I took a break from reading Knitting Without Tears, for the Canary Knits Knitting Book Read-a-Long, until I put at least one thing I learned into practice. That thing was learning to knit continental. The Ease pullover is my experimental continental sweater. Thank goodness it’s worsted and not lace weight.
Continental is Elizabeth’s knitting method of choice and seems to be a favorite of people who get things made quickly. I was hoping it would help me get control of my crazy, loose gauge and maybe give me a bit more speed.
In her book, Elizabeth says she a slowish knitter, making about 50 stitches a minute. I was curious where I fell, in terms of knitting speed, so I timed myself, too. I’m super slow, apparently, getting maybe 34 stitches per minute. I did better when I quit looking at the work and watched tv, which makes me think overthinking my speed trips me up. You know, like when you realize someone is watching you eat and suddenly you can’t get your fork into your mouth correctly?
So continental is where the yarn is on the left side of me and runs over my left forefinger, which is also holding my right needle in place.
I then quickly bring the tip of the right needle under the yarn and to the left to pull it through the stitch on the left needle in one hooking motion.
My hands never leave the needles and it really does move faster than knitting in English style.
With English, below, I let my right hand carry the yarn and throw it over the right needle from back to front. If you’ll notice in the photo below, my right hand has to leave the right needle for a second to throw the yarn. That’s part of the speed problem and I think my fingers and wrist get overworked and compensate by ever loosening their tension, hence my loose gauge.
When knitting continental, I can easily knit too tightly without trying. Guys, I’m using a size 5 needle in a worsted weight sweater! That never happens anymore. I feel like real people again!
If I have a hard time continuing in continental, sbnyc (ravelry name) in the SSKAL group recommended flicking. It’s a bit of a combo style. The right hand carries the yarn, but never leaves the needle to throw it. If I hadn’t already decided to experiment with continental, I probably would have stuck with flicking.
The real trick to continental is purling. I’m still doing that like I’m in rehab. I can’t make my fingers do what I want them to do. And it’s very, very slow. This isn’t really problem on this sweater because it’s mostly worked in the round, but on my Featherweight it’s killing me. Then, as if on cue, Webs posted a video of this speed purl method that may be worth a try. I’ve been focusing on my Ease, so I haven’t had a chance to really try it, but it looks promising.