This fascinating story is reposted from interweave.com, where it appeared on 12/04/18.
How Do You Compare to the World’s Fastest Knitter?
Photo Credit: Dave Donaldson
Hazel Tindall’s ears were pierced by their first swear word (uttered by a woman) due to a rejected jumper. Her neighbor failed to sell it, the buyer had all the power, and she was not described in favorable terms.
When Hazel was a child, Shetland knitters relied on knitting to supply an income and basic necessities such as tea, sugar, and more. A rejected jumper meant money lost. The Shetland style of knitting was developed for efficiency: to produce quality garments in less time. It’s the Shetland style to which Hazel credits her title of “World’s Fastest Knitter.”
Growing up in a home with knitters provided Hazel with a unique opportunity, and it was her mother who first commented on her speedy knitting. After returning from school for the week, she helped her mother by knitting the yokes onto machine-made bodies and grafting the machine-knit neck ribs. She did this all at the age of 12. Once complete—on Saturday night—they were wrapped and ready for her to deliver after school on Monday.
“I have no memory of learning to knit,” Hazel said. “Since the day I could focus, I had 3 adult knitters in the household to watch, so by the time I tried myself, I would have known how it should be done, even if my fingers still had to acquire the muscle memory.”
Her first foray onto the stage of fast knitters was in 2004. A friend stumbled upon the 2004 fastest knitter’s stats, roughly 180 stiches in 3 minutes, and neither she or Hazel were overly impressed. As members of the Shetland Guild of Spinners, Knitters, Weavers and Dyers, they organized a competition for their annual fundraising day. The majority of participants knitted well over 200 stitches in 3 minutes.
That same year, Hazel was touring England and on a whim detoured to participate in the world championships in London. She entered and failed in her first attempt to qualify but succeeded on the second. The very next day she beat the titleholder with 255 stitches in 3 minutes.
Locking Down the Title
In 2008, she represented the United Kingdom in a competition held at the Mall of America in Minneapolis, knitting against people from Canada, France, the United States, and the Netherlands. She knit faster than the Guinness World Record holder and beat her previous record with 262 stitches in 3 minutes.
According to Hazel, there’s no secret trick or technique. She knits the same way she started, with Shetland style, and champions the knitting belt.
“Using a knitting belt supports the knitting, and I don’t suffer any pain—the only times my hands hurt were after I was knitting on large needles (6mm) where I was frequently and irregularly switching from knit to purl in a row, and after using a circular needle,” Hazel said.
We might not ever match Hazel’s speedy fingers, but we can certainly speed up our personal knitting with her tips.
1. Practice and establish a rhythm.
2. Consider switching to, or trying, Shetland knitting.
3. Keep the yarn on a finger at all times.
4. Don’t lift your hand off of the needle.
5. Use a knitting belt to support your knitting.
6. Check out 50 Tips from Shetland Knitters.