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How We Knit: Throwing or Picking?

Sep 9, 2009

I was flipping through our new special issue Interweave Knits: Weekend, and thinking about how much I usually look forward to knitting on the weekend; "usually" is the key word here, because I've got a project that I'm ready to be finished with. It's a complicated cabled scarf that I'm doing for someone else, and it's one of those projects that is challenging to work on and beautiful once it's done. You know I love a cable project, but I can't wait to get back to my regular weekend knitting!

As I've been working on this project, I've been using two methods of knitting: throwing and picking. When I first learned to knit I was a "thrower." What was I throwing, you ask? Well, I was throwing the yarn around the needle, I guess. I really wasn't actually throwing the yarn around the needle, but "throwing" is a common term for what's been known for years as English knitting.

When I joined a knitting group, I noticed a couple of the gals were holding the yarn in their left hands and sort of scooping it through the loop to make their knit stitches, and they were doing it pretty speedily! (This is the Continental method of knitting, also known as "picking.")

I asked for a lesson, and discovered my tension, which had been perfectly even, by the way ;), went crazy: loose stitches everywhere! I decided to practice my picking skills on a felted bag, which is so forgiving; once it's felted, the loose stitches disappear. The bag gave me enough practice to improve my tension and get me comfortable with this new method. And the speed was amazing! Purling wasn't quite as fast as knitting for awhile, but I'm adept at both stitches now.

The surprise in all of this was what a bonus it is to be able to pick and throw. Working on stranded projects is the most obvious use of both methods, but I find I switch to throwing when I need more control over the yarn, such as when doing large cable crossings (more than four stitches crossing over, such as my current scarf project), picking up stitches, and knitting or purling more than two stitches together for lace projects. I default to picking now, but I love having the throwing knowledge in my arsenal.

How Do We Knit?

One day we decided to take photos of how we here at Knitting Daily knit so we could share them with you. Clockwise from left is Marilyn (a thrower), Annie (a thrower), me (a picker), Anna-Liza (a picker), Rebecca (a thrower), and Eunny (throwing and picking on a stranded project).

           

Even though we all either pick or throw, we each have a different way of tensioning our yarn. This is one of the reasons that gauge is so important when working on garments—there are infinite ways to tension yarn, some methods give more tension and some less, resulting in tighter or looser stitches.

Learn to Pick (or Throw)!

If you're a thrower, here's a quick lesson on picking:

To knit: Hold the working yarn behind the needles and use your right hand to bring the right needle into the first stitch on the left needle (from front to back), rotate it counterclockwise (over and behind in a scooping motion) around the taut working yarn, and back out of the stitch, pulling the new stitch through the old as you slide the old stitch off the left needle (Fig. 2).

To purl: Hold the yarn in front of the work and insert the right needle behind the yarn and down (from back to front) into the first stitch on the left needle. Rotate the right needle around the yarn counterclockwise (over, behind, and around to the front again), then push the needle to the back, pulling the new stitch through the old and sliding the old stitch off the left needle as you do so (Fig. 1). Some knitters find it helpful to use their right thumb or forefinger to prevent the yarn from sliding off the tip of the right needle as they pull the stitch through. Others like to move their left forefinger downward slightly to hold the new stitch in place as it is pulled through to completion.

If you're a picker, here's a quick lesson on throwing:

To knit: Hold the working yarn in back of the work and insert the right needle up (from front to back) into the first stitch on the left needle, so that the needle tip extends about an inch (2.5 cm) beyond the stitch. Grasp the right needle with your left thumb and forefinger (without letting go of the left needle), bring the yarn forward with your right forefinger, and wrap it around the right needle tip counterclockwise (behind the needle then to the front between the two needles) [Fig. 3]. Retrieve the right needle with your right hand and use that needle to draw the new stitch through the old as you slide the old stitch off the left needle. Tighten the yarn with your right hand to tension the stitch.

To purl: Hold the yarn in front and insert the right needle "down" (from back to front) into the stitch, so that the tip extends about an inch (2.5 cm) beyond the stitch. Grasp the right needle with your left thumb and forefinger as you use your right forefinger to wrap the yarn around the right needle tip counterclockwise (over and behind the needle, then to the front between the two needles) [Fig. 4]. Move both hands back into their starting position as you use the right needle to draw the new stitch through the old and off the needle. Tighten the stitch with your right hand.

