Sunday, December 12, 2010

Continental Way of Knitting–Finally

** Updated to include a picture of my knitting sample from class **

What a way to end another year of adventurous knitting. I took my last of three knitting classes last weekend on Continental Knitting. As most of your know, I taught myself to knit almost 3 years ago and I taught myself to knit the English/American way. You know, the throw your right arm to create a stitch. The 1-1/2 hour class was pure stress for me, but in a good way! We started out with a “warm-up” exercise of knitting our normal English way. Pure knitting stitches. Then I did a few rows of stockinette to warm-up with the purl stitches.

Then the Continental lesson began. Brenda, our instructor, broke down the “knit” stitch…the direction the needle goes into the loop and then the direction the yarn wraps around the needle. Got that. We were then instructed to hold the yarn in our left hand/fingers and then try to “knit” a stitch. Almost got that. It took me awhile to figure out how to hold the yarn in my left fingers. I struggled to figure this out first. I noticed others in the class were worried about their gauge. Not me. My first priority was to get the “technique” down first and then worry about tension/gauge later. Can’t worry about both at the same time, otherwise I won’t get it.

After 15 minutes of what felt like re-learning to knit all over again, I finally got it. Close enough to be able to create knitted stitches for several rows. It was uncomfortable at first, but I did fall into a slow rhythm.

We took a 5 minute break to relax our hands and de-stress (at least for me).

We proceeded to learn the purl stitch. Again, Brenda broke down the process of the direction the needle goes into the loop and then the direction the yarn wraps. Made sense to me, but doing it was another head scratching “how am I going to attempt this?” I was able to make a purl stitch, but still had problems with holding the yarn in my left hand.

I had an AH-HA moment. I took the yarn and placed it in my right hand as if to knit. I took note of how the yarn was threaded in and around my fingers: under my pinky, over my ring finger, under my mid-finger, and over my pointer finger. I put the yarn back in my left hand and followed the same threaded pattern I had done with my right hand. Once the yarn went over my pointer finger, I then felt the need to wrap it around once to apply some tension/control to the yarn. It worked! I continued purling for a few rows until I got into a good slow rhythm.

Brenda wanted us to combine the two stitches and we proceeded to do the stockinette stitch for a few rows. A few important things I noticed, I was knitting a bit quicker, I could keep the yarn comfortable in my left hand/fingers while switching between knitting and purling, and all I had to do was switch my needles (circulars) at the end of the row and just keep knitting.

Our last task was to knit a ribbing pattern. I ended up doing a K2P2 for my sample. This ribbing task went fast. I truly appreciated the Continental way of knitting.

At the end of class, I realized the stress of learning a new way of knitting went away. I actually had fun. I noticed my class sample turned out nicely and evenly, even though I have a gauge issue. I had to laugh at myself as I looked like a tight knitter.

While others in class were absorbed in getting gauge and frustrated on how to hold the yarn in their left hand, I found that working on how to hold the yarn first in the left hand helped me accomplished this knitting style much faster with less frustration. Just like how I first learned to knit three years ago, gauge will come with much practice and a lot of swatch knitting.

Here's my sample from class. Below the black line is my English knitting style. Above the black line is my Continental knitting style.

Why am I learning the Continental way? One, to be able to knit the ribbing pattern or seed stitch pattern quick and easily. Two, be able to knit with two colored yarns. Three and overall, to knit faster.

1 comment:

Sara said...

I taught myself to knit so long ago I don't even remember it, but I must have had a book that showed the continental method, 'cause that's the only way I know how to knit. I've tried English, but it is so slow and purling is a headache. Good luck with your knitting!