Archive for December, 2015

CLOUD ~ COVER

Wednesday, December 16th, 2015

When a mass of clouds roll in to blanket the sky, you can choose to run for cover or embrace one of the moodiest of weather patterns.  On an average day, at any given time, more than half of our planet is wrapped in a layer of clouds, formed by tiny droplets of moisture collecting in the air.  The warmer the air is, the more water vapor it can gather. Inspired by the mystic beauty of a cloudy day, this lightweight shawl is designed in gradient shading and adds just a whisper of warmth.

C L O U D  ~  C O V E R

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Three shades of our all-new Pure Superkid Mohair in watery hues

softly transition from top to bottom.

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This shawl weighs slightly less than a 100g chocolate bar and can be worn

front and centre as a stylish neckerchief or across the back as a light blanket for the shoulders.

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“I wandered lonely as a cloud…..”

William Wordsworth

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Gradient colouring makes this shawl all the more alluring.

Our top picks (shown above) include majestic blues, elegant purples and watery hues

or design your own one-of-a-kind palette from more than twenty shades

of heavenly Pure Superkid Mohair exclusive to the Diamond Luxury Collection.

C L O U D ~ C O V E R

Finished Size (after blocking): 127 cm /50 in wide x 61 cm /24 in deep

Yarn: MC- 1 skein of Diamond Luxury Collection Pure Superkid Mohair (col #1504), A- 1 skein of Diamond Luxury Collection Pure Superkid Mohair (col #1503), C- 1 skein of Diamond Luxury Collection Pure Superkid Mohair (col #1505)

Needles: 5 mm/ US 8 – 80 cm/32 in circular

Tension: 14 sts and 26 rows = 10 cm/4 in over st st (after blocking)

pm: place marker

sm: slip marker

skp: slip one stitch, knit one stitch, pass slip stitch over

yo: yarn over

NOTE: (This shawl is worked from the top down and due to the nature of the yarn will crinkle up until fully blocked).

Cast on 9 sts with A.

Row 1 (RS): K2, pm, yo, k2, yo, pm, k1, pm, yo, k2, yo, pm, k2 = 13 sts.

Row 2 (WS): K2, purl to last 2 sts, k2.

Row 3: K2, sm, yo, k to first centre marker, yo, sm, k1, sm, yo, k to last marker, yo, sm, k2.

Row 4: K2, purl to last 2 sts, k2.

Rep last 2 rows 5 times more = 37 sts.

Row 15: as Row 3.

Row 16: Knit.

Row 17: as Row 3.

Row 18: Knit.

Rep Row 3 and 4 a total of 7 times = 73 sts.

Rep Rows 15 to 18 = 81 sts.

Cut A.

Continue in MC.

Rep Rows 3 and 4 a total of 7 times = 109 sts.

Rep Rows 15 to 18 = 117 sts.

Rep Rows 3 and 4 a total of 7 times = 145 sts.

Rep Rows 15 to 18 = 153 sts.

Rep Rows 3 and 4 a total of 7 times = 181 sts.

Rep Rows 15 to 17.

Rep Row 18, inc 2 sts evenly spaced = 191 sts.

Cut MC.

Continue in B.

Border:

Row 1: K2, sm, yo, [k2, k2tog, yo] rep until 1 st before first centre marker, k1, yo, sm, k1, sm, yo, k1, [yo, skp, k2] rep to last marker, yo, sm, k2.

Row 2: K2, p to last 2 sts, k2.

Row 3: K2, sm, yo, [k2, k2tog, yo] rep until 3 sts before first centre marker, k3, yo, sm, k1, sm, yo, k3, [yo, skp, k2] rep to last marker, yo, sm, k2.

Row 4: as Row 2.

Rep these 4 rows 3 more times = 223 sts.

Picot Cast Off Row: Cast off 1 st, [slip st from right to left needle, cast on 3 sts using knitted cast on method, cast off 8 sts] rep to end.  Fasten off.

Design by: Michele Meadows

Surprise Cowl

Wednesday, December 16th, 2015

Its not everyday that we can have our cake and knit it too.  What that means to a knitter, is very seldom do we find a truly innovative array of textures and colours in one single ball (or cake) of yarn.  South African designer, Adele, is a visionary who has been handcrafting her very unique line of luxury yarns for the past thirty two years as a cottage industry following strict fair trade and eco standards.  Spun from locally sourced mohair and merino wool, these art yarns are currently being introduced in Canada.

