The learning curve

Indeed, many things capitalize on the brilliant combination of dark blue/violet and yellow/orange.


And now, my newest project joins their ranks ;).

As you all saw, it involves stranded knitting and the techniques often used in Fair Isle designs. The pattern itself is not a Fair Isle motif, however, so I’ll try to be careful and not call it that. Rather, simply, “stranded knitting.” If I slip, it’s just that – a slip of the keyboard.

This is my first project which requires stranding (group awww!), and after working on it for three nights now, this is what I have to say – how can so many people produce so many beautiful, even (!!!) works of art while I feel like my hands are growing out of my ass any time I have to balance more than one strand of yarn?

As with all firsts, I’m learning. Big time. The learning itself is very satisfying because I’m such a technique geek, but the fact that all this learning has not been terribly fruitful yet is very frustrating.

So far I’ve tried two different ways to coerce my hands into producing something beautiful: (a little background: I am a typical Continental-style knitter. I drape the working yarn over the index finger of my left hand, and pick it with the working needle to make a knit stitch. I never learned to knit English style, so I don’t know how to do it. I don’t think it matters, but I’m a right-handed person when it comes to daily activities)

One strand in left hand, one strand in right. I think this is the way most knitters strand, and it’s the way illustrated in books by Elizabeth Zimmermann, Montse Stanley, the One who cannot be named, and numerous others. Videos here and here.

I understand and fully appreciate this method’s popularity. It is mindless, fiddle-free, intuitive, and just beautiful. It’s like realizing that purls are knits when looked from the other side – efficient simplicity.

I would stop right here if I could throw like a decent knitter (i.e., knit English style), but I can’t! I once said that me trying to knit English style is, “the most stupid-looking thing in the world. … I might as well be a fish trying to peel a banana. Or be deep-sea fishing with a banana.” Yup.

I end up letting go of the needle completely for every stitch, while I know it’s possible to just flick the index finger. I’ve seen others do it, I know it can be done! I also find it very difficult to keep proper tension of whatever yarn I’m holding in my right hand. One word comes to mind: practice.

But why practice if there are methods out there that do not entail the use of my undeveloped throwing skills? All these methods require that I hold both strands in my left hand, and knit Continentally as I typically do, selecting the appropriate strand of yarn for every stitch. Eureka!


The fiddle factor for holding both strands in the left hand is higher, because working around the unused strand of yarn while reaching for the desired one is a bit tricky. Furthermore, the tension issue bites me in the ass once again! You see, I can control the tension of one strand, or of two strands held together uniformly throughout, but simultaneously manipulating the tensions of two different strands, which are used at different rates, but which are wrapped around my hand in identical paths is very tricky. If I use one for four stitches, the other becomes four-stitches’ worth looser and needs to be tugged before being incorporated into the next stitch.


I haven’t given up, though. In fact, I have attempted four variations on this theme for completeness’ sake.

Both strands over my left index finger. Fiddly and not fun because the two eventually merge as one and need to be separated in order for my needle to be able to grab one or the other.

One strand over index finger, one strand over middle finger – doesn’t work for me. Too many fingers tied up in holding yarn, not enough in holding the knitted fabric.

Knitting thimbles, aka, Strickfingerhuts. I have two varieties (purchased here), and I don’t like either. First, they are gigantic and very loose on my index finger. Second, it feels so very odd to not have the yarn running over my index finger, but rather have it suspended in mid-air half a centimeter above. No me likey.

And last, a homemade knitting thimble, the current favorite in this category. I wrapped two Band-Aids around an old ring of mine so that it would stay precisely at the right place on my index finger, and use this contraption to physically separate the two strand of yarn. This works well for me. Only the tension wonkiness I refer to above – the need to yank on the unused yarn every so often because the two are tensed at the same point.

So, it’s down to two: following tradition, English-style throwing one strand with my right hand, or using the homemade knitting thimble. Practice is required for both. I wish I already knew which will prove to be more fruitful at the end, because then I could concentrate my efforts. Until then, I seem to be changing my mind every other round, or any time I stop and examine the wonkiness in front of me.

