When you first learn how to knit, knitting can seem quite slow and frustrating. It takes forever for you to complete a swatch, and you can’t imagine how many hours it would take you to finish a big project like a sweater or a blanket.
Of course, when you see a seasoned knitter, you can see their hands clicking away in continuous motion, and you can’t even fathom how that is possible. Well, speed does come with lots and lots of practice, but there are a few things that you can do to knit a bit faster.
How do you knit faster? Other than simply practicing and becoming faster with time, you can learn to knit faster by: working with a more comfortable needle type and/or knitting gauge, learn to knit without looking, using the magic loop method, and switching to continental style knitting.
In this article, we will walk you through some steps that you can take to knit faster. These tips range from baby steps that you can take right now to expert tips that can benefit you in the long run.
Practice with Fast Knits
If you are a slow knitter, maybe it is a good idea to get started with some small projects first.
Finishing a quick and easy project is a great way to practice your knitting and feel a sense of accomplishment when you complete a useful and practical project for your knitting collection.
Coasters are essentially just small squares, which is why it is one of the fastest projects to knit! Some knitters even use the test swatches that they make before each project as coasters.
If you want to practice your knitting while making something that you can use around the house, why not make some coasters? You can switch up the pattern and experiment with different stitches, and you’ll have some little splashes of color to use around the house.
Similar to coasters, dish towels are just squares that allow you to practice knitting and test your skills with new stitches and patterns. They’re just a bit larger. Still, a dish towel is a quick and useful project that you can complete in just one afternoon.
Keep in mind that dish towels need to be made from moisture-absorbent and durable materials such as cotton since you will be washing them a lot. Cotton yarn is naturally both of those things, making it perfect for dish towels.
If you have less yarn around or more scraps to use, you can also make a smaller, double-sided potholder instead. Just be sure to avoid synthetic yarns made from plastic (such as polyamide, acrylic, or polyester) and opt for materials which will not melt, such as wool or cotton.
If you want to experiment with knitting in the round, a cup sleeve/cozy is one of the easiest projects that you can knit and practice knitting in the round. If you are feeling extra fancy, you can add a handle to the cup sleeve to make a to-go cup handle.
Keep in mind that the circumference of a cap sleeve is usually very small, so you will need to use double-pointed needles to knit. If you are already familiar with knitting in the round, you can take this opportunity to learn the magic loop method.
Otherwise, you can simply create a rectangle and fasten the ends together using a button.
Either way, this is an excellent project that you can start right now and finish in less than two hours. You can try your hands at different tools and techniques and have a useful cup sleeve that you can use every day!
Headbands are easy to make as a long skinny rectangle. You simply have to knit until the length wraps comfortably around the head and then bind together or sew the ends to meet.
But if you hate to sew, a headband is also something that you can knit in the round with 16” circular needles. This project is quite easy compared to knitting with double-pointed needles; you won’t have to switch needles to adjust your stitches very often.
This is one of the quickest projects that you can make, and once you have perfected your technique while knitting in the round, you can move on to knitting hats, which are just slightly more complicated than headbands.
How Do You Speed Up as a Beginner?
If you have been knitting forever but haven’t completed any project, don’t let that get you down. Speed comes with lots and lots of practice, but you need to know how to work smarter as well.
As a beginner, there are a few ways that you can speed up your knitting. Let’s walk through some things you can try to knit faster.
1. Try a different pair of needles.
The material of your knitting needles can affect the speed of your knitting. Knitting needles come in a variety of materials, including wood, bamboo, stainless steel, and plastic.
Wooden and bamboo knitting needles tend to have a better grip on your yarn, meaning that sliding your yarn off of the needles will meet more resistance. While some knitters prefer these materials, they also can make knitting slower and sometimes more frustrating, especially for beginners.
If you are using wooden or bamboo needles, why not switch to plastic or stainless steel needles? These materials are often lighter and smoother than wood or bamboo, which makes picking up and sliding off stitches a lot faster and more effortless.
This is one of the easiest ways to knit faster right away without having to learn new techniques or practice for a long time.
2. Adjust the gauge.
Gauge refers to how many stitches and rows that you will have to knit to accomplish a certain size swatch. Most patterns will tell you what the required gauge is, for example: “28 stitches x 20 rows will give you a 10” x 10” swatch).
There are two ways that you can switch to a bigger gauge to knit faster: you can use a chunkier yarn or bigger-sized knitting needles. By using a chunkier yarn and bigger needles, you can achieve the same sized swatch with fewer stitches and rows. Thus, you will be able to knit a completed project with the desired size in less time.
3. Learn to knit without looking.
Learning to knit without looking requires a lot of practice, but it is not as intimidating as you think.
If you master this art, you can bring your project bag and knit pretty much everywhere – while bingeing your favorite show, at the movie theater, on the subway during your commute, or in the passenger seat when you’re on the road.
As you can imagine, bringing your knitting on the go with you will substantially increase your output, and you can finish a whole sweater or blanket in just a few days. You can take advantage of your idle time to practice your knitting.
Learning to knit without looking is all about embedding the movements into your muscle memory and letting your hands do all of the work for you. We recommend using a simple pattern (with mainly knit and purl stitches) so you don’t have to constantly refer to it while you knit.
However, when you’re more experienced, you can learn to “read” your knitting, knowing by look and even feel when to employ which stitches.
But as a beginner, if the pattern requires more complicated stitches, you may want to employ stitch markers or even row counters so that you can avoid mistakes as you knit.
Once you have mastered the art of knitting without looking, you can easily double or triple your daily outputs and become an advanced knitter in a shorter time!
