Just a rant.

For a while now people have told me that I do not knit right or correctly. I have been told, but not told why or what I was doing wrong that truly said that I was not knitting right. I've been told I don’t knit right because I hold the yarn in my left hand, as far as I understand that is a way of knitting. On this site I have been told that I twist my stitches, I did not know what that meant. One individual made the decision not to respond to me when I asked what he was referring to, another brought up points to give me ideas as to what I may have been doing wrong and what I may be able to do to fix it, this guy decided to point out that I may not be able to correct the way I do it as it is the way I have learned.
I have taken it upon myself, as I have in the past, to read what bits I can and watch what videos I'm able to get a hold of in my spare time. I have since grabbed a ball of yarn and a set of needles and am doing stockinette till it is burned on my mind and programmed into my fingers. I am a very determined and stubborn person, probably because the majority of what I know was self learned. My being self taught in many things allowed me to design and build a 2700+ sq ft house for my parents and not running into any code violations.
I have been called a fool because I made mention that I am a self taught knitter. That may be, I did not have the luxury to be taught by a parent or grand-parent. When I was 14, in 1994, my paternal grandmother taught my little brother & I how to hand embroider. She felt that we needed something to do and I need a way to control a nerve disorder that caused my hands to shake, uncontrollably at times. I did not finish mine and did no other hobby for years. My mother does not do any hobbies and I never saw her mother all my childhood, meet up with her when I was 20 and only seen her a few short times in the hospital in the past 10 years and no contact in the past 5 years, according to my mother she used to crochet and knit.
In 2001 I wanted something to do on a trip to Canada. On this trip I became very bored and decided to stop at a small shop near Windsor ON to pick up something to embroider. A couple years later I got bored with it and wanted to crochet, so I grabbed a book to learn while I was at work, the job I had at that time allowed for a lot of free time.
After doing that for a few years and getting bored once again because now I was not working I was just sitting at home, was a stay at home partner, I wanted to learn how to sew. It was simple enough to read patterns and make clothes or cut little squares and make quilts. After a while I wanted to go back to work so I started working part time for a craft store chain, that helped me grow in my sewing.
A few ladies told me I should knit because I already knew how to crochet, being a man that enjoys to do things for charity I bought what I would need at the store I was working at and proceeded to knit standard scarves to donate come winter time.
Learning to knit was hard for me, but I was determined to learn. I am naturally right handed in everything I do, so that was what I studied, right hand knitting. When right handed knitting was showing it just would not work out I searched for and had plenty of trouble finding material that shown me how to learn left handed. But I knew I had to do it LH as I realized I could not control my right hand enough to hold the yarn. After not being able to find what I needed I thought all I would have needed to do was mimic the RH knitting on my left hand.
As I have been told that apparently is not correct. I asked around if someone could show me or teach me but I was hard pressed to find someone that would, apparently I look more like a mechanic than a crafter or any sort. At the time I never heard of a LYS, didn't even know there was one in town until more recent of time. Well there sort of isn’t one in town, short hours and all. I never seem to be able to get there when they are open, it’s good for little old ladies that don’t work.
I thought it would be wonderful to have and be able to give some of the items I keep seeing patterns for. So began the desire to start knitting from patterns and searching for different yarns, non acrylic. I have been working on knitting for some time, making a lot of items that would be donated to homeless families
Every time I feel happy that I have expanded my knowledge of knitting some tells me there are so many things wrong, but so many, might as well say all, people don't say what is wrong nor how to correct it and one feels it to be better to belittle. If you feel the need to belittle or just flat out call me an idiot then just do so. I may have had to teach myself so many things but I am very confident I can do so many things you would never expect.


pjmma's picture

Hey there. I certainly won't tell you that you're knitting wrong. I will say is that if you're knitting, and you're producing pieces that make you and others happy, it simply does not matter if someone else thinks you're knitting "wrong" or not.
That being said, it's possible that you're doing Combination Knitting, in which you hold the yarn in you left hand, but is somewhat different from European, in which you also hold the yarn in the left hand. (Western or American knitting is where you hold the yarn in your right hand, but that doesn't make it either right or wrong!)
When you have a minute, check out this link:
It outlines what combination knitting is. The woman who created the site also wrote a book entitled " Confessions of a Knitting Heretic", because she also was told she knitted "wrong". Now she makes her living by knitting "wrong"!
If you are not doing Combination Knitting, well that's fine too, there are other ways to knit that don't always fit the usual ideas people have. Don't worry about it, enjoy what you do :)

Mark Rowsom's picture

Hey, I just checked out the combination knitting, and have tried it on k2, p2 ribbing. I really like it because it's easier to stick the needle in from the right and the stitch doesn't spread so much. I knit continental, and really like to try new stuff like this. Thanks for mentioning it!

