Last year about this time I set out to celebrate Elizabeth Zimmerman’s 100th birthday. In my quest to appropriately celebrate EZ and her contribution to the knitting community, I decided it was time for me to learn how to knit Continental. Continental knitting is where you hold the yarn in your left hand and “pick” stitches instead of wrapping the yarn around with your right hand as is done in the English method. Often times people consider the Continental method to be quicker than the English method. However let me remind you that it is only quicker about 6 months after learning and you are comfortable with the new method. The first few months I was knitting at a snail’s pace.
I have to admit being an Eastern Style knitter (right leg of your stitch in back) learning Continental method was going to be interesting. Picking up the knit stitch with Continental was realtively easy. Not a whole lot of issues there. It was the purl stitch that was going to keep me on my toes.
Since the Western purl stitch has you wrapping your yarn counterclockwise and I wrap mine clockwise with Eastern, I had to come up with something different. I started looking all over online for something I could adapt my purl stitch with. If I did it like all the books said, I kept creating twisted stitches, so there began the epic quest for finding a different way to purl.
I started Googling all things with “Continental Knitting through the back loop” etc. Here’s a video that I found really helpful. It does in fact show how I purl with my stitches seated differently on the needles. It is basically a variation on the Norwegian Purl that is popular for people doing a lot of ribbing. It prevents you from having to move the yarn to the front of the work to create the purl stitch.
I have also found in the last year since learning to knit Continental that my tension is much more even than it ever was when using the English method. This creates for much better gauge swatches and when doing ribbing, it looks more even.
Hopefully this will encourage you to take a closer look at your knitting and maybe learn a new technique this next year.
Since it is WIP Wednesday, don’t forget to head over to Tami’s Amis blog to check out other cool WIPs!