Friday, 30 August 2013

FO, but slow

So this didn't exactly turn into the high-speed Hitchhiker that I had hoped for.

I persevered with the Continental technique, I really did but after about halfway through the shawl there was no discernable increase in speed and I was finding it pretty hard going to be honest. It isn't that I can't knit with the yarn in my left hand. I can and I can keep a fairly even tension too, but it just doesn't seem any quicker.

And yes, I was sad enough to time myself too, before you ask.

In the course of my internet reading though I did come across several links to Lever Knitting, also known as Irish Cottage Knitting. This method is espoused by The Yarn Harlot no less, so I did give it a go and found it to be a little more intuitive and natural-feeling than the Continental style. I guess I am a born thrower, and having the yarn in my right hand just feels 'right'

I did also come across several hints and tips for faster or more ergonminc knitting. Some of them I think I knew already or instinctively use but I thought I would share them with you anyway.

  1. Power loading (again, a la The Yarn Harlot)- sounds scary but it just means to scrunch up your left hand stitches up as close to the needle tip as possible.
  2. Live on the edge - keep the stitches on both needles as close to the needle tips as possible to minimise exessive movement.
  3. Don't re-tension - once you have the yarn tensioned comfortably try to ensure you have enough yarn for your row or round, reducing the need to stop and re-tension your yarn.
  4. Practice - any new technique should be practised for at least 20hrs, giving time for your brain to learn all the subtle micro movements needed and develop that muscle memory.
  5. Relax - tension in your neck and shoulders can impede muscle movement and slow you down.
More details about the shawl are on my ravelry page in case you are interested.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Shawl Surprise

The surprise being that I seem to be obssessed with shawl knitting, despite the fact that I should be knitting socks.

I just finished my Herbivore by Stephen West and am really pleased with how it turned out. It has just the right amount of drape and long enough 'arms' to wrap properly around my neck. The yarn is perfect too - silky and luscious to knit with bright little pops of colour - pale green and blue amidst the teal.



I enjoyed it so much in fact that I spent a happy hour perusing more shawl patterns on Ravelry, looking for some more instant gratification. In the end though I plumped for a pattern I have knit before - a Hitchhiker - in some yarn from my Deep Stash. I think it may be from the Natural Dye Studios but don't quote me on it.

I don't normally knit the same thing twice, but this time I have a cunning plan. if I am going to Knit All the Things then I need to knit faster...much faster. So on this project I am determined to crack Continental knitting.

I found this great U-Tube clip which was really helpful. I have tried to knit this way before but until now I never grasped the significance of using the thumb/middle finger of the left hand to hold the stitches at the base of the work - providing a stable point to lever the yarn through, rather than just poking the right hand needle through the loop and fishing around for the strand of yarn coming from the left index finger. Sorry for the appalling description - it makes sense to me - but this lady explains it far better.

So wish me luck...I am going Continental.