Continental Knitting – the how and why! Workshop 5th April

IMG_6615I learned to knit when I was a little girl and worked my way up from a scarf for teddy to jumpers in quite a short period of time. I was taught the English style of knitting – sometimes called ‘throwing’ and in fact I didn’t know there were any other styles until a few years ago when the internet told me about them. As well as the more usual Continental style knitting, there’s also Portuguese knitting, where the yarn is looped round the neck or passed through a lapel pin and both of these styles involve the left hand in most of the work of manoeuvring the yarn round the needles. Tricky if you aren’t left-handed! and actually tricky if you are (I am) and it still wasn’t easy.

So why bother with Continental style? I must admit I asked myself the same question but then a few years ago an extended bout of texting my husband when we had a family crisis – he was in Thailand and it was the only way I could contact him – caused me to have tendonitis in both thumbs. I did continue knitting but thought it would be good to be able to switch styles to save wear and tear on my hands.I tried to teach myself Continental knitting but just couldn’t master how to handle the yarn and eventually gave up in disgust.

Fast-forward a few years and I had another go, this time with success. I found the technique seriously interesting – much more economical with movement but hard to get my left hand to play nicely,particularly when purling which seemed to require a level of dexterity in my left index finger which I didn’t have. However in the end I found that practicing little and often won the day. Rather than spend a couple of hours wrestling every so often I set up a new project, declared it was going to be knit using Continental style throughout and I just did a few rows every day and eventually it became easier until I could actually do it! I’m still not quite as fast at it as I would like to be but I find myself picking the yarn up in my left hand instead of my right quite frequently and it doesn’t feel odd any more.

Then over Christmas I managed to give myself a seriously nasty knife wound (moral of story: if you have new knives, don’t play fast and loose with carving) and so I then had a go at Portuguese knitting as I couldn’t use my left index finger. An old friend told me she had found it much easier on her arthritic hands than standard English style. The ‘looped round neck’ thing with the yarn makes you REALLY look like a Crazy Knitting Lady but as long as you don’t mind that (and why should you? it’s probably the truth as far as I’m concerned) it’s really very easy. The purl stitch is easier to master than the knit, which is the opposite way round to how it usually is – you just use your thumb to flick the yarn and so the effort and movement required is minimal. The knit stitch is a bit weird and slightly counter-intuitive but I didn’t find it too difficult. Even the yarn-round-neck can be improved by buying the aforementioned lapel pin.

So if you fancy having a go at Continental or Portuguese knitting, come along to our workshop and spend the day learning how in the company of like-minded knitters. I will be teaching and helping and Karen will be cooking her fantastic cakes and lunch for us all to devour. It promises to be a good session and with any luck, the next time you slice your finger off cutting up some turkey, you won’t be prevented from knitting!

About Author: wildt_acc

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