Friday, 30 August 2013

FO, but slow

So this didn't exactly turn into the high-speed Hitchhiker that I had hoped for.

I persevered with the Continental technique, I really did but after about halfway through the shawl there was no discernable increase in speed and I was finding it pretty hard going to be honest. It isn't that I can't knit with the yarn in my left hand. I can and I can keep a fairly even tension too, but it just doesn't seem any quicker.

And yes, I was sad enough to time myself too, before you ask.

In the course of my internet reading though I did come across several links to Lever Knitting, also known as Irish Cottage Knitting. This method is espoused by The Yarn Harlot no less, so I did give it a go and found it to be a little more intuitive and natural-feeling than the Continental style. I guess I am a born thrower, and having the yarn in my right hand just feels 'right'

I did also come across several hints and tips for faster or more ergonminc knitting. Some of them I think I knew already or instinctively use but I thought I would share them with you anyway.

  1. Power loading (again, a la The Yarn Harlot)- sounds scary but it just means to scrunch up your left hand stitches up as close to the needle tip as possible.
  2. Live on the edge - keep the stitches on both needles as close to the needle tips as possible to minimise exessive movement.
  3. Don't re-tension - once you have the yarn tensioned comfortably try to ensure you have enough yarn for your row or round, reducing the need to stop and re-tension your yarn.
  4. Practice - any new technique should be practised for at least 20hrs, giving time for your brain to learn all the subtle micro movements needed and develop that muscle memory.
  5. Relax - tension in your neck and shoulders can impede muscle movement and slow you down.
More details about the shawl are on my ravelry page in case you are interested.


  1. Interesting post. I've tried to knit Continental but to me, even though I crochet, holding the yarn in my left hand for knitting is just plain weird. I also can't seem to tension it properly either.

    Maybe I've been knitting too long as a thrower. I guess 40 years of throwing is hard to break.

  2. Thank you. I can do basic crochet so I think that is why I can tension the yarn OK but as you say it just 'feels right' the other way round. It's good to be able to alternate different techniques and avoid RSI but I think that the way you are first taught is bound to feel more comfortable. We are creatures of habit after all.

  3. I am a very tight knitter and continental is good for loosening me up - i learnt it when knitting the maze as it is super fast as long as i don't try and purl - they just went haywire.