Pick a Little, Knit a Little
Are you a picker or a thrower?
Pickers hold their yarn in their left hand, using the right-hand needle to pick it through the loop to make a stitch, a technique known as continental knitting. Throwers hold their yarn in their right hands and wrap it (or throw it) around the right-hand needle, also known as English knitting.
I was a thrower when I started knitting, and I was perfectly happy with my technique, until I tried knitting a seed stitch scarf. Moving the yarn from front to back for every other stitch was such a pain! (The same went for ribbing, but I didn't usually have to do that for more than a couple of inches.)
For seed stitch, you do a row of K1, P1, and then you knit the purls and purl the knits from the previous row throughout the entire project. (This stitch lays flat—no stockinette curling on the edges—so it's really great for scarves, too.)
So I decided that I would try the picking technique, which most of my knitting friends used. They said that seed stitch and ribbing was no big deal.
I went to my LYS and asked the ladies there to teach me how to pick. They did, and at first I felt all-thumbs, it was so awkward! But I kept at it, knitting swatches just using the picking technique and the knit stitch.
When I got comfortable with the knit stitch, I practiced the purl stitch. And practiced, and practiced. When I was comfortable knitting and purling, I tackled that seed stitch scarf. No problem. It's really much more efficient to pick when you're knitting seed stitch or ribbing (or anything else!) I'm a convert.
Here's a video tutorial I made for you to show you my picking technique and how I move the yarn back and forth to do seed stitch. I'll admit that this isn't the best quality video, but you'll see how easy it is to manipulate the yarn when you knit continental style.
For much more instruction on continental knitting, check out our video workshop, Continental Knitting with Biggan Ryd-Dups.
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Biggan is a Swedish designer and teacher who specializes in dramatic colorwork designs. Every time I've seen Biggan, she's wearing a fabulous colorful design of her own. Just amazing!