I had an e-mail the other day about this, namely that they were the only person in their area who knit Eastern style, and did I have any information about it? And I realized I've never discussed the topic here, and it's an under-discussed topic in general, so here we go.
The terms above are used to describe the three different ways to knit, in terms of HOW THE STITCHES SIT ON THE NEEDLE. This has nothing to do with what hand you carry your yarn in or what needle you do most of the work with. This has to do with working into the front or back of the stitch, and how they sit on the needle. First some definitions, then some thoughts. Then some info sources.
WESTERN is how the majority of us knit in Western European-founded cultures. That includes (other than W Europe, obviously), most of N America, Australia, and parts of Africa (the sub-saharan parts). The knit stitch sits on the needle so that the front of the stitch faces left. When knitting, the yarn is brought under the needle and up, wrapping around the right hand needle in a counter-clockwise direction.
EASTERN is how Eastern Europe, Arab and Arab-settled countries (Spain, and by extension, much of S America) knit. The knit stitch sits on the needle with the front facing right. When knitting, the yarn is brought over the right needle from the back, wrapping around in a clockwise direction. This is considered the oldest method of knitting, and purling with this method is very efficient.
COMBINED uses both methods, Western style on the purl stitches and Eastern style on the knit stitches (or vice-versa, depending on the knitter, but this is the official definition). This method is used in mostly 'melting pot' areas like North America, where settlers from all over met and traded techniques. This is considered the best way to go if you have vastly different knit and purl gauges; it loosens the knit stitches and tightens the purl stitches. It also equalizes twist in yarns; you wrap the yarn around the needle in opposite directions for knit and purl.
Combined knitting is considered lightning fast, but all the knitting speed records I know of were set by someone knitting Western continental style (carrying the yarn in the left hand). Just sayin'.
While I can be an asshole about knitting in some ways (my 'do it right or not at all' approach to finishing comes to mind), in this I have no real opinion. If you knit something, you like it, and it doesn't unravel, well then, you're doing it right. HOWEVER. The vast majority of stitch patterns (like the Barbara Walker treasuries) are written for western style knitting, and if you knit another way, you'll wind up having to alter them to make them go. That's not bad either, but it is extra bother, and it's up to you whether you want to deal with it or not. When I first learned to knit, I used Combined, but realized I'd have to alter every texture and lace pattern to make them work right, and switched over to Western. But you aren't me, so it's up to you to decide how you wanna do it.
As for further information, I got mine from "Knitting in the Old Way" by Priscilla Gibson-Roberts and Deborah Robson. (The second edition.) This is probably the most useful book I own in terms of traditional knitting. Vast, huge, useful piles of information. I'd suggest buying a copy if you knit much at all, but most local libraries should have a copy; I'd get it and read up. The knitting styles I just discussed are found starting on page 42. The only other place I know of for information on this is "Confessions of a Knitting Heretic" by Annie Modisett. She uses Combined, and does the majority of her own test-knitting. She's a knitting demon. If you want to buy a copy, get it at her web site. She makes a bigger profit that way, and she needs all the money she can get - her husband's sick. Plus, if you click the link, on the left side of the page is a nice little list of links titled "All you ever wanted to know about combination knitting".
And having done a search, I find Knitty has no article on this topic. Hmmmmm. And I've got an article due in five days. Hmmmmm. Oops, four. Eek.
Anyway, there you go. I've got readers all over the world. Would some of you check in and share where you are and what method you use? I'm particularly interested in India and Asia. Do you guys use Eastern or Western?