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.
Judith MacKenzie McCuin
Or is that a little out of hand?