As for this wonkiness – I will show it to you in time, but not right now (none of your guesses were correct, by the way). First, I’ve only knit a few rounds and it doesn’t look like much. Second, I regretfully have to frog all that I’ve knit so far because it’s too small.

Last, I’m about to embark on a pattern modification like no other – swapping stranding patterns left and right in order to increase the size a good 20%. And I can’t even knit this stuff yet. Deep breath.


66 thoughts on “The learning curve

  1. CatBookMom

    Look into Beth Reinsel-Brown’s website or books or whatever. Beth teaches classes in Norwegian purl, among other techniques. I took a short class from her in October 2004; I learned the Norwegian purl, but not the awesome way she uses that to knit two colors in the sort of thing you’re working on. She was just at Stitches West, so I don’t know where you’d find her next, but this is her website.

  2. Janet

    Keep practicing. It gets easier very quickly. I’m a die-hard continental knitter and leaning to hold one color in each hand was almost painful – at first. Now it’s actually fun!

  3. twig

    I use a knitting thimble like the one of the left — it’s the only way I can do it, BUT I don’t do it well.

    Now the important question — how do you manage to take pictures of both your hands at once? I’m assuming a tripod is involved but I can never get my target in the right spot for a decent picture. *sigh*

  4. otismurph

    The new Sally Melville book Color has a section on stranding with both yarns in the left or right hand, I was just looking at it the other day. There were good pictures, too!

  5. carole

    haaaaaaaa, well I’m such a loser that I just dropped the other strand and re-picked it up as I needed! I’m an English knitter & I can’t pick to save my life!

  6. Becky

    I know you aren’t actually doing Fair Isle, but I’ve recently been giving it a go. For awhile, I was trying something very similar to your homemade thimble. I wore a ring on my index and ring fingers to keep the two yarns seperate. I really liked this method until I realized that my work was totally fubar once it relaxed. It almost looks like I was doing ribbing. hehe

    Now I’ve been holding the foreground color in my left hand and the background color in my right. I have to completely let go of the right needle but since I’m using circs, it hasn’t been a problem.

  7. gigi

    i’m suspicious of any activity that requires a – (hmmm, how shall i say this?) a device. i say tough it out and learn to throw. think of how proud and smug you will feel once you’ve mastered it. and i ask you, what’s better than smug self-satisfaction? nothing that’s what.

    love the colors

  8. maryse

    i’m with carole. try as i might, my left hand is worthless when it comes to knitting and i’m very definitely a thrower. i hold both strands in my right hand. i’ve tried to use my left but it’s insanely awkward. i guess if i practiced i might get better. duh.

    good luck.

  9. claudia

    What I do when two color knitting is hold the color with the most stitches in my left hand and pick at it as normal. Then knit English style with the other color in my right hand. I do think it is worth the trouble to learn the English style. And you might try taking a circular swatch that in your opinion looks like ass, and give it a good wash, soak and dry. Blocking does wonders for two color knitting tension.

  10. mia

    I just learned stranding myself, and I knit with both yarns in my RIGHT hand, the opposite from you! I found that the book “Favorite Mittens” by Robin Hansen had some pictures that for whatever reason made sense to me and enabled me to try it out. I definitely was crappy at it for the first sleeve of my Lopi sweater, but by sleeve 2 I was pretty much over the crap phase. It gets better, I promise!

  11. Cara

    I’m the exact opposite! I can’t knit continental to save my life – it’s like my left hand is a limp noodle. So I’m holding both strands in my right hand and throwing the one I need. It’s working for me – but I’m only making mittens. I might have to learn a new way if I was going to make a sweater or something. Good luck!

  12. Kira

    I totally understand the problems you are having, because I went through it all with a very large man’s sweater in bulky wool, knit flat too! You don’t really want that to be your first stranded project. I couldn’t get the two handed knitting either and ended up with both in my left hand. I think that the fact it was bulky uneven yarn helped disguise the gauge problems that I had!

