Flicking Your Way to Better Knitting: Knitting Faster English Style

    Ready to finally knit faster with better tension and LESS pain? Try flicking, the English speed knitting alternative to lever knitting.

Recently I’ve been experimenting with different knitting styles to try and increase my knitting ergonomics and speed. So far, I’ve tried combination, Portuguese, and lever knitting- none of which helped my thumb pain I was experiencing when knitting. About a week ago I decided to take matters into my right hand and try flicking. 

I’ve never knit with my right hand- I’m usually a continental knitter. But since I’ve started this new knitting method, I don’t have thumb pain and knitting is getting faster and more fun. I thought I’d sure my experience with flicking and show you my method.

Ready to finally knit faster with better tension and LESS pain? Try flicking, the English speed knitting alternative to lever knitting.

An Overview

Flicking involves using your right hand to tension your yarn. Rather than let go of the needle as per usual with throwing, you “flick” the yarn by pivoting the needle downward. Staci from Very Pink Knits did a very thorough tutorial on this technique.

I love this method of knitting because I find it faster, as well as more comfortable. You make quite small motions with your fingers, and I feel like I can get into a really nice groove with it. I also think it’s more convenient to actually pick up the yarn when it’s on the right side.

My Modifications and Tips

Knitting is different for everyone, so experiment with flicking until you get comfortable with it. It does take practice, but don’t give up! Once you get the hang of it, it will totally change your knitting for the better.

I’ve mad some modifications to the flicking technique that Staci demonstrated. If you’re having trouble, try them out and see if they help you.

  • Instead of holding my yarn so that it goes behind the index, I hold it with the yarn in front. I think it’s easier to maintain tension this way.
  • The easiest way to hold your yarn is by wrapping it once around the pinky and then 1-3 times around the index depending on the tension that you need.
  • It’s borderline impossible to knit this way if your yarn falls into the crook of your index finger. Make sure to maintain tension if you want to keep the yarn up on that index finger. Seriously, most problems with flicking come from not keeping your yarn in the vicinity of the first knuckle of the index finger.
  • Practice with this on something that gradually increases in difficulty. A great thing to practice with is some worsted weight plain jane socks. I like this pattern for practicing new knitting methods.

I hope that this post helps you with your flicking journey! It’s an amazing method, so I would highly advise trying it at least one. You never know- maybe you’re a flicker at heart.

I’m so glad to be back at blogging- let me know what posts you’d like to see next.

41 comments / Add your comment below

  1. I just realized after my first comment and reading some others that I do rest the right needle in the crook between my thumb and forefinger. I still use my right finger like a bobbin but never have to let go of the work, the needle or the yarn. Simple – give it a try.

  2. Like so many of the commenters below, I have never knit any other way although I didn’t know it was ‘flicking’. To watch people go through so many movements by dropping the right needle, wrapping the yarn, picking up the needle, etc, etc, looks so cumbersome and like it’s adding additional steps. Even some ‘how to’ shows and tutorials do that and quite honestly, they look so unprofessional. I think of my ‘flicking’ finger as if it’s a bobbin. You tend to leave a longer section of yarn but it still gets the job done. Thanks for posting.

  3. I’ve been flicking and never realized it. I have always wondered why in the world people would drop their needle and wrap around. It is so intrusive and takes so much time.

  4. Very similar to how I knit and always have. My grandmother taught me and I taught my daughter. I have had people ask me about it. And I am always amazed at people who knit right-handed and throw their yarn, it looks so cumbersome. Glad to know I’m not alone.

  5. I too thought everyone (apart from me) knitted like this, its how my mother used to knit, I am also English so I am guessing there is a difference based on country. I learnt the throw method as a child and have only recently come back to knitting…. From what everyone is saying I need to find my own modifications to ensure I can do this comfortably and quickly. Thanks.

  6. Here’s a technique……Mom taught me how to knit 40 years ago. She always shook her head and laughed when she watched me knit.
    I would hold the right needle between my legs! No picking up or putting down at all.
    She did admit that it was a faster way to whip through a scarf!

