Thursday, November 3, 2016

Learning a Different Way to Knit

I taught myself how to crochet when I was ten or eleven years old.  Bought a book, followed the instructions and illustrations, and practiced a lot.  Learned to knit shortly thereafter, using the same book.



Since I taught myself and didn't have anyone to show me, I don't knit the way most other people do.  I hold the yarn in my left hand (exactly like I do when I'm crocheting) and I could never make the switch to the American-style knitting where yarn is in the right hand.  Whenever I'm knitting somewhere where other people can watch, it's not unusual for someone to tell me that I knit funny.  I do, but that's okay.  My knit items look exactly the same as anyone else's.

Winnie's Tiny Dog Sweater.  Pattern is HERE.


Last weekend, I was at a conference and I spotted a woman knitting during one of the presentations.  She was sitting nearby at lunch, I asked her what she was making.  Our conversation led to the different styles of knitting, and I told her that I knit different than any established style.  She then said, "Since your yarn is already in your left hand, why don't you try to knit Continental Style?"

OMG!!!!  This was such a simple observation on her part, and it was huge for me!  When I got home the next day, I headed straight for YouTube and found SO many helpful videos.  This one was my favorite.




It was a slow go at first.  Frustrating, with quite a few dropped stitches, as I tried to get better at inserting the needle in a different spot in the stitches to pick up the yarn with my right needle instead of throwing it with my whole hand.  Even in this awkward beginner stage, Continental style knitting was proving to be significantly faster than the way I used to do it.  As practice, I am making a mitered-square afghan using instructions in THIS pattern.  (But I'm using regular knitting needles instead of the double-pointed needles called for in the instructions.)

Working on the second square, attached to the first one.


Knitting garter stitch, row after row, is great practice and I'm pleased to say that I'm getting more proficient and I'm having to think less and less about each individual stitch.  I like this pattern because I'm only working on one square at a time, and squares are joined together as I go.

Winnie likes to sit under the pile of knitting in my lap.


I am keeping a pace to finish one square on the afghan every evening, which gives me clear evidence of progress, almost instant gratification, and keeps me motivated to continue to the finish ... which I imagine will be some time after the first of the year.

After more than forty years of knitting my old way, it feels awesome to learn a better way to do it!

18 comments:

  1. Everytime I near the end of a project, I tell myself to take some time to learn to be a picker instead of a thrower before moving on to the next iten up for knitting. I have yet to honor that pledge to myself. I try. I do. I just can never get the tension held tight enough using my left hand. Perhaps I will try again with your inspiration. Maybe.

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    1. I can’t imagine that I would have bothered to try to learn a new way of knitting if that meant moving the yarn to my other hand. Too many decades of muscle memory to overcome to make that worth the effort, IMO. The things you knit are incredibly intricate and gorgeous … why mess with success. (For those who see this and don't read Joan's blog, take a second and go see the shawl that she made to go with her daughter-in-law's wedding dress. It's incredible! http://marmepurl.blogspot.com/2016/11/that-shawl.html )

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  2. I have never had the patience to teach myself how to knit. You've piqued my interested. Hmm... old dog? a new trick?

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    1. Ahhhh, I can see it now ... you, on your new patio overlooking the ocean, peacefully knitting and watching the waves. :)

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  3. Connie - I learned to crochet using that book when I was about 12 years old! I recognized that cover the minute I saw it, of course. Learned to knit too from it, actually, but I never got as comfortable knitting as I did crochet. Isn't it incredible the things you can learn on YouTube? I love that. Recently sharpened the pruners using a YouTube video. Saves a lot of time and it always helps me to see somebody actually doing something. How's Winnie doing these days?

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    1. YouTube is the BEST!! Someone, somewhere, has thought to upload a video about everything on earth, and I am grateful for each of them.

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  4. I recognize the cover of this little booklet also. My step-grannie taught me how to crochet when I was 15, a neighbor showed me how to knit when I was 10, but my tension was very tight and and I dropped stitches, I lost interest. I didn't pick up knitting again until I was 20, as a newlywed living in Spain. Another Navy wife, who lived across the hall showed me how. I enjoy doing both.

    I can't figure out how you and this lady are knitting holding the thread like that. I've never heard of the continental stitch either. Live and learn.

    Happy Knitting ~ I think it's neat that you are knitting a square a day. Good for you.

    FlowerLady

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    1. My mom knits, but she is left handed. I tried and tried to learn by watching her ... never could do it. Teaching myself was my only option.

      For me, holding the yarn is exactly the same both with crochet and knitting. I vaguely remember watching Italian women knit Continental style when we lived in Italy when I was a child. They would tuck the left needle underneath their arm, and they knit so fast. My left needle rests in my lap, because I could never get the hang of holding it up while I work.

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  5. I have never been any good at yarn crafts. :(

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    1. That's because you're good at other things. :)

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  6. Hello, I taught myself to crochet and knit too. I also hold mine the same. I never could go as fast in knitting as crochet so I have always preferred crochet, but have always envied knitted sweaters. I will check out the Continental style this winter and see if I can make better progress. Thanks for this post. Rita

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    1. Since you're already accustomed to handling and tensioning the yarn with your left hand, knitting Continental style should be good for you. It takes practice. My worst problem has been missing the spot in each stitch where I'm supposed to insert the right needle, and accidentally going behind the stitch instead of through it. This is what caused the dropped stitches. I wish you the best of luck with this.

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  7. I've heard Continental is far faster than the English way of throwing the yarn, which is what I do. I did try to switch once and learn Continental, but I think I'm far too old of a dog to learn a new trick! I love the colour of your afghan. I hope you get to keep it when it's done and Winnie doesn't confiscate it. :)

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    1. I don't see an advantage for you to try to switch to Continental. Your knitting is beautiful!

      You're right to be concerned about Winnie confiscating my afghan. As long as I don't leave it unattended on the sofa (which is the only furniture she can access via her steps) we will be good. Fortunately, she already has her own snuggly blanket to use as a nest.

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  8. I don't know how to knit.
    I sort of know how to do a little bit of crochet and I'm not even sure how I know that.
    A little bit means I can crochet a rope....
    I know knitting is supposed to be soothing but I think it's maddening to even read the instructions.
    I also have the problem of being left-handed as far as writing and drawing but almost everything else I do right-handed
    so it gets confusing for my brain.
    And, if I have any down time, I feel like I should be drawing or painting something.

    Good Luck with your afghan!
    xoxoxo

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    1. I tried to teach my mom how to crochet. It didn't go well.

      You do things like our oldest daughter does. She eats and writes with her left hand, and does many other things right-handed. I can understand how it could be a weighty decision when you're learning a new skill.

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  9. I, too, recognize that old booklet! I knit incorrectly, perhaps like your original way? I haven't knit for many years but did make many sweaters and things for my children when they were young. I would like to knit some cute sweaters for my two Chihuahuas!

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  10. I recognize that book. I just purchased one recently at a resale shop. :)

    I crochet too. And when I was practicing knitting (still don't call myself a knitter) that was what I was doing. The lovely person teaching me said that was great--and was a a great way to knit for me. Then later, I was working with another knitter, and she told me I was doing it all wrong! Phooey! I ended that season asap. We are just Continental girls. :D

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