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Old 03-19-2009, 05:39 PM   #1
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Help with learning different knitting styles?
So, I have this problem.

I was taught to knit English style, using the long-tail thumb method for casting on. (I've tried Continental in the past, but knit stitch is awkward, purling is impossible, and my tension sucketh, so I always reverted to English.) The way I knit involved both my hands near the tips of the needles, so my fingers could (as needed) hold needles in place, hold stitches in place, move stitches off, guide the working yarn, and keep the appropriate tension.

...For reasons that would take way too long to explain -- the short version is "wacky progressive mobility-limiting diseases suck" -- I can no longer do that. Particularly, I can only get my fingers within about 5" of each other (sometimes I can get them to touch if I strain, but that's painful and I can't keep it up for very long at a time).

I can still wield knitting needles, but I can't have both hands at the tips while I'm knitting. And my left hand needs the needle tip more (to manipulate the existing stitches, where the right hand was more just used for throwing the yarn), which means I probably have to switch to Continental, with left hand (and working yarn) at the tip of needles, and right hand further down on the right needle.

So, my questions are these:

1) How the heck do I *retrain* myself, given that I've done English for so long? (This is not, btw, an excuse for English-vs-Continental wars; it's just that I'm used to the one and frighteningly bad with the other.)

2) Is there a cast-on method that can be done without having the hands close? (The one I'm used to needs the LH thumb to act as a needle and the RH to manipulate the working yarn, and I can't do that any more.) The 'standard' method of LT might work since the right hand doesn't need to be at the tip, but I haven't tried it, and I'm also very bad at judging the needed lengths (always end up either too short, or miles too long), so a cast-on that doesn't involve estimating length for the tail would also be good.

Thanks for any suggestions

(I don't figure many people have actually *experienced* this sort of change, but hey, creativity is fun...)
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Current projects: a hat, one pair of socks, a pair of fingerless gloves, and zero sanity. Future projects: more socks, more gloves (some with fingers, even!), a tea cozy, a penguin scarf, and even less sanity.
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Old 03-19-2009, 06:41 PM   #2
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Yowtch. That sounds amazingly painful and amazingly annoying for sorry you're going through it!

Hmmm. What about Norwegian? I don't know much about it, but it looks something like what you might need...I think there's various videos on YouTube on it. The purl looks like it might work for you, as the entire left hand stays behind the needles with the yarn...

OTN: Eyelet Chemise in Handmaiden Sea Silk (colorway: Midnight). Still. And a purple Donegal Tweed set of fingerless mitts, to try out my new Hiya Hiya interchangeable needles.

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Old 03-19-2009, 10:26 PM   #3
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I think there's a Norwegian purl video on this site too, many people find it easier than the standard continental purling. You might also look into Combined knitting. It's done with the yarn in the left hand, but the purls are wrapped so you have to knit into the back of them or they'll be twisted. You can find information about it at and also at grumperina's site -
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Old 03-21-2009, 01:34 PM   #4
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Wow Isabeau, that sounds rough.

I was just thinking that if you do find a style of knititng which you are comfortable with, then knitting-on seems like a logical cast-on choice as you could knit the stitches on using whatever method you get comfortable with.
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