This past Saturday I attempted to learn how to knit continental style.
Now the word “Continental” inspires romantic visions of sophistication and elegance in my mind. This could possibly be due to the fact that I was raised in the wilds of Kansas. Continental knitting it turns out has nothing to do with elegance, at least not in my hands.
Knitting is not really my talent. I can sort of knit using the English style, where one “throws” the yarn. I generally need to have an illustrated knitting book open for prompting each step.
After a bit I am zipping along with basic knit and purl stitches (which is about the time I get in trouble with unintended increases or decreases). I have even been known to make a square that has a close resemblance to a flat four-sided object with 90 degree corners (sometimes by a judicious application of force to reshape the wonky).
I’ve been crocheting for nearly 40 years, so it has been a very long while since I was at the “just learning” stage. I am discovering in my knitting adventures that I am at the very beginning, in fact at times I wonder if I am in some twilight region that precedes the beginning.
Being I am a brave and adventurous soul I decided I wanted to get better at knitting. Many knitters, that also crochet, had promised me that knitting continental style is much easier to learn since you hold the yarn similar to crochet. This sounded good to me, though possibly I was simply delusional.
I made plans with a friend that I see at The Lamb Shoppe’s monthly Pajama Jam to teach me how to knit continental style. My ambitious idea being that I would make a hat for another friend’s soon to arrive baby.
I had packed a few sizes of needles from my meager stash of knitting accoutrement into my project bag for the evening. It was decided after a confab that I would use my Size 7 needles and worsted weight yarn knitted flat then seamed to construct the hat.
Being I did not have a yarn with me that would fit the bill, and was fortuitously in a yarn shop at the moment, it was time for yarn shopping. For once I did not dilly dally at this most wonderful of errands and quickly decided on Cascade 220 Superwash Paints in the lovely Tropical Seas colorway.
I then cast-on using my crochet hook (I was informed that what I was doing was considered a provisional cast-on, but it would work) and began to knit my first ever swatch continental style. It took a bit of time, but I eventually was working at a steady clip with knit stitches and accomplished a few rows of garter stitch.
Some of my friends at the table with me were highly entertained at my method of knitting. One went so far to say that I was crocheting my knitting. I replied that it was perfectly sensible that I would as I am a crochet designer. I was beginning to feel fairly happy with my knitting progress, when I was told it was time to learn to purl.
Hmmmm, another word with mental picture issues. In my mind (and experience) pearls are iridescent lovely gems, and though the word “purl” in knitting sounds similar this stitch is certainly no gem. When my helper told me that purling isn’t anything to be afraid of I knew I was in serious trouble.
My rows of knit stitch had only taken me about 40 minutes. 2 hours after I had started my first row of purling I finally finished it. Let’s just say now that my friend’s baby is likely to be in kindergarten before I get a hat knit (I may be whipping up a crochet one just in case).
3 thoughts on “The Continental Divide”
I’m also a crocheter who has recently begun learning to knit. I found purling to be very, very hard until I learned the Norwegian purling method. Combined with Continental knitting for the knit stitch it works really smoothly for me.
English-style knitters think Norwegian purling looks terribly wrong, and it does seem like you’re making the stitch backwards at first. But the big advantage I see is that the yarn stays in the same position for both stitches…there’s no need to keep flipping in to the front when you are going to purl.
I had to watch Youtube videos of Norwegian purling over and over with my knitting in my hand to learn how to do it…but it was well worth the time.
Thank you for this tip. I will definitely go search on Youtube for some videos.
I love the yarn–and appreciate your efforts at knitting!! If you do circular knitting you never have to purl, you know!! I’ll be your guinea pig for some advanced crochet techniques sometime just so you won’t feel un-coordinated. I still can’t make a crocheted square that doesn’t turn into a triangle, unless I do a granny square!