Saturday, April 04, 2015

Knitting Dilemma

I’m stuck in a knitting conundrum of sorts. First, a little history.

Like most knitters, I awkwardly started my knitting journey with clunky straights and squeaky acrylic. I slowly gained momentum knitting with yarn held in my right hand* by going in through the front door {pause}, run around the back {pause}, peek through the window {pause}, and off jumped jack! This was fine for a while, but being a crocheter prior to learning to knit, I soon was able to knit more efficiently with the yarn held in my left hand. I got faster and faster and the knitting possibilities were endless.

Everything was good for a while, a long while I would say. I could knit without looking, some knitters marveled at how fast I was, but I think I even knew then that something was off. I’m what you call a tight knitter. My tension was ALWAYS tight. It was to the point that I would automatically swatch in a needle two sizes higher than the size recommended to get gauge. I could only knit for a couple hours at a time before my left hand would start cramping and my shoulders would get all tense. Also, I always rowed out and my fabric was never even. I usually blocked the mess out of my knits to combat this but it still never turned out as even as I’d seen others knit. I have to admit that although I loved making things, I just didn’t love the process. I fancied myself a product knitter and knitted until the pain in my hands told me something had to give.

I went back to my roots, so to say, and trained myself to knit with the yarn held in my right hand. I figured the best way to train my hands was to knit a project so I dove right into the Tofino top from Knitting in the Sun.
It took longer than usual to finish but alas my fabric was even and my tension was looser. My upper body didn’t feel as tense but it still felt awkward to knit this way. So, I soon slipped back to my default left handed knitting until it became unbearable.

I don’t exactly remember how, actually I think I was reading The Principles of Knitting by June Hemmons Hiatt and came across the term “lever knitting”. I researched lever knitting, watched the youtube video of the YarnHarlot countless times, joined the rav group and practiced, practiced, practiced. Like I said before, the best practice is to knit a whole project so I knit a couple of project on long straight needles with the right one tucked snuggly in my armpit.

I’m not going to lie, it took a couple of months for it to feel less unfamiliar, but you know what? My hands didn’t hurt, and my shoulders were not one bit tense. I couldn't believe how even my tension was and I was falling in love with the process. I like the way my hands flowed, right hand swooping around the needle as it formed each stitch. I was becoming a process knitter.
Then I noticed that although I fell back in love with knitting, I couldn't figure out how to knit quicker. I recently realized this when I lever knit a sock and it took me about a month, where it would usually take me about a week or two in my left handed knitting days. I really wanted to finish the socks so I went back to my default to knit the other one, which took me about two weeks. You can really see the difference between my knitting styles in this photo.
So here’s the question I keep asking myself; am I a process knitter or a product knitter? I like lever knitting, it makes me happy. In the words of KonMari, it sparks joy. On the other hand, I don’t want it to take forever to knit something. I just started a sweater but I’m taking a crack at my default knitting form, being mindful to keep my fingers loose and not tense up. It seems to be working but I’m not enjoying the process as much. I keep on second guessing if I should have done this project knitting the way that makes me happy. Of course I can’t change in the middle of a project, so I’m stuck knitting in my default for a while.

I guess the question will remained unanswered for a while. I’ll knit on hoping that I can soon learn to increase my speed lever knitting and all will be right with the world again.

Peace and Blessing

*I prefer to avoid using the terms "English" and "Continental" to describe knitting styles. I would much rather use the terms left handed and right handed knitting. Yeah, I'm weird like that.