As I mentioned in the past, I have serious problems with maintaining a nice looking, even stocking (stockinette) stitch when knitting flat. I figured that the reason was the difference in tension between knit and purl rows, but it still didn’t make fixing the problem any easier. I was planning to go to a few knitting classes and ask for advice there, hoping that someone experienced could tell me how exactly to correct it. But then I found an advice to try combination (or combined) knitting if I can’t knit in the rounds and my stitches really look very bad. I only regret that I don’t remember the address or name of the website where I first read about it, and my browser’s cache has been cleaned since then 😦
In any case, I’d read more about the method and tried it out immediately – and was amazed by the result. You can see it on the photo above: the bottom part of the sampler was knitted in the regular, Western way, and the top part – in the combined method. It’s still not perfect and requires more practice before it looks really well, but the difference is clear and the quality of the stitch is acceptable for me now.
Below another picture, in different light: the stitches in the upper part are smaller and more regular, while those in the lower part just… just make no sense at all.
And another photo, taken against the light, to show how much more regular and tighter the stitches are when knitted with the combined method (on the left) versus the Western knitting (on the right):
The basic rule in this method is to knit in the back loop instead of the front loop. Apparently this is typical for the Eastern knitting ( I had no idea that there was a distinction for Eastern and Western knitting at all!). Purl stitches are worked in the front loop, like in the Western method. It makes the stitch more even, but also makes purling easier and faster, so it works great for me!
The one thing to remember while using the combined method is that the orientation of decreases is different than in the Western knitting, so it should be kept in mind while knitting from a pattern. But it’s not rocket science to learn it and there are some useful conversion tools online as well. I also don’t use this method when I knit in the rounds or when I want to knit any other stitch than stockinette – although perhaps in the future I’m going to find other applications for it, who knows?
I’m very happy to have found this method – it really fixes the problem for me, and while I still have a bit to improve in the look of my stocking stitch, it’s nowhere near as bad as it was. I stopped feeling frustrated and I started to enjoy knitting even more 🙂