Picture of yarn and a clockLet’s face it. My fundraising is limited by how fast I can knit. While I look for patterns that work up quickly, I can sell only what I am able to knit. So, I recently decided to learn how to knit faster.

Generally speaking, there are two ways to knit: English and Continental. English knitters hold the yarn in their right hand and wrap the yarn around the needle to create each stitch. By contrast, continental knitters hold the yarn in their left hand and pick at the yarn to create stitches. Continental knitting is more efficient as it takes less motions per stitch, and therefore is faster (once mastered) than English knitting.

My mother taught me to knit in the English style, and, after many years (well, decades!) of practice, I am pretty fast. However, I am not nearly as fast as many continental knitters. I am especially impressed by Miriam Tegels, the world’s fastest knitter according to the Guinness Book of World Records. Using the continental style, she can knit over 100 stitches in a minute. While I don’t ever expect to knit at her speed, I know I could be faster with continental knitting.

So, at this past weekend’s Stitches West convention, I took a class called “Converting to Continental” with Lorilee Beltman. (Many thanks to my friend Mary Ann who took the class with me.) It was fantastic. Lorilee taught us the basics very quickly and then walked around the room to give us individualized feedback as we practiced what we had just learned. After just three hours, I was confidently knitting in the continental style.

Lorilee Beltman

Lorilee Beltman, Stitches West 2012

It’s now up to me to continue practicing on my test piece so that my stitches are even and my speed improves. I’m hoping that after two weeks of practicing every day, I can use continental knitting for a real project. Look out, Miriam Tegels, here I come!