A little more history on knitting. It used to be accomplished with one stick held stationary; in the crook of an arm or knee, while the other did most of the motion. It was fast! When upper class women started knitting, the method changed to use two hands. This was to specifically to slow it down; the act itself was supposed to be a fine art and consuming all the artist’s attention.
There are tons of variations on ways to knit. The most common two-handed methods are English (also called Throwing) and Continental (also called Picking or German knitting). Portuguese knitting (Pin) is also very popular, especially among knitters with hand problems such as repetitive stress syndrome, carpal tunnel syndrome, or tendinitis. I have also listed them here in order starting with the slowest.
I started out with English. It is very easy for beginners to see the mechanics of this technique. In the picture below, you can see the working yarn on the left (top yarn). In the English method, it is held along with the right needle in the right hand. To wrap the yarn around the needle, you grip the yarn in your right hand and guide it around the right needle. It involves a lot of hand and wrist movement.
Many experienced knitters that I knew or learned from used Continental and could knit much faster than me. I tried it off and on for years. I failed many, many times to get as even of a fabric and it was always much, much slower than what I was used to.
Fast forward to when I started getting tendinitis and I’ve been a lot more open to trying different things in knitting. Anything that doesn’t cause more pain. Anything to switch it up. I picked up Portuguese knitting, but Continental still didn’t click.
Until I went abroad. I used a lot of public transit and knit on the buses and trains. For some reason, void of stress perhaps, I just got it.
The below photos show how the yarn is held in Continental knitting. The left shows the working yarn held on the left forefinger. The right hand maneuvers the the right needle to slide against the finger and pull the yarn through the stitch. It is a fluid movement that flows right after inserting the needle into the stitch. The right photo shows how I’ve figured out how to maintain the yarn tension using the pinkie as an anchor. Others may have a different yarn holding technique, but this is what I’ve found that works.
I started a hat in Sweden with Swedish spun yarn made from Swedish sheep. (Gotta love supporting local small businesses!) I chose to go for a play on words and call it the Inter-Continental hat. I used the moss stitch background to practice the method. I decided to have faux cables with a wrapped stitch to symbolize how we (the worldly humanity type of “we”) are tied together, even if we don’t touch or cross cultures.
What about you?
What have you struggled to learn? How did you finally master it?
How do you celebrate different cultures?