Norwegian Purling

The other day I saw a video about knitting and my head exploded. The method it showed was so unexpected and so revolutionary and so perfect, I have still not recovered.

So I'm looking at Ravelry one day and there's not much going on in my discussion groups, so I look at the latest newsletter, This Week in Ravelry #58. I make my way through all the columns. Forum Funnies isn't bad...Happening Around Ravelry is about meetups in Europe...and then as I'm getting to the bottom of Ask a Knitter, she blows my mind.

She briefly mentioned in a previous article (which I had not read) knitting with the yarn in front, and how it was similar in concept to purling with the yarn in back. (Both of these situations are the opposite of what is normally done, for all you non-knitters.) She got so many comments along the lines of, "WHAT? You can purl with the yarn in back????!!!" that she explained herself in the article I was reading. I kept reading since I pretty much had the same ???!!! reaction.

She explained herself and showed this video:

I watched the video, and even without the sound (no speakers at work), this new [to me] method sent little birds flying around my head, fireworks exploding and lights flashing in front of my eyes. Really, I can not overstate how this video has changed my knitting life.

I have been intellectually convinced for a long time that continental knitting ("picking") is a more efficient way to knit. I've tried to convert myself several times. It would go ok, but then a purl stitch would come along and it is soooo awkward to do continental style. It really is; everyone says so. And I would revert to my regular English or "throwing" style wishing someone had shown me this when I was much younger so I could have learned it right the first time.

Then along comes this video describing purling with the yarn in back. Suddenly picking makes a lot more sense. AND I'm working on a project with a lot of knit 1, purl 1 sections. These are a pain to do when you have to keep switching the yarn from front to back to front to back, etc... The moving of the yarn can take as much time as a stitch so you could easily be going half as fast as normal. Plus, it's just not pleasant; movements are very jerky and don't flow very well.

So I tried this so-called Norwegian purling. My tension took a while to even out. I wasn't sure I was going to make it through to "the other side." But by now I feel safe to say that I am converted. I have not only been knitting the woven cable sweater this way, but also several other smaller projects that I've been fitting in.

The best part is that this method is not only more efficient, making me even faster, it also is so much fun. I love it. Poor Troy is getting interrupted all the time with my outbursts of "This is so amazing!" "I can't believe this!" "Why was this kept from me for so long?!" and the like. So far he has remained pretty amused.

I can't quite do it yet while looking around so my TV watching has been compromised and I don't look quite so friendly while I'm knitting and talking to people, but it's coming. Hopefully those around me will just give me a little time and patiently put up with me for now.

Ready to see what I'm talking about? Here are a few videos which may demonstrate. (They're short; I don't think any are more than 30 seconds.)

Here is how I used to knit, "throwing" the yarn with my right hand:

It works. I was pretty fast at it. But check out "picking": (I slowed down the first stitch or two so you could see what I was doing.)

By not having to move the yarn, and just using the tip of the right needle to pick it up, you can just fly. I actually feel like I spend more time moving stitches up the left needle and down the right needle than actually knitting.

But then there's purling. Here's my purl when I'm "throwing":

Again, not too bad. But still the problem of having to drop the right needle for every stitch to throw the yarn, and then having to pick it up again to start the next stitch.

Now here's what I used to do for purl "picking." It's very awkward and looks it. (Although I will admit that I never really got good at it. I'm sure knitters who learned this when they were young are much better at it.)

But why struggle with that when you could pick up Norwegian purling instead? (Again, I've slowed down the first couple stitches so you can see what's going on.)

(The little tug after every stitch is to regulate the tension. The working yarn gets pulled quite a bit while making the stitch and needs to be reined in again.) And please keep in mind that I am even speedier when I don't have to hold the needles in an awkward position so the camera can see too.

Now knitting and purling by themselves are great, but the biggest dividends for this are when you have to switch from one to the next.

Here's some knit 1, purl 1 done by "throwing":

You'll notice the yarn has to move from front to back or back to front after every stitch. Very tiresome.

Now observe the culmination of this entire post: knit 1, purl 1 Norwegian style with the yarn kept in the back:

If you didn't just yell, "Brilliant" then you haven't been reading this post carefully enough.


May I suggest?

I Say! or at least I did once...