As you practice these new techniques, you'll feel like you're a beginning knitter again—all thumbs wrapped up in string. Just keep at it, remembering to breath and relax your shoulders. And pick a project—like a felted bag, a dishcloth, or something else that'll be forgiving but ultimately useful—and throw or pick away.

Cheers!

Kathleen


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Comments

BetinaJuchem wrote
on Nov 24, 2013 1:27 AM

I can do both - but I prefer to throw, don't really know why, since picking is much faster!

KateS@13 wrote
on Nov 20, 2009 7:40 AM

I would LOVE to see a video of these techniques in action... I struggle with twisting the yarn on my finger (left or right, I try both) to help pick or throw it.  So Im doing a combination.  I try different things to make it faster but nothing feels comfortable or as comfortable as Eunny makes it look when I'm watching her knit.

MikkiB wrote
on Sep 27, 2009 7:28 AM

Nice article.  Question, I know how to throw and pick, but if I hold the working yarn in my left hand and throw am I knitting left handed, since throwing is usually done on the right hand?  Why do I do this, just that it is natural for me and when I pick my gauge is awful.  I used to pick my purls and maintain gauge, but on the next row you will have to knit in the back of the stitches or your stitches will be twisted.

Thanks again for the article and taking time to respond to my question.

on Sep 24, 2009 3:27 PM

I've been out of town and only just now reading this.   It is very interesting to watch how differently people knit in different parts of the world.  However I was taken aback to see that this site shows the English style of knitting as completely letting go of the right hand needle.   It is doing this that gives English style the reputation for being slow, and I don't believe it should be called the English style.    When I learned to knit as a child in England, this was considered a child's way of knitting with the understanding  that as one grew one would move on to the adult way of cradling the needle with the hand and moving just the index finger to wrap the yarn around the needle.    Like Christina, I don't think of it as throwing - this seems to be a fairly recent expression.

Helen Hayes wrote
on Sep 15, 2009 12:42 PM

I am looking for a pattern for a wrap sweater.  Can anyone help me?-Helen Hayes

SharonP@28 wrote
on Sep 12, 2009 9:21 AM

Interesting and fun to read. thanks.

Being a lefty and having crocheted lefthanded 20+ years, my knitting is English or throwing.

So far, it has been too hard to adjust in which hand I hold the tension yarn.

I have learned to purl backwards. I do that pretty quickly!  Can I consider that throwing while knitting and picking while purling?  Seems like it to me.

Enjoy!

~Sharon

NitaS@2 wrote
on Sep 11, 2009 11:47 AM

Thanks for this post. I "accidentally" became a picker after a couple of crochet

projects put me in the picking mindset. I was astounded that 1) the switch

occurred so unconsciously, since I'd tried before consciously and

unsuccessfully and 2) the speed was at least double my previous rate. The

tensioning in Eunny's picture looks interesting, and I'll try it. That's one of my

challenges, keeping tension without stretching the yarn or losing tension

altogether. I like to think it's the BLAZING SPEED at which I'm knitting :-),

but I know it's really a matter of practice. Picking makes knitting in the round on

dpns for fingerless gloves a joy. I've made several pairs for myself, family,

and friends, mostly office workers, computer geeks, or gamers who need to

keep their hands warm in frosty offices or homes.

ChristinaS wrote
on Sep 11, 2009 10:02 AM

I knit English.  I do not throw anything.  I wrap.  Throwing is a vulgar way to describe it.

virginia8489 wrote
on Sep 10, 2009 3:54 PM

I am a thrower and have often received compliments regarding my even tension.  Watching "pickers" in the past has given my mind a cramp.  But after I saw the picture in this newsletters of Eunny's stranding, I am going to learn this skill.  Now I think I get it and I'm thrilled.  What wonderful tools you give us!

Virginia

ALA wrote
on Sep 10, 2009 3:32 PM

I, too, found Continental a lot easier to learn, as I learned crochet first. And I also tension the yarn around my pinkie. I find I don't move my left forefinger much for the knit stitch, and I flick it forward for purling. I'm trying to learn to throw for colorwork, but I still can't purl that way.

Anne@13 wrote
on Sep 10, 2009 3:27 PM

I'm an English knitter, so supposedly a thrower, but not the same way as your diagrams.....I don't take my  hand off the right  needle and just 'throw' the yarn with my index finger.  I've tried 'picking'  but find it too slow!!! and it  makes my left  hand  ache.  I guess I've  been knitting too long now to want to change !

