Saturday, February 21, 2009

Pearls of wisdom

Well, spurred on by all of the "it's easy" remarks in the comments, I decided to make a go of learning to purl with my left hand. I was also spurred on by a row with lots and lots of knit stitches in one color, followed by one stinkin' purl stitch in the other color, then back to the main color. I knit faster with my right hand, so when possible, I use that hand for whatever color I'm using most in a row. Of course, to date, I have also tried to use that hand for whatever color needed to be purled in a row, but in this particular row, my two organizing criteria came to blows.

The funny thing about learning to do something new like this is how all-body the experience is. You know how it usually is with knitting: the hands go merrily about their business, doing whatever it is that they need to do to get those stitches knitted, and the rest of you can do whatever else it wants -- watch TV, talk, read, whatever. (As an aside, have you ever watched your hands do knitting? It's a pretty remarkable thing to see; they have this little internal script all their own, as if they had little bitty brains in there telling them what to do. Sometimes I do this and realize that I had no idea at all that my hands knitted that way; my left had is all about keeping the stitches moving towards the knit zone - in many ways, it's busier than my right. Who knew? Don't think too hard about it while you watch, though, or it's like trying to pay attention to the way you walk - you start tripping over your own feet.)

So there I was, learning my hardest, and I suddenly realized that I was doing this full-body engagement with the knitting: my tongue was sticking out, my legs were tense, I was twisting my body the way I so wished my stitches would go (rather like a neophyte skier vainly turning her torso the way she wants to go, as if that might convince her legs to follow). It was pretty funny. The long and the short of it is that I did it, the stitches sit on the needle the right way and don't look funny, and it wasn't so bad. I'm still not convinced by those knitters who insist that the knit-to-purl transition is faster when the yarn is held in the left hand, but I can do it when I need to, and that's what I wanted.

I have now made it to the first decrease row, which is great. If I can just get through the colorwork section, I have no doubt that I can work the rest of the hat fairly quickly, so I'll be trying to spend some quality time with it this weekend.

Of course, the other thing I'll be spending some quality time doing this weekend is watching bike racing. The plan for tomorrow stands; we'll try to catch the riders on one of the ascent bits of this last stage of the Tour of California, and then head into Escondido to get as close to the finish as we can. I don't think I'll be bringing this along, unless I finish the colorwork, so I can put some quality time in with the anemone socks instead.

In the meantime, have you all seen the list of teachers Stephanie and Tina have lined up for the Sock Summit? I'm speechless. I would have squealed, dignity notwithstanding, but I was too busy having a heart attack. Insanity. The collective wisdom present at that event is going to be tangible. I'm a little awestruck just thinking of it.

Not too awestruck to make a list of the teachers whom I really, really wish I could take classes with, of course.
Nancy Bush
Pricilla Gibson-Roberts
Anne Hanson
Sivia Harding
Judith MacKenzie McCuin
Lucy Neatby
Tina Newton
Clara Parkes
Stephanie Pearl-McPhee
Meg Swansen
Barbara Walker
Anna Zilboorg

Or is that a little out of hand?


Wool Enough said...

I was oohing and aahing over the Sock Summit list of teachers too. Until I got to Barbara Walker. Then I just fainted dead away. Had to be revived with smelling salts.

Joy said...

Love the cream-to-grays in the tam - beautiful. Sock summit sounds wonderful, doesn't it? I wish it weren't so far away from Missouri!


Verra nize job on the tam. Bet your mom loves it. And thanks for the kind words regarding Ginger.

Anne said...

If you put on your superknitter costume can you manage colorwork AND cheering on the cyclists? I am sure I saw someone in such an outfit amongst the crowds following the Tour de France ... give a yell on my behalf for Levi and co!

AlisonH said...

The one that had me most speechless was Barbara Walker; she's been away from the knitting scene for decades, although I did read one article a couple years ago saying she'd been teaching one class again at some something-or-other.

I got to talk to her on the phone once, getting verbal and then written permission to use some of her lace patterns in my shawl patterns for my book. My son was living not far from her at the time, and we swapped hurricane stories a moment. She was gracious, she was generous, and I hoped, when I mailed her a copy of the book when it came out, that it would be to her liking. If ever there were someone to try to live up to in the knitting world...

And wow, she's coming!

Willow said...

The tam is coming along and is looking great.
That Sock Summit--wow, I'm amazed!

Stell said...

I thought it was a Bohus, you will love knitting that, the yarn the colours are just so amazing. I've knit one and my secret treat for some time is a second kit hidden deep in my stash - they are addictive ... you know that already don't you?

KnitNana said...

You are so far ahead of me...knitting with both hands, and purling with the left, too? (the hat looks so misty and lovely!)

Are you going to go to Sock Summit? I'm so green with envy, I'd die to go...and it's not the best time for me, but ...oh. oh. OH...
Barbara Walker?
You bet, I'm gonna try to go.
(And I'm insane, I'll come back here and turn around to go do the huge cat show we do every Sept)

Can I justify buying the remaining 3 stitch dictionaries and then lugging them on the plane for her to autograph?

Miss 376 said...

there is a course here later in the year to teach knitting without turning, I'm thinking about going. It will be a totally different experience to what I'm used to

Alwen said...

I've been known to say that my hands are smarter than I am, if I just get out of their way!

That photo is just gorgeous. *sigh* So many cool knitting things and only two hands!

Mary Lou said...

It is funny to watch yourself knit. I have to do that when I'm teaching sometimes, to try and explain it to a new knitter. Then I have to stand behind them as they knit, I can't do it from across a table, it just confuses me. Limited spatial skills, I think. Are you going to sock summit? The Barbara Walker appearance blew me away -- I'd give anything to see her.

Gwen said...

What a gorgeous piece of knitting. Learning a new, and not intuitive for you, skill is probably good to keep up the empathy for our kiddos constantly learning new things. Keeps us from getting too complacent. Not so good for the shoulders though! And don't bite your tongue...

Rachael said...

It looks just beautiful!

I have yet to learn how to purl with my right hand, go you!

EGunn said...

I was trying to learn a different way of tensioning the yarn from someone at Madrona, and it's amazing how full-body an experience it is. I'd go for a stitch or two, and then have to switch back to make sure I still knew how my hands were supposed to move and how this was different. Our brains do an impressive amount on auto-pilot (thankfully!).

As for the Sock Summit, the list of teachers is amazing. We need a time warp (and perhaps a small fortune) so that we can take classes with all of them. Think that can be arranged?

Bea said...

Yes I watch my hands all the time. I love that they seem to know what they are doing without any prompting from me. Also I find that I do everything slower when I hold the yarn in my left hand. I'm not a slow knitter at all with it in my right hand but I can crawl with my left hand. Your hat is looking great of course. I'm glad you made it through the colorwork in time to bring it along. Sock summit sounds fun.