Knitting and rant

I have been knitting loads, and even started knitting something for “myself”. You know that cowl start I showed on Friday. I had it all complete except for running out of yarn on the bind off, as usual. So while I was pondering what yarn I might use to finish the bind off I tried it on. And man was it the yuckiest thing! I only have 300 yards of the yarn. So that meant increasing the piece to accommodate my shoulder width left me with less yardage to create length in the body. So it basically was a neck piece and didn’t even start to cover much of my upper body. Ripped really quick with Hubster’s help.

So Saturday dawned a new day and we set off to watch the Beau-In-Law* wrestle at an invitational. These basketball/wrestling/football activities are great for my knitting. I don’t feel any guilt to sit and knit while watching the action. Today’s match gave me 5 hours of knitting. I put it to good use knitting on Honey Cowl using my Jasper yarn.


Although your monitor may show this as dull gray, it actually is olive toned with some gray accents. I need to get a daylight/sunshine photo. This is a little over one skein of 3, so I should probably be able to make it very deep. Hoping the blocking of it will lengthen the loop so it can wrap twice. While knitting it at the match one of our team’s Mom was sitting with us and she kept admiring the color and the knitting. She is dealing with her husband’s very aggressive cancer right now, so I am thinking this might end up with her. Even though I really want to keep it, it’s soooo soft. She needs the pick me up more than I.

<rant > I have been searching new blog reads lately and seem to keep tripping over this age old issue. Continental vs English. If you know me well you will know I have a very strong opinion on this subject. Once upon a time I tried to learn to knit. I took lesson’s from a Spanish woman who owned a local shop. She gave me Angora yarn (trying to make the big bucks) and size 9mm 16″ long needles. She was teaching me to knit a garter st scarf a la continental. I was the BIGGEST FAIL! I could not get a handle on it what so ever. So I gave up. Fast forward to 2000 and I found out my friend was a knitter. I begged for help and she supplied me with Worsted weight wool/cotton blend and US 8mm 10″ long needles. She was an thrower so she taught me English. I knit a Fair Isle baby sweater 6 months later. To say it took would be a huge understatement.

I pondered why I was such a failure before, and not later. Yarn and needles was a big factor. Angora yarn is NOT the first yarn a newbie should touch. But for me, the biggest factor was hand dominance. I am sooo right hand dominant it isn’t funny. I cannot text with my left hand. I cannot open pull tabs with my left hand. My left hand just doesn’t follow my brain’s commands. So for me, trying to strand yarn in my left hand is never going to happen. I have tried again since learning to knit the 2nd time, still can’t do it. I think this is why I absolutely hate to crochet, the yarn is in my left hand.

A few years later I found myself in the teaching seat. I would always tell my students, I am teaching you this way because I am a thrower, but if you have issues, try the other hand holding your yarn. If they were left handed, for sure I would get the yarn in their left hand. I would never teach someone to “knit” left handed because patterns are written for right handers. Some can be reversed, some cannot. Why fight that tide if you don’t have to.

As to the argument, continental is “faster”. Bull. If all things are equal and all you are doing is knitting a St st blanket, sure, some Cont knitters will get across the row faster. But that is only one piece of the puzzle in knitting. Patterns have variations in sts. They have increases, they have decreases. They have many things that chop up your progress. Cont Knitters have a harder time doing a purl**, so once you shake up the st pattern, you negate any speed you have.

But the biggest factor in “faster” is the time you have to commit to knitting. I can produce a lot because I can knit 24/7 if I wanted. I have no outside job, with only 1 kid at home 9 months out of the year, my mom duties are less, I spend more time dealing with the pups than I do my girls at this point. Other than feeding myself, dogs or the rest of the family, I am footloose and fancy free most days. So I can devote a lot of time and energy towards my knitting.

All of this rant to say, if you are a beginner, don’t let someone convince you that you HAVE to knit Cont or Eng. Try both, see what works for you. Don’t let someone tell you that you will knit FASTER if you do Cont. I will say, Cont has better ergonomics and less motion on knit st. So if that is a factor, go for it. But do not give up on knitting if you cannot do it the way you are being taught, try the other method. You might find a better fit for you. <rant />

*Diva Girl’s Boyfriend
** Unless they do Norwegian Purling


14 thoughts on “Knitting and rant

  1. Amen to your rant! I am another Experienced English Knitter and I can’t tell you the number of times someone has tried to “fix” my technique, only to realize that it’s been my technique for FIFTEEN YEARS and it works very well for me, thank you very much.

    It’s also funny to see some people not be able to identify English knitting when they see it done by an experience knitter. I think they have this picture in their mind of slow, plodding movements and dropped yarn, when real throwing is nothing like that!

