The quest for Irish cottage knitting

A few weeks ago, I started getting pains in my right arm, due to knitting. It uasally happens once or twice a year. But this time it feelt more severe than before, and one day the muscle just beneath the elbow on my right arm started looking red and swollen. Since I am practically addicted to knitting, and can`t picture my life with out this beloved hobby, I was terrified I had to stop knitting for a month or so. But then my friend told me about a youtube video of Yarn Harlot knitting. She uses a technique called Irish cottage knitting.  It is supposed to be more ergonomic, in addition to MUCH faster.

So I decided to learn this technique. But that was easier said than done! Usually when I have problem with my knitting, or try to learn something new, I just Google it and find the answers in a matter of minutes. I had the video of yarn harlot knitting, and an other youtube video of here knitting, with a slow motion part.

I used a couple of hours searching the web for something more, but there don`t seems to be any pictures or instruction videos anywhere. And since I live in Norway, going to one of Yarn Harlots courses is way to expensive. But the technique was mentioned from time to time on forums, and some people seemed to think the technique was the same as lever-action knitting. So I found this webpage with instructions. But I had also read that this lever-action knitting was the same technique as Peruvian knitting. On youtube I found a really helpful video on Peruvian knitting:

I sat for some time, trying to learn this form of knitting. And since I noticed it was easier on my right arm, I was tempted to leave my quest and be contented with what I had discovered. But I wanted to finish what I started, and my search continued. There seemed to be more knitters out there, looking for some information on the Irish cottage knitting.

The most helpful web page I found was a blog called “the Daily skein”. Where you can read about Cailyn, and her search for the same information that I have been looking for. The most helpful thing I learned from here post, was that there is no information on the internet on Irish cottage knitting. There is the two youtube video mentioned earlier. Then there is a group on Ravelry with people that has been to the Yarn Harlots courses, where I found some pictures of how to hold the yarn in you right hand. But basically, I have watched the videos of Yarn Harlot countless times to figure out this technique. I found that the Peruvian knitting is quite similar to the Irish cottage knitting, when you knit with double-pointed needles. So the video on how to knit Peruvian was very helpful.

I have now been knitting using the Irish cottage knit for a couple of weeks, switching between DPNs and strait needles. And it is a big adjustment for me, having knitted continental style for 20 years. But I am starting to understand it, and get a good rhythm. It will however take some time til I am able to knit faster than I used to, using continental style.

If you are out on the same quest as I have been, please don´t hesitate to ask questions or share you own thrilling story of you search with me :)

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7 Responses to The quest for Irish cottage knitting

  1. Jan says:

    I recently twisted my right wrist and it triggered arthritis in my hand. I have had to lay off knitting for awhile and it is killing me. I feel lost not being able to knit. I just came across your blog and am curious how your quest is going. Are you feeling more comfortable with the Irish cottage knit technique? Is it less stressful on your right hand?

  2. theknittingknitter says:

    I am sorry to hear about your arthritis. As I am aware of, it is not fun to have to lay off knitting.

    My quest i going just fine. My right hand is feeling so much better, I even have started a project knitting continental again. But I try not to knit with that techniuqe too often, because I can feel the difference in my arm. So mostely, now days, I tend to use Irish Cottage knitting, and I must admitt I am starting to get a hang of it. But it took much longer than I thought it would. Probably I should not be suprised, since I have knittet continetal for 20 years…. It is still must slower than my continental knitting (of course), and I feelt very brave when I tried knitting lace. Also, when I have been knitting continually for a long periode of time, I sometimes feel a small pain im my wrist. However, I am very glad I learned this new technique, and my arm is as good as back to it old self. :)

  3. Roy Laws says:

    You can probably expect about 2-3 weeks of feeling awkward with parlor knitting on DPN’s. I am not sure whether there’s much info online about parlor knitting, most people find that it is useful only for small projects like socks or gloves. Once the work is too large to fit in the crook of your thumb, you have to switch your grip to allow the finished knitting to flow over the top of your thumb, which most people find to be very awkward. This style is called Irish cottage knitting only by the Yarn Harlot and her students. Irish knitters would give you a strange look if you ask about it, because they never gave it that name. The other style Stephanie uses is called pit knitting, where long straight needles are used for larger projects, with the right needle held under the arm. That method uses the same right hand tensioning as the parlor knitting, but is much easier to use for anything larger than a sock. At any rate, learning more than one method is strongly recommended so you can switch off occasionally to avoid repetitive stress syndrome. Portuguese style is another method to help with that.

  4. theknittingknitter says:

    Thank you for the comment. I learned a lot. Mostly about how much I don’t yet know about this subject :)

  5. Ikhuku says:

    I’ve been reading about the various knitting techniques, and after seeing something about the advantages of lever knitting, tried to find out more. Only now it turns out I’ve been doing it all my life… I was taught to knit by my grandmother in Holland, who knitted in the same way as my mother (her daughter-in-law). The only difference I see is that I never put any part of my hand underneath the right-hand needle – it’s always on top. My mom liked long needles so she could support the end under her arm (although not in her armpit as I’ve seen described!) – I’ve learned to manage with shorter needles and don’t find it difficult at all. So, the work never ‘flows over my thumb’ as described above, and I also don’t have to change my grip at any stage. What I do struggle with a bit is knitting on circular needles – the rigid parts are usually too short for my preference, and the weight on the flexible part makes it harder to manage. But I can still do it if I have to.

  6. Mary says:

    My mom called this “Scottish” knitting and it is how I learned. Maybe because so many in Shetland use it? I switched to “English” throwing years ago and now have all sorts of troubles with my fingers and wrist.

  7. Mariposa37 says:

    Many years ago an elderly Scotswoman taught me to knit by first winding a ball of fabric strips around the end of my left needle which was then held in my left armpit. I knitted by moving only my right needle. After a very long knitting hiatus, I want to relearn this method. Can anyone help me or tell me where to look?

    Please and thank you


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