In Which I Learn to Knit

By Ann Shayne
November 29, 2022

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53 Comments
  • Recently discovered Norwegian purling via Romi Hill and then Norwegian knitting via Arne and Carlos and am now considering a switch, although I find Portuguese knitting easier to tension so far and also tempting. Neither method is faster for me than throwing after the decades I’ve been doing it but might become so in time.

    • I started purling the Portuguese style. It’s way faster for me than throwing. So I knit English style and purl Portuguese. I want to learn Norwegian knitting though as it makes sense to me to have the finger down when you’re knitting with your left hand. Happy knitting!

      • I also purl continental and knit english – that shares the burden between my two hands. I feel like my hands are so smart!

    • I’ve been knitting Portuguese style for about 8 years and love it. I’ve tried Continental but it hurt the second knuckle of my left thumb! Norwegian looks very interesting…may have to give it a try.

  • Yes! Norwegian purl cemented continental for me… I could never get the hang of moving the yarn forward to purl. Now I need to go knit a few rows to check my finger position and “pull the emergency cord” if it sticks up! I do still throw if I have a whole row of purl to do, it just feels quicker and my tension is better. But Norwegian for ribbing, for sure!

    • Exactly the same for me!

  • Norwegian purling is definitely fun. I learned from a Norwegian friend many years ago after sitting in a room with a small group of Norwegians wondering what the heck they were doing. However I knit a lot and if you notice there’s quite a bit of movement in Norwegian purling and I don’t particularly want my fingers to have to work so hard. That’s why I switched to continental knitting eons ago. So I knit a few things for fun using Norwegian purl and while doing so tried to figure out how to purl with minimal hand movement. After a few more projects with my purl technique alternating between the different techniques I knew I came up with a quiet non yarn side switching technique I love. It’s quick and easy on my hands. I have Norwegian knitting to thank for pushing me to develop my own purling method (which I’m sure has existed for generations somewhere with a proper name). NP is still fun and I think I’ll do a few rows for old times sake. It is like a dance – but perhaps more like Elaine dancing in Seinfeld.

    • Love Elaine’s horrible dancing! Great description!

  • Loved the Arne and Carlos video! I had given up on knitting differently from English and I will definitely try the Norwegian purl. Thanks so much for posting it.

  • I love the Norwegian knitting way. I learned it from one of Arne and Carlos’ videos. I alternate between throwing, Portuguese
    and Norwegian knitting nowadays to reduce the strain on my hands/joints. It helps.
    And the same hat pattern is in my project bag with green and dark blue yarn for my grandson.

    • Cha cha cha cha…..( from the YouTube video) I never looked back and bless Arne and Carlos for teaching me. From knit to purl, no problem

  • Hi Ann, can it be said that stitch types can be “in the wind”? I have been hunting down waffle-stitch patterns for awhile, and now here you are with this great hat. Have been a fan of Arne and Carlos since their Knit Stars video and can’t wait for late January. I think I tried to Norwegian purl awhile back and lost interest despite realizing that it might be superior once perfected. Like Vanessa, love the Portuguese purling method (just a flick of the thumb) but too lazy to go to That trouble either. After a certain (post 70) age…(learn NOW, folks!)

  • I learned continental with my index finger sticking up in the air. I want to learn Norwegian purl, but I think it might be harder for me to make my finger stay down.

    • Me too. LOL

    • Use a bandaid to tape it to your middle finger?

  • Great article; watched the YT video on purling! Plus love the hat from the workshop. Is it the same or similar to the Islenderlue (Dale 23410) which seems to be only available in Norwegian? Or could it be similar to Arne and Carlos’, Reine hat on their website? Many thanks!

    • It’s the Reine hat.

  • Something new to study! I’ve tried different knitting techniques, although throwing is my go-to. But my hands have led a very hard life, and I think it’s good to have different ways to use them as they age.

  • I will be sitting down with their videos to learn. I am a thrower but I throw the yarn with my left hand. I am left handed and taught myself from books.

  • One of the things I like best about knitting is learning new techniques. I feel like I’m heading right towards a Norwegian knitting rabbit hole. Can’t wait!!!!