Let’s chat with Adele and discover more about her enchanting yarn creations-

Adele

Adele Cutten

MM: Hi Adele!  Your yarns are exquisite and we are super excited to welcome this Thick ‘n Thin collection to Canada.  What got you started on this creative path?

AC: It was an expansion of my hobby.  Both of my grandmothers taught me to knit and in my early childhood I developed a love for it.

MM: Can you remember your very first project?

AC: Oh yes!  A scarf for my grandfather knitted in leftover yarns, of varying thicknesses, and bless him he wore it til he died.

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Thick ‘n Thin by Adele

‘What you see on the outside of each yarn cake is a mere fraction

of the delightful surprise that you will find

as you knit your way through to the centre core.’

MM: Did you know at a young age that you would  find your passion in the yarn business?

AC: Well…. After doing a BSc degree I traveled and worked in the UK, visited woolen mills, and on the Isle of Harris I met the lady who wove tweed for the queen, a Mrs McDonald.  She collected the wool off the fences and went on to spin, dye and then weave. This blew me away and I decided that this is what I wanted to do.

MM: So you literally fell into producing designer knitting yarns, accessories and home textiles headfirst!

AC: Just about.  The craft developed through my passion and where I needed a skill I turned to books or guilds, friends and experimentation. I have no formal training at all.

PicMonkey Collage

MM: Your workshop is located in a rural area of South Africa, between East London and Port Elizabeth.  Do you draw inspiration from the landscape for your brilliant colour palette?

AC: I live on a farm where abundant wildflowers grow, and I love the outdoors, so yes, that’s where it comes from.  Also, from travel and the world around me….. alas nothing fancy.

Surprise Cowl

Surprise Cowl

SURPRISE COWL

Finished Size: 81 cm/ 32 ins x 20 cm/ 8 ins

Yarn: 50g ball Thick ‘n Thin by Adele col. #9 (shown above)

Needles: 6.50 mm – 80 cm circular

Tension: 11 sts and 16 rows = 10 cm/4 ins over st st

Cast on 88 sts, join in round being careful not to twist sts over needle.  Place a marker on first st.

Round 1 to 4: Purl.

Round 5 to 6: Knit.

Round 7: [Yo, k2tog], rep [to] across row.

Round 8 to 9: Knit.

Round 10 to 12: Purl.

Rep Rounds 5 to 12 twice.

Knit 2 rounds.

Cast off loosely.

Sew in ends.

Design by: Michele Meadows

Top Ten Knitting Tricks

Wednesday, December 16th, 2015

Who said you can’t teach an experienced knitter a few new tricks?  It seems the more we knit, the more we have to learn about timesaving tips, the best finishing methods and helpful stitch techniques to make our favorite craft so much more enjoyable.  Plus they can be really fun to pass on to your knitting friends.

Here are our Top Ten Knitting Tricks-

1.  Slip Stitch Join: Working in the round should be easy breezy, shouldn’t it?  No messy edges, no seams to sew, yet there is that inevitable opening that occurs between the first and last cast on stitch.  Sure, we can sew in the tail end while slipping it through the opposite edge to help smooth it out but this trick is so quick and effortless-

Cast on one extra stitch. Before joining in the round, slip the first stitch from left needle onto right needle, pass the extra stitch over this first stitch and slip it back to left needle. Tighten both yarn ends and proceed to knit.

2. Tightening Up Ladders: Aaargh! A pet peeve for sock knitters who use double point needles, ladders are enlarged spaces that can form in the fabric as one needle switches over to the next.  Pulling the yarn extra tight when making the transition to the next needle actually widens the gap.

To correct this issue, after knitting the first stitch on the next needle, do not tighten, leave it a little loose and tighten only the second stitch.  

3. Rounding Off Step Shaping: Those jagged little cast off edges that take place along the underarm, neck or shoulder shaping area can make it tricky to sew a smooth seam.

When a pattern calls for a certain number of stitches to be cast off at the beginning of a series of rows, simply knit or purl the first two stitches together. 