  13. eunny

    Try forcing yourself to knit a circular swatch English-style…it comes really quickly with practice.

    I remember looking at that bit yesterday, and thinking, “Has Kathy knit colorwork before? I don’t remember it on the blog…” It looked marvelous, from the inside at least. And the outside of almost anything will look great, too, with a thorough washing and blocking.

  14. Helen

    On my monitor those are PERFECT Illini colors (University of Illinois — Orange and Blue they say).

    The Michigan gold is sufficiently yellower that it seems off.

    There was a time while I was attending Illinois that my mom was an administrator at Michigan. They’re great rivals. It was disturbing to know that I learned Michigan’s fight song w/in one game, but still don’t really know Illinois’

  15. Karla

    I am an “English” knitter and I do let go of the needle with each ‘throw’. For some reason, I don’t have tension issues, but I’ve hit a speed wall, so am trying to teach myself Continental.

    I have done two color stranded, one in each hand, so I know it’s POSSIBLE.

    Good Luck

  16. Logan

    I knit English style, and am suitably awed by anyone knitting Continental (which I can do for a bit between glass of wine two and three, but no other time).

    Your comment about letting go of the needle to “throw” or “flick” with the right index finger? That’s exactly how I knit, and why I always knit on circulars or DPNs (the left hand supports the work, while the right flails about tossing yarn to make stitches – really amazing if you think about it). Kind of a “one hand free” method of knitting.

    Why am I still babbling? Oh yeah – maybe try carrying one yarn in each hand again, but let yourself let go with the right hand, as needed. Your knitting isn’t going to up and leave, not while it’s corraled by lap and left hand.

    Keep at it!

  17. pixie

    oh I feel so not alone now! I have been trying to knit fair isle for a while now. My secret pal for me a great finger thready thingy, it is from clover and I like it alot, but I still felt akward. I actually keep the yarn inbetween my index and middle finger on my left hand. I have never met anyone else who does this and its creating a real problem for fair isle with two in the left hand.

    †rying to throw english is worse, cause i use my RIGHT index finger to move the needle, so trying to knit with that hand and that finger is like trying to drink with your pinky up in the air, gets tired real fast! I am very frustrated with stranded knitting at the moment.

  18. Stephanie

    Oh, I feel your pain. I too struggled with the English style, but I thought both strands in the left hand was worse. So, I practiced and eventually got “better” with the right hand. Although my tension is still a bit wonky, blocking does indeed work miracles. Keep at it, the whole throwing thing will eventually become ok (not great or normal, but ok).

  19. Arielle

    I’m very curious as to what all this effort is going to be. However–I guess we all have to be patient. I haven’t gotten a chance to try fair-isle or stranded knitting as yet–but thank you for providing a play-by-play. I know it’ll be useful to the rest of us as we venture forth into the land of fair-isle.

  20. Illanna

    I think it’s funny that the swedes are capitalizing on your color combo- the flag in the photo montage cracked me up. I learned to do fair isle from my friend’s tutorial on her “Kate” pattern. It’s free for now, too- go to her site: and scroll down and click on “Free for now download the pdf.” She knits with the yarn in her left hand, like you do, so maybe you will be able to get some ideas for her tutorial. Have a great day!

  21. rachel

    I’m also a continental knitter doing my first stranded project. I tried when swatching to do the two-handed method, but it ranged from very awkward to actually painful — my right hand just was not willing to do it. (weirdish, because I’m somewhere between right-handed and ambidextrous).

    I ordinarily tension the yarn by wrapping around my left index finger. What has been working for me is tensioning the background yarn around my pinky and over my index finger, and tensioning the foreground yarn my usual way, around the index finger. Like you, I found that both yarns following the same path resulted in serious tension problems. I do sometimes have to give one yarn a tug after a long run of the other yarn, but mostly this works for me.