  • I didn’t know about Norwegian wool ! But I remember a woman in a knitting shop in Aspen showing me a 6 ply yarn that could stand up to anything. I knit a child sized sweater from that yarn which is now long gone. I also love the fact that I learn constantly about something new to me and I’m going to try Shadow Knitting next. When I hear people say that knitting is boring or they don’t have the patience for it I think of what they are missing

  • Arne and Carlos Sit and Knit A Bit encouraged me (thrower) to change over a year ago. What a difference when ribbing is required. I now sail through sock knitting now too.

  • I spent my knitting life “throwing.” I eventually learned to knit continental but for the life of me, I could not master the continental purl. In Knit Stars 3, Arne converted me to norwegian purl. OMG, life changer.

    • Mary Ellen, do you still Norwegian Purl if you are knitting stockinette with long rows of purling? After just playing around with it a bit, it seems to be the most time consuming of any purling I have tried. Or, do you get the hang of it after a while and just sail away, even on long purl rows?

  • Several years ago, I was determined to knit my 6’6” husband a sweater covered in cables and seed stitch. I swatched using Continental, knowing that by the time I completed this project, I would never look back!

  • Fascinating technique. But it seems like the stitch gets stretched as you are pulling it off the left needle.

  • After watching Arne and Carlos in Knit Stars season 3 my knitting changed forever. I am a Continental knitter after years of throwing. My hands don’t get so tired now.

  • If by their you mean using your right had to pick up the thread and wrap it around the needle, an easier become more efficient is to learn how tension your yarn by wrapping the yarn around right hand fingers to tension it and then use your forefinger to quickly wrap the yarn at the tip of the needle without having to drop and pick up the yarn. Your stitches with be more even.

  • I think Arne has mentioned that their Rowan Norwegian yarn is essentially pill-free. There is a new discussion thread in the Lounge regarding this. I will, again, watch the video and try this style of knitting, which I am confident will help with soreness in my hands, as it has for many other knitters. Thank you, Arne and Carlos!

  • Ann this is amazing and thank you for sharing with us! Somehow, when I decided that I wanted to switch my knitting hand and do Continental (easily 12+ years ago) I apparently instead taught myself Norwegian knitting. I love it. Watching the video on Norwegian purling is mind blowing! It is a clear exercise in how stitches **work** as we create them. I think it is time for me to learn a new trick too!

  • It is a skill! I tell people that say I could never learn to knit that all the time. A skill can be learned by anyone with enough patience and practice. I finally taught my self to purl continental this last year and it’s been a game changer for me. I hated ribbing because of all the back and forth when throwing. Truly tedious for me but now I don’t mind it nearly as much. Love it? Well that’s a strong word but definitely more manageable.

  • I discovered the Norwegian purl with Arne and Carlos about 2 years ago, while trying to figure out why my ribbing always looked so wonky. I learned from their tutorials that moving the yarn back and forth, as we do with continental style ribbing, uses a little more yarn for the purl than the knit and changes the tension. With the Norwegian purl, the working yarn stays put at the back so it’s easier to maintain even tension. I’m happy to say after a lot of practice, my ribbing columns are nice and even, and I don’t even have to think about tension! The Norwegian purl also keeps my tension nice and even on long stretches of stockinette, where I used to get odd loose rows. I haven’t quite mastered keeping my left finger down all the time, but I do keep it closer.

  • I was stunned when Arne watched me knit for 30 seconds and said “you’re already doing it just like my sister.” I wish I could remember who taught me.

  • I started Norwegian purling after watching Arne and Carlos’s KnitStars class a few months ago. I was already a continental knitter, but wow, what a game changer! Ribbing is so much easier and my purl side of stockinette is a bit more consistent.

    • HollyR. did you find you got a rhythm going and the purling was so slow? With the three steps, it feels like it would be soooooo slow. I can see the advantage on sock knitting or knitting in the round, but flat knitting stockinette with long rows of purls, it seems like it would be harder on the hands and take longer. I would love to hear your experience.

  • I definitely need more practice with my Norwegian purl! But it was so neat to learn a new technique from The Masters. I need to get back to my hat and practice some more!

