Discover the Norwegian Knitting Technique

Posted by on May 3, 2013 in Knitting | Comments


One of the recurring themes we’ve covered on our blog is knitting techniques from around the world. Today, we’re going to look at the Norwegian knitting technique.

Have you ever been knitting a rib and thought to yourself, “There has got to be a better way to do this!” I know I get frustrated with the constant moving of the yarn from front to back, then front again. Well, those clever Norwegians have a technique that eliminates that constant yarn movement. Instead, they use the right-hand needle to get the yarn where it needs to be. But it’s a tricky little technique that will take some time to master.

The real trick to the Norwegian knitting technique comes in the purl stitch, but you need to understand the knit stitch first. The Norwegian knitting technique is a pick-style technique where the yarn is held in the left hand and the right-hand needle picks the yarn up. The hold is actually very similar to the Russian knitting technique on the knit side.

on ring finger

It’s on the purl side where things get different and the technique earns its usefulness. So you’ve got the yarn looped over your left hand forefinger and ring finger. That hold leaves the yarn right behind the right-hand needle. So to purl, you move your right-hand needle behind the yarn.

purl

Then enter your stitch as you normally do for a purl stitch.

enter your stitch

Now is where it gets a bit tricky. Wrap your needle around the working yarn.

tricky knitting technique

Then come back through the stitch on your left-hand needle entering as if to knit, making sure that you come out with the working yarn in front.

So when you pull your right-hand needle out of your stitch, the order should be: stitch you’re ready to drop on your left-hand needle, working yarn, then right-hand needle.

For this technique to work, you must keep your work on the very tips of your needles. As I was learning the technique, the biggest problem I faced was accidentally slipping the stitches without knitting them because they were so close to the needle tips. And on the purl side, it took some time to really understand where the needle goes. That last step of the purl stitch isn’t the most intuitive movement. After you wrap the yarn, you’ll want to bring your right-hand needle right back down through the stitch on your left-hand needle, but that isn’t the movement. Instead, you have to bring your right-hand needle down over the stitch and insert the right-hand needle through the stitch as if to knit. Which seems really weird to do when you’re purling, but it works. Once you get the hang of it, it does make sense.

The Norwegian knitting technique isn’t something you’re going to use for a stockinette project, where you have to do an entire row of purling, as it is more labor intensive for that particular stitch. It’s usefulness is in eliminating the need to move the yarn back and forth when you’re working a rib or seed stitch, something where you’re regularly switching from knit to purl. For those projects, if you can master the Norwegian knitting technique, you can really fly through those knit, purl rows!

Will you give this technique a try?

In case you missed it, explore fast knitting patterns here. Then come back to the Craftsy blog tomorrow for a helpful tutorial on blocking your knits.

Comments

  1. Brita says:

    Well, that explains a lot! My Mom taught me to knit when I was a youngster, but I didn’t do much with it until decades later when I decided to make something simple to get back in the swing. After much gnashing of teeth when referring to online instructions or books, I gave up. Just didn’t work for me. Now I realize the problem — my parents came from Finland, so the technique must be this way. Interesting! Now, I’ll have something to try and research to re-learn to knit. Thanks!

    1. Tiia says:

      Hi Brita,

      I´m from Finland and I have to say that this is also a Finnish style to knit :)
      If you learn best by watching, watch this (Finnish speaked though): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZhPeSi4wuw4
      Good luck to learning, this is not so hard to learn!

      1. Sande Francis says:

        I loved this video! Of course, I cound’t understand anything she said, but the motions of her knitting were very clear. I’m pretty sure I can do this! I’ve failed at Continental style knitting cuz I cannot hold my left index finger way up in the air – but I can hold it down behind the needle. I see some faster purling in my future – much faster than throwing right handed. :D

  2. EmmylouS says:

    Love this post! I will definitely give this technique a try. :D

  3. Tasha says:

    Um… that’s just a variant on regular Continental purling. I figured it out myself, and it’s neither labor-intensive nor slow. In fact, it’s downright speedy, once you get the yarn in front, and it eliminates the hand cramps so many people get from that exaggerated position they think they have to adopt when knitting Continentally.

  4. hc1951 says:

    Now that tendinitis has driven my knitting from England to Europe (sorry, mum!) I’ll have to try this. Ribbing was giving me fits!

  5. Judy says:

    I need to see this one on a video. The description sounds a lot like the Russian meftod, as you said. What I can’t picture is the right-hand technique. Do you know of a good YouTube video link that would help?

  6. Fleebers says:

    I always say that for every person who knits there is a different way to do it. And there is no such thing as “doing it wrong” as long as the fabric is coming out the way you intended. I will practice this technique to master it, in case I need to to pull it from my bag of tricks to teach. It is useful for a picker who has not yet learned to read the stitches.

    I doubt I would use it on a regular basis as it is extra hand/wrist movements that would slow me down. I am a picker and a speed knitter prefer the combination style (as suggested by Mary Thomas’s Knitting Book). The combination style is really fast BUT you have to know that your purl stitches will be oriented opposite (back leg in front) when you return to work the reverse side. Once you get it down you can really fly!

    Thanks for the great article (and thanks for the link to video TIIA!)

  7. Karen I Ford says:

    My mother was Norwegian and tried for years to teach me to knit. It took moving away and asking my secretary, who was from Germany, to teach me how to knit that did the trick. She taught me this method over 40 years ago. One thing I have learned is that it helps me with gauge.

  8. Hildur says:

    There is nothing tricky with this method, I am from Iceland and this is how we do all our knitting. For me the method that is used in USA and England tricky and often when using patterns in english I hew problems cos of this diffrens in knitting method

  9. Teresa says:

    Similar to the technique I use. I learned to knit when I was growing up in Portugal and we do it very similar, but the wool then loops up around a pin we place on the chest, or around your neck, if no pin is available.

    I tried other techniques, but I still find this one easier on my hands/fingers and much faster.

    Have to go read about the Russian technique…

  10. Ingrid says:

    I learned to knit using the same technique from my Danish Great Grandmother – and actually, once you get proficient with the purl stitch, stockenette is very simple and quick – “throwing” the yarn instead of picking it just takes so much more effort.

  11. sandra sulfaro says:

    love material and variety of patterns you offer

  12. Melina says:

    The only way i knit here in Denmark :) Most people do i think :)

  13. Heidi says:

    Yeah, that’s the way we knit in Finland. ;)

  14. Peggy says:

    This method is very helpful when using two colors as you can ‘pick’ either one from the index finger of your left hand with the right hand needle and keep the balls of yarn separate easier. (In my opinion). My grandmother was Norwegian and I watched her knit. I had the knitting style learned but didn’t pick up her purl until a trip to Norway to meet cousins who all knit.

  15. Jan Crooks says:

    My mother-in-law taught me to purl this way, didn’t know there was a name for it. She was from western NY, maybe her mom was from Norway?

  16. Arlette says:

    This looks the same style I was taught by my mother when I was a teenager. At the time we were living in Venezuela. I thought it was called the Continental Style? It would be easier to watch on a video to see if it’s actually the same style.