4. Casting Off Too Tightly:  When casting off the last row on a project, the tendency is to knit firmly to ensure a neat edge.  This can cause a problem on the neckband of a child’s pullover or across the front border of a cardigan when there is no allowance for stretch.

When in doubt always cast off with a larger needle.

5. Long Tail Cast On: How many times have you attempted to cast on using the long tail method and either overestimated or underestimated the length of yarn required to achieve the total number of stitches?  Its a frustrating way to start a new project and a time waster.

Instead of playing ‘yarn chicken’ try the two ball approach.  Pull a length of yarn from each ball and hold together (or use the center pull and outside end of one ball), make a slip knot four to six inches in from the end.  Now separate the two lengths to position one around the finger and one around the thumb.  This way you can cast on to your heart’s content and simply cut off the extra yarn as you begin the first row.  See video tutorial here.  

6. Jogless Stripes: The problem with knitting stripes in the round is the unsightly step where the two colours meet.  No matter how tightly you knit across this transition point, the jog remains.

This is a simple issue to resolve by first knitting one round in the new colour.  Before starting the next round, lift the righthand side of the stitch directly below the first stitch onto the left needle.  Knit this loop together with the first stitchSee video tutorial here.

7. The Final Hurrah:  You have reached the finish line!  Casting off the last stitch is always a reason to celebrate.  At the end of the row, do you make a slip knot from the last stitch to secure the tail?  This creates an unnecessary knot that can be difficult to hide in the seam especially if your chosen yarn is thick and bulky. 

A more polished way to finish off  the final stitch is to cut the yarn leaving a lengthy end and pull the loop upwards until the end comes through creating just a single tail. 

8. Lifelines:  Making a mistake in a knitting pattern is not the end of the world but having to rip out row after row can seem like a real setback.  A lifeline may easily become your new best friend.  Its just a contrast yarn worked into the knitting in order to save the stitches directly below the mistake which will make them easier to pick up on the needle. 

See tutorial here.  

9. Colour Coded Cables: Following a charted pattern with many different cables and twists can be daunting to say the least.  Each symbol so closely resembles the next and precious knitting time is lost trying to decipher each one at a glance.

This is where highlighters come in handy, buy a pack with as many assorted colours as you can find.  Enlarging the chart is the first step, and then simply colour code each symbol with the corresponding ones on the chart.  Not only will you have an attractive looking pattern, just watch how quickly your eyes recognize the difference between each cable. 

10. Hiding The Purl Wraps: Wrapping and turning has become standard practice in today’s knitting patterns, especially when it comes to creating shaping in collars or shawls.  Learning the w&t technique is quite simple and well-explained in most patterns however there is still the process of hiding the wraps on the purl row that has many mystified. 

See video tutorial here.   

Knitting Lingo

Wednesday, December 16th, 2015

Is there a secret code in the world of knitting?  In order to fully relate to other knitters, who knew we had to learn not only the written pattern abbreviations but also the hidden meanings of acronyms currently winging their way around online knit n chat groups, ravelry forums, and any other chicks with sticks get-togethers.  Is it just a matter of convenience?  Or is this new-fangled lingo designed to create a close-knit society who can essentially communicate in a secret language?

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Here are sixteen of the most common knitting acronyms decoded-

FO – Finished Object (newly finished project).

FOTN – Fresh Off The Needles (the needles are still warm to the touch).

ISO In Search Of (a term often used on ravelry to signify a yarn search between knitters).

KAL – Knit A Long (a project worked on at the same time by a group of knitters).

KIP Knit in Public (taking a project to the streets).

LYS – Local Yarn Shop (better than any ice cream or candy shop).

LYSO – Local Yarn Shop Owner (that special someone who gets to rule the yarn castle).

MKAL Mystery Knit A Long (an organized group project especially popular on ravelry with a series of clues posted over a designated time period).

OTN On The Needles (current project).

SABLE Stash Acquisition Beyond Life Expectancy (never enough yarn!).

SIP – Sock In Progress (most current sock project).

SSS – Second Sock Syndrome (just like a virus, it hits every sock knitter at some point).

TINK (KNIT spelled backwards, refers to using both needles to un-knit a project one stitch at a time in order to repair a mistake.  Not to be confused with FROGGING, the rip-it, rip-it method of unraveling stitches row-by-row).

