"Knit Behind" in Combination Knitting?

Hi, everybody,

I was delighted to find this BB, and this is my first post.

I recently took up knitting again after 15 years. I learned to knit from my mother, who learned to knit from her mother, who was born in Hungary.

Understandably my grandmother and mother used the Continental method. My mother taught it to me – with a twist, literally. She insisted that she had invented a new method of purling that was faster than any other method. But it resulted in a twisted stitch that had to be knitted from behind. Since she mostly used stockinette stitch (though she made patterns of many colors) she didn’t care about the twisted stitches. And boy could she knit fast!

Of course, since knitting has been around for millennia, my mother didn’t actually invent this method, she just re-invented it. It is described on Amy’s home page as “combination knitting”. I’ve been knitting this way since I was a child and I am comfortable with most patterns that use combinations of knits and purls, even though some stitches end up twisted and others do not. I adjust automatically.

But now I would like to start learning more complicated patterns like lace, involving directions to twist stitches in various ways. So I finally get to my question. Is there any way to knit lace, etc., in combination knitting without untwisting stitches one by one before knitting them? In other words, how do you “knit behind” in a stitch that is already twisted, so that you would ordinarily knit it from behind?

I have experimented and found that a “knit behind” in a regular stitch twists in the opposite direction from a “knit in front” in a twisted stitch. This can’t be good, if there are already regular and twisted stitches in the same row. And I really don’t want to be bothered untwisting my stitches one by one.

I have looked at dozens of knitting books (although I know there are hundreds) and searched the web. The most I was able to find was the fact that patterns have to be “adapted”. But I couldn’t find out HOW the patterns are supposed to be adapted.

I would be happy with an answer that just directed me to a written resource – as long as it is either in print or available in my library or inter-library loan network. It’s possible that the answer is: bite the bullet and learn the regular continental purl.

I apologize for the length of this post. Any help would be greatly appreciated.


Have you seen this table? http://grumperina.com/table.htm It describes adjusting for left and right slanting decreases as well as right and left twists.

Perfect! Thanks! (Your good deed for the day.)
p.s. and many thanks to Grumperina, wherever you are

Actually Grumperina’s chart answers every question about combined knitting conversion except my first one. Knitting through the back of a regular stitch makes a twist in a different direction than knitting through the front of a twisted stitch. Grumperina apparently does not think this is a problem. Any thoughts?

Did you ever find out the answer to your question about knitting in the back of the stitch (e.g. “K-1-b”) when using combination knitting (and purling)?

I’ve started knitting again after 40 years (yikes!). I find that what I am doing is combination knitting, exactly as described in the videos on Annie Modesitt’s site. I’ve also found Gumberina’s chart (thanks so much to this website!). What I have not found out is how to knit in the back or purl in the back, when using combination knitting or purling stitches.

Can anyone offer advice, or resources?

Thanks. Barb

So far I’ve only played around with combined knitting to even out my stockinette (I’m usually continental), but I too was wondering what to do (aside from remounting the stitches) for more complicated patterns. I noticed that grumperina has an email contact listed. Would someone like to write to her and report back? I’d do it, but I think it makes more sense for someone with more experience in combined knitting to ask the questions.

I e-mailed her. :slight_smile: Should get a response.

:cheering: Can’t wait to see what she says!

Combination knitting is a tool, not an edict.
Even Annie Modesitt (in “Confessions of a Knitting Heretic”) mentions that she doesn’t use it all the time.

I love it for stockinette and for most other “plain knitting” that combines knit and purl stitches. It makes purling so much easier and my knitting so much more even. But I use “regular” Continental knitting for anything that’s primarily garter stitch (because what’s the point?). I also use it for lace, because I find it just too complicated to make the adjustment for increases and decreases. And for Fair Isle, I use the left-handed “pick” and the right-handed “throw” together.

Janet – no need to make yourself crazy over this:the Knitting Police won’t come after you if you use Continental or English or any other technique you choose to produce your lace project. (And besides, Continental purling really isn’t THAT hard.) :wink:

:stuck_out_tongue: Except for me. I’ve tried and tried and I can’t purl Continentally. Don’t ask me why, I don’t know.

I got a response from Grumperina today!

