Monday, February 20, 2006

Going Continental

I’ve been knitting a little over two years now. I knit English, meaning I carry the yarn in my right hand and “throw” the yarn around the needle. It’s somewhat slow, but as I’ve said before, speed isn’t the big issue for me. I enjoy the process of knitting and if a project takes weeks to complete, so be it. However, the list of projects I want to do is growing rapidly. Currently, I’ve got the Port Orford sweater sitting at the bottom of my bag, haven’t touched it in weeks; I’ve got The Shawl, it too hasn’t been touched in ages; I’m in the home stretch on the 2nd Opal sock and am alternating knitting on that and knitting on the CC tunic. In the wings I’ve got Eris still waiting for me to make a yarn decision; I found a really cute cardi pattern on Lion Brand and actually have STASH yarn that will work (score!); I have several other patterns who’s names I can’t even remember that were purchased in the last few months, all calling “Knit me”. If I ever hope to knit all the things I want before they are dreadfully out of style, I have got to start knitting faster. Thus, I’ve decided to try (again) to switch to knitting Continental. In Continental knitting, one holds the yarn in their left hand and just uses the tip of the right needle to scoop the stitch. Most people find it much faster than English since you eliminate the whole drop the needle, wrap the stitch, pick up the needle sequence. You just scoop, scoop, scoop along. I’ve tried it before, but found I had problems keeping my tension even. I’m such a tight knitter, the looser tension I get in Continental just seems foreign to me (although this looser tension would probably help me get gauge without having to drop 2-3 needles sizes all the time!) And I am COMPLETELY hopeless purling Continental. However, since the CC tunic is knit in the round, and has miles of stockinette stitch (in the round that means NO PURLS!) I thought it would be a very good practice piece for learning Continental. So far, so good. I’ve done about 5-6 rounds Continental with no discernable change of gauge (this was a big concern since I’ve already knit 5 inches or so English). I’m getting the hang of it and definitely finding it much faster going. I tried Continental briefly on the Opal sock, but it was no good for me on dpns. I couldn’t get my first stitches tight enough to avoid ladders. I’m hoping, by the end of CC, to be pretty proficient in BOTH methods. Once I get the hang of knitting Continental, maybe purling will come easier. Will keep you posted on my progress.

I finally remembered to by some drink mix to dye the “Dye-your-own” yarn I got from Knit Picks awhile back. I would have liked blue, but couldn’t find any. In the end, I chose generic grape. I soaked the yarn in cool water with a cup of white vinegar for about half an hour. Then I dissolved two packs of drink mix in some water. I put the yarn, fresh water to cover, the “dye” and another splash of vinegar in a pot and slowly brought the heat up to just under a boil. Then I took it off the heat, covered the pot and let it sit for about half an hour until all the color was absorbed. I drained the water then let the yarn cool completely before rinsing it in cool water (I was very cautious to avoid felting.) Then I hung the skein over a hanger and let it air dry. The color turned out great, a pale lavender. I only stirred the pot once or twice, just kind of poked the yarn down into the water, so the yarn has a nice mottled look to it. Next time, I will use more drink mix. I found instructions (after I went to the store) that said use a pack of drink mix per 1 ounce of yarn to get a good saturated color. I had just over 3 ounces of yarn. Still, I’m quite happy with how it turned out. I will try to get pics up this week if I can get the camera to cooperate.

Over the weekend I ordered this knitting video to learn to knit socks on two circular needles. Now that I’ve found sock yarn that I actually enjoy knitting with, I’m all for learning new techniques. It’s on sale at here and here if you are interested. I also ordered some Lion Brand Magic Stripes in Lumberjack. It’s described as sport weight, so it shouldn’t be too fine. Meanwhile, I’m trying to find plain, solid fingering yarn to double strand with the sock yarns I bought last fall so I can get them knitted up. Knit Picks Palette has lots of good choices so I should be able to find matches there.


tatt3r said...

Good luck with changing to Continental style knitting! I also had trouble getting the purl stitch up to speed. I had someone suggest to me that I should knit a garter stitch scarf, but purl every stitch, rather than knit every stitch. Just make sure you don't learn the 'lazy' purl and twist your stitches.

Anonymous said...

I learned to knit English and quickly changed to Continental. (I couldn't find anyone that taught Continental!) I do the knit stitch in Continental, but to get even stitches I actually purl English. I don't like purling Continental, and I find purling English is just as fast for me. I do purl Continental when doing ribbing. But otherwise it messes with my stitches not being even.

There are lots of tutorials on the internet for doing the "Magic Loop" method of sock knitting. I looked at them for weeks and just didn't get it - but once I picked up the yarn and needles and just tried it, it turned out to be *really* easy! I love, love, love knitting socks that way, and it is a handy technique to know for knitting other things like sleeves and hats - that way I don't have to worry about having the right needles. I just Magic Loop everything!

Let me know if you try it and have questions - I would be happy to try to answer them!