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Continental purling...

1308 Views 8 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  pageta
Well, I finally got the hang of purling continental. I feel like a beginning knitter all over again
I am looking at all kinds of things I've made knitting (and purling) english over several years time, and my tension was awesome. I look at the waistband of the soaker I'm working on now, continental, and it looks like I've just picked up needles for the first time in my life...

Oh, well, it'll get better
Hopefully it'll even out a bit with blocking.

Maybe someone can advise me - I'm doing 2/2 rib, and the first purl stitch of each pair is much looser than the second. I can't understand why. It's really obvious - you can see the loop at the front (purl side) is longer, and when you look at the back of the piece (knit side,) the knit column with the looser stitches is gaping wide, but the next column of stitches looks normal. No problem with my knit stitches. Any idea why I can't seem to transition from knit to purl without a tension issue?

*sigh* it'll come to me eventually! Even though I'm clumsy at it, continental is still obviously faster, and worth getting the hang of.
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Sounds like me about two months ago, though I tried it out on a pair of socks, and the ribbing was as wonky as it gets. (turns out I was making my purls backwards to begin with, so I couldn't get the needle in to knit. Thought I'd go bananas!)

I made a little pouch for my camera this week though, and those rows of purls weren't at all bad.

I think the trick is to not pull to much when you bring the yarn to the front to purl (does that make sense?). In other words, when bringing the yarn to the front from the back, make sure to not let out any extra yarn (which is easy to do, because you're holding fairly losely like you're supposed to, and you're making the yarn go around the tip of the needle).

Does this help?

I so feel your pain! I taught myself how to knit about three months ago, and then a couple weeks ago I saw someone knitting continental style and they were so much faster than me so I had to learn. I finally found the Knitting Experience books by Sally Melville which gave enough explanation for me to try and figure it out. I got the knitting down, but the purling was going to be the end of me. All my projects were in hiatus, because I was good enough at continental to prefer it but not good enough (consistent enough with my gauge) to be willing to work on any real projects. I'd sit down and work on the purling and think I had it, then I'd put my work down, and when I came back I had to learn it all over again. Talk about walking through the pit of despair! Today I sat down with some leftover yarn that I decided I wanted to see how it might felt up. So I knitted it all up and ended up with a 5 x 5.5 swatch of stockinette stitch. Needless to say, by the time I got to the end, I was pretty good at purling continental style. My arms hurt because I was so tense, but I had that problem in the beginning with knitting continental also. Now I just have to relax and knit. I'm so excited - I can finally knit continental!
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not to make your head hurt even more, but you should give annie modesitt's combination mehotd a try-it really helps with the uneven tension that many (I daresay MOST) continental knitters experience. It's tough to get used to, but if you want perfect tension, this is the way to go
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I usually knit (and purl) continentally, but occasionally I switch hands or I switch purling methods. It just depends...

Anyway, if you're having difficulty with the "textbook" continental purl, you might want to consider "combination knitting." Just be very aware of how your stitches are sitting on the needles so you don't inadvertantly get twisted stitches. Here's a link:

Another way to purl while holding the yarn in your left hand is the Norwegian purl. Some say it draws less yarn than the regular continental purl, but I don't really see a difference in my knitting.

There's no "right" way to knit... just have with your knitting.

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Okay, so maybe this is a dumb question, but what is the difference between continental and combined? Is continental where you use your finger to wrap the yarn around the needle and combined you manipulated the needle to wrap the yarn as you make the stitch? The Sally Melville books show two ways to knit and purl with the yarn in the left hand, and the way that ended up being easier for me was the one where I move the needle to catch the yarn as I make the stitch instead of using my finger to wrap the yarn around the needle (I need my fingers to keep the tension in the yarn). When I look at those pictures of the combined methods that Kelly and Theresa referenced, it looks like what I'm doing. Are there similar pictures out there of how to knit continental style so I can see the difference?
Theresa - We must have had the same thought at the same time. :LOL

I'm one of the continental knitters who don't have problems with their purl. I've tried combination and Norwegian, neither made enough difference in speed or tension for me to really work on those techniques. Still, it's nice to have those in my bag of tricks.

Pageta - The main difference between continental and combined is the direction of the wrap and how that causes the stitches to sit on needle. In combination knitting, the yarn is brought under the needle and "pushed" through the loop. This causes the "leading edge" (Modesitt's term - I think of it as the right leg of the loop) of the stitch to sit behind the needle. If you ignore the fact that it's behind the needle and try to knit that stitch on the next row, the old stitch will be twisted. But combination knitters know that this is going on, and they modify their knit stitch in the next row slightly to avoid this issue.

In continental knitting (sorry, couldn't find better pictures), the yarn is wrapped over the needle and sort of scooped through the loop. The leading edge is sitting in front of the needle. In the link that I gave, the author says it's a mistake to "pick" the yarn. It's not a mistake!! Just don't twist the stitch if you don't want it twisted. (Twisted stitches are actually quite a nice decorative effect if that's what you want. it does change the tension of your knitting quite a bit, so if you don't want it, then I guess it's a mistake.)

Okay, enough of the knitting sermon.
. :LOL Back to our regularly scheduled programming...

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Hmm, that's how I learned to purl. What's the other way??
Okay, a stitch is twisted if you wrap the yarn clockwise but not twisted if you wrap counterclockwise, correct?
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