Although Fred and Ginger pull it off beautifully:
But my fellow knitters are aware that what I mean is Continental style knitting. I have always knit English style or “throwing” as it is called, in which the yarn is wrapped or “thrown” around the needle before pulling it through to the front. In Continental style the needle goes through and “picks” the yarn from the other side to bring it forward. It sounds like a small variation, but there is a decided difference in speed and form.
When I watched people knitting in the Continental style to my eyes it just looked more graceful and it is touted as a speedier way to knit. So, at my request, my lys Knit Witts offered a class on knitting Continental style, which I attended this past Saturday. Only two of us attended but this was to our benefit since we had loads of help from Kim, the instructor, as she walked through all the steps.
Kim made a very compelling case for learning to knit in this style. Originally Kim had knit English style for years, but as a voracious knitter she had, over time, developed “tennis elbow” from the many hours she spent knitting. Being a hard-core never-quit, kind of knitter, she wasn’t about to give up (!?) knitting. So she decided to learn the more ergonomic style of knitting that is Continental. This added further motivation to my desire to learn since I have, on occasion, gone to bed with aching arms and shoulders after knitting for longer periods of time.
Click on the link to see an introduction video to doing the knit stitch in Continental presented by Debbie Stoller: Continental Knit Stitch
Since I have knit English style for a couple of decades I was uncertain how retraining my fingers would go, but Kim assured us that the only thing we needed to successfully learn this method was the will to do it. So I squared my needles (so to speak) and set to it. I did indeed have to fight the muscle memory of my more familiar style and a couple of times I came to a stand still getting lost for a moment between what my mind was saying and what my fingers wanted to do.
Although this style tends to produce somewhat looser stitches, at first I was getting VERY tight stitches that were difficult to work. This was simply because whenever I learn something new I often am overly intense about it and try too hard. In fact, years ago when I learned to crochet and later to knit at first I would have very tight, hard to work, stitches. So after repeating to myself the familiar mantra of “Relax, Jamye, lighten up!!” I was able to loosen the death grip on my needles and create more manageable stitches.
At the end of the two hours I was pleasantly surprised and delighted to find that I was that I was moving along at a reasonable pace. At this point, I do not move at the pace I would in English style, to be sure, but I feel that as these movements become more familiar I will see the pace I would like to have.
Currently, I have some projects that I had previously cast on such as the Hitchhiker that I mentioned in my last post and a pair of Mercury Socks and although the Hitchhiker would be a great project to practice this style on since it is rows and rows of knit stitch with changes only at the beginning and end of each row, I am going to finish these projects in the style I started so as not to change my gauge. But I’m also knitting a swatch doing a few rows of Continental each day.
We go back Friday to learn to do the purl in this style since we ran out of time at the previous class. Once I feel relatively comfortable doing both stitches I plan on selecting a project that incorporates both so I can solidify the movements in both my head and hands.
If you are a crocheter who has ever toyed with the idea of learning to knit, this is the recommended style to begin with. Since the yarn is held and tensioned in the same way as when crocheting it makes this a natural transition for someone who can crochet.
In the picture you can see the Mercury sock I am currently working on. In my next post I will talk about the sock knitting journey I am on and hopefully be finished with this sock and well on my way with the next sock, avoiding the dreaded “One-Sock-Itis” condition.
Please feel free to comment or ask questions, I would love to hear from you.
Until then may you have an abundance of Peace, Love and Yarn,