Going Like Crazy
One long, gray Iowa winter when I was 10, my mom taught me to knit and I made a few simple items. I let my skills lapse and did not pick up the needles again until I wanted to knit sweaters for my own children. I picked up a book, “Learn to Knit” so that I could refresh my memory. Right away I saw diagrams illustrating the way I had been taught. It is called the American or English way. My aunts had told me that my Danish grandmother knit differently from my mother. They called it: “the German way.” but, I had never seen it.
Fast forward 40 yrs when Mary joined our Tuesday group at the library. I noticed she could knit so fast that the stitches seemed to jump onto her needle. She was going like crazy. I was really interested now. As I watched, suddenly the light bulb went on. This was German knitting or as it also called Continental or European style. In American knitting you hold the yarn in your right hand and then throw the yarn around your second needle. European knitters feed the yarn from their left hand and pick their stitches, much like in crochet. A bit later Sonya showed up, another European style knitter, and she was going like crazy. And then Inga came and she was going like crazy and well…
Elaine and I became intrigued by the idea of all this speed. Just think how many more things you could knit if you could go that fast. It staggers the imagination! The European knitters were happy to show us how and so we tried to go like crazy. Elaine knitted a cowl using European style, but never achieved the quickness of Mary and Sonya. I found it difficult to change my style after over 50 years of doing it the American way. So, it’s not likely that either of us will switch over. But, we sure do long for the increased productivity of going like crazy.
I now realize an apology is due a former knitting student, a Higbee lady. She was an avid crocheter and was accustomed to using her left hand to hold the yarn. I was trying to teach her to hold it in her right hand and we were both frustrated. If I had only understood the difference between English and European knitting styles she’d be sitting there in Higbee right now using a style that was comfortable to her and going like crazy.