There are times when we all wish we could knit a bit faster – usually if we’ve got a project we want to finish for a birthday or other special occasion. And, of course, there are some makes that feature large areas in an easy but not very exciting stitch pattern, and you want to get these sections completed as soon as possible so you can get on to the interesting bits.
If you’ve only just started knitting, then the best way to speed things up is to knit as much as possible – after all, practice makes perfect. The more you handle yarn and get used to the feeling of the needles and stitches between your fingers, the more you’ll grow in confidence. If you’ve got a bit more experience, however, there are a few tips and tricks that can help you to knit faster.
One thing you can do is to change your knitting style so that you make smaller movements with your fingers. If you knit in the ‘English style’ – in other words, you hold the yarn in the same hand as the working needle – then you could swap to the ‘Continental style’, where you hold the yarn in the opposite hand to the working needle. Many knitters find the Continental style makes it quicker to work knit stitch; conversely, purl stitch can be faster if you use the English style.
In English knitting, the way you handle the yarn as you make a stitch is sometimes known as the ‘throwing’ technique, because the hand holding the yarn ‘throws’ it over the needle tip. (To make things simpler, we’re going to assume that it’s the right hand that’s holding the working yarn.) Many knitters using the throwing technique, let go of the working needle with their right hand before they ‘throw’ the yarn over the needle (steadying the working needle with their left hand). You can, however, keep hold of the working needle by supporting it in the crook between your thumb and hand while you ‘flick’ the yarn over the needle tip – in fact, this technique is often known as ‘flicking’. Because you are maintaining a hold on the working needle, you can keep the stitches close to the needle tips as you work so they have less distance to travel as they pass from one needle to the next.
Whichever technique you use it’s important to tension the working yarn by wrapping it around your fingers. How you do this is up to you – go with whatever feels most comfortable – but make sure you don’t hold the yarn too tightly or too loosely. And as you work, don’t forget to use the fingers on your left hand to gently move the stitches along the left needle, towards the tip so they are in position to be worked.
Above all, don’t worry if you aren’t a super speedy knitter. Knitting too fast might mean you make mistakes and drop stitches – and at the end of the day, it’s better to have a beautifully neat piece of work with a nice even tension.