Help with ¿Russian Knitting?

Hello,
My name is Nicole and I am new here!
You are my only hope in order to improve my knitting and this is why…

After watching hundreds of videos, I am still not sure of what my knitting style is. Apparently is something between Russian, Easter European or Continental. That’s why I made a little video to show you how I knit and purl: https://youtu.be/6-eVyzF6Ys8

I am trying to make my first-ever-not-rectangular project, a simple ribbed hat, knitted flat, but my decreases ended up being gigantic holes (weird, right?). That’s where I need your help!

The pattern is: https://www.yarnspirations.com/red-heart-easy-fit-ribbed-hat/RHK0116-021765M.html

If you could watch my video to see how I knit and let me know which style is, I could possibly find videos that help me find out how should I increase and decrease, because what I am doing now, is simply grabbing 2 stitched, knit or purl, and make the same “movement” that I make to knit or purl, but instead of 1, I grab 2 with my needle.

Thank you so much in advance :blush:

There is a knitting style and a knitting method. You have a continental style, which just means that you hold the yarn in your left hand. You have a combination knitting method. This means that you are working your purls by wrapping your yarn clockwise around the needle (this is eastern) and in your knits you are wrapping the yarn anticlockwise ( this is western). Working the purls eastern results in a twisted stitch which you are compensating for by working your knit stitches on the next row through the back loop to untwist them.

You could reorientate your stitches where you want to decrease so that you can work a k2tog or an ssk as per most youtube videos but you will need to do this differently if working in the round compared to flat knitting. In the round, your knit stitches won’t be twisted (as they will be worked western on the previous row) so will need to be worked through the front loop to create an untwisted knit stitch, and will not need to be reorientated for a decrease. But the purl stitches will need to be untwisted.

In your method, the stitches that you purl are twisted, so in flat knitting for rib, you need to work the knit stitches through the back loop, but if working in the round, you’ll need to work the purl stitches through the back loop and the knit stitches through the front loop.

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Hi Nicole and welcome to the KH forum.

I agree. You are knitting a combination of continental (due to the direction you wrap the yarn despite entering the stitch front-side.) The stitch is reversed on the purl side because you wrap Eastern (the opposite direction) on the purl side.

If you are making simple stockinette, it will probably never be a problem. However if you get into fancy patterns, I cant think of a single instruction system that would work for you (other than Russian or the like). Even knitting in the round - you will be entering from the front on 1 row, then the back (continental) on the next. Entirely because of the direction(s) you wrap the stitches.

Pay attention to which ‘leg’ of the stitch is closest to the needle point you are working on to see what I mean about stitches being reversed on the purl side. Also see that you wrap counterclockwise (looking from the tip of the needle) on the front – then clockwise on the back.

Just be aware of how you form the stitches & you should be able to “translate” knitted instructions well. OTOH, if you want to just follow a pattern stitch by stitch, something someone else has already calculated for you, you method causes a LOT of extra thinking which you may or may not enjoy.

Hi Fluffy yarn! I’m interested that you are using the term continental and eastern interchangeably? I have always understood these to be two different concepts. Don’t most continental knitters go through the front leg of the stitch and wrap anticlockwise in the same style as English throwers? I mix up all the styles and methods depending on the pattern characteristics and how sore my fingers are!!

Not interchangeably at all. If you read carefully, you will see that I define each one.

Eastern: wrap clockwise looking from the tip.
Continental/Western wraps counterclockwise from the tip.

You are confused because she enters the stitch as for Eastern, but wraps Western on a knit stitch. Then she enters the stitch as for western but wraps Eastern on the purl side, which reverses the stitches.

Im almost exclusively an Eastern knitter (taught by a Polish woman). But when doing fairisle, I do Western holding one yarn in each hand (3rd or 4th color dangling). It seems to help with tensioning & being consistent on which yarn comes from under or over etc.

I also knit Continental Combined style (aka Russian style). It is called combined knitting because you will end up with stitches mounted both ways: sometimes with the right leg is in front of the needle and sometimes with the left leg in front of the needle.

It helps to think that regardless if you do a knit or a purl stitch you always need to insert the needle right between the left and the right leg: for knit you insert from the front side and for purl you insert from the backside. This means that sometimes when doing a knit stitch you approach it from the right side (as in your video) and sometimes you approach it from the left side.

Now, there are two decreases that are often used: a right leaning and a left leaning decrease. The right leaning is often called K2tog and the left leaning is often called SSK. These abbreviations do not make sense when knitting combined style flat.

