My Top 4 Tips to Becoming a Faster Knitter

So many things to knit, so little time. That’s what life as a knitter with access to Ravelry is usually like. If we could knit faster and finish those Christmas knits in half the time… maybe our whole stash would actually fit into our basement. But when you knit slowly, it’s hard to start pumping out FOs like Miriam Tegles. 

Knitting faster isn’t always going to help. You have to knit a lot and consistently to truly progress. But learning to knit faster will improve your chances at completing that baby sweater in time for your sister’s baby shower, and it will help you when you stay up into the wee hours of dawn to complete the design that finally got accepted into Brooklyn Tweed before the deadline. 

Knitting faster is a goal most knitters have, and for a good reason. Learning to knit faster will help you finish more projects, and complete design samples with time to spare.

Tip One: Switch it Up.

If you knit English style, this might be slowing you down. The reason English style knitting tends to be slower is that you have to drop one of your needles. The key to faster knitting is being able to keep your movements small and compact. 

If you want to keep holding your yarn in the right hand, try flicking or lever knitting. With flicking, you hold on to the right needle while wrapping the yarn. It is similar to continental knitting. Lever knitting leaves your hands free, and it allows you to knit for hours without pain. Stephanie Pearl McPhee uses Irish Cottage knitting, which is a similar method.

Continental style knitting is known to be one of the fastest methods, and in my experience, it really is faster. I started knitting continental, and I still do. I taught myself English style but always go back to Continental because it’s super speedy. Some people have trouble with this method on the purl stitch. If you struggle with purling continental, check out combination knitting. It prevents rowing out and makes your knitting look like it was machine knit. The only downside is that you’ll have to reverse most patterns (similar to how a lefty knitter would).

Tip Two: Tension Your Yarn for Success.

Tensioning your yarn correctly is key to knitting evenly and beautifully. Different styles require different tensioning methods. If you feel pain while knitting, it may be due to holding your yarn in an uncomfortable way. I’ve found that wrapping my yarn around my pinky, under my ring and middle finger, and then over my index finger is the best method. I lift my index finger to tension the yarn on the knit stitch and press down on the yarn to tension for my purl stitch.

Tip Three: Pick it Like It’s Hot.

Surprisingly, a lot of continental knitters don’t knit in the true style. When knitting continental, you are supposed to “pick” up the yarn as opposed to wrap the yarn like you would in the English knitting style. If you wrap the yarn, it’ll cause more pain and will slow you down. Observe yourself knitting next time and make sure that you are truly picking your yarn.

Tip Four: Practice = Speed.

You can try a lot of different techniques, but to really improve your speed knitting, you’ll need to practice. If you’re switching over to a new knitting method, it’ll take about a month to really start seeing improvement in your knitting speed. You can practice by knitting up swatches or starting a simple scarf or shawl project. Practice stocking stitch, increases, decreases, and ribbing. Try taking classes on platforms like Craftsy if you have trouble learning online. Eventually, your speed will increase.

TIP: You can test if these tips increase your speed by setting a timer for 1 minute, casting on 60 stitches, and knitting as many stitches as you can before the timer goes off. Write down this number. Then, do it again after practicing for a few weeks.

 What style do you knit in? Let me know in the comments!

3 comments / Add your comment below

  1. I could never seem to master the purling part of Continental knitting until I took a Craftsy course called “Knit Faster With Continental Knitting” with Lorilee Beltman. The course started with the basics of hand positioning, both to control tension and to relieve stress in the hands, then moved through knitting and purling and included several increases and decreases, etc. In this course I found out that for purling, I needed to modify the position of the yarn in the left hand, such that the working spot to pick up the yarn was on the tip of the second finger rather than over the index finger. Ms Beltman’s method for tensioning the yarn kept the fingers and hands relaxed and also resulted in a very even and uniform fabric. In my experience, her method of purling is much faster than Russian or Combination, and not need to modify patterns. I love the Craftsy platform, and it’s my favorite source for in-depth instruction along with the ability to ask the instructor directly for help. Lorilee Beltman and Patty Lyons (especially for mastering cables!) are my favorite Craftsy instructors, although I’d give five stars to any of the instructors of the 28 Craftsy knitting courses I own.

  2. True Continental knitters do not pick the purls, but do wrap them. Russian or Combination knitters pick the purls. Just a technicality—as I believe that if it looks like Knitting, it doesn’t matter how you got there.

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