DarlisaR wrote
on Sep 10, 2009 12:01 PM

Since I'm primarily a crocheter, it was easier for me to pick up Continental style as English style never clicked with me (although my mother tried to teach me several times). It also doesn't exacerbate my carpal tunnel syndrome as much as throwing does.

I hold the yarn over my index finger and tension it under my pinky, just like I do when crocheting.

bethintx1 wrote
on Sep 10, 2009 7:12 AM

Interesting this article appeared when it did. I to am a self-taught thrower, but after viewing a video about speed knitting I decided to learn the continental method.

I made the k1,p1 by picking, because it eliminated the step of moving the working yarn back and forth switching from knit to purl.

I still use the English method for making stockinette stitch.  

Beth

ClaudiaN wrote
on Sep 10, 2009 6:54 AM

Thanks for a very helpful posting!  I love tips and personal suggestions.  Keep 'em coming.  For the past several weeks KD seemed to be nothing but advertising.

susan keet wrote
on Sep 10, 2009 3:10 AM

using a portugese knitting pin is the fastest, easiest way of picking method and gives perfect tension .

on Sep 9, 2009 8:24 PM

I learned the "Spanish" or "Irish Cottage" way as some others have called it--the right needle fixed under the armpit.  A few months later I worked up enough nerve to show my Slovakian friend who watched in horror.  She then taught me picking and now that is my default except for complicated stitches.  But one day a Bulgarian woman in the park, who knew no English, took my knitting from me and put the yarn around her neck and started knitting by pushing the yarn down with her thumbs and the needles more or less picked.  She was extremely fast and someone told me this is the "Turkish" way to knit.  Has anyone else seen this?  I love ruminating on how the human species came to make clothing!

MaryL@71 wrote
on Sep 9, 2009 7:53 PM

This could be the perfect opportunity to recognize the left-handed community.  I learned to throw, left-handed, and did so for many years. But I recently taught myself to pick, left-handed, too.  How about some pictures of lefties, too?

Ketlian wrote
on Sep 9, 2009 7:51 PM

I do 3 methods; English, Continental and Portuguese. I learned English first, and then broke both hands. I was taught Portuguese by a lovely physical therapist and was able to knit with awkward clumsy hands as I healed. In the last 2 years I learned continental. with these three styles of knitting in my arsenal I am finding that even the toughest fair isle is accomplished easily! I am also fairly even with my stitches on all styles! (I find the trick is NOT to knit on the tips.. but to be sure to move the yarn all the way to the barrel of the needle)

Funnily enough, I knit Portuguese with the yarn in my left hand not my right. kind of a Continental Portuguese vs English Portuguese

NancyS@9 wrote
on Sep 9, 2009 7:21 PM

Wondering if figure 1 is really showing the purl stitch?, and figure 2 shows the knit stitch?

on Sep 9, 2009 6:27 PM

I myself am a thrower, but I've always wanted to try picking.  I have seen it and it does seem to be much faster which is helpful because i mostly make a lot of accessories, scarfs, bags ( mostly large totes), hat sets, blankets and shawls to name a few and it seems to take forever.  So I was thrilled by your article and eager to try it except, i could not understand the written directions and think it would be a good idea to include a video and perhaps clearer diagrams.  or perhaps a link. thank you

knitnsing wrote
on Sep 9, 2009 5:30 PM

I knit English Style, which is clearly listed in any old knitting books.  It is different from the throwing method that you show.  The movement is liikely between throwing and picking (usually referred to as Continental Style in my books).  True English style has the right hand under the needle, and the needle rides loosely on the web betweenthe thumb and the palm of the hand.  Tension control is much superior and the movement of yarn around the needle is more controlled.

I have used both methods shown in the article, but arthritis in the left hand makes the Continental Style far too painful to manage for any length of time, the thrown style you show exerts far too much drag on arthritic wrists which have to support the work from above, and I get a far better balanced stitch using the English style, which is in part, no doubt, the result of over 50 years of knitting mostly this way.  

KateGB wrote
on Sep 9, 2009 5:22 PM

I was a thrower, but have just tried picking and am converted -  it feels so much easier on the hands. My tension seems fine but, of course I'll need practice to pick up speed.

