I have been watching CR knitting. She is the only one I know who knits Continental style. I became fascinated in how efficient the technique was when changing between the knit and purl stitches. I decided I needed to learn the technique and looked for an opportunity to use it.

They are forming a new group at church to create prayer shawls for people with health and/or stressful life experiences. How perfect! I signed up and went to the first gathering to collect instructions, etc.

To begin, I looked up casting on, on the Internet. I *know* (I thought) how to cast on, but I thought there might be another way to cast on for theContinental style. What I discovered was that there is no real “Continental” cast-on style, but there are a whole lot more styles of casting on than I ever heard of!

I determined that the “long tail” cast-on method was a good idea, so I sat before the monitor and stared intently at the video with yarn and needles in hand. After a few aborted tries, I mastered that technique (if only temporarily—I bookmarked the video for later reference!) and then looked for a Continental how-to video. I managed to find one of that, too.

Then began a whole new spastic etch-a-sketch experience of watching the video a ba-zillion times and trying to match it myself. The video was very clear, with both slow and faster demonstrations of both the knit and purl stitches. The hardest part for me was keeping the yarn all in my left hand, trying to deal with yarn tension, all while keeping the yarn on top of my fingers. The resulting stitch is fairly even, but still very slow, and it is also a lot looser than I normally knit.

Initially I started practicing with the yarn I selected from my stash for the prayer shawl – a Lions brand that has a lovely texture…and after a few aborted cast-on attempts, chose a solid worsted for my practice work. I needed to be able to see my stitches and the textured yarn, lovely though it was, was not helping.

Another non-helper was Duncan who decided I was paying far too much attention to that ball of yarn. While I was changing laundry over from the washer to the dryer, he snuck in, grabbed the knitting and scampered off upstairs and through the dog door to the back yard to look at this object of my attention more closely.

Did I mention we are having a LOT of rain here?

When I returned to my chair to pick up my knitting, I was confused. Did I put it down somewhere else? I retraced my recent steps and found the main knitted piece on the steps. I followed the strand of yarn up the stairs, through the kitchen, and through the TV room, to the dog door where it disappeared into the great outdoors.

After retrieving the unraveled strand and pulling it back inside, I decided I was done for the night.

I am still a spastic etch-a-sketch in both the knit and purl Continental style, but I am getting better. In another decade or so I might approach the efficiency I had reached in the “throw over” or “American” style of knitting that I had been doing for more than four decades.

They tell me it is worth it. “They” being the people who suggest that constantly changing styles of learning and learning new things keeps your mind fungible and active into your senior years. I agreed in principal before I began.

Working on this new technique has made me feel more “senior” than I had to begin with!

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