    The other thing I found is that the apparent even-ness of the tension of my swatch improved enormously on washing. When I knit it, it had a sort of embossed look, but after wet-blocking it filled in and smoothed out completely. (I’m working in a wool/silk blend yarn; I suspect that doing a first stranded project in cotton would be something to regret at leisure.)

  22. gail

    Joyce Williams, of Latvian Dreams fame, knits as you describe–with both yarns in the left hands. She showed me how to do this, but I couldn’t keep both yarns separated on my left index finger, no matter how much I tried!! I abandoned this for the two hand method. Every once in a while I tried both yarns in the left hand method, but I still haven’t mastered it. Good luck to you! Share your wisdom when you get past the learning stage!

  23. Carolyn

    HA! I swear I just wrote that post…except insert “right hand” where you say “left hand”. Totally…seriously…that is what I have been doing. I actually was going to try the little handmade dodad on my finger. I read somewhere on line to use a pipecleaner…but bandaid and old ring…hmmmm…that may work!

  24. Susan

    I have to agree with Claudia, I do the same thing since I usually knit continental, but I do throw fine, I just find it slower. Picking as much as possible seemed to make sense to me.

  25. Debra

    Like you I am a natural right-hander who knits Continental, and I’ve been working three days and nights now trying to manage two yarns for color knitting. I can barely manage two-handed (same problem of a spastic right hand when it comes to throwing the yarn English-style), but the results are poor and the going is slow. I then tried a method I saw on Eunny’s blog of two yarns held in left hand on the middle and index fingers and weaving in every stitch (great for baby clothes where you don’t want long strands), but my tension still left much to be desired, though I think this will work with more practice. Finally, today I broke down and bought the Clover yarn guide gizmo, and I must say the results are very good and the knitting flies. The device allows me to focus on proper tension for the stranding, resulting in a smooth, unpuckered surface. Maybe in time I’ll be able to take off the training wheels, but it feels good knowing I can take on a Fair Isle project. Looking forward to your progress!

  26. Susie

    I normally “throw” with the right hand and was determined to learn “picking” with the left to do stranded work. It took about 3 mittens to become comfortable and now I love it. Try wrapping the yarn around the right index finger twice ….. not too tightly … it might help the feeling of dropping the piece when you “throw” or sort of “flick”. You’ll work out the tension soon if you stick with it…. about 3 mittens worth.

  27. freecia

    I’m lucky enough to work in a LYS which has a Norwegian on staff. “What is this Norwegian Purl? This is the way I learned as a child.” Perhaps there’s a Norwegian in your neck of the woods, say at a knitting group, who could show you how she does it. Nothing like needing to knit your own woolies to keep warm to hone knitting skills. A Swiss lady came in she does a “Norwegian” Purl, too.

    Still have trouble like the dickens in getting my left hand to tension as well as I do in “throwing” with my right. Maybe I’ll try the ring method. And oh, that you made your own knitting thimble- way to MacGuyver it! That just rocks.

  28. freecia

    Oh, just how do you get these photos of both your hands if they’re in the picture? Normally I’d guess that someone took the photo for you but they look like they’re taken from your POV…

  29. nikki

    I totally sympathize with your dilemma. I’m a lefty – and pretty much useless with my right hand – and therefore, I knit continental. When I made a fair isle pullover for my daughter, I ended up dropping the less used color of yarn between uses. It sucked. It also felt okay to have the yarn in my left hand, one strand over the index, one strand over the middle. BUT, the other problem I was having was that I don’t know whether I need to twist the yarn between color changes, like you do in intarsia. I did on the sweater I made, but I don’t know if you’re supposed to. (Yes, I am dumb. Really really dumb.) That made it near impossibe to switch colors with only my left hand. See, I even feel stupid typing this. LOL.

  30. Kat

    I learned how to knit with the yarn in my right hand, and only recently figured out how to knit with a colour in each hand. One big thing I learned: it’s not just the finger holding the yarn that’s different, the needle movement switches too. If you are throwing, the right-hand needle should stay still while the left-hand needle impales the working stitch onto the right-hand needle. Therefore all the right hand has to do is take care of the yarn. Conversely, with the yarn in the left hand, the right-hand needle stabs into the working stitch on the left-hand needle before the yarn wrap happens.

