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October 10, 2005

The spiel

I'm done with the felted dog bed for Annie's new book!

Well, relatively speaking - I'm done with the knitting, which is all I had to do. Annie will do the felting, stuffing, and assembly. I think the stuffing will be really fun! Have you seen the pockets which are cleverly formed during the knitting without any extra seaming or assembly?!?

Although the all-dark-green pockets may not look like they were as much fun to make as the striped ones, they still totally were!

I don't have a lot of specs to report, other than the yarns used in this project, KnitPicks Wool of the Andes and Sierra were very nice to work with, and great at soothing my cotton-chapped hands. I, too, look forward to real FO pics when the book is published! :)

I was thinking, this project and Meg's Forbes Forest have been the two most fun projects I've knit. The thing common to both of them is the captivating details that keep things interesting row after row, repeat after repeat. When knitting the scarf, even towards the end I was still intrigued and fascinated by the winding cables and the technique used to make them, and when knitting the dog bed, the double-knitting as well as the stripes inside the pockets kept me from putting the needles down.

Of course Annie is responsible for teaching me both techniques. What can I say, I'm infatuated with doing things the clever way.

Based on all your wonderful comments to my last entry, I do want to tell you a bit more about Combined knitting. However, because I have a certain verbal diarrhea on the subject, and it's a bit of a rant, I put my thoughts into the extended entry. Click the link to keep reading!

When it comes to Combined knitting, I'm entirely biased, of course. The truth is that if I hadn't discovered Annie's Combined knitting webpage during my formative knitting months, I would NOT be knitting today. So, of course I think it's the bomb diggity (which the urban dictionary defines as, totally the awesomest, just the shit, and awesomeness in its purest form).

To read more about Combined/Combination knitting, you can visit Annie's site or mine. I also have videos on my video webpage in case you want to see what Combined knitting looks like with regular knits and purls, outside the context of double-knitting.

So, to answer some of your questions, the benefits of using Combined knitting are many.

In my opinion, the most important benefit is a deep understanding of how knitting works, how stitches are formed, how they come together to make a knitted fabric. More practically, Combined knitting is intuitive. How many of us self-taught knitters started out by wrapping our purls in the Combined way? SO many. It just makes more sense! The movements are very efficient, the maneuvers are quick, effortless. I timed myself this weekend - when knitting stockinette stitch, I'm 20% faster using the Combined method. Think of it as finishing a project in 4 days instead of 5! More efficient maneuvers also mean less wrist strain, of course. Many say that it helps them with rowing out, and it helped me in the beginning, too, although lots of practice and belief in the miracle of blocking are essential in the long run.

That being said, I DON'T use Combined knitting exclusively. Sometimes when swatching, I decide that I'd like to knit a particular project in the typical Western method. I don't know what criteria I use to make my decision, but it seems to me that the bulkier the yarn, and the more tight I want the final fabric to be, the more likely I am to use Combined knitting. Combined knitting also doesn't apply to projects where every stitch is knit - stockinette in the round, or garter stitch knit flat. "Critics" of Combined knitting will often cite this as a con. My response: a Combined knitter doesn't think of these situations as a con; in fact, we don't think much about it, we just knit the stitches as they present themselves.

Another con the critics cite is that Combined knitters need to translate all patterns to their own language. Pardon me for stating the obvious, but this con has nothing to do with Combined knitting. The real problem is that patterns are written for only one type of knitting, while there are so many ways to achieve the same final result. Besides, we get quite good at translating the instructions without much thinking because of the most important benefit listed above - a deep understanding of how knitting works, how stitches are formed. And if we're too tired to think, I have a conversion table on my website :). The other side of this coin is that knitters who like to follow instructions to the very last detail, without any deviation, may find that although Combined knitting has many benefits, it's not for them.

The last thing I want to say is that Annie, and her book, Confessions of a Knitting Heretic are not only good for Combined knitting. Annie has this attitude of encouraging knitters to make the knitted fabric however they want, and it makes all the difference when struggling with how your own personal way of knitting fits into (or doesn't) the glossy pictures in the big How To books. Reading her words and her thoughts convinced me to pick up my knitting needles again, even though I was quite ready to give them up for good (hence my bias). Confessions also taught me to cable without a cable needle, to make turning-less, voluptuous bobbles, to make invisible increases, and so much more! All these things, as well as Combined knitting, are certainly worth a try - until you do so, you'll never know if it's for you!

