After casting on for Tesla’s second sleeve and knitting the ribbing, I got a crazy idea which has proved quite entertaining but slow for knitting.
Can you tell the difference??
They were not knit the same way.
I have always knit carrying the yarn in my right hand – English style. I did learn to carry in both for FairIsle knitting and it is a useful technique but I had always considered myself too strongly right-hand dominant to learn to carry with the left regularly. A post from Jessica the other day got me started questioning these assumptions and was overwhelmed with the urge to try carrying with the left.
I am basically a self taught knitter. I remember my grandmother and mother knitting and they may have tried to teach me, but it never took. In my early 30s I picked up Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Knitting without Tears, bought some yarn, and started. Initially I knit in the method I now know to be the combination method, knitting through the back loop, wrapping the yarn counter-clockwise, and purling through the front loop, wrapping the yarn clockwise. This seemed like a logical way to knit and the stitches looked normal to me. I realize that this is not how E. Zimmerman illustrated knitting. I think my grandmother may have knitted this way, but I do not remember.
Later, when I attended a knitting seminar I was told that I was knitting incorrectly, and being naive and new to knitting, I believed the instructor and learned to knit in the Western fashion, which I continued for almost 10 years. This did not seem as natural to me but it worked and I was a fairly slow but prolific knitter anyway. When I learned to do 2 handed 2 color knitting I was knitting Western and although I could use the technique it never felt all that natural. I had to re-learn it each time I started a new project. I then learned to carry two colors in the same hand which worked a little better.
About 5 years ago, in the summer of 2000, there was an article in Interweave Knits which described my natural method of knitting as Combination Knitting. I felt validated, but did not immediately switch back. That winter was the first winter that the arthritis in my hand started acting up and one day, quite unintentionally actually, I picked up my knitting in started working in the combination method. My intention to do this had probably been lurking in my subconscious and only my stiff joints coaxed it out into daylight. I was immediately hooked. For me, this was faster, very relaxing on the hands, and even made my arthritic fingers feel better and move more easily.
But I still carried my yarn in the right hand, the left serving only to hold the needle. When Jessica wrote about how dominantly right-handed she was and how useless was her left, she reminded me of myself. But she continued to say she knit continental and the yarn was carried in the left, which only held the yarn. Hmmm... I always thought knitting continental was harder on the left hand because I couldn’t figure out how to hold the yarn and the needle and move the stitches forward without creating a tangle of dropped stitches.
Time to rethink my knitting...
Actually this has worked very well even if slowly. The way I knit lends itself very easily to carrying the yarn in the left and picking up the stitch with the right needle. It may be faster once I master the technique. It took me a little bit to maintain tension, and I still have a little trouble holding yarn and needle occasionally, but that could be partly the thick and thin nature of Tesla and the fact that I am working on double pointed needles at the moment. This probably was not the easiest project on which to change my knitting style. But then I have never been one to necessarily take the easy road. My first knitting project was, after all a mohair sweater.
Although I am still slower using this method rather than my old one, although only marginally at this point, I think I like it better. It seems more logical and natural when actually knitting. My left hand is still a little clumsy. At this point I can’t imagine being able to do this in the dark without looking, but I felt the same way about knitting in general when I started. I suspect that as I grow more accustomed to the technique I will be able to do it by feel very well, perhaps even better than before.
So far my gauge does not seem to be significantly different, but I only have about 3 “ of the second sleeve completed so it is still hard to tell. Something may end up being re-knit. In the meantime however, I am having lots of fun.