    That was the a-ha! moment for me, anyhow. After I got that figured out, my tension evened out and my floats got nice and even. It was very sudden when it all fell together.

  31. may

    I’ve never tried stranded work or knitting with yarn in both hands, but I do knit English style. And like you, I used to have to let go of the needle after every stitch. It’s incredibly slow and tiring and it hurts my hands.

    Last summer, my husband’s aunt showed me how she wrap the yarn by just flicking the index finger. The trick is to have your right hand ‘under’ the needle instead of ‘over’ the needle and cradle the needle in the space between the thumb and the index finger. It’s like magic! My speed has increase by at least 3 fold and my fingers don’t hurt anymore. This trick works best with small needles, so I’ve been cranking out socks like crazy since then πŸ˜‰

  32. Laura

    I can’t imagine trying to knit with two yarns in the same hand, so I recommend the two handed style πŸ™‚

    I learned to knit with both hands almost simultaneously because the first thing I ever knit had a stranded, fair isle-ish portion. Because of that, I can knit with both hands with ease and with nearly the same tension. As with most of the knitting techniques that I learned early on, I didn’t realize that knitting with both hands was a big deal. In fact, during my early knitting experiences, I switched back and forth all the time. Now I’m primarily an English knitter.

    I find the ability to knit with both hands amazingly valuable. Fair isle, stranding, and weaving floats are all easy for me. And I can easily teach people to knit who want to hold the yarn in their left hands. People who know how to crochet naturally hold the yarn in their left hands and I can show them continental knitting without them realizing that I knit in a different way.

    Also, I let go of the needle for every stitch. I tried the flicking thing, but couldn’t get the hang of it. Letting go of the needle can be natural and fast with practice. Like any knitting style, you just need to train your fingers to move in the right way.

  33. Kelly B.

    Looks like you’ve got lots of good advice, but I guess I’ll add mine too! Knitting stranded with two hands is immensely satisfying in my opinion. I’d say just try knitting a swatch English style, just to practice. I’ve knit English style since I learned 5 years ago, and just recently taught myself Continental. It was so awkward for DAYS, but eventually it all clicked. Now I’m glad I know both- I can primarily knit Continental, but when I run into tricky spots I have the option of switching to English too.

    Keep plugging away, and I think you’ll find that learning the two-hand technique will give you an even, beautiful result.

  34. Katherine

    I’d go with two-hands. For all the reasons listed above plus having the ability to switch back and forth between Eng/Cont to relieve hand-strain. It can really help!

  35. Martha (another one)

    I’m a two-hander. I forced myself to knit continental for a while to practice. Now I switch sometimes if my hands are getting tired. Or if I’m bored.

    One tension trick I found out on accident is to knit the object inside out. I didn’t know any better when I started knitting in the round on my first Fair Isle mitten, and it turned out nicely. Since the yarn has to travel farther to make it around the corners, it gives you a little extra looseness.

    You’re still looking at the right side as you’re knitting, it’s not as much of a paradigm shift as it sounds. Really.

  36. knitzalot

    I’m right there with you, except I have the opposite problem. I’m an Enlgish-style knitter and I can’t pick to save my life. I feel like my left hand is an utterly useless appendage.

  37. knitzalot

    I’m right there with you, except I have the opposite problem. I’m an Enlgish-style knitter and I can’t pick to save my life. I feel like my left hand is an utterly useless appendage.

  38. Sigga Sif

    I learnt that for stranded knitting to keep all threads on the left hand, with the main color going over the index and middle fingers (closest to the hand), while the rest only go over the index finger (further out along fingers). It works fairly ok for me after some practice, although the threads do get tangled sometimes. (Oh, and I’m a continental.)

  39. Elisabeth Augusta

    There is another way you could try. To hold one strand over your index finger and the other strand over the index AND middle fingre. Then when you use the yarn that goes over both fingers you lift the middle finger just a tad to separate the yarns. Whatever method you choose, I’m sure the result will be lovely in the end.