TU – Toe Up (a specific type of sock pattern).

UFO – UnFinished Object (the ‘never speak of it again’ project that hides in the shadows).

WIP Work in Progress (a current project).

The New Kid

Wednesday, December 16th, 2015

This is the stuff that clouds are made of, at least in a knitter’s imagination, fuzzy wisps of luxuriously-soft mohair fleece spun from baby goats.  To be classified as superfine, mohair fibre must be no thicker than twenty-five microns and clipped from kid goats between the age of six and twelve months.  Mohair has a natural lustre and accepts dye incredibly well, creating a vibrant spectrum of colour that surpasses even that of alpaca and merino wool.  Exceptionally good as an insulator from the cold, mohair is very lightweight and does not have to be knit tightly in order to keep the wearer feeling warm.  It is a non-pilling, non-matting type of fibre and as anyone who has knit with it can attest to, mohair will last for decades.

The NEW kid is here!

Precious cargo from our Diamond Luxury Collection
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Look for a candy-coloured assortment of semi-solid shades in Pure Superkid Mohair by Diamond Luxury at your lys in time for early fall knitting.  In the meantime, check out this tempting preview of the latest pattern collection by our Canadian design team-

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As sweet as cotton candy, this cap sleeve top is both practical and elegant as a sheer cover up on a cooler day.  Knit from the bottom up in two separate pieces and accented with an adjustable I-cord drawstring for trendy styling.  Col 1510 (shown above).

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If you look closely, the inspiration for this Cirrus Tee Top is evident in the muted shading.  Cirrus clouds are thin wispy streamers that generally move in a west to east pattern across the sky signifying fair weather.  This design is simply knit in two pieces with a bateau neckline and a matching cowl.  Col 1506 (shown above).

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Create your own wearable artwork with a bold stripe of colour.  This lightweight tunic is knit in one piece with elbow length sleeves and is a blank canvas for choosing your own palette from our fifteen tempting shades of Pure Superkid MohairCol 1510 and 1514 (shown above).

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This stunning raspberry delight is knit from the bottom up in a pretty lace pattern that adds interesting texture and a touch of sophistication to the overall look.  Col 1511 (shown above).  Note: Follow Diamond Yarn on twitter or instagram and enter to win this fabulous sweater kit.

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Breeze through your day in this light and airy Stratus Poncho, named after the low-lying cloud formations that blanket the sky.  This one-piece openwork design is knit vertically in gradient shading with a shark bite hemline in the front.  Knit the accompanying cowl with one extra skein.  Col 1503, 1504, and 1505 (shown above).

Top Ten Yarn Crafts For Kids

Wednesday, December 16th, 2015

School is out for the next sixty plus days and that translates into summer bliss for kids of all ages.  Sure they are as happy as clams at high tide right now, relaxing, hanging out without a care in the world, but there will be those cloudy days when the “I’m s-o-o-o bored” expressions are heard far and wide.  Where there is a wool there is a way, and all it takes is a few moments sorting through your yarn stash to prepare a summer survival kit complete with a few other essentials to keep the kids smiling and feeling creative.

Top Ten Yarn Crafts For Kids-

Olaf Pom Pom

Olaf Pom Pom

1. Making pom poms is a rite of passage in every childhood, and this hilarious snowman character from Frozen is just too cute to resist.  Materials: White worsted weight yarn, cardboard, scissors, blunt darning needle, orange and black felt, glue, black pipe cleaner, googly eyes.  How To: Cut two 3 ins doughnut shapes out of cardboard with a 1 ins diameter opening in center.  Thread a long length of yarn onto darning needle, holding both pieces of cardboard together in one hand, insert needle through center hole and wrap tightly around cardboard.  Repeat until completely covered and center hole is full.   Hold firmly in place, insert tip of scissors between cardboard circles and cut through yarn.  Tie a separate length of yarn tightly around center core.  Remove cardboard and trim pom pom to create an even look.  Glue felt mouth and nose on as shown above.  Cut pipe cleaner in half, push both through to center of pom pom and back up to create 4 ends.  Glue eyes in place.

