Posted by: jinniver | March 30, 2008

Need a little continental in my life

Knitty Gritty, on the DIY Network, is currently one of my favorite shows.  It took me a little while to warm up to it, even after I started knitting, because I just wasn’t sure about Vickie Howell, the host.  To be honest, based on the knitted goods she wore on the show, I could tell we had very different tastes, so I didn’t know if I’d really learn anything worthwhile to me.

There’s a reason that old saw about books, covers, and judgement exists.  Once I gave Vickie and Knitty Gritty a chance, I learned what I’d been missing–and not just that Vickie Howell is pretty durned cool.  I’ve already made projects from the show and have plans to make more.  I’ve also learned lots of tips and tricks–and I’ve learned enough now about knitting that I’m able to get something out of every show, even if the actual knitted item isn’t something I’m interested in.  For example, the episode I just watched, Punk Rock Knits, involved a mini-skirt and cropped tank top laced up the side.  Not my thing.  However, there was a dropped stitch detail used in the skirt, and I realized I could use that in a little dress for my daughter Lexie.  Before I knew it, I was sitting down and scribbling notes on a summer dress for her.  I’ll share the details of that upcoming project when I get there.

I did have some trouble at first following some of the techniques because, as it turns out, not everyone knits the way I do.  Who knew?  (Ok, you probably did, but I didn’t.  Work with me here.)  I’ve now learned that I’m a “thrower,” or an English-style knitter–I “throw” the yarn around the needle with my right hand (since I’m right-handed).  But many of the guests on Vickie’s show knit in the continental style, where they have the yarn wrapped around the index finger of their left hand, and instead of the large motion with the right hand and arm, they only need a small motion with the left index finger and right needle to get the yarn around. 

Ever since I’ve seen it, I’ve wanted to learn it.  I’ve been watching the demonstrators on Knitty Gritty closely, and I know there’s probably a video online–or two or ten thousand–that I can watch to learn the style.  It’s really a matter of coordination.  It looks like it would be a lot quicker and easier than my current style.

And now I have another reason to learn:

Lexie’s shoes start

This baby shoe pattern comes from Baby Knits, which I initially bought as 2 book set (I returned the companion book Baby Crochet because it was full of accessories I didn’t like, and not much clothing).  I’ve been dying to knit Lexie some shoes since I first saw this pattern, but some other projects came first.  I did knit some baby shoes, but they were Ugg look-alike booties for my baby niece who lives up north.  I’ll be making Lexie some of her own, but not until our winter comes around again–it’s way too warm for them here now. 

I’m not far into the pattern but I’m already liking it.  It’s a simple pattern, all seed stitch with some minimum shaping.  And I love the seed stitch…but it hurts.

Seriously.  My right wrist is throbbing a bit right now, and my shoulder is sore too.  I know it’s because of the throwing motion of my knitting style.  The problem with the seed stitch is that because it’s alternating knit and purl stitches, it takes double the motion to knit–throw the yarn around to knit a stitch, bring the yarn to the front, throw the yarn around the other way to purl, bring the yarn to the back…  I hadn’t really thought about how continental style would be good for me here, until I was watching–what else?–a Knitty Gritty episode and the guest mentioned that her continental style of knitting was so conducive to mixing knit and purl stitches because it was so easy to move the yarn from back to front and back again.

Now’s not the time to try to learn a new style of knitting, not while I’m in the middle of a pattern, but I can assure you that once these shoes are done I’ll be looking up those videos online!


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