Finish More Projects With These Speed Knitting Tips

Tips for Speedier Knitting

Are you the kind of knitter who feels like there just aren’t enough hours in the day for knitting? If so, you are not alone! Many of us quickly become so consumed by our love of knitting that it can sometimes feel like an addiction. At the same time, there is a limit to how much time any of us can spend on knitting in any single day. So we need to get as much out of those precious knitting moments as we can.

Here are some tips for how to get more knitting done, and faster.

1. Practice, practice practice!

If you are relatively new to knitting, chances are you will be a bit slower at the craft than those with several years of experience. Give yourself a few moments every day to practice working on a project and soon you’ll notice yourself working much faster than before.

2. Check your hands.

If you have the yarn tensioned around or between your fingers, this means that your hands can actually grip the needles without having to “let go” of the yarn. Here is an image of this for the right handed method (English), and this video shows you the left-handed (Continental) version. If you don’t have a method like this yet for yourself, practice a few options see what works for you to work your stitches as efficiently as possible.

3. Try a new technique.

Many of the world’s fastest knitters (including Miriam Tegel – caught here on a knitter’s video are Continental knitters. The Continental or left-handed method of working the knit stitch is a more efficient maneuver than the English or right-handed method, and many Continental knitters can easily turn out a few sweaters in a single month.

Knitting author Stephanie Pearl-McPhee (seen here) uses a style called Irish Cottage knitting, which involves holding one needle under your arm to reduce the amount of movement required by each stitch. Try a different method and see if you can find one you like better.

4. Find hidden knitting time – or hidden knitting places.

Many highly productive knitters report that their output comes not from speed and is not the “world’s fastest,” but that their knitting output comes simply from spending more time with it. It’s not just that hour or more of watching television after dinner that offers productive knitting time, but many different kinds of moments throughout the day.

If you are a commuter who rides transit or as a passenger in a carpool, turning this into knitting time could easily have you finishing a few more projects in a month! Consider what kinds of projects would be good for “waiting around,” and take these with you when you know you will have to wait in line at the bank or post office. Are there small projects that would fit in a desk drawer at your workplace, to be pulled out while on coffee break? All kinds of potential knitting moments fill our day, and making use of them will help you finish projects faster.

Do you find yourself knitting faster than you were as a beginner? What do you think would help you to become even speedier?

 

32 Comments

AimsEire

I’ve definitely gotten a lot quicker than I was when I first picked up the needles. And coincidently I decided to try learning Continental knitting yesterday. I’ve been doing a lot of knitting lately but I suffer from tendinitis. I’m also a musician (clarinet and piano) and if I’m doing a lot playing an knitting at the same time my wrist can get quite sore and if I don’t give up either playing or knitting for a while I end up having to give up the lot for a few months! I’ve been absorbed in my knitting lately and giving up the music wasn’t an option so I’ve found a compromise with Continental knitting and am already noticing the benefits. So not only does it make you a faster knitter, it also reduce repetitive strain which can cause irreparable damage. God knows no knitter wants to be told they can never knit again! :)

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Jill C.

AimsEire–
I so know the pain that you feel. I’m a pianist and a knitter and I really have to work to balance the two activities, especially during December with church and other musical programs and gift deadlines. I switched to square needles and have noticed a reduction in hand pain. I was suffering from my fingers going numb while knitting (due to pressure point from round needles) and then my hands would go numb at night, more so when piano playing and knitting both happened during the day. Good luck with finding what works for you!

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Kris

I have the tendinitis problem too, and discovered, by accident, that switching to the square needles, especially when doing fine work, eliminated the problem!

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Lois

Great ideas. I learned to knit using the English style of knitting which is very slow. Years later, I learned the Continental method and it is so much faster.

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Ros

English knitting is not necessarily slower. In fact, I think the world record holder knits the English way!

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Irishreign

I’ve been told that the Irish knitters who produce those marvelous cable knit sweaters knit English and are super fast at it!

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Kathy

I met an Irish sweater knitter on one of the Aran Islands, and she knits like Stephanie Pearl McPhee–the Irish cottage way with the yarn in her right hand. Her sweaters were so beautiful, and she didn’t follow a pattern.

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Kat

I find I am faster when I am working with circular needles. I think the shorter length of needle is less clumsy.