Little Mermaids

Little Mermaids

2. Put a spin on an everyday household item with the right mix of sparkles, colourful yarn and playful imagination.  Materials: Wooden clothes pins (old-fashioned), glue, craft paint, paintbrush, multi-coloured worsted yarn, sparkly craft foam, scissors.  How To: Paint eyes, mouth and body as shown above, cut craft foam in a tail shape to fit inside clothes pin, glue in place.  Cut 15-20 pieces of yarn in 12 ins lengths, tie in middle with a separate piece of yarn.  Glue to top of pin.

Huichol Yarn Painting

Huichol Yarn Painting

3. Inspired by folk art created by the Huichol people of Mexico as an offering to the gods, this is a great craft for kids of all ages (adults might even end up joining in the fun zone).  Materials: Peel and stick vinyl floor tile, worsted or chunky weight yarns in a variety of bright colours, scissors.  How To: Peel off backing on the reverse side of floor tile, working from the center out, press yarn ends into place to create desired image.

Kool Aid Dyeing

Kool-Aid Dyeing

4. Kool-Aid dyeing is especially appealing to budding artists and also a win-win situation (guess who gets to knit the one of a kind yarn when it is fully dry).  Cover an outdoor table with plastic, set up a few skeins of pure wool, and watch the magic happen.  Materials:  Assorted Kool-Aid flavors, water, vinegar, microwaveable glass dish, plastic squirt bottles, and a few skeins of undyed wool.  How To: View the tutorial here.

Yarn Butterflies

Yarn Butterflies

5. Sometimes the simplest of crafts can hold the greatest charms.  These pint-sized butterflies make great fridge magnets, gift toppers and birthday party decorations.  Materials: Popsicle sticks, glue, colourful worsted weight yarn, scissors, pipe cleaners, small beads and googly eyes.  How To: Glue two popsicle sticks together in a wide X.  Let dry.  Starting approx. half an inch from outside edge, wrap yarn around sticks until completely covered.  Tuck in ends.  Wrap a pipe cleaner twice around center, leaving 3 ins at beginning and end, shape with fingers and attach a bead to each end.  Glue eyes to front.

Yarn Bowl

Yarn Bowl

6. A project that will keep little hands busy until its time for a snack and what a wonderful way to upcycle all those yarn ends.  Materials: Assorted yarns, scissors, diluted white glue, plastic wrap, medium or large bowl.  How To: Turn medium or large size bowl upside down, cover with plastic wrap.  Dilute white glue in a smaller bowl, dip yarn in bowl.  Run yarn through fingers to remove excess glue, place over plastic wrap in a loose fashion.  Leave until fully dry (one or two days).

CD Weaving

CD Weaving

7. Find a purpose for unused cds and let the kids create stunning artwork at the same time.  Materials: Old cds, a variety of colourful yarns, large blunt darning needle, and scissors.  How To: View tutorial here.

String Art

String Art

8. This quirky craft decorated countless rec rooms during the seventies and is making a serious comeback (see pinterest for oodles of impressive designs).  Materials: Colourful yarn, nails, hammer, pencil, pre-cut wooden board, scissors.  How To: Draw a simple shape or design on board with pencil.  Hammer nails approx. every inch following design outline.  Tie yarn end onto one nail to start and tightly pull across to wrap around an opposite nail.  Repeat until design is well-covered in yarn.  Tie off end and tuck in.

Yarn Bracelets

Yarn Bracelets

9. Looking for a birthday party activity that is simple enough for small fry?  Materials: Worsted weight yarn, paper roll, scissors, blunt darning needle.  How To: Precut paper rolls in half and make a side opening.  Wind yarn around as shown above.  Tuck in ends with darning needle.  Decorate as desired.

Finger Knitting

Finger Knitting

10. No tools required!  This is a super craft to entertain the kids in the backseat of the car while travelling long distances and may encourage interest in actual knitting later on.  Materials: Worsted or chunky weight yarn, scissors.  How To: View tutorial here.

Summertime Shawl

Wednesday, December 16th, 2015

As the calendar flips over to June this week, the anticipation of summer activities is at an all-time high.  There may be a long weekend camping trip to plan, an end-of-school trek to the amusement park, or the annual family picnic to organize followed up by a road trip to a friend’s cottage and let’s not forget all those magical days of just hanging out in between.  For knitters, there isn’t much that stops our needles from clicking, and part of the ritual of summer is finding a tag along project, not too big, and not too challenging, something that fills the time and gradually becomes a stitch by stitch compilation of our favorite memories.

