was taught by a Peruvia lady, if I remember correctly. The Peruvians tension their yarn around their neck and use the left thumb to throw the yarn. The pin lets the yarn glide smoothly and keeps the oil and sweat off of the yarn, in my opinion. I still use the English method predominatly, but do switch to the Wong way when my arthritis in my shoulder needs a break. If I practiced it more, I would probably use either of the other ways just as much, or find I liked one of them better, but I usually forget to do it! I should just do some dish cloths using only one of them to get used to it!


    Bookmark   October 24, 2007 at 7:10PM
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Tami, I learned to knit continental from the video below -- if you're interested, watch it; it should help you resolve any issues with your purl stitches coming out backwards. (Please note that youtube is having technical problems that may or may not affect you -- if it isn't playing for you, just try again later -- sounds like they're trying to resolve it quickly).

Here is a link that might be useful: how to knit continental

    Bookmark   October 25, 2007 at 7:32AM
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Thanks, Carol Ann. With the arthritis in my shoulder, it sometimes helps to change the way I knit. Of course, I don't do it on anything important, as it does change my gauge, but I can alway switch to a dishcloth if I have the knitting bug that bad! Besides, it's good for me to keep it moving.


    Bookmark   October 25, 2007 at 8:33AM
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Carol Ann, thank you for the link. I'm going to try to follow it. I've never used a circular needle and I throw my yarn. I taught myself to knit when I was 20 in 1962. I know how Patty feels, I too missed the revolution.

I loved this discussion, thanks to all.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2007 at 11:41AM
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