Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Ambidextrous knitting

Earlier this month I attended a two-handed colourwork knitting class run by Morag of Vintage Purls, which I talked about in my Handmade: Day 1 post. It's a little embarrassing, but I finally finished the little bag yesterday! I got distracted by other projects, and because this was a practice project, it was looking a bit of a mess. The tension on the side with the birds was decidedly wonky... but with the magical tidying-up power of blocking, it now looks quite presentable:

I basically gave it a vigorous wash in warm water, and smoothed it out flat to dry in front of the heater. Voila!

Things I learned making this little project:
  • learning new techniques from a teacher in person is much quicker than from books/websites
  • how to knit 'Continental style', with the yarn held in my left hand
  • how to knit with one colour in each hand, knitting 'English' style with RH and 'Continental' with LH
  • how to 'catch' the long floats on the wrong side
  • that smooth, fine, slippery yarn is not the easiest for colourwork - it was hard to get my tension right and my double-pointed needles kept escaping onto the floor
  • that yarn dyed with red food colouring can run when you wash it in warm water (oops!)
  • blocking cures all (or nearly all).

I've signed up for another knitting-related class this Saturday (also with Morag), on shawl construction and design. I have several shawl ideas at the rough-sketch-on-paper stage - I'm hoping the class will give me a boost to get some of them nutted out and realised.

Since the two-handed knitting class, I've used the 'Continental' knitting style to make a plain vanilla hat to get more practice holding the yarn in my left hand. The first inch or so was a pain (especially the ribbing, oh the ribbing!), but it got quite natural after that.

After the plain hat, I made a colourwork hat using the two-handed stranding technique. With thicker, fuzzier wool and more practice under my belt, I had a much easier time of it than with the little bag, and my tension was fine. Here's a sneaky peek at the hat, which I'll be releasing as a free pattern shortly... ;)

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