Faster Continental Knitting

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When I first learned to knit, I had a certain, shall we say, haphazard style. I was completely self-taught, and not in a “I watched a video on YouTube” kind of way. I had no idea what this “gauge” thing was or why it was important. My first sweater was knit using acrylic baby yarn held double, because that’s close enough to the bulky yarn the pattern called for, right? (Pro tip: No. It’s not even close.) I only knew one decrease, so any shaping was done with a k2tog. I also didn’t know there was  “right” and “wrong” way to wrap the yarn when you purl, so on every other row, my stitches were twisted. However, like in so many situations, enthusiasm conquered all.

It wasn’t until I spent a semester abroad that I really began expanding my knitting horizons. I had an unexpected amount of free time on my hands, and, killing time in a computer lab, I typed “knitting” into a search bar. Great googily moogily. My eyes were opened–free patterns online! Patterns that weren’t published in 1986! I began to hang out in the online forums, and learned about things like the magical ssk decrease. I experimented with wrapping the yarn different ways and weighed the pros and cons of wrapping it “correctly” versus knitting through the back loop to prevent twisted stitches. Then came the real doozy: In a discussion, someone made the offhand remark, “I mean, it’s not like you drop the yarn after every stitch when you knit English.” I thought, “You don’t…?”

For so many of you, this is an obvious statement. For me, it was a revelation. I had been knitting English, but not at all efficiently. I never got the hang of  tensioning with my right hand, so I picked up the yarn, knit a stitch, dropped the yarn, picked up the yarn, etc. So again, I spent an evening trying to master the art of holding the yarn in my right hand with mixed success. Then I tried changing to Continental knitting style, holding the yarn in my left hand. For some reason, it clicked. I didn’t have to drop the yarn after every stitch, and my stitches seemed more even as well. I knit faster too! I’ve been a Continental knitter ever since.

I’m curious how many people have similar stories. How do you knit? Is it the way you were originally taught, or have you picked up a better method along the way?

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