I know, that looks like a regular swatch. Garter stitch isn’t new; stockinette isn’t new; ribbing isn’t new. The thing is, though, that I usually knit English (with the yarn held in my right hand) and this little swatch was knit Continental (with the yarn held in my left hand). In my regular life I am not ambidextrous, but I strive for more in knitting, apparently.
I should note, however, that when you learn new things it is slow. This little piece of knitting is more than an hour of work, which feels kind of pathetic. But, I did it by knitting in an entirely new way, and because of that, I’m proud of it. I’m proud of how even my tension is (even though it’s looser than I’m used to), and I’m proud I didn’t make any big mistakes, and I’m especially proud that now, three days after the class, I can still make my hands remember how to do it.
The obvious question, here, is probably why bother. After all, I am a (mostly) proficient knitter as it is, so why do I feel the need to change it up so drastically (and if you don’t think it’s drastic, just try it – one woman got so frustrated that she gave up after 15 minutes; when you’re used to being good at something, it is really hard to accept that garter stitch might be tricky)? Well, there are two big reasons, I guess (if you leave out simple curiosity): the first is that it’s good to teach your brain new things. It’s really easy to get yourself into routines, and sometimes a little shock to that system is healthy, whether it’s taking an entirely new route home from work or learning to knit with your other hand. The other reason (the really big reason, if we’re being honest) is that I want to be able to do two-handed colour work (that is, hold one colour in each hand when working Fair Isle). I haven’t tried it yet – my swatch and I are going to spend some more time together first – but L gave me a gorgeous book of Norwegian mitten patterns for my birthday and I want to try some out.
I also recently bought Knitting with Two Colours by Meg Swansen and Amy Detjen, so I think I’ll try swatching some stranded colour work before I dive right into fancy mittens. I know swatches are boring to look at (even when they’re surprisingly exciting to make, at least in this case), but if my colour work ones turn out, maybe I’ll post them. I’m especially interested in experimenting with yarn dominance…
Have any of you tried switching your knitting style? Who knits Continental full-time? Tips?