I've been knitting since I was a child but am always ready to try out new techniques, thanks for this one

Kate

Slackrgirl wrote
on Sep 9, 2009 4:34 PM

Thank you for this article. I pick on K and throw on P. I could never quite figure out how to P with  picking. I have copied your tutorial and will now work on my technique. Picking is faster for me even though I am right handed. I also thank you for the info on my tension. I am pretty close, but no cigar. Now I know why!

newswoman wrote
on Sep 9, 2009 4:13 PM

Great post today! Thank you!

I'm a picker and a thrower.

I'm glad I know both ways, it's great for color work.

I pick when I'm using one color of yarn though.

My finger is right behind my knitting, too. I just lift the yarn off my finger and away I go.

ChristieC wrote
on Sep 9, 2009 3:14 PM

I would love to be able to print the directions on 1 piece of paper. When I tried to copy it into Word, it would only let me copy the entire newsletter. I love all of the information, but would have an easier time trying it without sifting papers.

annekaelber wrote
on Sep 9, 2009 3:11 PM

It'd be nice to see us lefties in there somewhere. Because of all the left/right terms, I've taken to call my knitting style "Sinister Knitting"---I move the stitches from the right needle to the left needle. This means that following directions for "the left front" results in "the right front" and vice versa for me.

Are there no lefties or Sinister Knitters on staff at KD? Is this why Interweave Knits never talks about the issues facing Sinister Knitters?

Anne.

Roy Laws wrote
on Sep 9, 2009 2:43 PM

One last thought on Portuguese style.  It is neither a pick nor a throw.  It's a whole different method.  You just tension the yarn slightly with your right hand to control it.  You neither flick or throw with your right hand.  It is a flick with your left thumb.

Helen Hayes wrote
on Sep 9, 2009 2:41 PM

When I knit, I pick.  I always keep the yarn on left hand and move my needle in front to knit or behind to purl.  That way the tension stays the same.  I have done this for many, many years--grandma taught me when we used to make the mittens with all the fingers---not easy for a 9-year old.  Helen in Washington

Roy Laws wrote
on Sep 9, 2009 2:41 PM

Lesley, when you knit Portuguese into the back of the knit stitch, you work the stitch exactly the same way you work the purl stitch.  Just insert the needle into the pack and flick with your thumb.  You have to hold the needle at more of an angle to tip the point closer so you can flick over it.

Roy Laws wrote
on Sep 9, 2009 2:37 PM

Looking over the post and all the comments, I would like to add my 2 cents worth. I do English (throw) and Continental (pick) about 50% each, depending on what sort of pattern I am doing.  Stocknette is always Continental, or Continental Combo if I am doing ribbing.  If you do Continental Combo on circular needles, you will end up knitting into the front of the back leg of the stitch, and purling from the back side of the back leg.  It sounds a bit goofy, but once you get the hang of it, it is really fast.  I have also found recently that Portuguese style with the yarn in front works extremely well and doesn't require any adjustment for increasing or decreasing.  It is pretty much exactly the same as English, just holding the yarn differently.  It gives very even tension if you do it right.  It is also my 2nd favorite for ribbing.  The purl stitch is so fast, I have actually been known to do stockinette from the back (purl) side for the entire project when using circulars for socks, except for turning heels and toes.

There is some difference of opinion with Ms. McPhee's calling what she does Irish Cottage style.  It is really a variation.  Irish Cottage (by her own definition) is done by anchoring your right hand needle against your chair, or under your arm, etc. and basically doing the English style knitting (usually holding the yarn tensioned) and manipulating everything with your left hand except for the actual throwing.  I find this particularly useful when using long needles and trying to do cabling, or when working with slippery yarn where I have frequent problems with the needle slipping out of the work during the first few stitches of each row.  By having the right needle braced, it can't go anywhere, and is much less frustrating than having to pick up the stitches (and usually the needle itself, which freqnently ended up on the floor) at the beginning of each row.  When you watch her video, making socks on dp needles, she is doing a variation.  You cannot do actual Irish Cottage style with circulars or dp needles, because there is no way to anchor the right hand needle under your arm or against your chair.  If you check out YouTube for videos using "speed knitting" for a search, you will find people doing some actual Irish Cottage style.

My order of preference:

1) Continental Combo for speed and comfort, 2) English if the pattern gets complicated, 3) Portuguese as a trade off when my hands get tired, and 4) Continental and English combined for two color work such as fair isle.  When your fingers ache from doing one method too long at a stretch, switch to another method and give them a rest.  It works, and you will be greatful not to overwork your hands/fingers.

cjd@4 wrote
on Sep 9, 2009 2:22 PM

SOLUTION to the quandry of whether to go clockwise or counterclockwise on a needle (do you look from the left, or do you look from the right) is easy if you can avoid the deceptive clockwise or counterclockwise descriptions.

