Irish Cottage Knitting


As you may have figured out, I am on a constant quest for more efficient and ergonomic knitting techniques.  One thing I am driven to determine is the most appropriate knitting style for me because from the way that I throw, I get a little bit of thumb pain in my right hand, and some wrist pain in my left. I set about learning continental style, mostly for the purpose of unhindered colour knitting, but also to see how it works – it seems a whole lot faster than my normal throwing technique!

However, I found the continental style of knitting to be difficult with respect to tension.  So much depends on how you hold your yarn and where on the working strand you pick up your stitch. I found my tension was much less consistent, especially with my purl stitches.  For me, throwing with the yarn neatly wrapped around my fingers produced a much more consistent, albeit slower produced, fabric.

One style continues to peak my curiosity is that of the Yarn Harlot, which goes by many aliases: Peruvian Style, English Lever Style or Irish Cottage Style Knitting.  It is sort of like throwing, but more like… flicking.  There is the video I showed in my English Knitting Post by Anti-Craft with Stephanie knitting socks very quickly using the Irish Cottage method.  Though it demonstrates how incredibly fast she can go, it doesn’t teach how she tensions her yarn or even which finger she is using to flick the yarn.  Thus began my search.

I found a forum thread on Knitting Help that helped me find this little set of instructions at Heart String Fiberarts. That sort of got me rolling with trying it out.  I then found this video by a woman who calls it Peruvian Style Knitting:

This video shows the woman knitting on straights using (more or less) the technique that Yarn Harlot uses to knit socks. It isn’t the most efficient way to knit larger things because of the way the fabric has to drape over your thumb as you knit. It does work for circulars though, as I have found out.

So to combat the thumb draping problem, here is another video of the Yarn Harlot knitting on straights, with the needle under her armpit:

Needless to say, I’m pretty much converted. My thumb pain is gone, and my flicking is getting faster. I am so excited to try the underarm trick, but must get some worthy straights and a project to handle it.  Here is some more info for those who are on the same journey:

If you are looking for a thread that fills in the gaps a little, sometimes directly from Stephanie, check out this Ravelry Lever, production or Irish Cottage Knitting Group.

Here is another Irish Cottage Knitting forum thread that discusses the technique a little more.

The Yarn Harlot is also teaching classes here there and everywhere (Madrona anyone?) about knitting for speed and efficiency.  If you can catch that, people have said that their speed has increased phenomenally.

Good luck!

  1. Roy Laws
    Roy Laws10-26-2011

    The “harlot” doesn’t generally show tensioning in her free videos, because she charges for lessons. This link will give you a very clear closeup of how the tensioning is done.

  2. Maven

    Thanks Roy!

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