Combination knitting

Hi all… newbie here.

Over the last two years, I have become craft obsessed. I have crochetted for a long time (nothing fancy, just single and double crochette and the big square block things), but that was the extent of it for a very long time. Then I started reading all of these awesome craft blogs, and I was hooked. First came the need to knit, then cross stitch,and then to quilt. Quilting and cross stitch took over for a while since I got frustrated with knitting, and I got back to knitting a few weeks ago.

I started a simple ribbed scarf, and I noticed that I was having a realllly hard time shoving my needle into the loops. So I checked out this site and watched some videos. I came to realize that I was doing the Combination purl and the regular knit. This made my stitching realllly tight. So, now that I know what I was doing, I was able to switch to the combination knit, and my knitting is FLYING now…

However, watching the videos here, and reading up a bit on combination knitting, has made me a little nervous. I know that once I do a few scarves, Im gonna be itching to try something a bit more complicated. But I read that because the stitches are oriented differently on the needle with this kind of stitching, that patterns may be a little off for those of us who stitch this way.

So, my question is, is there an easy way to convert patterns/charts for combination knitters? Or do we just have to wing it? Should I stick to this for the simple things that wont be affected (like scarves), and learn the regular stitching way for everything else? I dont want to get into the habbit of knitting this way if its going to make things more difficult for me further down the road…

Thanks for reading!!


If you’re doing something pretty straightforward, e.g., mostly knits and purls and simple increasing/decreasing, it’s not hard to convert, as long as you understand the concept of stitch orientation. But complicated stitch patterns would probably be tough. Even Annie Modesitt (who wrote a book on the subject) says she reserves it for only certain types of knitting, such as flat stockinette, where it makes sense to use it. I’ve been using it more and more (started with continental), and for areas where I’m not sure how to proceed, I just re-orient the stitches and work continentally. That’s not going to be the most efficient thing to do with every project, but it works a lot of time. When it’s more trouble than it’s worth to do combined, I just do continental.

Overall, I think it would be a good idea to know either continental or english in addition to combined if you think you’re going to get into fancy stitch patterns.

I find it amazing how many people start out doing the combined purl without knowing it. I did the same thing, until someone on here posted something about it.


Thanks janelanespaintbrush … deffinitely makes sense… I do really hate purling the regular continental way… I just cant seem to grab that yarn… although Im sure it will come with practice!

I hear ya LoAnnie… I think it happens just because its a lot easier to grab the yarn that way…I also found that I was naturally doing the corresponding combination knit stitch [since the stitch orientation made is easier im sure], but for some reason I remebered the “correct” way to do that and fixed myself. Which is how I ended up doing combination purl with regular continental knitting, and really gave myself quite a hard time. Although, I found it is the only thing that kept my sides from being loose and sloppy! …

This may not add anything to your situation, but I’m going to share my experience; it may help someone else down the line.

About 1.5 years ago, I picked up knitting again after about 10 years. I have always been an English knitter, but I became a member here and started viewing the videos on different techniques, and reading about how Continental was so much faster than English. After a while, English seemed SOOOO SLOOOOOW that I decided to try Continental.

The knit stitch clicked after I knitted an entire garter stitch scarf that way. Since that was working well, I decided to try purling. I had been switching back and forth, which seems even slower than throwing every stitch. :teehee:

Well, it was very awkward and clumsy, so I decided to do more research. I found a video (not sure where it was now, but I can look it up if necessary) on the Norwegian purl. It enables you to knit Continentally and purl without moving the yarn between the needles; you purl “from the back”. I tried it for a while, but ultimately decided that it was too much movement when a high percentage of purling is required.

Tlhen, something magical happened! I tried regular Continental purl again, and suddenly it started working. My theory is that the Norwegian purl improved the dexterity of my fingers, and made it easier to purl Continentally. I have seen other users here post saying that they noticed the same thing.

I would say that it’s worth a try; seems it would be easier than trying to convert patterns to work with the Combined method.

Hope you find a method that works for you! :heart: :heart: :heart:

Thank you brownishcoat! I have never heard of that. I will deffinitely do some research on it and give it a try. Couldn’t hurt right?? :slight_smile: Right now I’m perfectly happy knitting lots of scarves with all sorts of nice yarns, so its no problem for me to experiment with different kinds of stitching, so I will deffinitely try it:)

umm, I don’t know what combination knitting is, a combination of contential and english?

Here’s the link to Annies’ site

Ok, now I’m confused.

I watched the little animation for the knit stitch and it looks to me like the knit goes through the back of the loop. I used to knit that way until I was told I was twisting my stitches.

I purl the way the video shows but I knit through the front of the loop.

If you knit that way, how do patterns work up that specify you to knit through the back of the loop?



Ok – scratch that one – I just sat down in front of Amy’s videos and my knitting and I just knit straight conti. I don’t do that thing where she pushes the yarn down to purl, I just sorta scoop the yarn with my needle. But straight conti for me.

I am no longer confused.

However, I also realized that I used to knit combination style until someone at my LYS told me I was doing it all WRONG. :doh:

Wonder what Annie M. would say to that!


Wonder what Annie M. would say to that!

That it’s not wrong, it’s what works for you!

Just watched a tivo’d Knitty Gritty episode with her on it, and that GORGEOUS Corest Tank Pullover. I want to do the one with short sleeves, but I’m worried that a. it’s beyond my current abilities, and b. it might not be long enough for my ample belly phobia.

Amazing how we realize stuff, huh?

I was watching the videos the other day and it hit me that I’ve been purling the wrong way all along :roflhard:

This was my exact experience also. I’m now quite happy purling the Norwegian purl, regular continental purl and the combined purl. I switch off all of the time. When I have long stretches of stockinette, I prefer combined and easily slip into doing the scoop purl and knit through the back. When I knit the heel of socks–especially the yarn over short rows–I use it all of the time because I don’t have to reorient my stitches to prevent holes at the edges.

And right now, I’m doing some two color stranded knitting and I’m so glad that I know how to do all of these methods—combined, continental and English because it is fairly easy for me to work with the yarn in both hands and to keep relatively (not perfect yet) even tension. Don’t ever feel that you are knitting “wrong”-- if you are doing what is comfortable for you.