Friday, July 09, 2010

Left handed learning

Fear not! I have not fallen exhausted from my spinning wheel and been discovered lying prostrate on the floor of the conservatory by my husband, the twist still firmly held in my pincer grip while soft pink and orange BFL dust bunnies roam around the room, clinging gently but persistently to the salty sweat on my furrowed brow.

I have however been spinning, and knitting, and eating ice-cream (it's been hot, what's a girl to do?), and there are a few pink and orange dust bunnies courtesy of this:

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Blue Faced Leicester from Spindlefrog (who no longer seems to have an etsy shop) which came from Wonderwool 2009.  I know I said I didn't want to spin just sock yarn, but at the same time I know what to do with a skein of sock yarn, so it's all about balance.  That and this fibre has been calling my name because it reminds me of sunsets and ice-lollies.

Day 3 of the Tour looked like this:
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And days 4, 5 and 6 look remarkably similar, except for the addition of a little patch of red, a good patch of pinky purple and a return to that glowing orange.  I have spun every day so far, usually while supper was cooking, and as that's really all I was aiming for I'm a happy member of the Peleton.

The distraction from the spinning (and housework and other useful things) has presented itself in the form of my current knitting crush - the little bear's Point Reyes blanket.
As you've seen, you knit the middle as a tube with steeks, cut it up the centre and the next stage is to pick up and knit the border all the way around. So that the border doesn't curl, it isn't pure stocking stitch, one row is 2x2 colour knitting, and the next is 2x2 purling.  Yes that's right, two colour purling, remembering to keep the loose yarn at the back for somewhere between 850 and 900 stitches. Eeek

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The resulting pattern is a gorgeous nubbly texture that will be just the thing to keep little baby hands interested - but the purling...!

My default knitting setting is to knit and purl English-style (ie right handed) and I've taught myself to knit colourwork two handed with enough speed and 'flow' that I enjoy it, but I've never really needed to learn to properly purl left-handed because I'll either work in the round and steek, or it'll just be the odd stitch that needs a purl so it doesn't break the rhythm too much or too often.

I think I could have worked out a way to work the border mosaic-style, purling one colour and slipping the other and then going round and repeating with the other colour but being a glutton for punishment I decided that 3,500 purl stitches (ish) was the perfect opportunity to make myself learn, and it worked, with a little help from the internets.

The most useful site I found was part of Knitting Help which has really good videos of someone purling continental style which helped me to adjust how I thread the yarn through my left hand to tension and which finger to use as the lead.  Both needed to change from how I knit with my left hand and made a huge difference to getting the tension even.

Progress has been slow and steady but as there are only 8 checkerboard rounds on the border, it's all finished now and I've just got a small matter of some steek facings and a bit of tidying up and blocking before I can declare it finished!  Watch this space.


  1. One up on me there because I cannot purl with both hands, or to put it another way I never stayed the course on learning to do it.

    Such perfect weather for having a huge heap of wool on one's lap (although I imagine your lap is fully occupied my the bump)

  2. I too feel okay with knitting left-handed for colorwork but I shy away from anything that even suggests purling with 2 colors! I know I could learn if I put my mind to it... Thanks for sharing the video link!

    Yay! Still spinning!

  3. I have a lot to learn.

    I feel quite dizzy after reading this post. I know its just me. :)


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