It turns out I’m not as fond of it as I thought I’d be. It might have something to do with the fact that I have a strong preference for circular needles over straights, and that my ring finger is so used to curling under to help support the needle instead of extending out to hold the yarn. I’m glad that I tried it, though, because the Great Lever Knitting Experiment of 2012 sparked the Great Knitting Styles Experiment of 2012.
That is, I finally figured out how to knit continental style. It’s probably been five years since I even tried, and ten years since my first attempt. This time, however, I made it work. My problems all stemmed, it would seem, from funky tension and an inability to use a finger other than my left pointer to control which stitches leave the left needle. Now, I can use my left thumb to control the stitches on the left needle, and my left ring finger finally figured out how to control the tension. I’m still not totally comfortable with it, but I think that if I ever do stranded colorwork, I’ll be able to hold at least one color in my left hand.
My problem areas are always the initial and final two stitches, no matter what method, so I’ve been knitting narrow pieces.
On this swatch, the gauge change is obvious between lever knitting (lower section, very uneven, relatively loose gauge), continental knitting (middle section, very tight but even gauge), and my normal style (top section, relatively loose, even gauge).
I also started thinking about how to knit faster holding my yarn in my right hand. I normally pinch my yarn between thumb and pointer. When I work with two colors, I pinch one color with my pointer and one with my middle finger. I’ve seen other people work with the yarn going over their right pointer, but could never figure out how to keep proper tension. Enter this YouTube video.
I modified her method a little bit, wrapping the yarn around my ring finger and just draping it over my pointer, just like I would on my left hand for continental style knitting.
I can tension the yarn by squeezing my middle or pinky finger in. The biggest bonus is that my left hand doesn’t have to do anything different. Considering how cranky my left hand can be, this is a big advantage. Here’s what my right hand looks like when I’m holding a needle (note that my thumb has nothing to do with controlling the yarn, it’s only because of the angle of the photo that it might look that way):
I don’t have the method perfect yet, but when it works, it really works. A speed that feels comfortable with this method is already as fast as a comfortable speed my old way, and I’ve only spent 15 minutes or so knitting little swatches. This green swatch is all done with the yarn over my right pointer. The gauge here is tighter than my normal gauge, but not as tight as in continental, and very, very even.
Maybe one of these days I’ll set up a YouTube channel so I can show the action involved instead of just posting awkward still shots taken with my left hand. I guess that means I’ll need a tripod as well. I can’t think of a better reason to put this off.