  40. Annie

    English may be your second language, but you sure have a way with words! (Hands growing out of your ass…you crack me up!)

  41. betty

    Standed knitting is my next big challenge… i think i will find exactly the same problems… so maybe i’ll wait and watch what works for you!

    allways following your steps!

  42. lynn

    I would not allow myself to purchase a set of Denise interchangables until I learned how to knit Continental, knowing it would make it much easier to use circulars if I did. It was tough, and I resisted, but now I’m equally comfortable with both, and I have to say, it’s wonderful to have a choice.

    I would strongly encourage you to make yourself learn English — it will slow you down at first, which is excruciating, but it will eventually speed up your two color knitting. A hint: while you’re learning, try using straights. When I knit straight-up English, I use straights and wedge the end of the right needle in my lap or waistband. The right needle stays pretty much stationary, and then I move only the left needle up and down over the right. This might give your right fingers a chance to learn the most efficient way to throw the yarn without having to worry about holding and dropping the needle.

  43. LauraMae

    Just a tip I learned from Beth Brown-Reinsel: When you are carrying both colors in your left hand, place one on either side of your middle finger. They still will both be going over your first finger, but it helped me immensely to have my middle finger between them. Also, just in case you ever have to knit three colors at one time, and there are some patterns which call for his, it will be helpful for you to be able to knit with two in your left hand and a third in your right hand, so my recommendation is to learn both ways, though you’ll have one method you prefer for most fair isle cases. Have fun!! I love your blog!

  44. Jes

    I started knitting by throwing, and eventually I’taught myself to pick. Both of them took practice, so if you decide to throw, you might want to put the stranding aside and just try to knit an entire hat English style. By the time you were done, you’d be way more comfortable with it, even if it looked a little wonky. Then you could go back to the stranding and be more comfortable (and give the hat to the poor and pretend it never happened)

    Also, when I throw, I drop the needle every stitch. I have a friend who does the same. I know you’re frustrated with the learning curve, but you gotta start somehwere πŸ˜‰ Try doing it the easy way first, and then hit the advanced technique. It might take a little more time, but it’s a lot less aggravating.

  45. Kym

    I just tackled 2-handed stranding this fall. Stick it out — it’s so worth it when you can do both! (I had to learn continental to master the 2-handed method.) It took me 3 concentrated hours before I felt comfortable. Can’t wait to see your project!

  46. Teresa

    I started knitting stranded last week, and I have been finding the same issues. What I have found (since I never thought of the ring/bandaid idea brilliant) is having the yarn go aroung your index finger in two different directions. Cross them between finger and material and then have one go from front to back, second colour back to front. I still haven’t got the tension thing great yet, as my style is changing. For the different tensions could you wrap oneyarn around your pinky and the other on the ring finger.

    I am planning on a good blocking for my hat to get rid of tension woes.

  47. Emily

    I find that when I’m knitting with one strand in each hand, I “throw” and “pick” differently than I would if I was only knitting with one strand.

    I don’t let go of the right needle when throwing. Here’s how I do it: first, have the yarn go over your index finger, under your middle finger, over your fourth finger, and under your pinky. Then, grasp the needle about two inches from the tip with your thumb and fourth finger. From that position, my index finger can “throw” the yarn over the needle tip. But I do have very long fingers. I’d be happy to show you how I do it sometime.

  48. Martha

    I’m a leftie, but apparently incapable of knitting Continental. So I knit English, and carry both strands over my right index finger. I don’t have one of those knitting thimbles, but I saw one in a catalog and was thinking of buying it. I love your homemade one! great idea.

    I think everyone starts knitting English by letting go of the needle. It takes a while before you get comfortable enough to just throw your finger over.

  49. Jayme

    When I use either a knitting thimble I ension one of the yarns around my pinky as usual and the other around my ring finger. This works for me to resolve the tension issues.

