the continental method

not the sexual euphemism it sounds like but the style of knitting. Perhaps I’ve never mentioned it, but I knit English. I can, however, knit continental. Mostly it doesn’t feel right, but I can do it pretty competently and would presumably get better. The only time knitting continental feels right is if I’m knitting stranded colour work with the yarn in each hand. That feels perfectly right and I can’t imagine doing it any other way. But lately I’ve been feeling left out among the skilled, talented and speedy knit bloggers (you know who I’m talking about). Everyone seems to rave about the economical speediness of continental (or combined) knitting. Yesterday I met up with a friend and taught her to knit. I taught her both ways and asked her to decide which she preferred and she instantly choose continental. Which forced me into doing some continental knitting to show her. And she was right, it does seem more economical. So I wondered, would switching properly, and practicing more, really make me a much faster knitter. Continental feels more economical but slower, and actually involves more wrist twisting, English feels faster but is that just because I’m moving my fingers more for each stitch?Today I decided to find out. I was knitting away on a secret project, in the round, in a mostly stockinette simple lace pattern. After warming up for a few rows I ended up averaging 40.3 sts per minute in continental and 53.7 sts per minute in English. I’m not sure practising lots would really make me that much faster a knitter. Oh and I knit holding the needles the Shetland way (underhand) rather than the crazy method that’s sometimes called English of holding them like pencils. I know that a lot of people choose to switch to continental for speed, have you done this and did it really have that big an effect? I’d say that Shetland knitters (who, of course anchor the right needle, which I never do although I’ve tried it I don’t find it necessary or useful) are pretty speedy knitters. So perhaps that’s reason enough not to switch, or feel like I ought to.