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This shawl is knit in our newest worsted weight cotton blend, Summertime, in a trio of colours that represents the season perfectly from the lushness of cool green grass to the sparkling blue of a favorite lake, and the stunning sunset that tops off an ideal day.

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An easy style to knit and wear as a lightweight shawl or a fashionable neck scarf.

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SUMMERTIME SHAWL

Finished Size: 211 cm/83 ins x 43 cm/17 ins

Yarn: Summertime by Diamond Luxury Collection 100g skein each in col. #162 (MC), #160 (A), #161 (B)

Needles: 5.00 mm/ US 8 – 32 ins/80 cm circular

Tension: 15 sts and 30 rows = 10 cm/4 ins in garter stitch

Abbreviations:

Kfb: Knit into front and back.

Tbl: Through back loop.

Yo: Yarn over needle.

 

Cast on 3 sts with (MC).

Row 1: K to last st, kfb.

Row 2: K2, yo, k to last 2 sts, k2togtbl.

Rep these 2 rows throughout in Stripe Sequence I as follows-

30 rows in (MC), 2 rows in (A), 2 rows in (MC).  Cut (MC).

30 rows in (A), 2 rows in (B), 2 rows in (A).  Cut (A).

30 rows in (B), 2 rows in (MC), 2 rows in (B).  Cut (B).

Rep 102 rows of Stripe Sequence I once, then rep first 34 rows only.

Continue in Stripe Sequence II as follows for 30 rows-

2 rows in (A).

2 rows in (B).

Cast off loosely in (A).

Fringes (optional):

Cut strands of each colour in 35.5 cm/14 ins lengths.

Attach one fringe consisting of all three cols. in first and every following third cast off st.

Design by: Michele Meadows

Picking vs Throwing

Wednesday, December 16th, 2015

“Are you a picker or a thrower?”  Try posing this question as an icebreaker at your next knitting-related gathering.  You may get a few puzzled looks or an answer pertaining to baseball but the majority of knitters know that there is a great divide when it comes to technique.  Although there is virtually no difference to the finished work, there is a huge distinction in the appearance and actual method of achieving that end result and a great deal of controversy over which method is the fastest.

Picking is the term which refers to Continental knitting, and involves the use of the opposite hand (usually the left) to hold the yarn.  The tip of the working needle grabs or ‘picks’ the yarn while the left index finger acts as a lever to regulate tension by holding the yarn slightly up to tighten and down to slacken the stitch.  The wrist is constantly in motion flicking forwards for purl position and backwards for knit.  Hands are situated over the needles and there is a strong resemblance to crochet which makes it easier for dual crafters to adopt this style.  Originating in Germany, Continental knitting made its way to surrounding countries in the early nineteenth century and eventually to North America where Elizabeth Zimmermann was instrumental in its introduction.

Continental Knitting Method

Continental Knitting Method

Throwing refers to the method of English knitting which consists of the yarn being held in the dominant hand (usually the right).  The yarn runs from the ball around the baby finger and is wrapped over the index finger for tension control.  An overhand position on the needles is generally more favorable although some knitters prefer an underhand hold for support.  To create a stitch, the right hand moves upward reaching to ‘throw’ the yarn over the tip of the needle.  This can be achieved by quickly releasing the right hand from its hold on the needle or with a bit of practice by sliding the hand along the shaft of the needle.

English Knitting Method

English Knitting Method

The Switch: There is always a fair bit of wiggle room for improving your knitting technique, and the payoff for learning both the Continental and the English method comes when you are working in fairisle.  With practice and patience, holding one strand in the right and one strand in the left hand will vastly improve speed, plus the notorious tangled mess will be eliminated.  If its just overall speed that you are hoping to achieve, then this instructional video on Continental knitting is a great place to start as well as signing up for a hands-on workshop at your local yarn shop.

Tip: To learn the Continental method try working on a sample in the round first, practicing just the knit stitch for a few days and then attempt the purl stitch on its own for a few days.