  50. LaurieM

    Blocking will fix the tension! You can’t really tell if you are getting a good result untill after you have blocked your stranded item. The key is to do a tight block that pulls everything even.

    Do some reading on Fair Isle. Most books say the same thing about tension and blocking.

  51. Felicia

    Nice homemade invention, Kathy! I tried both strands in the left hand before as well — I think Meg Swansen knits this way — and, like you, had issues with the variable tension of the two strands… So I knit colourwork with both hands… I love it. It makes me feel like a superhero.

    Also, I’m wondering if you’ve had a look at Ann Feitelson’s book “Art of Fair Isle Knitting” — she has a discussion about how dark or light colours should be consistently carried in one hand or the other, depending on how you want the final product to look. That is, holding the darker colour in your left hand and lighter colour in your right hand will make the lighter colours “pop out” more. If you are inconsistent with hand/colour combination, your final knitting can look blotchy (I still wonder if there is truth to this…). I wonder how carrying both strands in the left hand would affect this…

  52. kaitlyn

    i love your last thimble contraption! I have been considering trying moleskin (like, for your feet) instead of bandaids to see if it feels more natural.

  53. Tiffany

    Thank you for the great posts on your struggles with this. I knit continental so I know when I try to use two colors this info will be invaluable. I will wait to see what you think is easiest. πŸ™‚ Also the purple and gold….those are bad colors….they should never be put together. πŸ™‚ I only say that because in my town we have two high schools and the rival school is purple and orange. πŸ™‚

  54. Rhiannon

    I actually hold the main color on my left hand normal, and then I do this thing where I loop the contrast color around my index finger to get the tension. If I could figure out a way to take a picture of my hand I would show you.

  55. hellahelen

    I’m a two-fisted Fair Isler and proud of it. I initially learned to knit American-style, but within a month or two discovered Continental. Needless to say, my American technique quickly fell by the wayside, but I can revive it well enough to pull off the two-fisted technique.

    My recommendation: force yourself to knit American-style for a while–just do a swatch. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll be able to two-fist like a pro. I know it’s frustrating, but in the end, I think it’s the most efficient, graceful way to go. Not to mention you won’t need to jerry-rig yourself a tension tool every time you want to do a little stranded work.


  56. Cindy

    What a timely, (for me), topic! I too, am a continental knitter and have tried various ways. I was getting to be proficient in the two-handed method but it was still slow, and like you, I tended to let go of the right needle. Sigh.

    Sooo, my latest method is both yarns in my left hand. I tension the yarns by winding around my little finger, and instead of winding both together, I wind them separately, (the second yarn requires me to use both hands to position it) and carry one yarn over my middle and index finger, and the other one over my index finger. That separates them pretty well and the tension of each can be controlled. I am quite pleased with my tension now.

    I am holding my breath to read more of your discoveries!


  57. Linda

    I just knit 2 projects successfully holding both yarns in my left hand. This is how I grab the yarn: Put the background color up and the contrast down. Hold your left hand thumb up facing away from your body and put the left middle finger between them. Then bend your index finger and poke your knuckle between the yarns. The background will end up on top between your first and second knuckle and the contrast color will wind up one knuckle lower. I just then tension them both along my palm and back through behind my pinky finger. I proceed to knit with my index finger slightly bent, relaxed, and the knuckle keeps the yarns separated. Also, having that 3rd finger in there really helped. It is really easy to catch the contrast color every few stitches as needed with this method. The contrast color DOES feed through with the background color, but it made nice relaxed floats that are no longer than 3-4 stitches anyway and the contrast color seems to stand out nicely with this slight tension difference.

  58. Vicki

    On myt one and only stranded knitting project I used a ring to keep the strands separated on one finger. I definitely noticed the tension issue, but it was easier than learning to use both hands at once.Let us know what you come up with.

  59. Laura Neal

    Believe it or not, the weaving in technique works better and is easier to accomplish. Check out Philosopher’s wool, they have a very educational book that teaches it. Stranding bites the big one since the yarn tends to catch on everything.

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