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.
- 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.
- Live on the edge - keep the stitches on both needles as close to the needle tips as possible to minimise exessive movement.
- 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.
- 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.
- Relax - tension in your neck and shoulders can impede muscle movement and slow you down.