Sunday, December 24, 2006

The continental purl stitch

The pictures say it all.
click picture

The yarn follows the path of the green arrow. Beware of the yarn-wrapping error illustrated in the inset--you'll wind up with a twisted stitch if you wrap the yarn "around the bottom" of the right needle, instead of "over the top," as you should.

click picture
If all goes right, here's what you'll see:

Merry Christmas--from


Silvia said...

I never thought about how a I Hold my just the way I was taught. But watching some of my Friends knit, the english way, I am always surprised how 'odd' it looks...was never quiet aware that the continental style of knitting is supposed to be faster...interesting

Anonymous said...

I found the illustration very informative. Not only are you good at knitting but you also seem to know your Illustrator. Any chance you'll start a blog on that soon?

susie lee said...

you really never cease to amaze me...not only do you seem to read my mind about what i need to have explained to me, but also you are quite talented at illustrating.

The Twisted Knitster said...

I love the tips, but I have to argue a point on this one - it's not *wrong* to wrap "around the bottom" when purling continental, it's just different. You have to know how to handle the stitches differently when you come to them, but it creates the combination style. It has a few distinct advantages - a. rowing out isn't as bad, so you use less yarn and there's less/no difference between knit and purl rows b. it's much easier to grab the yarn this way, so consequently faster and c. if you have any SSK decreases coming up, the stitches are already set up for it. The main difference in handling, though, is just knowing to knit into the "back" of the stitch, instead of the "front" to keep from twisting.

--TECHknitter said...

Hi Twisted: Thanks for your comment. You're quite right--in the long run, there is NEVER such thing as a mistake, IF (and this is the BIG word here--IF) you know how to compensate.

You evidently prefer to twist one way, and untwist back. I say--whatever works for you is what you should do, and I don't disagree that there are some advantages--as you very ably listed them.

BUT for a post on "THE PURL STITCH" (not on combination knitting, or twisted knitting) wrapping around the bottom IS a mistake--because it is going to lead to a twisted stitch.

This blog will feature a future post on variant knitting techniques--twisting there and untwisting back, knitting left to right from the front instead of purling, continental knitting paired with English purling (and vice versa). That post will have a further discussion of the twisted knitting you're espousing here.

Thanks for reading my blog, thanks for your comment, and I hope to hear from you again when the "variant knitting" post goes live, if not before!

Stay tuned,

Janet said...

Thank you! Now I understand how to wrap a purl stitch without using my thumb! Your static drawing of the technique has been ten times more useful than all the videos and demos I've seen. The arrows tell me exactly where to go with my needle instead of trying to tell me how to hold my yarn "properly" after many years of tensioning with my left hand.

cedar said...

Thanks tech, one of the things I noticed in your illustration is that the yarn is in front and in front of the about to be purled stitch, this is helpful, as most demos have the yarn in front but on the tip of the needle making you have to push it into the correct place, also the yarn on your index finger is further back..I shall persevere...

LisaBe said...

this is FANTASTIC. this is a thing i've resolved to improve in my knitting, and i can't wait for my next purling to try it along with your post. off to subscribe to your blog now--thank you for your beautiful and helpful illustrations!

Heidi said...

Just found your illustrations through googling 'Help! My continental knitting stitches are all twisted and I don't know what I'm doing wrong!!' - but thanks to this post I've sussed it out. :)

Thank you SO much!!

pinestate34 said...

I am a continental knitter, new to your site and have been avidly reading the various posts and comments.
On your continental purl discussion you say that yarn should be above, not below. That is how I have always done it. But I believe(not positive) that on another blog you said that for most efficient knitting, the fingers should not be used. I don't understand how to do the continental purl without using either the left hand index or third finger to push the yarn through the loop. If I purl with the yarn below, then I don't need to use any finger motion but then of course I need to knit into the back of the stitch on the corresponding knit row. Is there a way to purl with the yarn in the
"above" position without using a finger? And if not, which purl position is preferable?
Thanks for all your valuable insights.

TECHknitter said...

Hi Pinestate: Finger placement is one of the most idiosyncratic of all aspects of knitting. So, while it is true that the fewer movements you make, the faster you will knit, it may be that the construction of your own wrists and fingers makes pushing a loop through with the fingers faster and/or more comfortable than the twist of the wrist otherwise necessary to "lock" the yarn on. In other words, each knitter must strike the balance between finger movements and whole-hand movements, and arm movements vs. the idea of minimizing movement.

In short--flying fingers shuttling yarn around are not at all uncommon. In fact, I have read that the mechanism of the original self-tying baling machine was patterned after the shuttle-like motions made by the inventor's mother's fingers as she knit!


pinestate34 said...

Thanks for the feedback.
After reading the comment of the Twisted Knitster and your reply, I experimented with different purls and found that the "wrong" method, i.e. yarn below, suited me much better than what I had been doing. My old way of pushing the yarn with my left middle finger had me disliking purl while with the new method I am as happy purling as I am knitting. Doing the knit stitch into the back loop doesn't bother me at all. However,I am concerned about modifications which may be necessary. I understand that to insure that decreases will slant properly the knit stitches must be untwisted and knit through the front loop. Are there other modifications which must be made to accomodate the purl below/knit back loop method of knitting? Did I miss your post on variations?
Once again, many, many thanks for your invaluable help.

southofultimathule said...

Hello to Techknitter,

I see this posting is a few years old but that you're still actively blogging so I hope this reaches you. I have recently been working on swatches and have noticed a problem when I knit in stockinette using the continental method of knitting and purling as you describe. I have been knitting this way for years but only when now looking at the stockinette swatch do I see that my purl rows and knit rows are different heights. I have tried re-knitting them on several different size needles but to no avail. They are consistently inconsistent between the knit and purl rows. This has led me to switching to purling "around the bottom." With this technique my row heights even out but now I'm dealing with the leading edge going from front to back with each row and I have to compensate more. It has also tightened up my gauge (not a bad thing.) My questions are should I be able to purl as you are suggesting in this article and achieve an equal height to my knit stitch? And if not is there a way of purling continental style that doesn't end up twisting the stitches? I would love some insight.


TECHknitter said...

Hi Shelley. You appear to have independently discovered what is sometimes called "combination" knitting. Here is a link for you to read further. (Cut and paste the link into your browser window)

(read the instructions for purl, too).

The idea is to "untwist" the purls when you come to them.

Another idea would be to use two DIFFERENT size needles, one for the purling and one or the knitting, as explained here (again, cut and paste into the browser window).

Write again if you're still having difficulty, OK? Best, TK

Cami said...


anabel said...

In latin america we knit with the yarn wrap around the bottom and that do not lmake a twisted stich