If you are wrapping a needle (or anything else for that matter)  think of it as passing DOWN your nose, or conversely UP your nose.

Better described is better accomplished!

Think about it and let me know how it works for you.  

C.J. David, a Long-Time-Knitter

cjd@teleport.com

cjd@4 wrote
on Sep 9, 2009 2:11 PM

A BIG SOURCE OF MISUNDERSTANDING ...

Clockwise or Counter-clockwise ... that is the question.  If you are looking at a stitch from the left, it could be one way.  Looking from the right, it could be the other way.

SOLUTION:

Woolite wrote
on Sep 9, 2009 2:05 PM

I prefer to do color work, and holding one color in each hand keeps thing fast and fun, especially for socks.  

Edy Beth wrote
on Sep 9, 2009 12:37 PM

I to have learned to both throw and pick.  I also learned to work my yarn from left to right, i.e., knit backwards on a project that has lots of bobbles.  I can knit the 5 stitch bobble for  rows and then decrease without turning my  work.  This makes the project go much, much faster, and makes the bobbles much more enjoyable.

Can anyone show the folks how that is done?

Edythe in Central Oregon

Purrcat wrote
on Sep 9, 2009 12:22 PM

I was a crocheter originally, but for the life of me I couldn't get the hang of continental so I learned english. I wanted to make Noro Striped Scarf and I hate ribbing in english so I taught myself continental. I also use both hands when doing fair isle. It's great to know both techniques in knitting.

Habanero wrote
on Sep 9, 2009 12:21 PM

The terms "clockwise" and "counterclockwise" as used in knitting instructions has always seemed backwards to me.  Those are from the point of view of a person standing on the other side of your work, looking down the needle from point to head.

why aren't we using the terms from the viewpoint of the knitter, the person who is actually wrapping the yarn?  The needle points face away from the knitter.

on Sep 9, 2009 12:03 PM

Thanks for pointing out the problems with the figures. I changed the text so they should be okay now.

Kathleen

betterways wrote
on Sep 9, 2009 11:58 AM

Several years ago, Threads magazine had an article about different knitting methods around the world.  There were at least half a dozen. Besides throwing and picking, there are differences in how the needles are held and which one does the work. And the Greek method in which the yarn is looped around the back of your neck so it comes from above so you can just push loops onto the needles. It's extremely fast to knit.

I learned in England, so I am a thrower, sort of.  I have to hold the yarn between thumb and forefinger, looping it around my finger doesn't work for me.

RedG wrote
on Sep 9, 2009 11:52 AM

Would have been nice to see a Lefty represented. But, then again, perhaps you have no folks that knit True Lefty in your group :)

LilliamR wrote
on Sep 9, 2009 10:26 AM

I will never get how you gals knit in such a complicated fashion, with yarn wrapped on all those fingers and loose needles in the air...  I was taught to knit "the Spanish" way, and it looks like nothing I've ever seeing anyone do in the US...  right needle under the arm, anchored and never moveable, and the right hand only does all of the work,I guess, "throwing" would be closest, but it still not even close to the simplest form I know to knit... the left hand just moves the row to be knitted down...

can't beat it for arthritic hands either.

Lilliam

KristiH wrote
on Sep 9, 2009 10:01 AM

I learned to throw but later taught myself to pick. I live in Portugal but have yet to learn the Portuguese method. That's next!

I wonder - does anyone know - is there a difference in tension between the different methods? Say, in the middle of a row, one hand gets tired and I switch from throwing to picking, will it look different?

Susan@10 wrote
on Sep 9, 2009 9:42 AM

I knit both picking and throwing depending on the situation.  Recently I have started knitting backwards for my purl rows.  When doing stockinette it is really fast.  I am fortunate my tension seems to stay the same whatever method I am using and so I switch when the situation warrants.  Thanks for the topic,it is a good one.

TeilaC wrote
on Sep 9, 2009 9:42 AM

I throw, but hold the right hand needle cradled between my thumb and forefinger.  I feel I can go faster this way than holding the needle from above.  I would be interested to know how many others hold their needles this way. My mom taught me this way over 50 years ago.

 T.