  • Lifelong thrower here, but when I teach brioche I demonstrate both English and continental. I can’t get my left forefinger to stay up in the air for love or money! So I learned Norwegian purl (thanks Arne & Carlos) and can demonstrate brioche purls that way, and it’s close enough that continental knitters can follow. I even made a video tutorial…

    I do think there’s a lot of movement in the Norwegian purl, so it doesn’t appeal to me to do an entire row/round of it for stockinette/reverse stockinette. But it’s good to have lots of techniques in one’s tool kit!

    • PS Ann: Congratulations on learning to knit…again! Isn’t it fun to be a beginner at something, even something so familiar as knitting? I love learning new things!

  • Multiple ways to knit! Chance to be a beginner again. Yeay!

  • I’m SO excited to learn something new!! Thank you for this!

  • Norwegypurl is very neat however Russian knit and purl is simpler and faster still. I’m a continental knitter but now exploring Russian style. Love leatnonew things.

    • Love learning new things

  • Our lives … changed! It was so much fun to learn this alongside you and Kay (who picked it up much quicker than I did … that was the slowest ribbing I’ve knitted in a very long time.) 😉 What a dreamy weekend with our favorite Norwegian knitters Arne and Carlos. I smile every time I think about it. Thank you for hosting this fabulous event. Memories made, new ways to knit and purl learned.

  • I was taught many years ago how to knit Continental by a Norwegian lady in my church. Yes, how to knit but not how to purl. Years later I almost exclusively knitted Continental but always reverted to a thrown purl. Ribbing was a constant battle of pick and throw (and swapping yarn to a different hand)! Finally when faced with a mile of ribbing for a project I forced myself to figure out how to purl without changing the yarn to the other hand and throw. I am so happy I finally figured it out and it is a very good reminder to try new methods and experience what it is like to be a brand new knitter. My husband who was not as set in his ways was much quicker to pick up the Norwegian purl and he loves it. I still knit occasionally by throwing as I was first taught by my mom. I am glad that there are so many ways to handle sticks and yarn. Exploring knitting is constantly fascinating and I hope to always be learning.

  • Thank you so much for this. I’m left handed but i learned by mirroring my mother knitting right handed and we throw…you’d think this would be easier for a lefty, i’ll let you know! ha ha

  • I’m going to need to try the Norwegian pulling sounds interesting.

  • I read this post this morning and have been practicing Norwegian knit and purl all day today on my Picket Fence squares. I learned to knit continental but my tension wasn’t even between knit and purl, so I switched to English. I’m finding the Norwegian knit to be very easy to work and love the finger down position, but the purl seems loose to me and doesn’t match the tension of the knit. I watched the guy’s video on tensioning the knit and purl, but it didn’t quite answer the question of how to get knit and purl tensions to match. The video said to change the needle size, which means I’d have to use one needle for knit and another for purl. Anyone have any suggestions how to get knit and purl to be the same gauge?

  • I didn’t remember correctly how my mother taught me(yarn held in left hand-mom was left handed, taught by right handed) to knit & purl so 40 years later when I picked it back up I remembered purling incorrectly until YouTube. It’s like knitting but in the front, no twisting fingers. Yes, the stitch is mounted incorrectly but not a problem as I was consistent and never did other stitches.
    Now I’ve learned 4 ways and mix it up.

  • I love having several ways to get something done. When I teach continental knitting I show several ways to purl, including the Norwegian Purl. The style was originally taught to me by a student who learned it in Sweden, using her finger held up. Whatever works and doesn’t hurt!

  • Your letter came out at just the right time for me as I’m presently unable to knit because of shoulder and hand pain related to my knitting technique. I switched to continental style from throwing several years ago, but now have to relearn my technique. The instructions from Arne and Carlos are just what the doctor ordered, literally!

  • I had a very similar experience! Although, I am trying to switch to take care of my hands and arm. I was sharing my experience with a friend and she reminded me that it is good for our brains too!

  • I knit English style and absolutely hate purling. I’m gonna give the Norwegian purl a try!

  • Yeah! Finally figured out that (previously) nasty purl stitch! Happy holidays, thank you for sharing.