Welcome to the new and improved Combined knitting webpage!
Combined knitting background
First things first – I give an enormous amount of credit to Annie Modesitt, her book, her ideas, and her website which explains the basics of combined knitting. Also, a disclaimer – as much as I’d like to, I cannot give this topic full justice, I can only tell you my view of it and how helpful it’s been to me.
People knit in all different ways. For starters, people carry yarns in different ways – the English style of knitting instructs the knitter to throw the yarn over the needle, while the Continental style knitter picks up the yarn using the knitting needle. Furthermore, the way the stitches are made differs from knitter to knitter, largely dependent on geographic location. Western knitting, which in the States is practiced almost exclusively, leaves each stitch untwisted. Eastern knitting, in contrast, twists every stitch. Combined knitting (also called Combination knitting) twists stitches in one row only to untwist them in the next. When applied appropriately, each method can produce the same fabric, so no one way is more correct than the other.
The psychology of this is not trivial. Beginner knitting books published in the States almost exclusively show Western knitting, and they place a heavier emphasis on holding the yarn in the English style. Understandably so: if the beginner knitter comes across a troublesome stitch, he or she can ask another knitter for help with the assumption that they knit in the same style. Basically, this is a way to enforce and propagate uniformity, simplifying life by most accounts. By the same token, those beginner knitters who have found it more comfortable to knit differently than in the Western style may go through “rejection and conversion” of sorts – more experienced knitters will say, “you’re not understanding this pattern or this stitch because you’re knitting wrong!” followed by conversion to knitting Western style. This has personally happened to me.
Eventually the beginner knitter understands what happened, that he or she wasn’t knitting “wrong” before, just differently, and perhaps the stitches weren’t coming out right because all books are written with the assumption of a Western knitting. This is followed by some anger specifically aimed at beginner books for showing only Western knitting, which is expressed through semi-angry webpages to publicize other ways of knitting :).
Annie Modesitt’s contribution to this whole thing is to raise public awareness of different ways of knitting, forcing knitters to look at the finished product to determine whether it’s “right” or “wrong” rather than the way the knitter chose to create it. Rather than rejection and conversion, Annie encourages acceptance and validation of different ways of knitting.
With Western knitting so abundant, why do some knitters choose Combined knitting? As far as I’m concerned, there are many benefits. The visually-noticeable benefit is that knits and purls created using the Combined style are more even (less rowing out). The physical benefit is less wrist strain. The psychological benefit is an intimate knowledge of stitches, where they come from and why, and how to manipulate them. The psychological benefit is knowing that although I am able to knit in the Western style, I choose to knit differently than most people, which makes me feel like I know something a little special.
Combined knitting conversion table
I recognize the oxymoronic nature of such a table. If you subscribe to Combined knitting, then you believe a knitter should understand the ins and outs of stitches. Having a conversion table of Western and Combination knitting maneuvers circumvents the thinking aspect and brings us back to telling knitters what they have to do, rather than allow them to think for themselves.
But what about mental hiccups? What about knitting on a deadline at 3 a.m.? Just a little help would be so appreciated. That’s the purpose of the table. I doubt the table below will be useful to a completely new knitter; I think it actually might confuse him/her greatly. It’s intended for someone already familiar with Western and Combined knitting styles.
More than anything else in the world I’d love for you to tell me if there’s a mistake or if your favorite basic stitch is missing. E-mail me!
New! In response to user feedback, this table is now available in .pdf format (you need Adobe Reader). I’m not sure what the consequences will be to my bandwidth, but I’m giving it a try.
As always, feel free to print a copy of this table for your own personal use, and keep it by your side as you knit. I have not placed any restrictions on printing or downloading the file – no passwords, no tricks, no magic. If you’re having difficulty printing this page, try another web browser, printer, or computer. Due to the resolution discrepancy between monitors and printers, the document is best viewed after it’s printed.