Continental Knitting-How I learned that I was knitting wrong

Left hand ready to knit

Being left-handed, I have spent most of my life doing physical activities “the opposite way” since most people are right-handed. My mother tried knitting left handed to help me overcome that hurdle, without success. Instead, I picked up a set of yellow plastic knitting needles and a horrid cone of  acrylic yarn (I cringe at the thought) while shopping with a friend when I was about 11 years old and just started  knitting. It turned out that I knit like my mother.

I always thought that I knit continental style. That said, I found that some modifications were needed so that my decreases slanted correctly. As a result, I found charts much easier to follow than text instructions.

Fast forward–while looking for a new sweater pattern, I found one that required a traveling stitch. After reading the instructions, I realized that I couldn’t do it with my usual switches.

So I turned to my new set of Barbara Walker stitch dictionaries for insight. In the introduction to the second book, Barbara Walker states that the stitch patterns should be able to be made regardless of how one knits, throwing or picking. In fact, she was a continental knitter (i.e. picker). This was a light bulb moment for me. I realized that I should be able to do these stitches without any modifications!

Barbara Walker is very specific that the issue is how one does the purl stitch since this makes a difference in how the stitch is mounted on the needle. This made sense to me since when I’ve helped friends with their knitting they have a difficult time knitting the stitches that I have “fixed”.

Once this sunk in, I searched for instructional knitting videos for knitting the purl stitch continental style. It took multiple viewings to get the hang of the stitch since it means scooping the yarn up with a different motion. (And I have given up on how they hold the yarn since it was too much to change at one time.) The result is that my knitting is looking better, particularly my stocking knit stitch. Of course, it’s slowed me down significantly but I am hoping that I will get my speed back.

Here’s the video:

Now when I follow written directions my stitches turn out the way that they are intended. No more switching stitches for this knitter!

Submitted by Knitted Yarns Editor-in-Chief

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