Monday, August 9, 2010

Knitting Left-Handed

First of all, happy sequential numbers day.  I just noticed it, and I had to comment.

As for the rest of it, I'm reposting again, mostly because I have nothing original to say today.  As I've been doing this summer, this is a repost from MySpace, before I deleted the account.  This was originally posted on August 16, 2006.  

I had to knit another I-cord. 

An I-cord is a very useful item.  Basically, it's a rope, made of knitting, and it can be used as an edging, a tie, a drawstring, a strap, or anything else you can use a rope for.  It's a very simple item to knit.  (Cast on 3-5 stitches using a double pointed needle, slide the knitting to the opposite side, knit, and repeat only knitting on the right side until the rope is as long as you want it.)

I hate I-cords.

They're useful, sure.  But they are incredibly tedious to make.  It's the same thing, over and over, and while that describes knitting as well, the I-cord ends up being more like typing the same word over and over (as opposed to typing out an email to a friend).  The first hundred times it's not so bad, but by about one million, you want a new word.

But so many patterns call for I-cords, and they're so (I know, I'm repeating myself) useful.

[I spent a weekend making a knitted collar for an old shirt.]  It tied up using an I-cord.  So, once I finished the collar, I had to make an I-cord to go with it.  And while I was doing this, I had a thought.  I remembered something.

A magazine I subscribe to (Knitter's) had this letter from the editor a while back.  He is a lefty.  He talked about how he learned to knit both right and left-handed, and how useful a skill that was.  I thought it was an interesting idea, but I set it aside as something I couldn't pursue at that time.

Suddenly I had the opportunity.

I was about halfway through this I-cord when it occurred to me--why couldn't I knit the I-cord left-handed (I'm a righty)?  It would be the perfect time to learn.  I hated the things anyway, so why not turn what I usually consider a chore into a learning opportunity?

Well, I was already halfway through that I-cord, and the idea of starting on it again when I was so close to finishing it (it's not the sort of thing you can just switch hands on in the middle) gave me chills, so I just finished it up.  But I had a second shirt that I was going to add a collar to, and that collar would need an I-cord as well.

It was not as hard as I expected.  But it wasn't easy either.  First I had to figure out how to cast on, reversing everything I was used to doing.  I had to stop and watch myself do something that I had done without thinking for some time.  I stopped and watched, reversed hands, then tried to repeat.  It didn't work.  Then I realized that I was holding the yarn wrong, and that I had to pull from the outside, not the inside. 

I got a bit of the cord started, but I looked at it and the stitches looked wrong.  Oops.  I was looping the yarn around the needle in the opposite direction.  I had to rip all that out.

I had to rip out the cord at least five times before I got it going right.  I'd make a mistake, and instead of being able to rip it out just a short ways and place all the stitches back on the needle, I found that I couldn't figure out which way the stitches needed to go, and in the end it was just easier to rip the whole thing out.  It was frustrating but exhilarating.  I could do this!

So, last night I pulled out the needles again and started over.  (I had ripped out the last time and left it.  I was tired and not ready to try again.)  And the motions were not as foreign as I had expected them to be.  It started to make sense.  And while the cord did not end up looking like I'm used to making them look (much more even), it wasn't completely horrible.  I actually finished it.  I made a full I-cord, left-handed.

Hopefully it'll be easier the next time I'm ready to try the left-handed thing.

I have not tried to knit left-handed since then, so I suspect that I'll have to learn it all over again.  But since this time, I got a little machine that makes I-cords for me, so I may never have to hand knit an I-cord ever again.  

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