    1. Amen sister. I can’t tell you how many people marvel at my speed, and I don’t even think about it. My morions are very sparse and concise. I think agility can affect your speed as much as technique.

  2. At the LYS I work at, we’re very, very careful to not recommend projects/yarns beyond the buyer’s experience, especially if they’re a beginner. Oy.

    And the first thing I do when giving a lesson (I do some weird hybrid that is mostly English, lol) is mention I do NOT hold my yarn “right,” but I do what works for me and they’ll figure out what works for them, too.

      1. They really do. The last person I gave a lesson to took off with English (her stitches were beautiful!), then went home and looked up Continental and is practising that as well just so she knows.

  3. I am a left handed crocheter, but a right hand knitter. Speaking as a left handed person, it’s easier for me to hold the yarn in my right hand when I knit (because that is what I do when I crochet), but everyone is different. I learned to crochet on my own, but did a lot of You Tube to learn to knit. I was determined to learn to knit as a right handed person because like you say, if you knit left handed ( or crochet left handed) some patterns will be in reverse.

    Thank you for this post. I have a friend who lives in another state and she went to a yarn shop to learn to knit and said she just could not get it, now I am wondering if they did not start her off the way they did you. I never thought to ask her. I will now!
    Great post. Thanks. 🙂

    1. You’re welcome. I can’t tell you my dismay at not getting knitting. I can do just about any fiber craft you put in front of me. But knitting eluded me. I hope your friend can figure out a method that works for Her.

  4. Good rant, I agree. Referred to this in my latest post but didn’t link in case it is a hot button (as it unfortunately, often is… sort of like crochet vs. knitting… too bad in both cases). By the way, love the yarn pictured, beautiful.

  5. I understand your rant. As a very dominant right handed person, the way you knit makes the best sense for you. Knitting is supposed to be relaxing. The is no one right way to do it.

    That said, as I am a very dominant left handed person, perhaps you can understand that some left handed person might have the same type of issue? I knit left handed. There is nothing wrong with what I make. Yes I have to adjust patterns written for right handed people. It is a right handed world. Us lefties learn to cope. When it comes to doing something that should be relaxing, letting the dominant hand rule makes sense. Perhaps you could have some compassion for the lefties trying to learn knitting and allow them to use their dominant hand? Just a thought.

    1. I don’t think I ever said knitting left handed is bad, I just said the knitting world is set up for Right handed knitters. If you can make the conversions and corrections GREAT! It makes your life easier. But the people I have taught could never have taken a pattern and reversed the directions or adapted from the get go. I felt it was better to get them knitting either holding yarn in left or right hand, than to start them knitting left handed to only tell them they would have to change their pattern directions. My rant was to encourage all to find THEIR comfort zone and not be drawn into only one way to knit. If I didn’t get that point across I apologize. Unfortunately you get the argument from Cont knitters that their way is the “proper” way. Their way is the “faster” way. Their way is the “better” way. I say whatever “way” you hold yarn, execute a stitch, or accomplish the knitting, is the best way.

  6. And I am the opposite….I’ve crocheted since I was a kid…I was about 6 when my grandma taught me….a couple years ago I took a knitting class…she tried to teach me as a thrower…could not figure it out…I’d known this woman for awhile. She was a town librarian who hosted a knit/crochet night at library. When she retired, she opened a yarn shop, but I just could not get it…..but when I watched some videos and saw people holding yarn with their left hand, I tried it…and BAM, it clicked….so whatever works for you….same with teaching the “new” math I have to teach my students…I teach them that way, then the way I learned and told them use which ever way works for you…

    1. I think that if I had not had my experience, I might not have evolved into a teacher who encourages both methods. New Marh, arghhhh! 40 years after I ieatned 4 grade math I started tutoring 4th graders in math. The teacher just told me to teach them anyway I could to get it to take. Yeah, I don’t get new Marh.

  7. You are such a dear! I think it’s so thoughtful of you to give something to the lady. Things like that make such a difference to people in her situation. The care giver doesn’t often get care.

    I actually started out a thrower and changed because of my carpal tunnel, I’m a picker now. But, I do both depending on what I’m working on, sometimes a pattern just calls for throwing at certain places. Neither right nor wrong, just how you are taught.

  8. I am a thrower, too. Although over the years, I have tried without success to learn how to knit continental. Usually the impulse starts after obsessively watching YouTube videos of continental knitters. Love how fluid and efficient it all looks. Hate how clumsy and awkward it actually feels when I attempt it. I have gotten good enough to make a passable looking stockinette fabric, but can’t imaging knitting anything more complicated than that.
    Can’t believe I have never made a honey cowl. Love how that yarn is knitting up.

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