English vs Continental?? What kind of knitter are you? Knitter referendum!!
I was taught to knit by my grandmother almost 30 (*cough) years ago. I dabbled a bit as a child, but didn't get serious about the art until I was pregnant with my first child and had to give up smoking, drinking and all of the other fun stuff.
So I headed to You Tube, ransacked my local yarn store and cracked on with some blankets, toys and baby clothes. Five years on, I've knit just about everything, but it's only recently that I realised I'm 'different'.
When I started working for Cygnet and in anticipation of a life of full time knitting, I decided it was time to work on my knitting speeds. Only then did I find out that there are two types of knitters: English style and Continental Style (ok, so there's also Portuguese and no end of others, but let's not confuse the matter).
All these years I had been blissfully unaware that I had been knitting, well, basically, backwards! My grandmother is left-handed and so I just assumed that this is the way I had been taught all of those decades ago. However, I've recently been to see my grandma (96 years old and still knitting blankets for 'old people' as she calls them!) only to discover that she's a 'normal' English knitter! So it would seem that I have somehow naturally veered towards this way of knitting. I have tried it the normal way, but it feels all kinds of wrong!
To explore just how weird I am, I ran a quick poll on Facebook to see how many of us continental odd bods there are out there. The results didn't exactly shock me!!
What's the difference?
Basically, if you're an English knitter, you hold the yarn in your right hand and 'throw' it over the needle. If you're Continental you hold the yarn in your left hand and pick it up through the stitch.
This video on You Tube is a good one to show you the difference.
Which is best?
Continental, obvs! Actually, there are arguments for both sides...
Speed - almost all 'speed knitters' knit in the continental style. It's far less cumbersome than English knitting and so can be worked far faster
Less movement - if you're as lazy as I am, this can only ever be a good thing. I barely have to move my left arm when knitting. I only move the right needle in and out of stitches, but the movement is minimal.
All tutorials look backwards - because English seems to be the most popular style in the Western world, most online tutorials and books are based on holding yarn in the right hand, which can be ridiculously confusing at times.
People will think you are weird - not least because you hold your yarn ar*e ways round.
Tension control - apparently it is easier to maintain tension when holding the yarn the English way. This hasn't been the case when I've tried though. The only thing that has been tense, is me...
You will have more friends - because people like to be the same and do the same things and you can all knit and have fun together and sit, and joke about and point at the weirdo in the corner holding their yarn the wrong way around. Friends are overrated anyway.
Back and arm ache - the extra movement means that you are more likely to suffer with repetitive strain injury. I suppose the extra movement could count as exercise though, so maybe this is actually a good thing...
Slow coach - what's taking you so long? Throwing your yarn all over the place like a set of frenzied maniacs?
If I was a diplomatic sort of soul, this is the point at which I would probably start spouting a load of guff like, either way is best, it's all down to personal preference and what suits you and feels the most comfortable.
But I say, "Gah!". Continental is best. The end.