A blog where families who love and live the Catholic Faith can share, encourage and support each other.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Continental Knitting or Confessions of a Knitting Numbskull

By Vicky

Since I started to blog, a few months ago, I've noticed that many fellow Catholics - and homeschoolers, in particular - share my love for home crafts and the arts. I've found that the blogging world is full of inspiring photos, ideas and directions for a wide array of different projects, and blogging, itself, is often a very creative and inspiring activity. Though I enjoy using modern technology, it is the old, traditional crafts and vintage styles which appeal to me the most. This is, probably, because of the deeply satisfying and relaxing nature of these highly skilled occupations, which, generally, result in practical objects of timeless beauty. Though I am far from being an expert, I enjoy smocking, knitting, gardening and cooking; and I am always excited to discover new crafts or techniques, and to learn new skills.

At the moment, I am working, rather laboriously, on a knitted jumper for my 5 year old son, Joel. It has taken me a whole month just to finish the back section of this garment because my knitting skills are primitive, to say the least. I used to watch my mother and grandmother knit, when I was a child, and I remember being amazed at the speed at which the wool passed through their needles. Their fingers would fly so quickly that they would seem as a blur to my eyes. Unfortunately, though I learnt how to knit, I didn't acquire the correct technique that they used to such great effect. As a result, whenever I knit, my arms swirl around in a big, circular motion and my fingers struggle to control the yarn in a tragic display of wasted energy. To a skilled and seasoned knitter, it would prove a most painful sight!

For years now, I have persevered with this unique and highly inefficient practice and, despite my snail-pace progress, I have managed to produce a few useful and attractive jumpers of which I am, more than justifiably, proud. I, probably, would have continued in this manner indefinitely, knitting only small-sized outfits which often grow more slowly than their intended recipient, and restricting my knitting ambitions to the limits of my feeble skills, if I hadn't discovered a new way of knitting. Yes, an easy and super-efficient method exists for hitherto knitting numbskulls! It's called Continental or left-handed knitting, and it used to be quite popular, before the Second World War.
The YouTube video above explains the differences between English knitting and this superior technique, which is preferred by most professional knitters. Basically, the biggest difference is that the yarn is held in the left hand and slipped over the needles, when using the Continental method. This makes for a much quicker and smoother motion as, instead of throwing the yarn, the yarn is simply caught up in the natural movement of the needles.

I have a long way to go before I perfect the method - my habits are long-ingrained and it takes time to become competent in a new skill - but, at least, I can see a future beyond baby bootees and doll's blankets, now. Who knows? Maybe, one day, I might surprise my husband with an oversized fishing jumper for his birthday!!

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