Posted by Kathy on October 10, 2005 04:20 PM


Very interesting! Thanks for the run down on combined knitting.

The dog bed looks great. I so can't wait to try this myself.

A new SAT word for your verbal diarrhea: logorrhea

I'm glad that you had fun knitting that. Those pictures are great--nice angle.

I have got to get my hands on that book! Reading this made me realize that I started out knitting in the combined method, and then changed to traditional western when I realized that sometimes I was ending up with twisted stitches (when the pattern called for specific increases or decreases). I didn't understand enough about what I was doing to re-write the increases/decreases, so I just figured that I was knitting it "wrong" and changed to the "right" way of knitting to conform to the patterns. I may have to give it another shot... after I read Annie's book, that is!

By the way - your cabling without a cable needle tutorial is fabulous... I'm using it on my latest sweater, and it makes the cabling go so quickly! Bye bye cable needle!

Love those stripes! I can't wait to see the whole thing felted and assembled -- complete with doggie, of course. ;-)

That Annie really is a clever cookie. Hehe.

I am reading Annie's book right now ... love it. I especially like the anecdote of the yarn shop owner thinking she was playing a trick on her bringing the finished intarsia sweater back to the shop after just a few days asking for instructions to bind off!

so is it akward for you when you have to switch for certain stitch patterns? I can knit both ways but knit western as a default, and when I'm helping someone at work who knits eastern like you, it slows me down A LOT to have to change the way I knit & wrap my purls.

I also don't understand why you say that knitting your way lets you understand the way the stitches lay better -- how does it make it easier to see that as compared to a western knitter? I'm self-taught, too, and I also wrapped my purls the other way when I started. But when I figured out I was twisting my sts, I just changed the way I wrapped my purl, that was more intuitive for me. Then I found out all the different types of knitting and labeled my style western continental, although I don't pick so much as wrap. . .

Wow, that is some build up for a dog bed! I can't wait to see it, it is something to get that much praise from a knitter like you.

I'm a knit as it suits me knitter. Sometimes combined, sometimes not, I never had any problem working a pattern, no matter how I am knitting. Thanks for the post, it is a good one.

I'm a fairly new knitter (longtime crocheter) and I fought purling for a long time before I just said to myself, "you know what the yarn needs to do, just make it do it."

And hooray, I figured out combination knitting on my own. For a long time I wondered why my method was so... different from everyone else I knew. Until I came across your videos and links to Annie's pages! It made a difference, so thank you! :)

I started combination knitting yesterday and it's been going well, thanks to your videos! I hope to get Annie's book and be inspired by her words. :)

I've been a knitter for 3 years now but just started to really understand my knitting recently. I am a fearful knitter so I mostly stick to patterns. ;)

I love CK! It is much faster for me to knit, and makes a huge difference in the even-ness of my rows. I also can knit in the dark - I did 4 rows during Wallace and Gromit.

hi kathy,
as self-taught knitter, i was overwhelmed with tons of info on the website on how to make knit/purl stitch and the style.
after lots of reading and asking and practicing and made so many project, i like the combined and continental knit..:)

i am reading "knitting without tears" right now (knitting heretic is on the amazon wishlist, hehe) and EZ says that there are no wrong ways to knit, just unsuitable ones for certain projects.

i like combined method purling, so i'm willing to use it in my next suitable project. :)

and i understand what you say about "translating" the direccions for one method. i'm a leftie, and long time crocheter, so i've had to "transpose" all crochet instructions since the beginning. (and it's not so difficult).

Annie's book is so great! I knit using the combined method as well, and I am much happier doing so :)

Thanks for the info. I'm going to try to find Annie's book (or order it) and I just started the front of a ss sweater - maybe I can try combined knitting on it and see how it works for me. The stipes and pockets look fabulous!

I love knitters who think! Knit on, Grumpy - you're an inspiration to us all.

Thanks for the great information and the pointer to Annie's site. I just ordered her "Heretic" book and cannot wait for it to arrive. The dog bed looks like a neat project -- unfortunately my Golden Retriever would probably eat it!

Cindy, the funny part is that I started out teaching myself Combination Knitting from looking at knitted fabric that my grannies had produced in the trditional western style, than found out that I was twisting stistches when purling and ended up guessing how to untwist them by working a modified Eastern Knitting that is NOT Modesitt's Combination! >_

I have my own way of holding my yarn on a curled finger in front when purling that is v. fast, but otherwise I do continental, holding my yarn the way I did/do to crochet. . . interesting subject!

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