Stranding with two hands
I thought it might be helpful to create a post to act as an aide-memoire to you lovely folks who have attended my introduction to fair isle workshops. So here it is.
No right or wrong with knitting, just what’s best for you
Of course there is no right or wrong with knitting. There are many ways of holding the needles and manipulating the yarns. Comfort and tension are always your main measures of success. However, learning to hold the yarns in both hands makes life a lot easier. Less tangle, less puckering and hopefully a smoother tension.
My apologies to left handers as what follows below is a right handed version (mine).
A right handed example
The first photo shows how to knit from the left hand in the contrast colour (pink). I hold the contrast over my forefinger and use this finger actively to create the desired tension on this yarn. I also use this finger to push down on the RH needle, if needed, to help the catch and pull through of the contrast yarn to complete the knit stitch.
The second picture shows how I have taken my right needle over the top of the contrast yarn, hooked under it and pulled it through the stitch on the row below.
The third picture shows a second stitch created in the contrast yarn in the same way.
This final picture shows how I have carried the background yarn across the two contrast stitches I have created, to knit the next stitch from the right hand needle.
It is wise to keep your background yarns consistently in one hand (e.g. right) and the contrast (motif) yarns in the other. This greatly assists with creating a smooth tension and does help stop the yarns tangling.
Practice makes perfect
If you are new to knitting with two hands I do advise you persevere with this technique. You may find it slow and cumbersome at first as your fingers get used to manipulating the needles and yarns in a different way. However, once you get a few hours of practice in to them you’ll find it becomes much smoother and does speed up.
Remember also if you are new to stranding and the results are not looking terribly even, a good blocking/washing helps the stitches and strands to settle. Also using a wool rich yarn such as a Shetland yarn will make your initial projects look much more pleasing (particularly after washing when they can bloom a little). Smooth, slippy and non stretchy yarns (some acrylics, cottons, merino) are unforgiving and are probably best avoided until you have practiced a bit first.
Some patterns to help you practice your technique
I have just published the pattern for this playful beanie in my Etsy shop. It is knitted using the stranding technique described above, in the round (no purl stitches to worry about!). More information on the pattern can be found by clicking here.
Hill Head Mitts
Inspired by my favourite coastal haunt, these practical mitts are also knitted in the round using stranded colour work. The pattern can be found by clicking here.
Happy stranding folks. Until next time…….