I learned how to operate a manual car transmission at the same time I learned how to drive. I’m thankful for this now——especially having lived in Maine for ten years, where driving stick is a winter survival skill——but at the time it was a pain in the butt. It was hard enough figuring out what to do about the fact that there were other cars on the road besides the one I was driving; having to wrestle with my own car added a layer of difficulty that almost made me swear eternal faith to my bicycle. I persevered, though, and now the only times I wish I drove automatic is when I’m stuck in traffic.
Knitting Continental is like driving stick. I wish I’d learned it at the same time that I learned to knit. Those of you who are skilled at Continental will probably disagree, but there’s no doubt in my mind that it’s more complicated than English. With Continental, the fingers of the hand that holds the yarn actually have separate, individual tasks (two to hold the yarn, one in between to keep the stitch in place), thus making a consistent gauge dependent on more factors than with English. Here’s a section of a sweater that I knit before I started making the switch to Continental:
And here’s a section from an uncompleted, post-switch sweater:
I know it’s all matter of practice, and with time my Continental knitting will be just as even as my English. The problem is that I didn’t have to practice for English. Consistent gauge was mystically bestowed upon me by the gods that watch over new knitters. Those gods have not been as generous towards my Continental. Maybe it’s a different set of gods altogether, and I just haven’t figured out how to appease them. Or maybe there are no gods for Continental at all, in which case I’m in for my first existential knitting crisis.
So tell me: did you learn Continental when you learned to knit? If not, how did it affect your gauge when you did learn?