An Ode to Those Crazy Combination Knitters

Posted by on Jan 9, 2014 in Knitting | Comments


Raise your hand if you’re a combination knitter. You rebel, you!

Have you ever compared the way you’re knitting to other knitters? We all hold our yarn and needles a little differently, even if we learned from the same teacher. I recently noticed that one of my friends threads the yarn through four of her left-hand fingers and lets it flow right onto the tip of the needle rather than throwing the yarn like I do. Other knitters pick the yarn as they knit, and some might even knit a combination of several styles. Walk into any knitting group and you’ll see dozens of variations of knitting, including a few combination knitters.

Knitting needles and Two Colors of Yarn

Combination knitting, sometimes known as combined knitting, combines traditional Eastern and Western knitting methods to create an entirely different way of knitting.

There are a few things that distinguish Eastern, Western, and combination knitting. One thing is how the knitter inserts the knitting needle into the stitches. Did the needle go through the front loop? Or did the knitter insert the needle through the back loop? How the knitter wraps the yarn around the tip of the needle — clockwise or counter-clockwise — is also an indication of the style.

Let’s take a look at the elements of all three types of knitting to get a better understanding of each style:

Western

  • Worked in the front loops
  • Knit stitches are wrapped clockwise
  • Purl stitches are wrapped counter-clockwise

This is probably the method you’ll see most often in knitting — especially in the United States. Western knitting involves working in the front loops of the stitches. The yarn for a knit stitch will be wrapped clockwise around the needle, while the yarn for a purl stitch will be wrapped counter-clockwise.

Eastern

  • Worked in the back loops
  • Knit stitches are wrapped counter-clockwise
  • Purl stitches are wrapped clockwise

So called because it is more common in Eastern European countries, as well as Arab and South American countries. Eastern knitters work in the back loop of the stitches. Wrapping the yarn to knit each stitch is exactly opposite of the Western style. Eastern knitters will wrap knit stitches counter-clockwise and wrap purl stitches clockwise.

Combination

  • Knit stitches are worked in the back loops
  • Purl stitches are worked in the front loops
  • Knit and purl stitches are wrapped clockwise

Combination knitting combines Eastern and Western knitting. In combination knitting, the knit stitch is worked in the back loops, while the purl stitch is worked in the front loops. The yarn for both stitches is wrapped clockwise around the needle.

Knitted Swatch

A closer look at combining styles

Mix and match!

Now let’s get crazy: did you know you can mix and match all these styles? Each knitting style has its own strengths and weaknesses, and you can learn how to take advantage of those strengths.

Craftsy has put all this together for you in the Improve Your Knitting: Alternative Methods & Styles class with expert Patty Lyons. Patty will discuss the pros and cons of all these knitting styles, plus demonstrate knit-side and purl-side decreases for each so that your knitting is lovely no matter which style you use.

Are you a combination knitter? You’re not alone! Designer Annie Modesitt is a combination knitter, too, and she even wrote a book about it!

To better understand the differences in Eastern and Western knitting, see our combined knitting tutorial.

Be sure to come back to the Craftsy blog tomorrow for Free Pattern Friday!

Is there a right way and a wrong way to knit? Which style do you knit?

Comments

  1. Marjorie says:

    After 40 years of knitting, I had missed this nuance. I can knit forwards and backwards, with the yarn in the right or left hand. Now you’ve introduced me to a new twist on knitting. I enjoy your posts–always something new to try.

  2. Barb R says:

    How interesting. I guess I’m a Combination Version B knitter?

    Knit stitches are worked in the front loops
    Purl stitches are worked in the front loops
    Knit and purl stitches are wrapped counter-clockwise

    I’m going to try out the other versions and see what they are like.

    Thanks for this post!

  3. Lynn Hirshman says:

    Interesting… I’m a picker — learned from a Norwegian friend. I do combine styles only when I am doing colorwork — when I hold a strand of yarn in each hand, and wrap with the right-hand yarn.