Find 700 different people and you will find 685 different ways to knit. Half of those will tell the other half they are doing it wrong. As long as you enjoy it, knit however you want and be happy.

mrossnyc's picture

Hi Gene,
I am a self taught knitter and carry the yarn in my left hand. Sorry to hear that you've been given such grief about it, but as the other guys have mentioned, if the fabric you are creating works for you, then I wouldn't pay much attention to what people say. I've had people tell me that I shouldn't move my left hand, but rather use the needle to catch the yarn in my left hand. I don't have a problem with my knitting so I see no reason to change. Good luck and keep at it.

There are other references out there to determine if you are twisting your stitches or not. There's nothing wrong about that, it just creates a different effect and I know several guys on this site that use twisted knit stitches when knitting with cotton to keep the fabric from sagging.

Take care,

Joe-in Wyoming's picture

Dear Gene - It sounds as though you are doing Continental knitting, carrying your yarn in the left hand. Nothing wrong with that. As Rex [dobbysoxer] pointed out, as long as you are creating knitting that you are happy with, that is the important thing. Having twisted stitches becomes a design element once it is consistent.
I am also self-taught - being a truly left handed knitter - so I appreciate the work you put into learning on your own. As my profile points out, I have definite and strong viewpoints on handedness and the art/craft of knitting. One of my criteria for judging teachers is how they approach teaching lefties vs. righties - after all, knitting is just putting the needle into the stitch, wrapping the yarn, and pulling it through. As a teacher, I taught myself to knit as a right hander so I could work with all knitters - regardless of which hand they use to control the action of the needle. [I even had one lady get miffed because she was a leftie who was taught to knit righthanded but carried her yarn in the left hand. Because of that, she was labelled a "left handed knitter" and struggled to find some one to work with her.]

As it is, I switch carrying my yarn in either hand for my knitting, depending upon how my wrists are doing that day/time. I'm proud to say that I maintain even tension, but that took lots of practice. Anyhow, the main point of my own mini-rant is that you just keep doing what you want. Kudos to you for studying the various ways to knit a stitch - that can only improve your skills - but, more importantly, enjoy what you knit. Despite what others may tell you as to what they think you are doing wrong.

Books, knitting, cats, fountain pens...Life is Good.

twistknit's picture

I just looked at your projects on Ravelry. You are a GREAT knitter!! That Shawl is amazing! I knit continental and am also self taught. I'm on here because it's fun to have a connection with other people that love knitting. Don't be bullied or worried about the know-it-alls they aren't any better.

herbie74's picture

I agree, the shawl is gorgeous. And looking at the sock you were working on, the stitches are nice and even, it's beautiful work.

In addition to the other suggestions, I wonder if you're doing what EZ called "looking glass knitting". In 'normal' knitting, you move the stitches from the needle in your left hand to that in your right. EZ taught herself to knit backwards (knitting American-style, throwing with left hand and moving stitches from right-hand needle to left-hand) because she hated purling. (I think Opinionated Knitter is my reference on that one) So if that's what you're doing, tell them you have Elizabeth Zimmerman's blessing and they can go f--ind something more productive to do with their time.

Whatever method you're using to get the yarn on the needles, you're obviously able to follow patterns and construct the desired finished product. You're doing something right. Keep up the awesome work!

AKQGuy's picture

I'm sorry you have found such negative feedback with your knitting that you need to have a rant. Knitting is supposed to be fun, relaxing and dammit you should feel proud of showing off the finished product. Not worried about what someone will find wrong with it or upset by their negative views.