Well, it doesn’t seem that grumperina addressed Janet’s specific concern, which is the fact that making a twisted stitch following her (grumperina’s) directions produces a twist in the opposite direction from a conventional twisted stitch. After doing some hands-on experimenting I see exactly what Janet means. It is backwards. (Up to this point, I had never tried anything more complicated than stockinette. That’s why I didn’t want to volunteer to ask grumperina about that specific question.) Of course, I would imagine that the direction of the twist probably wouldn’t really matter most of the time, as long as it’s consistent.

Knitasha makes a lot of good points, one important one being that combination knitting is not the best method for all applications. For those of you who don’t like continental purling, maybe a little more practice would help. When I tried to do combination purling for the first time (after only doing continental), I couldn’t believe that it was supposed to be an easier way to purl. My hands actually started hurting from trying to manipulate the yarn and needles in a way they weren’t accustomed to. But I persisted, and after some practice, it clicked. I noticed that Amy also has a video on the Norwegian method, so that may be alternative. (It looks more complicated, to me, though.)

One thing I did want to verify with you more experienced combination knitters is that when making a purl into a twisted stitch (i.e., you made a purl in the stitch right below the one you’re working on), it has to be done through the back leg. Annie Modesitt doesn’t mention this in her purling instructions on her website, but a little trial and error suggests that it’s true. (Plus, it just seems logical.)

P.S. Thanks Aidan, for emailing grumperina. I have a feeling we may have to write her again, though. I can do it this time if you want (since I understand the question now), but I sort of want to play with combination knitting a bit more to see what other questions I might want to ask before contacting her.

I already wrote back, directing her more towards the concern that Janet had. One thing I have done is “modified” the Norwegian purl, which has been my preferred purling method ever since I learned to knit. I mostly have done it for when I do short rows and I need to end up with my yarn in the front. It’s basically the same except that instead of twisting the stitch around to reach for the yarn, you just kind of hold it in the front and wrap and hold it there. Continental purling is hard for me being my middle finger is the one that holds the needle for the most part, but this method is easy even though I haven’t been able to describe it very well. :? Sorry

Did a little fiddling, and a little research, and I think I actually figured out what’s what.

There is a distinction between left and right crossed stitches (Montrose Stanley calls the latter a plaited stitch, though June Hiatt just calls it a right crossed stitch). In conventional knitting (for lack of a better term), K through the back loop is the one we usually see, which makes a left crossed stitch. (Probably the most common since it’s the easiest to do.) On Grumperina’s chart, under manipulations, she calls such stitches “twisted stitches,” which is kind of confusing because she also has a section right above for “twisted stitches,” and those are not the same thing at all. (They’re for cabling maybe? I haven’t used them myself.)

I think the terms twisted and crossed are sometimes used interchangeably and don’t always refer to the same thing. This doesn’t make things easier.

Anyway, in conventional knitting, K TBL (knit through the back loop; alternately called K1B) creates a left crossed stitch. To do a right crossed stitch, the stitch has to be reversed first (i.e., remounted so that leading leg is on the other side). When doing a complete row of right crossed stitches, Hiatt points out that it is easier to work the whole previous row so that it is twisted, i.e., in stockinette, do the purl row twisted and then knit the row in question the “normal” way. Essentially, she is saying to make a row that looks like a combination purl row first! Still following me? (Forgive me if I’m not explaining this well.)

Now, to apply this to combination knitting, if you want to make a right crossed stitch (aka, plaited stitch), K through the back loop. To do a left crossed stitch (what conventional knitters call K TBL or K1B), you must first remount the stitch. If you have a whole row of left crossed stitches to do, do the previous row so that the row you’re working on is not twisted. The easiest way to do this, I think (this is assuming you’re doing stockinette), is to purl continentally – or maybe modified norwegian as Aidan does. Alternately, if you want to stick to combined, I think you could purl the stitch through the non-leading leg. Now, if you’re not doing stockinette, e.g., if you’re doing garter and the previous row was a knit row (continental, combined, or even english), I don’t think you’d have to make any adjustments since the next row wouldn’t be twisted anyway. Of course, I’m not sure a crossed stitch would show very well in garter stitch because it’s more dense. Have not tried it out.)

Well that was a long-winded and convoluted explanation, wasn’t it? What it all essentially boils down to is this: if you’re doing combination knitting, and you must make a right crossed stitch instead of a left crossed stitch (which probably wouldn’t be necessary most of the time), you will have to remount it first (or, if you have a whole row of them to do, you can work the previous row untwisted).