Continental woes: tense and frustrated

This post kind of overlaps Chris’s (Yarn Mommy) and the posts over whether or not English knitters let go of the needle, but I have some questions of my own…

I technically learned how to knit years ago, but didn’t even know how to cast on, so until a month or so ago I hadn’t knitted since I was about 10 years old. When I originally learned, it was English, picking up and putting down the yarn each time. So when I was reading SnB as a refresher, it seemed natural to go English. It feels comfortable. I was doing pretty well letting go of the needle to throw because I had the right needle planted in my lap, so it was easy to pick back up. Then the author said something about keeping the right needle tucked under her arm, and that worked even better. I guess I do let go of the yarn to throw, but it doesn’t matter since the needle is stationary anyway; as I bring the left needle toward myself, my index finger is already on the move up and around the right needle. Garter and stockinette stictch are quick and comfortable, and it just feels more intuitive.

However, after my first big ribbed project I realized I just have to learn continental; I can’t justify the extra time bringing the yarn to the front and back of the needle every stitch or two. I have been practicing dilligently for almost a week (usually my breakthroughs come quicker), and I still can’t get the hang of it. These are my problems; any advice on any or all of them is appreciated. (Heck, I appreciate it if you’re even still reading such a long post!) :slight_smile:

Problem 1: Tension. I have trouble keeping tension in the string in my left hand. So far wrapping twice around the index finger works better than once around pinkie and once around index, but any other suggestions are welcome. As I work, I find that my stitches get tighter and tighter–too tight to get the right needle in without splitting the thread! This slows me down. Even if I can keep it under control in garter or stockinette, it gets really hairy in seed stitch. This leads to…

Problem 2: Needles. I LOVE bamboo needles. I HATE metal needles. I always seem to manage to slide half the work off the end of the needles when I’m using metal. Besides, I am kind of clumsy and tend to poke myself. :roll: But because of my tension issues, I need the sharp points and reduced friction of aluminum. Any speed and accuracy pointers from bamboo diehards to help me cope? Any pointers from metal heads on how to keep the work from slipping off the ends?

Problem 3: Purling. This happens ocassional when I knit, but more often when I purl: Once I’ve wrapped the yarn around the right needle and I’m pulling it through, it tends to slip off the tip or split. Any common errors I might be making?

Whew! I’m not asking much, am I? Ha! I probably just need to go to a knitting class in a LYS. I just know I won’t become the best knitter I can be if I don’t get this Continental thing down. I’m convinced of the virtues, but it’s still just counterintuitive. Anyway, Thanks in advance for any help.

the coordination-challenged knitting nerd

I prefer two wraps around the index and no wraps around the pinky. I do thread the yern around my pinky, though, so the yarn goes over my pinky, between the ring and pinky, then around my index once or twice depending on the yarn. I then use my pinky and ring finger to apply additional tension as needed. Another thing to do to help control the tension is to make sure you are really pulling your working needle out before letting the old stitch drop off the left needle. Making the new stitch a little longer should help give you the needed tension.

There’s more to life than Susan Bates metal needles and bamboo. There are a world of manufacturers and needle materials. I highly recommend Denise interchangables for a little friction with good sharp points, but you might find you like another brand.

This can be a problem when knitting continental. I think it will resolve itself as your tension starts to get more even.

Thank you Marnie! I am definitely looking into what you told both Chris and me. I’m also trying to remind myself that I’m doing this because I enjoy the actually process, not because I want to be a speed knitter at the cost of frustrating myself. :slight_smile: Thanks again for your advice,