Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Bridging the Continental Divide

This past Saturday dawned sunny and warm.  Springtime, early this year, was  displaying her full riot of color and greenery, along with her overgrown weeds.  I should have spent my morning trying to bring some order to my flower beds or cleaning my neglected, dingy patio furniture.  Doing yard work, however, didn't have the siren call of a much-needed escape to a knitting class.  As a full-time working mother, I haven't participated in much formal knitting instruction, but curiosity about the continental style and a convenient weekend class offered at my local yarn store won out over yard and household chores.  I, therefore, hastily made some pancakes for my sons and headed over to Cottage Yarn, a shop in Mint Hill, NC.


There, Michelle, one of the store’s knowledgeable employees and knitting teachers, coached me in how to knit in the continental style.  While holding the yarn in my left hand initially felt awkward, I have to say that I could almost immediately see the benefits of this style of knitting, which (when the knitter comfortably masters the technique) allows for faster completion of projects due to fewer required hand movements.  Continental also allows for much easier maneuvering between knit and purl stitches, as it eliminates “throwing” the yarn back and forth with the right hand.  This method is also wonderful for left-handed knitters, such as Michelle, who explained that it eliminates the confusion of the left-handed “mirror image” technique which doesn’t match up with knitting patterns. 



Image from The Learning Channel.


I enjoyed spending time working on this new skill in the recently painted and redecorated sun porch of the old cottage.  As I attempted knitting, purling, and yarn overs in the continental manner, I made some of the same mistakes novice knitters do, including slipping stitches and creating unwanted extra stitches, but, after practicing a bit at home on Sunday, I am beginning to develop a more fluid and accurate style.  Contemplating switching my knitting method is a bit daunting, but, ultimately, the idea of speed and easier purling and ribbing may win me over, so much so that I plan to knit a ribbed cape using the continental method.  Using this mode of knitting will facilitate a speedier creation of this garment (provided I practice enough to loosen up my now tightly clenched novice hands a bit when I use this technique). 

Since I started knitting a little over three years ago, visiting this cozy and inviting store in Mint Hill, NC has provided me with numerous brief respites from my weekend chores.  (Cottage Yarn's website aptly sums up the store's atmosphere:  "The Place Where Everyone Feels At Home!" ) The shop's owner, Sara Furr, and her staff are always pleasant and obliging, and the environment of the store is so cozy and welcoming, that I find myself releasing the tension of the work week when I enter its door.  What makes these visits not only soothing but also interesting, as well as appealing to the senses, is that there is always something new to see—some display of new yarn or knit-up samples arranged in an aesthetically pleasing manner.


Pretty shawl for springtime.
This Spud and Chloe yarn is a wonderful mixture of cotton and
wool.  I'm going to start working on Spud (the lamb) soon.

 
Other samples on display.

This yarn looks interesting.  I'll have to go back and buy
some for a bright spring scarf or shawl.


On most weekends, I am so caught up in the hustle and bustle of household responsibilities--ones that are typically ignored during my hectic, over scheduled week--that I rarely sit down until dinnertime. Learning a new skill not only provided me with a challenge, but also with an opportunity to sit, clear my mind, and enjoy the tranquility of pleasant company and a soothing environment.

There is yarn for sale in different rooms of the cottage, as well
as seats available to use to sit and knit awhile. 






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