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Leah

I taught myslef how to knit from reading books. I didn’t realize until others saw me knitting that some how I was knitting left handed- or continental stlye. I love it. It is a lot faster. I have tried to knit right handed but it just doesn’t flow as easily. I would encourage anyone to learn continental knitting and see how much faster it is.

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Robin

This was very informative. I’ve been learning to knit from friends and books and have found that there are almost as many different methods of knitting as there are knitters! I found the video in number 2 the most helpful because it slowed down the continental knitting so that I could see what was actually happening versus Ms. Tegel’s video (she’s so fast that you can’t really tell what is happening, but it is impressive!). The tips for faster knitting in this blog was very helpful and a reminder that in order to get faster, one must practice, practice, practice!

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sewbusy

I made myself learn “continental” to decrease the pain and tension in my wrists. i knit during basketball season -many hours sitting in a gym, watching kids -many hats and scarves later . . .

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saricchiella

Definately, I second the “commute knitting” part. I’m a crocheter, and mostly crochet while commuting (50min from home to work). That time goes fast, you start the day doing something creative, and if you’re doing a present for another person (that’s what I usually do), you dedicate that part of the day to think about them and not complaining because too-many-people-too-early-why-i-didn’t-go-to-sleep-at-ten :P

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heatherkay

“Irish Cottage” style, huh? It’s funny — I learned to knit from my Scottish mum, who learned from her Scottish mum, ad infinitum, and this was just The Way You Knitted. Much easier to learn and much easier to do. Flashforward 20 years to the knitting craze of the last decade, and NOBODY knit like that. I was like some sort of space oddity when I’d show up for knitting groups. I use the Continental style when something absolutely HAS to be done in the round, but everything else gets knitted flat using this fixed needle technique.

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Laura

I’m Scottish and everybody in my family knits like this too. It’s the way I learned, so naturally I find it much faster than other methods, but I tended to get stress in my shoulders from having my arm clamped to my side! I switched to circulars and now I knit much slower (as well as getting funny looks from the established armpit-knitters!) but personally it’s better for me as I can keep my body more relaxed.

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heatherkay

Sometimes I put a rubber band around the end of the needle to make it grippier. That way, I don’t have to clamp down as hard to keep it in place.

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Candace

I’m glad I’m not the only one who knits this way. I learned from my mom, who is Italian. This is the way she and everyone in her hometown (in central Italy on the Adriatic coast) knits.

It is impossible to find needles long enough in this country!
I also get weird looks I get when I go to knitting groups…. But I’m as fast or faster then most knitters!

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TessaLacy

I’m relatively new to knitting. I guess I knit right handed, but I didn’t even realize there were different styles and techniques. I can’t wait to try them all out and figure out which one I like the best. Thanks!

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AnnP

I learned to knit 65 yrs ago in the UK. Mum was Welsh and she always knit with a fixed needle! I do too if my “straights” are long enough. I also hold straights, DPN’s and circs. with my thumb as in the video. I haven’t seen anyone over here who knits the way I do ;)
I keep trying to knit the Continental Style but haven’t managed it (even though I am left handed).

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Diane Taylor

If you love to knit, why worry about knitting faster? The process is as important to enjoy as the product.

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Allthatjazz

I self-taught to knit with a knitting belt from the Fair Isles and a knitting sheath to knit Ganseys.
After a frustrating week, I used to be a Continental knitter I really enjoy this style of knitting.
It is very close to the Irish cottage knitting. I also find I get less strain on my wrists, because the movements are big and not small and repetitive.

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Lesley

I also knit in this way. I am from Yorkshire, in the north of England, and my grandmother knitted in this way,and I must have picked it up from her. I always understood it to be from the Scottish knitting tradition. My mother and sister also knit in this way although my sister doesn’t turn her work to purl, she just works the stitches back onto the left needle from the right.

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Cathy

I learned to knit in the English style and am quite fast at it bu now I use a combination of English, continental and Portuguese styles when I knit depending on the project I am working on. I find continental to be the fastest for knitting, Portuguese for purling and English if I am doing more complex lace stitches.
For some reason I just found the purl stitch to be awkward in Continental and never really got the hang of it. Portuguese style is so much faster for purling.

So basically, if I am knitting a garment I will start out with English style rib stitch then switch to Continental knit and Portuguese purl for the stockinette stitch. Not only do I get max speed from this, the change up in styles is good for your hands/wrists.

