Friday, November 19, 2010

Doing the Continental.....

Many moons ago when the earth was young and knitting was done with rib bones and whatever material we could make into string, I learned to knit using the English method. I am a lefty and my poor gran almost collapsed from exhaustion while trying to teach me - we finally settled on her teaching me to quilt and decided to leave the knitting lessons to someone else.

One of my earliest memories is when I am about 3-4 years old and finding a skein of red yarn and two red needles and instruction book in my mother's closet. Apparently at some point in her life, she had tried to learn to knit - gave up and stuffed those lovely red needles and yarn away into the land of forgotten pastimes. When I found them I was so intrigued, I wanted to do this thing called knitting. As mother could not teach me and I could not read more than a few words - I had no idea how to proceed. That did not keep me from trying. I would sit and make the motions that I had seen other knitters make - click click, click click..... (no yarn involved at this stage.) Then time would pass and I would pull out my treasure and try wrapping the yarn around the needles - striving to figure out this mysterious act of making cloth with sticks and string.

Then when I was about 5 my granny taught me to crochet. Cool - I could do something with yarn and a funny hooked stick. Yeah!!! However, it was not knitting - so when my gran gave up I was broken hearted. As the years rolled by, I became quite proficient at crochet - I taught, I designed, but I was never quite satisfied. I wanted to knit!!!!

I finally signed up for lessons - I had asked the teacher in advance if she could teach a lefty (I had been turned down by many others so I was not expecting great things.) I was told that teaching a left-handed individual was no more difficult than teaching a right-handed individual. Cool!!! I no longer had the original red yarn of my mother's, but I had the needles (size US 8's apparently.) I took those ruby red jewels, bought a new skein of better quality red yarn and went to class. Oh my, oh dear, perhaps it was harder to teach lefty. The method was Continental. The other six people in the class were happily, "getting it." I was making knots! Knots, knots, more knots. At first the instructor thought it was from being a crocheter. Shock, horror - why hadn't I said I was a crocheter (said in a hushed appalled voice.) Honestly, I didn't think it would matter, if anything I thought I'd have a leg up, I could already use yarn in some way. Well, I might as well have worn a big red "C" on my chest. I was marked!!! I am sure that I noticed the other students scooting their chairs back from the table just a little. Let's give the "crocheter" some room.... I could feel it. I felt like I had been shunned. Thank goodness, the instructor decided that I could stay and she would work more closely with me and see what habits I had to unlearn - honestly!! For all of my fellow brothers and sisters of the hook - I say show your hooker pride and don't let anyone shun you for your chosen art form!!!! Here's to Hooker Pride!!! Hurrah!!!

Well, it was decided that it could have been my handedness or my crocheting, but something was causing me to knot, not knit. The instructor finally gave in and said she would try one more method with me - the English method. I was a natural English throwing , knitter. I WAS A KNITTER!!!!!! Hurrah!!!!

It has been many, many years since that epiphany and I have never really thought to much about methods. Oh I know hat there is a secret war going on between the Continental and English camps. There is probably a little shunning in the background as well, but they seem to keep everything on a civil footing. When I teach, I show a video of the Continental and then teach the English method. I have been assured from those lessons years ago that I would never be able to knit the Continental, so I have never tried on my own. Until now...... (hee hee hee.)

I've always loved a good challenge and the muse has put the idea in my head that I should give this other method a go. She keeps saying it's faster, easier, blah, blah, blah.... And then she planted the bomb...This morning I sat down with my coffee to watch an episode of "Knitty Gritty" from the DIY channel. The program is no longer airing new episodes, but I am recording the old ones for myself. And it just so happened the the episode I  watched this morning had a woman showing her project and she was doing the Continental. SLOWLY..... In fact her demo was at a pace in which I could see exactly what she was doing. I thought, ok grab the sticks and give a try. See what happens, no one needs to know. Well, I be danged, it may not be pretty, it may not be right good, but I'm doing the Continental, baby!!!! Me the former "crocheter." And to top it off, I even purled. OMG!!!! Yes, I am doing the knitty dance. Not because I can do this method, but because I figured it out and proved to myself that I can do anything - I may have to do it my way, but I'll get there.

Even though this felt like I had never held the sacred sticks before in my life and my working yarn keeps falling off my fingers, I'm getting there. Practice, that's all it takes. I may never switch over to this method completely, but who knows. For now I will knit a little each day in a new color in order to check my progress and we'll see how it goes. I'll throw in a picture now and again so that you can follow along. I think I will make it my 2011 knitting challenge. Then I can teach in both methods, use either method and my brain will be stronger for having learned a new technique (one way to fight off the Alzheimer's don't ya know.)

I'm really interested in hearing about other knitting or crocheting war stories. Pass them on and remember just have fun and Knit On or Hook On!!!!

Peace and joy to you all....
The Green Girl.

1 comment:

KatherineR said...

I learned when you do two color knitting, it is easier to hold the main color in your right hand and "throw it" and hold the second color in your left hand and "pick it" continental style.

Hope those gloves come out all right. ;-)