LesleyI wrote
on Sep 9, 2009 9:30 AM

Thank you for this topic.   I think I knit like Gretchen Briden with the knitting cradled between my thumb and index finger and move the yarn over the needle with my index finger.   Recently I watched the Video by Andrea Wong and have taught myself the Portuguese style and have achieved quite a good tension. However, I can't figure out how to do the knit into back of knit stitches using this technique.  I second NatalyA's request for a video to teach us how to knit the Eunny way - I have never seen anyone knit that fast!  Please, please ask Eunny to do a teaching video of her method for all her fans.  I only discovered Knitting Daily a few months ago and am soo glad that I did.   I have learnt such a lot.  Many thanks.   LesleyI

scknitter2 wrote
on Sep 9, 2009 8:56 AM

Also taught myself knitting by picking. Recently learned throwing when I decided to try knitting backwards. Definitely helps to have different techniques available.

Thanks also for the pics of individual ways of knitting & holding yarn.

LuanneR@2 wrote
on Sep 9, 2009 8:51 AM

One of the reasons throwing is sometimes slower than picking is that knitters move their right hand off the needle to throw the yarn with every stitch.  If I did that I'd have quit knitting decades ago; I can't even watch people doing it, it's so inefficient and uncomfortable-looking.  I use the third and fourth fingers of the right hand to cradle the right-hand needle and they never drop the needle.  The yarn goes over the right index finger.  I think some people call it "lever" knitting because it's actually a pretty slight motion of the right index finger.  If I need additional tension I may thread the yarn over the right middle finger too.  With this method, purling is easy and fast, requiring only a slight change of angle and an even smaller motion of the lever finger.  In fact I prefer knitting back-and-forth to knitting in the round because the purl back rows are so smooth and relaxing to do!  Picking may be a bit faster, but it's not a race, and I can do 60 sts per minute if I want to, which is about as fast as I'd care to knit anyway.

Try it!

TheresaM@2 wrote
on Sep 9, 2009 8:44 AM

This is a great subject! Watching videos that show how fast Eunny and the Yarn Harlot knit has spurred me to work on speeding up my knitting pace. I'm sure this article will be helpful.

There is one thing though, the diagrams are a bit too light a gray for my eyes.

WyomingK wrote
on Sep 9, 2009 8:33 AM

I taught myself to knit from one of those wee knitting booklets hanging off the yarn bins at the big box store. I had to figure out on my own how to carry the yarn.

I ended up not really picking or throwing. I carry the yarn in my left hand, but I mostly (but not always) throw instead of pick. It apparently looks odd to seasoned knitters, but what's important is that it works for me. :)

RebeccaT wrote
on Sep 9, 2009 8:27 AM

I throw with my left hand. I can tell that it's not efficient, but I haven't practiced enough to get good tension by holding the yarn on my left index finger. I have really good tension and even stitches the way I do it, so I'm not as eager to change.

What's strange to me is that I learned to knit in knitting class at my LYS and they just let me do what came naturally. Kathleen's suggestion of practicing on something to be felted is a good idea.

HelenD wrote
on Sep 9, 2009 8:22 AM

Don't forget thumb flicking -- Portuguese knitting (also Peruvian, Greek and sometimes Turkish). Tensioned around the neck, flicked with the thumb. I had tendonitis in my left index finger, brought on by continental knitting too many socks. This new method has helped it heal.

Aline wrote
on Sep 9, 2009 8:13 AM

I learned to pick in college, from friends (over 40 years ago) after I'd been knitting for several years. I loved the speed advantage when knitting ribbing, which had been a drag until I learned to pick.

Recently I learned the "combined knitting" method, which comes into play when knitting stockinette back and forth. Now I don't "row out" and get a goofy tension on the purl rows, but I have to knit off the back of the stitch when I return on the knit row. The key to making all these adjustments to one's knitting is really understanding what that row of loops is doing, and watching to keep it straight. Once you see your knitting you can do anything.        Knit On!  Aline

Braizyn wrote
on Sep 9, 2009 8:05 AM

I'm a thrower, normally, picker when I have a stranded, 2-color project, and I took Stephani Pearl-McPhee's "Knitting for Speed and Efficiency" class at Sock Summit, so I'm trying to learn to be a lever/production/Irish Cottage knitter.

Knitting schizophrenia abounds

!

JudithG@3 wrote
on Sep 9, 2009 8:02 AM

I'm developing arthritis in my left hand, so picking is sometimes painful.  I have to learn how to "throw".  The problem is tension -- how to hold the yarn in the right hand tightly enough.  Your pictures are partly helpful, but they don't show all the fingers, and how they use them to tighten the yarn.  But thanks for the post!