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Carol

Try doing cables without a cable needle! Not only is it faster, you aren’t always losing those pesky cable needles.

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Ellen Weeks

carol, can you explain in some detail how to cable without the cable needle for us newbies? Thanks for sharing!

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Kristina

Ellen, you have to be very brave to knit cables without a cable needle, at least the first few times. You slip off the number of stitches you would have put on the cable needle and just leave them hanging there while you go behind or in front of them, depending on whether the cable is to cross in front or in back, and knit the next stitches. Then put the skipped stitches back on your needle, knit them and move on. It is kind of heart-stopping until you get used to it but it does save time, if only from not having to search for that pesky cable needle.

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Sablwolf

I’ve taught myself to knit from books three separate times in my life (there were long spans of time between each, and I forgot how!), the last time being about 12 years ago, and I knit the English way. I’ve been frustrated at how slow I am, though to be fair, I have arthritis in my hands and many other demands on my time (work, horses, etc.), so I didn’t see any solution in sight–until I met a friend from Poland who knits the Continental way (of course). It was so much faster, I couldn’t believe it! I couldn’t figure out how to do it myself, though, so kept slogging along. Then I pulled a muscle in my right shoulder, and every time I tried knitting, the pain was excruciating. It’s better now, but I found myself very motivated to learn the Continental method. I found a couple of videos online that helped, plus Eunny Jang on Knitting Daily knits using the Continental Method. Knitting on circulars, rather than straight needles helps too.

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Tannenvald

I learned “Continental” from my German Oma AKA “human knitting machine.” I like it because for me there is an economy of movement, which doesn’t result in a lot of twisting or painful repetitive movements. I’ve found that when I’m knitting with obsession (which happens often), I can avoid hand pain & swelling by taking a NovaJoint capsule (which has really relieved more little joint pain than just in my hand) & I rub a little Traumeel cream on my hands at bedtime.

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Wanda

I learned how to knit from my mom when I was only 5 or 6 years old. She was only able to teach me the basic stitch, because she really wasn’t a knitter herself, but the only way she knew was Continental (as I found out about 50 years later!). My sister, who learned knitting from TV, knits American style, so I could see that Continental is more efficient – being able to keep hold of the needles reduces the risk of dropped stitches, too. It took me a while to figure out purling, but with practice that develops a rhythm, too.

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F Cana

First, keep a straight needle in your hair for an easy cabling needle, or only cable as switching straight needles.
Second, knit EVERYWHERE. Knit while walking, on the bus, reading, waiting, listening to anyone or thing that won’t be offended, while riding in cars, or any time you have both hands free. I only knit while I’m out of the house or playing with cats. As part of that, don’t look at your hands often. It takes practice, but pays off in your abilities to do other things at the same time. Use patterns that are easy to keep in your head. I can knit, purl, do baby ribs, or a single cable while knitting in the round. I can’t hold more than a four stitch pattern in the back of my head.

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CLuber

Learning a new method is going to SLOW YOU DOWN if you’ve been using your technique for awhile. It’s going to be like learning to knit all over again with the confusion about how to follow an instruction (how to do an SSK, for example), uneven gauge, etc.. It will take awhile before you can knit faster than you did with the method that’s was embedded in your muscles and bones when you made the switch. This will be a little easier for more newbie knitters who aren’t so heavily imprinted. I tried to switch to Continental and found I was much slower than using the right handed finger pick method I’d been using for years. I quit Continental because for me there was no advantage to it. I know a couple of “old dog” knitters who did the same thing. This is advice far more appropriate to very new knitters.

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Gina

Learning Continental knitting was the best thing I ever did. I’ve gotten very good at it in the post year and it’s changed my whole game. Much less stress on my hands and faster work up. The only thing is that you WILL knit looser at first so check your gague. Over time you’ll learn how to tighten up some. Have patience. It’s worth learning!

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Kristina

I learned English style, but didn’t know at the time that’s what it was called. It was just knitting. When I learned about Continental style from a neighbor who described it briefly to me, I taught myself. I must have been a good teacher, as I caught on quickly. : ) I had crocheted much more than knitted by that time so picking, rather than throwing, felt more right. Now I’m intrigued by the Irish Cottage style. Might have to give that a try on a simple project.

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