The Daily Skein

All the craft that’s fit to make.

Learning New Things September 24, 2009

Filed under: Musings — Cailyn @ 3:36 pm
Tags: , ,

I love learning new techniques.  One of the things I like so much about knitting is the number of techniques to learn.  Like entrelac, Norwegian purling, Portuguese knitting, colorwork… every time I worry that I’ve learned it all, something new pops up!  The story of how I stumbled on this new technique is long and boring, but I will tell it to you anyway.  I’m just that kind of person.


I was poking around on Abby Franquemont’s YouTube channel for some spinning videos about a week ago.  One of the videos there was this one of the Yarn Harlot knitting and explaining a bit about her technique, particularly how it’s better for preventing repetitive stress injury.

I watched the video and marveled at her speed.  “Isn’t that cool?” I thought.  Then I didn’t think much about it for a while.


A week went by, and I saw on the Harlot’s blog that she had finished another pair of socks.  Now, this woman is always traveling, teaching, writing, and has teenagers at home.  How is it that she can churn out multiple projects in the time it takes me to finish one (not one project, one sock)?  It dawned on me.  She is using that other knitting technique.  I watched the video again and paid attention to the name.  Irish cottage knitting or production knitting.  Also known as lever or armpit knitting.


Well, that set off a full-blown Google search for anything and everything that I could learn about Irish cottage knitting.  This is the technique that the Harlot teaches in her class about knitting efficiency.  I missed out on that class at the Sock Summit (it sold out fast!!) so I’ve tried to piece it together online.  There isn’t actually a ton of info about it out there.  It’s a bit of heritage knitting; not taught much anymore unless you are taught by someone who knits that way.  I mean, I have seven thousand books on knitting and I’ve never seen it really mentioned before!  There’s a brief description in the Art of Fair Isle Knitting and the History of Handknitting, but no pictures or instructions.


So, I believe that I have indeed recreated this technique.  I’ve been practicing so much that I’m almost as fast cottage knitting as my regular knitting!  Hopefully after some more practice, I will reach actual speed-knitting speed.  This is the technique that the world’s fastest knitters use!  It would be very nice to be able to churn out more projects… I have so many ideas for designs but I’m limited by the speed of my knitting.


So, we’ve got the above video.  Then there’s this one, which has a slow motion section and an analysis of the way Stephanie holds her needles.  Then there’s some good info on the Ravelry group about cottage knitting.  Once I’m sure that what I’ve come up with is indeed cottage knitting and really is faster, I’ll post up a tutorial about the technique!


And because I came across some other fun stuff in my YouTube searching, here are two other videos that I enjoyed (the first is very similar to the speech she gave at Third Place Books last October):



And this one is just plain funny whether you’re a knitter or not.  And especially if you’ve visited Denver.


4 Responses to “Learning New Things”

  1. Millie Says:

    I loved watching the videos and ended up watching lots more of the Yarn Harlot. I got totally hooked on watching and I don’t even knit! Still I guess I’m a knitter wanna-be. Perhaps in my next life.

  2. Helen Says:

    Not much of a Harlot fan (don’t flame!) but I did want to comment that I really enjoyed reading about how your taught yourself Cottage knitting.

  3. Kady Says:

    oooooo… the faster I can knit, the less painful knitting Josh’s boring sweater will be! I’m excited to watch the videos… gotta find time when I’m not a work though 0=)

  4. Sigrid Says:

    I have just started to learn Irish cottage knitting, and you blog post was very helpful. Thank you so much 🙂

    Happy to help! I’ve recently made another effort to switch over, so hopefully I’ll have even more information soon!

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