4. Use the magic loop method to knit in the round.
If you are an experienced knitter but aren’t familiar with the magic loop method, you are definitely missing out! The magic loop method allows you to knit in the round using 32” (or longer) circular needles. The best part is, you can knit any sized loop that you want!
As you likely know, you can use circular needles to knit in the round, as long as the circumference of the loop matches that length of the circular needles (which usually comes in sizes 16”, 24”, 32”). If you are knitting a smaller loop, you will need to use double-pointed needles.
Using double-pointed needles to knit takes a long time, mainly because you need to switch your needles around and adjust your stitches a lot.
The magic loop method allows you to knit in the round using just a pair of circular needles to make any sized loop that you want. You will spend less time adjusting your stitches and switching your needles and more time actually knitting!
How to Do a Magic Loop
Here’s how to knit in the round using the magic loop method.
You will need:
- Circular needles size 32” or longer
- Your yarn of choice
Step 1: Using your circular needles, cast on the number of stitches that your pattern requires.
Step 2: Move the stitches to the middle of the cord.
Step 3: Fold the cord in half, with the wrong side facing inwards, so that half the stitches are on the front portion and half the stitches are on the back portion of the cord. Pull the cord outwards to establish the two halves.
Hold the needles so that both needles face the right side. Then, place all the stitches in front of you on the front needle by pulling the cord from the left side. The back needle should still be empty.
Step 4: Use the empty needle to start knitting all of the stitches on the other needle.
Step 5: When you finish knitting all the stitches from that needle, flip your work around. Pull the back needle to the right so that it is now the empty needle, and pull the front needle to the right to hold your live stitches. You can now start knitting using the empty back needle.
Step 6: Repeat steps 4 and 5 until you have the desired length.
And that’s the magic loop method for knitting in the round!
Although this method can seem awkward at first, it is an effective way to improve your speed when knitting in the round. When knitting small tubes like socks and mittens, you can ditch the DPNs and use this method to knit faster.
5. Switch to a different knitting style.
If you’re a beginner, you are probably not familiar with all of the different knitting styles yet, and that’s totally okay. Knitting style refers to how you hold your needles and yarn so you can knit more efficiently and achieve more even stitches.
Of course, when you first learn how to knit, you spend 100 percent of your energy on making sure that your yarn and stitches go where they are supposed to go, so you are probably less focused on how you hold your needles and yarn.
However, when you have the basics down, how you hold your needles and yarn makes a huge difference in how much time your knitting will take. Generally, if your hands make smaller movements, knitting will be much faster, not to mention your hands and wrists will be less tired after a long day of knitting.
There are several knitting styles, but the two most popular ways are English throwing (also known as right-handed knitting) and continental knitting (or left-handed knitting).
Continental Vs English Knitting
English style (or right-handed knitting) is friendlier to beginners. You will be holding the live yarn with your right hand, looping it a few times around your fingers to maintain an even tension, and feed the live yarn to your work.
English knitting still requires some hand and wrist movements, but it will be substantially faster than free-styling it. If you are a beginner, we recommend starting with English-style knitting first since it is quite easy to learn.
Continental knitting, or left-handed knitting, is harder to learn, but it will substantially improve your speed.
With continental knitting, you will hold the live yarn with your left hand and use the right needle to grab the yarn to feed to your work. This way, your hands do not have to move as much while you knit, which improves your speed significantly.
If you want to learn more about continental knitting, read on to find out how.
Knit Faster With Continental Knitting
Continental knitting is preferred by many knitters because it requires less movement of the hand and wrist. So it is much kinder to your hands, especially if you spend several hours a day knitting. Because it requires fewer hand movements, it tends to be faster as well.
The first thing you need to figure out is how to wrap the yarn on your left hand to add tension to the yarn.
Every knitter has their preferred way of tensioning their yarn: some people loop the yarn around their index finger, while others prefer using their wrists. Playing around with different methods will help you find the one that feels the most comfortable and convenient to you.
Whatever you do, make sure that the yarn between the needle and your left index finger is tight so that it is easier to feed the yarn to your work.
On your left hand, you should be holding the left needle (which has all of your stitches) with your left thumb and middle finger. The live yarn should be wrapped around your left index finger. Your right hand should only be holding the empty right needle.
How to Make a Knit Stitch in Continental Knitting
Knit rows are simple in continental knitting. Here’s how to do it:
- With the empty right needle, insert knitwise through the first stitch on your left needle.
- Use the right needle to “grab” the live yarn that is right in the path of the needle. If needle, use your right index finger to anchor the yarn to make sure that it stays in place as you create a new stitch.
- With the right needle, pull the live yarn through the previous stitch and release the stitch you just knitted.
- With some practice, the motion should get easier and faster.
How to Make a Purl Stitch in Continental Knitting
To make a purl stitch in continental knitting, all you have to do is:
- With the purl stitch, the live yarn needs to be in front of your work, so the motion is a little bit different.
- With the empty right needle, insert purlwise through the first stitch on your left needle.
- Since your live yarn is now in the front, you will need to flick the right needle to create a figure 8 to make a new loop with your right needle. Use your right index finger to anchor the yarn if necessary.
- Then, pull the new loop through the stitch on your left needle and release the stitched you just purled.
Knitting and purling with continental knitting can seem difficult, especially if you are right-handed, so don’t be discouraged if your stitches don’t look nice and even on the first try. With some practice, you will become much faster and more efficient with continental knitting, and you can finish a big project in less time.
But if you’re a visual person and need someone to show you, check out this great tutorial on continental knitting from NobleKnits:
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