I don't know if this applies to English style, I knit Continental (no, it's not better, it works for me!) Wrapping the yarn backwards or opposite to the way that you normally do makes a twisted stitch which is tighter. You have to be aware of it and knit into the back loop when you come to it, but I used to do it a lot and sometimes do it now. Before I got better at the tension thing I even tried a smaller needle on the purl side of stockinette.
You can't knit the left sock first. Ever.