PatR wrote
on Sep 9, 2009 7:55 AM

I learned to knit by throwing, and did so for many years until I developed extreme pain in my left thumb that left me unable to purl (?).  One of our patrons taught me how to pick, thereby avoiding the pressure I was putting on the thumb, and I've been able knit like crazy.  

KyRe wrote
on Sep 9, 2009 7:50 AM

I have always knit continental, even when I was a little girl!  That's how I taught myself, I guess.  (Probably because I crocheted first).  Everyone comments on how I knit so fast!  I can forward this to my "throwing" friends!  Thanks!

PatK wrote
on Sep 9, 2009 7:36 AM

Like Breisterretje, I pick, but don't stick my left forefinger up in the air; rather, it rests gently atop the left needle, helping control the "feed" of stitches onto the right needle, and  moving only when I need it to help control purl stitches. Tension, meanwhile, is maintained by wrapping the yarn around my entire hand and little finger. I adopted this more relaxed hand position after a practiced Continental knitter showed me how to avoid the pain I was experiencing from trying to keep that forefinger levitated, as I'd seen it in so many pictures.

pohlkappe@2 wrote
on Sep 9, 2009 7:30 AM

StacyLinn is right - the diagrams are wrong. Figure 1 shows purling, as the yarn is in front of the work and the needle is inserted into the stitch from the right to the left. Figure 2 shows  the knitting.

SusanL@109 wrote
on Sep 9, 2009 7:20 AM

Thank you for talking about being a thrower or a picker! I tried the picking technique when I started to learn to knit. I could not get the tention right at all. I almost gave up learning to knit and then I tried throwing. Yahoo!!!! Anyway, I have been knitting for awhile so I think I will try the throwing once again, with having these different techniques. Thanks so much for the article!!!

Susan

eharrell wrote
on Sep 9, 2009 7:20 AM

Looks like Eunny is quite a multi-tasker with fingers and yarn going in all directions!

Cathie@2 wrote
on Sep 9, 2009 7:09 AM

I learnt to knit as a thrower and would dearly love to be adept at picking and am absolutely facinated by it.  I have only just recently learnt to pick via Knitting Daily.  I have some needles and yarn near me and I keep trying every now and then.  I think I have ended up with RSI by being a thrower all my life.  Being from Australia I don't know that there are many pickers.  Growing up my friend's mother who was German knitted the continental way and should have persisted with it then.

I think I  could handle plain knitting and purling, but not sure when it comes to a pattern.

Thanks Knitting Daily

Cathie (down under in Australia)

NatalyA wrote
on Sep 9, 2009 6:59 AM

This post comes at the perfect time!  I'm a thrower and have been experimenting with picking lately.   I would love, love, love to knit as fast as Eunny.  I have been searching You Tube for video and have been able to find a couple of little clips.  It would be so fantastic for her to do a little tutorial on her unique technique.   It can be a throw back to her blog days.."See Eunny Knit...No, really...See Eunny Knit"

on Sep 9, 2009 6:57 AM

I am a "picker" and I can knit both Continental and Combinational (which I tend to call Russian). What always amazed me is how some fellow "pickers" have their index finger stretched out. When I knit, my index finger is right behind my knitting (like it is shown on the "throwing" pictures above) and I pick the yarn directly from the finger, not from the strand of yarn between the knitting and the finger.

I find this way of picking much less tiring for my left hand, as I don't have to hold my index finger constantly stretched.

on Sep 9, 2009 6:56 AM

You should also add what I understand is called "Franch Method".  I have always knit with the right needle cradled between my thumb and index finger.  The yarn is thrown but the needle is never dropped.  Very fast mthod!  The needle and work just slides in the cradle of my thumb and base of my index finger.  My thumb is always under the completed work.

StacyLynn wrote
on Sep 9, 2009 6:52 AM

I think you've referenced the wrong diagrams.  figure 1 appears to be purl and figure 2 appears to be knit.

Dawn in NL wrote
on Sep 9, 2009 6:51 AM

I taught myself Continental (picking) a couple of years ago in order to knit socks with 5 dpns. I really love knitting that way. It feels really fast.  However, I still knit English (throwing) for larger items on long straights.

It is good to have different techniques for different situations.

All the best,

Dawn