I think many of us are self taught to a degree. Much of this is due to a certain amount of generational disconnect. Some due to needing to learn a skill while our teachers are not about. No matter the reason we tend to pick up knowledge and utilize it differently either due to physical differences or just our minds method of working. God forbid, some of us even learn new skills wrongly or were even taught by another poorly. But we all tend to do things slightly different and unfortunately some out there see "differently" as wrongly. Even if the other way gives the same result. I unfortunately have found that knitting has a great deal of personalities that feel if it isn't their way it's the wrong way. And most people that will say that you're doing something wrong but can't tell you what it is or how to correct, either don't know enough about knitting to be a judge of the correct way, or are just being nasty (probably out of jealousy) and are trying to find fault where there isn't any. Part of being a good teacher is figuring out a mistake when you see it, and taking the time to correct it. If someone can't be bothered to be a good teacher, I can't really be bothered to pay much attention to their thoughts personally.

I myself twisted my knit stitches for an unknown amount of time. I did it the same way every time so all laid out in a project it looked intentional. There are two ways to do it. You either wrap the wrong way be it left or right handed thereby twisting the row of stitches you are on. Or you can insert your needle into the row below incorrectly and twist the previous rows stitches. Either of these can be done in the purl stitch as well but appears much more apparent. Without seeing you knit I do not know if you do either of these or you are just at the mercy of snarly knitters.

No matter if stitches are twisted or not, remember that you picked up knitting to create and enjoy it. Ignore everyone and return to that. If you're happy with the end product and the recipients are happy, then your knitting is perfect.

Good Luck

scottly's picture

Dude find some new friends. These people that are telling you things are nuts - ignore them! There is no wrong way to knit. If your stockinetts stitch looks different from others maybe you're knitting through the back of the loop instead of the front or maybe you're wrapping your yarn the opposite way then most but that doesn't make it wrong - just different. I wrapped my yarn around the needle the oposite direction of the standard for 20 years - so what - my stuff just had a different look. I'm happy I know both ways now but no one called me stupid or belittled me they just showed me the other way.

Most guys that I know are self taught - it's a guy thing we like to figre it out on our own. And, no, I don't like to stop and ask directions!

The truth is, the more you understand knitting and why it looks the way it does the better knitter you will be. So ignore the creeps that discourage you, they are not worth your time. But keep an open mind and learn as much as you can about the craft.

BuduR's picture

Eh I get this all the time. In the beginning it was to the point where I wouldn't tackle anything more than a scarf simply because I got convinced by those people that I couldn't knit.
Then I found this board and in no time tackled socks and eventually lace.
Some people are only happy if they're making someone else feel like crap. Doesn't mean you can't knit, just means they have nothing better to do.

MWK's Token Estrogen American

MWK's Token Estrogen-American

akkamaddi's picture

Fortunately, I had a friend and aunt who were very supportive. However, if I had actually sit to knit on my first trip to a LYS back in January, I probably would have either given up, or stuck to garter for months and only now thought about going beyond stockingette. Instead, I kept to myself, thought the bamboo stitch looked cool, did some swatches, and proceeded to knit up 7' of bamboo stitch scarf. I then got bit by Tunisian knitting (the brioche stitch, not crochet), and did two balls worth of Tunisian knit scarf.

If you can sit with yarn and appropriate utensil, with the intention of making a scarf, have some fun, and end up with something that looks like a scarf, then you're knitting.

If people criticize and you don't know why, put them on the spot. They may be able to offer useful advice. You've mentioned wrapping the yarn around the pinkie. I would encourage you trying that, as it really did help me. Also, some older women do not know how to correct a man's behavior since they were raised to only do so to their husbands and children, and come across as awkward or brusque. (In the US, this is true of older women, and seems more common and affects younger generations in the South.) Don't assume the worst. Give the person a chance to relay a useful message.

However, some people are just grouchy. If someone is just snipping at you, just say, "OK, thank you," look down, and continue working. If you're in the South, saying in a quieter tone, "Bless her heart..." will make it very clear said individual can scamper off to indulge in self-fornication.

Most importantly, connect with small, specific things that interest (like a stitch) you and pursue those. You can make a lot of progress with a chain of small goals. If you like a particular stitch, like a very basic lace stitch or cable, doing two yards of scarf in that stitch can hold your interest and be excellent practice.

As others have mentioned, post pictures here. If you have a cheap flatbed scanner, that can be really useful. It doesn't make the yarn look good, but it's really clear. Otherwise, stretch the work out a bit in front of a white or black sheet (contrast), and post it here with "why does this part look like this"? Trust me. While you may get the occasional, "Oh... you're using *acrylic*...", even the yarn snob are delightful people and in my experience very helpful.


