Pick Up the Russian Knitting Technique

It’s always interesting to me to see the little cultural variations that occur in knitting from one region to the next. And I’ve always had a bit of a thing for Russia, studying all the Russian literature and history I could in school. So it was only a matter of time before I looked into what techniques Russian knitters use.

As a side note, one first interesting detail about Russian knitting is that Russians consider knitting and crocheting to be the same craft, just accomplished a little bit differently.

After learning that little tidbit, I moved on to discovering how Russian knitters hold their needles and yarn. We American knitters know about Continental and English holds, but there are lots of other variations, like the Russian knitting technique.

The Russian knitting technique is a picking technique where instead of “throwing” the yarn around the right-hand needle, you “pick” up the yarn by moving the needle head into it. To accomplish this, you have to hold the working yarn in a specific way. Start with the yarn in your left hand.

Now wrap the yarn around the index finger on that left hand, so it’s coming over the top of your finger and back around underneath it and on top of your middle finger. You’ll wind up with your index finger very close to the back of your left-hand needle.

yarn hold
The yarn hold.

In Russian knitting, it is common to slip the first stitch of every row. Once that’s done, you’re ready to knit your first stitch. Insert your needle as you normally do for a knit stitch, in front of the needle from left to right. The way you’re holding your yarn should leave it right behind the stitch you’re knitting into.

russian knitting

Now put the tip of your right-hand needle over the working yarn and hook it around. See from the photo above how the yarn is held right next to where the needle comes through, so all you have to do is flick the right-hand needle a little to hook the yarn. Then pull the needle back through.

It took me awhile to get the hang of this Russian knitting technique. One difficult spot that I encountered was that as I pulled my new stitch back through, I got the tip of my right-hand needle hooked on the back loop of the stitch on the left-hand needle.

To purl in the Russian knitting technique, hold the yarn the same way. The trick here is that you wind up picking the yarn so it wraps around the right-hand needle clockwise.

yarn hold
Note from this picture of the purl stitch how the yarn comes over the top of the needle from the bottom.

In chatting with knitters who use the Russian knitting technique, I have been assured that this technique, once mastered, results in a faster, easier purl stitch and an exceptionally even stockinette stitch.

Have you ever thought about trying out a new knitting technique? Would you be interested in giving the Russian knitting technique a try? If you’re going to try it, maybe a Mamushka sweater is the perfect project to make.

You might also be interested in learning the Japanese knitting technique, Armenian knitting technique, or domino knitting technique.

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