Pickers and Throwers

Are you a ‘picker’?  Are you a ‘thrower’?  Curious minds (mine) want to know!

The knitting method and the knitter’s preference determine how a knitter holds the yarn and needles. I’ve watched ‘pickers’ knit and I’ve watched ‘throwers’ knit and both methods provide good control over the yarn with an even flow of working yarn and consistent gauge.

The American/English style knitters, affectionately called ‘throwers’ hold the working yarn in their right hand and ‘throw’ it around the working needle. The Continental/German style knitters, affectionately called ‘pickers’ hold the working yarn threaded around the left hand. They are called ‘pickers’ because they pick that yarn through the first stitch on the resting needle.

Some say the ‘pickers’ are much faster knitters because there is less movement. I have timed myself knitting both ways and don’t see a noticeable difference in speed. I do wonder if the ‘pickers’ have fewer knitting injuries because the repetition has a smaller range of motion.

There is great beauty in watching a knitter’s hands at work. I enjoyed taking these photographs and seeing, in particular, how each knitter anchored her yarn. Most anchored it around their pinkies. All felt that they had found what worked best for them saying there was no right or wrong way.

I’m curious to see which method is more popular. If you are a knitter, will you please take a moment for the poll telling me which method you use?

9 Comments on “Pickers and Throwers

  1. Loved this post as I’ve never tried “picking” other than when doing Fair Isle projects. A few years back I took a class on a new method for Fair Isle knitting, holding two colors at the same time, one in each hand. “Picking” was involved for that left hand yarn. I don’t see that one is faster than the other.

    As for injuries, you may be right. I’ve had both thumb joints reconstructed due to loss of cartilage. I denied my surgeon’s contention that perhaps I was knitting too much! LOL! There is much knitting to be done but never does a woman knit too much.

  2. Rebecca I love your pictures. Is knitting hard? I have always wondered that and never been daring enough to try it. YOu describe it so well.

  3. Very interesting post. I just came back from the DFW Fiber Festival where I took a Learn how to knit Continental from Galina Khmeleva. It was a fantastic class and she claims you can knit faster that way. She also said something about the style of knitting Russian ladies from Orenburg do keeps their hands looking younger. I can tell you first hand (no pun intended) that she has very youthful looking hands and face! Anyway, I’ve been able to knit Continental for a while now but couldn’t purl. I can now but it is a cumbersome process for me. I will keep practicing and see if I can’t get better. Regarding the repetive movement issue on throwing, my whole arm moves like a shuttle and my wrist remains straight, my fingers remain in one position. I don’t seem to suffer from the motion as some do and I wonder if it is because I move my arm and not just fingers and hand?

  4. I am a Continental knitter, but can do other ways, but I’m not practised enough in the others to satisfy my need for speed.

  5. I have been a thrower my whole life (and I’m pretty darn fast at it, too!) but I learned to knit continental when I first started doing stranded colorwork. I like to hold one yarn in each hand, so when I’m doing colorwork I knit both ways at once (though for the purposes of your poll, I picked English).

  6. 35-some years throwing. but I would like to do the two-handed colorwork that Sarah mentions. (never to old to learn something new, right?!)

  7. I am a picker. I learned to crochet before I learned to knit so picking was easier for me. I do throw the non dominant color when I am doing stranded knitting. I loved the pictures of other knitters hands. I love watching throwers knit though.

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