Going continental

I’ve been knitting on and off (mostly off) for a few years now and, while I have enjoyed it I never really got into it this year. In the past I’ve only knitted scarves in very simple patterns. In fact, the most complicated knit I’ve attempted is the stockinette stitch and knitting a two-colour striped scarf. Neither of these are actually complicated at all.

Earlier this year I tried my hand at something new – mittens. And I discovered that knitting a proper pattern for something more exciting than a simple scarf is tremendously fun. Because of this, I now own more knitting needles than I’m sure I’ll ever use and am planning new projects even though I’m just over halfway through with my current knitting project. So, with all of these ideas in my head for knitting things I decided that I need to learn a faster method. This is how I discovered continental knitting.

So far, I’ve been a right hand knitter. I’d always dismissed left handed knitting as something for left handers. How very wrong I was! While I’ve only been knitting in the continental or left handed style for a week now, and still haven’t mastered it, it’s easy to see how this method speeds up the process. I won’t bother explaining how it works – there are a vast number of infinitely more experienced people out there who can explain and demonstrate it better than me. But there is just one thing I’ve realised that has helped me (begin to) master this method.

When I switch a task from my right hand to my left hand, I often find that I do things the wrong way around. Instead of turning my combination lock clockwise I’ll turn it anti-clockwise, that sort of thing. When knitting right handed I never really paid attention to which way the yarn was looped around the needle and so mistakenly started looping it the other way around when I started learning left handed knitting. This, of course, caused problems so I had to go online a couple of times to remind myself of the correct way. I’d look at a tutorial, think I had it memorised again, and 5 minutes later be repeating my original mistake. Pretty much all of the instructions I looked at used wording along the lines of ‘bring the yarn around the back of the needle to the front’. I’d get confused because you can do that coming from the left or from the right and only from one direction is it correct.

Anyway, it didn’t take me too long to figure out how to remember the right way to go. The yarn always goes around the needle in an anti-clockwise direction. Once I realised this, I ceased to make that error again.

Now if only I could find a trick to maintaining tension…


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