K2tog means to enter both stitches from left to right and knit them together. If you knit combined and you purled the previous row they are mounted in a wrong way so you need to change the mounting so that the right leg is in front of the needle for both. Then you can knit them both together.

SSK means that both stitches should be knitted together by inserting the needle into both by going from right to left. If you would not knit combined style you would need to change the orientation of the mounting, which is the SS part in SSK. Now if you purled the previous row you actually got them already mounted in the correct way so you can just go and knit them together, from right to left without changing the orientation.

So when knitting stockinette flat K2tog became slightly more difficult while SSK became slightly easier.

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I don’t feel confused! Continental means holding the yarn in the left hand and is not related to the direction of the wrap. You can knit eastern and continental at the same time - in fact I find it easier to work eastern purls when knitting continental style as my fingers move more easily in that direction. I also knit both eastern and western when knitting English style ( with yarn in my right hand) especially if I want a really neat rib.


Here’s a good article.

Can we at least agree that they sit on the needles differently? You are arguing terms, not mechanics.

Im old & my terms were derived from old books. Encyclopedia of Needlework (1910s) is one. It was very clear. No matter what hand you use, Eastern knitting was defined by how it sat on the needles - with back leg forward. That set of books can be found on archive.com.

There IS a distinction to be made between the 2 different methods of Western knitting - and it IS which hand is used. But the stitches are formed the same way. The knitter above is forming her stitches 2 different ways.

Yes I completely agree! And I said that in my first reply ie. that she was working a continental style and a combination method. And I am focusing on terms because that was the subject of original thread query. If Nico, as an inexperienced knitter, looks on the internet expecting the terms continental and western to be interchangeable, she will be more confused. My understanding is that two different concepts are being conflated. Eastern and Western knitting refers to the direction that the yarn is wrapped around the needle, resulting in the stitch being seated differently with the back leg leading in eastern, and the front leg leading in western. Continental and English style knitting refers to the hand that holds the yarn, so you can knit both eastern and western seated stitches with both a continental and English /throwing style.
I’m not trying to be combative and I do appreciate that terms change with historical usage. I just answered the query from the perspective of the person making the original request who had clearly already done a lot of internet research.

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Thank you very much for your replies and help. Now I can keep looking for information about “continental combined” specially for decreases and increases which are next on my knitting bucket list.

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You might find this useful! Patty Lyons has a lot of clear and helpful resources!
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It’s combination knitting. In Eastern European, the yarn is always held in the back, never the front. It’s a right orientation rather than the stitches facing left like in Continental or English. Knits are done in the back of the stitch with yarn wrapped around the needle bottom to top. Purls are done in back of the stitch from left to right, again over the needle from bottom to top. I used to knit Eastern but switched to continental because of tension issues.

No, normally the yarn is moved between front and back in East Europe. With Norwegian purls however you keep the yarn in back, but Norway is considered to be a West European country.

EDIT: I decided to add this video of me knitting ribbing to this thread. From it you can see that I move the yarn between front and back, but as the yarn is in my left hand it does not require any separate step, I get it on the side I want depending on how I pull off the worked stitch.

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I guess there’s different ways of doing it. This is the way I learned it, yarn always in the back. The woman doing the video is a master knitter. http://www.yarnsoftheheart.com/2008/05/how-to-knit-eastern-european-style_03.html

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While I do not doubt the woman in that video is a master knitter, I can tell that it is not what is normally called East European style. I say this because I live in Finland (which is having border with Russia) and I am actively following how people are knitting both in Finland and in neighbor countries. I have also watched Russian knitting videos.

If I just gather enough of courage I will make a series of knitting videos about the East European / Russian / Continental Combined style of knitting. Because I do not speak English natively, I have been a bit too shy to begin this project :blush:.

EDIT: If you wonder why I think she is not knitting Eastern style: she talks about both “Eastern mount” and “Western mount”. For some strange reason she seems to believe that all stitches should have what she calls “Eastern mount”. Combined knitting is called “Combined” exactly because it combines both kind of mounting. This means that sometimes you approach a stitch from the left side in order to knit, and sometimes from the right side, all depending on what mounting it happens to have.

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I’m a native Eastern European, and that’s almost the same way as my mom taught me to knit, except one difference: when you take the thread with the needle, you hook it from below, and then pull it through the loop. This way is a bit difficult to keep the thread from slipping off (unless you’d use afghan needles that have hooks on their ends).

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