  7. Other than short double pointed for socks or gloves, I have, until recently, always used long needles, I would tuck my right hand needle under my outer or, if long double pointed needles were in use, into a knitting belt. My yarn would go round my pinkie, under my ring finger and ove m right index finger. I Never let go of the yarn unless essential for the particular stitch being worked. It is a very typical style of knitting in Scotland, especially amongst women who are my age (old!) The belt is used predominantly in Shetland. They would use long double pointed steel needles, as many as required for the work in hand. Absolutely brilliant for Fair Isle yokes and Icelandic sweaters. Now I use a modified Continental style. Right hand works the needle, left hand controls the yarn. Two challenges brought this about. As I said above, I’m older now and with age has come arthritis. It’s not bad, but impinged on my knitting, and I was challenged to knit a pair of toe-up socks, the latter I did Continental to practice the former. Successfully.

  8. looks like the way my grandmother knit, but she held her needles like pencils between your thumb and pointer finger. how? i cant figure it out. its interesting to try and see if i can do it sometimes. (i cant)

    1. I use a similar method. I rest the knitting needle in the crook of my thumb and index finger. The yarn is wrapped around my pinky, under my ring finger and middle finger and over my index finger. So I never let go of the needle. Your flicking method seems very uncomfortable with your index finger up in the air all the time. And on your purl row it also seems uncomfortable. If you can understand my method give it a try. Let me know how it goes.

    2. Have you tried to knit with the right hand needle tucked under your right elbow or in a knitting belt? The first method is very common in Scotland, and is very similar to your flicking, but the weight of the work is stabilised. The knitting belt, used with long, double pointed needles, is found mostly in Shetland and Fair Isle. With either method two colours can be carried and knitted – have a look at Fairisle patterns – but with the belt the right hand needle is secure, and the knitter can multi task.

      1. Years ago, I met a lady who moved from Scotland to Canada and she was frustrated because she couldn’t find needles long enough to tuck under her arm or elbow or…… Sounds like what you have described.

  9. I have always knitted this way, and it is fast. I have learned picking/continental, as well, but flicking is much faster for me. And it has served me well for more than 50 years. I’m happy to see that you are promoting this style of knitting. Knit on!!

  10. Everyone I know knits like this. I thought that was the main method. I have never been able to do it. I gave up on knitting because I use the other way and I thought that was the way kids learn to knit. I might try again now.

  11. My mother taught me to knit this way when I was young – I am now in my 60’s. In fact most people I know who knit use this method. I am English and my mother was from Northern Ireland. I wonder if that makes a difference?

    1. I knit this way too, and it’s the way my mum taught me (also English, and mum English too) – the difference for me is I put the yarn over my index and middle fingers, under my ring finger, then over my little finger to keep the tension – it means I don’t need to grip anything, and I have the bit that I wrap down the front (thumb side) of my index finger rather than dropping down the back (I think like the modification you describe).

      I do remember when I was a child making my self a little extension using a hair grip because I couldn’t quite reach (perhaps my fingers weren’t long enough yet) but I soon managed it without, so it might just have been getting the technique right.

  12. Thanks for sharing your tips and modifications. I recently tried this new way of knitting and struggling. Will definitely give it a try holding the yarn in front to see if it works for me too.

  13. It’s not really a new technique, it’s a natural progession. As someone else has commented, new knitters let go of the needle. Like any skill, we adapt and find easier ways to perform the task.
    Most people using the ‘throwing or English style’, knit like this.

  14. Wow … I expected something else. I was amazed that this way of “flick knitting”, as you call it, is considered unique or different – in Australia this is how we knit! All the time! Letting go of the right hand needle to wrap the wool around was how we started when learning, as children
    Even my 10 y.o. granddaughter now knits this way. I hope it catches on fast over there in the U.S.

    1. Wow- that’s so great! Most american knitters let go of the right hand needle, I believe. I love this method- it’s even faster than my continental knitting which is traditionally thought of as the fastest method.

  15. I’m left handed and figured this out for myself in my 20’s. I’m so glad you put out a video for this. It also makes for a very nice even tension.

  16. I taught myself to flick, too, also using Staci’s video. It took about three weeks, practicing every day. Yes, the flicking groove is awesome. Have you been able to flick while purling? One time I managed half a dozen stitches in a row but usually the yarn slips off the needle when I go to pull it through. I haven!t done mich focused practice though.

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