Today, I have indeed done something a bit different – figured out how to make gifs. A glorious world of stupid cats and flying text awaits me, but first I thought I’d just nerd the hell out about my knitting technique. Comparing techniques is useful!
(Note: These gifs should be about as fast I as go in real life, so this is more of a demo than a tutorial – of course internet browsers may vary and if you’re reading in Firefox you will probably think I’m superhuman)
I am very righthanded, so I’ve always knit in the ‘English’ style, which is to say, I control the incoming yarn with my right hand. I have my own way of wrapping the yarn round my fingers to stop it slipping too much- usually it’s one clockwise wrap round the ring finger, and twice anti-clockwise around the index like so.
The project I’m working on here is verson 2.0 of this shawl, and it’s all in Jamieson & Smiths 2-ply pure wool. It’s very rough stuff, and with these kinds of yarns I don’t actually wrap the yarn around the index finger. This stops the tension getting too tight.
Now, for the actual knitting, I believe my technique is a variation on English knitting known as ‘flicking’. It’s somewhere between regular English knitting, and the lesser known lever knitting, which old-school production knitters can work up blistering speeds on.
What this means in practice is that I don’t drop the yarn between stitches, I mainly move the right needle, and shuffle the left-hand stitches along with my left index finger.
Last time I tried timing myself I found I can knit about 40 stitches per minute (which includes time spent smooshing the knitting up along the needles). It’s not lightning-fast but the knitwear sure gets cranked out at a respectable rate. The real secret to fast knitting is actually bloody-minded determination and also having more important things you should really be doing instead.
Below, I am dong some purling in much the same way. The only difference is I mostly push the stitches along with the thumb instead. Purling is a little harder using this method, but I don’t get much ‘rowing’ on flat stockinette knitting, so at least I know the tensions are similar.
It gets more complicated! This shawl I’m making involves some fair isle. To hold two colours, I separate the two strands of yarn around the little finger and ring finger before popping them both over the index. The ‘dominant’ colour is always the closest to the fingertips.
Then it’s just a matter of picking up the right colour as I go. It’s a very comfortable method for me but purling fair isle is basically impossible like this. I either avoid it, or go back to dropping each yarn in turn
As I’ve come this far in nerding out about technique, let’s talk about the ghostly spectres looming over all knitters: RSI and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. I pay attention to hand health because I am far too young to have wrists like rusty hinges. The biggest problem to watch out for is tiring out my left index finger. I’ve learnt the hard way that extending your index fingers repeatedly is a real no-no, so I keep it bent at all times. Keeping my fingers are close to the needles and needle tips also helps to make sure they’re relaxed and bent. Plus, less movement = more efficiency! The angle between needles is at least perpendicular, if not acute.
I like my ludicrously fine gauge knitting mostly for asthetics, but I do find using needles over 4mm to be far more tiring. More movement required per stitch I think. Somewhere between 3mm and 3.75mm is my comfort zone.
I hope you found those gifs enlightening! What’s your technique and it’s pros and cons?
All of my posts for this week are collected here.
You can see what everyone else has posted today here.