Monday, February 09, 2009

Am I to be bested by a few pieces of string and some sticks?

As you may know, my only new year's resolution was to do more colourwork. I have an idea I want to try and have been collecting colour cards and different yarns for it. Meanwhile, I did some practicing.

I've done two small colourwork projects before: the Endpaper mitts and the Squirrel and Nut mittens.

Now, I'm a continental knitter. I can knit English, although I'm slower at it. For my previous stranded knits, I knit with both colours in my left hand, always making sure the foreground colour is stranded under the background colour. I was reasonably happy with this- my stranding wasn't too tight, my stitches seemed to be even, and I managed to do both at a fairly good clip, although, of course, slower than normal knitting.

However, everyone is always going on about how the "best way" to do stranded knitting is to have one colour in each hand. I practiced this, and it was painful. My tension was terrible, my stranding uneven, the knitting slow and awkward. There is one plus: the yarns definitely didn't tangle up in an unholy manner, as happens sometimes with both yarns in one hand.

The problem, so far as I can see, is that, when I knit with both colours in my left hand, I use my right hand to do two things: manipulate the right needle to knit and to space out and separate the stitches on the right needle so that my stranding is loose enough. When I knit with one colour in each hand, my right hand is now asked to do three things: those above and to hold and tension the yarn. Apparently, this is too much for it. (For the record, I'm right-handed.)

I know there's no knitting police, and I should do whatever works for me, but I hate the idea of being beaten by this technique. In other "(falsely) binary" areas of knitting (magic loop vs. dpns, in-the-round vs. seaming, toe-up vs. cuff down, raglans vs. set-in sleeves, etc.) I definitely have my preferences, but I can do, and have done, both options. So I feel like I have experienced the pros and cons before I make my choice. In this case, I find myself unable, as yet, to do the two-handed colourwork.

The question is: do I keep at it, and -hopefully- get better, or do I go with using one hand and not let it keep me from starting my colourwork projects?

Or, to put it another way: How stubborn am I?


Kate said...

Think the answer is obvious, really. :-) If it makes you feel any better, I'd love to be able to do stranded knitting with both yarns in one hand (in this case my right hand). But I'm just happy that I can do it at all. :-P

LilKnitter said...

I am so tragically not ambidextrous (what would that be? monodextrous?) that I have not been able to master two-handed stranding. Boo. I'd actually love to hear how you strand one-handed, since I've had so many failed attempts at doing even that moderately well!

As for stubbornness, I think it's a wonderful virtue (says she who could battle wills with an a$$)!

debeh said...

Keep at it! I am a continental knitter too, but I started out learning the English way, so I'm comfortable doing either. But two-handed stranded knitting is so much easier than one-handed. It's definitely worth taking the time to master it.