AKQGuy's picture

As a self proclaimed yarn snob, I thank you. Though even I admit acrylic has its place in the world. I just really don't like teaching new knitters on it. I want them to learn on a good wool with some bounce and forgiveness. I used Berroco's acrylic/nylon sock yarn and wow. I love those socks, I emjoyed working with it and they're holding up to wear amazingly with no worry of washing and drying. Trulu changed my feelings towards synthetic fibers. So; us yarn snobs, don't forget to keep an open mind while playing with our sticks and fiber.

Joe-in Wyoming's picture

Now, Q, you may be a self-proclaimed yarn snob but I have never personally heard you tell someone to their face that the work they are doing is garbage because they use acrylic yarn. You might suggest they use a nice wool, but you don't out-and-out ruin their knitting experience by slashing like a chainsaw because of their yarn choice. And, yes, those Berroco socks are nice...I may have to get some that yarn for myself, once the current stash gets a little more depleted.

Books, knitting, cats, fountain pens...Life is Good.

AKQGuy's picture

I would rarely be that rude, although yesterday I pushed my own envelope with a LYS owner. I wanted to slap my own bitchy side to my personality upon exiting and we'll leave it at that.

scottly's picture

When I first came to MWK and didn't know much TallGuy gave me the best advice ever when it comes to acryllic - "You can't make heirloom quality work without heirloom guality yarn." this may not be the exact quote but it's close. I too love Berroco sock yarn but I've never thought of socks as being an heirloom item either. It's not so much about being a snob either, its about using the best fiber for the project. Shoot, if I'm going to spend 100 hours or so on a project I don't want it knit out of plastic.

Joe-in Wyoming's picture

Consider it left. I'm sorry you had to be in the situation in the first place. But, that's life and can't be helped sometimes.

Books, knitting, cats, fountain pens...Life is Good.

Everything the guy's right now are saying makes sense. Like SCOTTLY, I knitted in a backwards or twisted knit stitch for a long time. You know what? It's a stitch! My gauge was a little tighter and the look was a little different but it was knitting just the same. Be proud of you and what you do! As a matter of fact, I am sure some of the fabulous stitches that we do today are because someone in the past thought they were doing something else but realized that making a mistake allows us to grow.

Crafty Andy's picture

I have to say you need new friends as well. I knit sometimes with a twisted stitch becasue I knit very loose and some people say I knit wrong. I say I don't care, but I do explain to them that I am doing it on purpose. The main problem when I was knitting twisted stitch was my wrists will hurt. I changed that , then I realizes that I was wrapping the yarn around the needle in a way that made it difficult for me to knit as well. My stitches were twisted once more. I never found anyone who taugh me how to make my knitting effortless, that happens with self taught knitters. Believe me when I say THERE IS NO WRONG WAY TO KNIT. SOme ways may make it more difficult, but nothing is wrong. SOmetimes when you knit different patterns become difficult because things don't come out the same way. DOn't be discouraged and rant all you want, some people are control freaks , or mean. Telling someone you are knitting the wrong way is the STUPIDIEST thing I have ever heard. The only way I learned to knit effortlessly was watching a video of someone knitting and seeing how it was different from what I was doing. I did it because my knitting was becoming a wrist issue, lots of pain which comes for me personally from twisted stitches. In the end if what you are making looks good, and you are happy, that is all that matters.

I agree with what everyone says. If you are happy with your work, then don't worry what others say! I had the same problem with my stitches for years. It turns out I was doing a "Russian Purl" stitch, which twists the stitch. It's resolved by knitting through the back loop. YouTube has a good demonstration of this technique. I struggled to learn how to knit the "right" way only because it's difficult to follow patterns that are written for traditional knitting. If I am doing straight stockinette stitch, especially for a larger piece, I will go back to the Russian Purl because it is FAR more efficient and my hands don't get tired as quickly.
Happy Knitting!

bobinthebul's picture

I'm self-taught too, if you don't count YouTube. There are lots of styles of knitting, some have a crossed stitch. There are also many different ways to do individual styles like English/Throwing, Continental, or round-the-neck(Portuguese). There are continental knitters who "throw" with the left hand too. I say "right" is what works for you. As for the crossed stitches, if you like the result and it's not causing any problems, then it's your business how you knit. People have a funny tendency to get attached to what they first learned and consider it "the" right way. Some of the comments on YouTube knitting videos make that abundantly clear... But knitting is an old craft, much older than any person alive on this planet, and it's gone through lots of evolution! Have fun!