Apologies to Alice

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I had had these five colors of JaWoll sock yarn sitting in my stash for years, waiting for me to get around to knitting a couple pairs of stranded colorwork socks. I kept feeling intimidated by that though and kept not doing it.

In the wisdom of my advanced years (snerk) I have begun to experiment with a new knitting philosophy, though. No patterns. As little experimentation as possible. Things I can knit straight out of my head, so I’m not slowed down by thinking about it too hard. I have knit two single-color cowls this way and it’s worked well, so maybe it was time to dive into my stranded colorwork. Socks, though… sigh. I have knit at least forty socks in my life and I’m not feeling that mojo at the moment. A beautiful hat though. Yeah, THAT sounded like a good idea.

So with some quick calculations about the number of stitches and a vague idea of how I wanted the finished thing to look, I started knitting.

I immediately decided that Addi Turbos aren’t the right needles for stranded colorwork. So I ordered a pair of bamboo Clover Takumi needles, and waited for them to arrive.

Since they came, it’s been off to the races.

Now. Stranded colorwork. Let me tell you my history with stranded colorwork.

I learned how to do it from Alice St*rmore. From Fair Isle Without Fear, precisely, a VHS copy my mother bought in the mid 1990s. We watched it over and over and over. My mother bought an armload of Jamieson shetland wool and actually knit at least two fair isle sweaters at that point. I just digested the information.

In college I knit a couple pairs of mittens. In 2004 I got serious about knitting and tried several projects–this tea cosy and Eunny Jang’s Endpaper Mitts for example. It always seemed laborious, though. I didn’t really enjoy knitting with two colors, one English-style, one Continental. So fiddly. So difficult.

So when I began this hat, I was already having a time of it trying to knit stranded ribbing for the first time in my life, and instead of working one yarn in each hand I just picked up and dropped the two colors as I needed them, keeping one always on top and one always on bottom.

And it works beautifully for me. So fast. So painless. So much easier than trying to knit English. So Alice, I am so sorry. Your video made it clear that one color in each hand is The Way It’s Done. I’m happier doing it My Way, though, so that’s how I’m going to do it. Apologies.

And the Clover Takumi needle? Absolutely brilliant. We won’t really know how good my tension is until I block the hat, but so far, not worrying about the tension while knitting with the Takumis seems to be producing the best results. The needles are smooth enough to work fast but plenty sticky to hold stitches in place. The bamboo is noticeably lighter and bouncier than wooden needles, which I like a lot. The joins are smooth and the cord is super flexible, the best circular needle cord I’ve ever worked with. I liked them so much that I ordered pairs of 24″ circular needles–because with a pair of 24″ circulars you can knit anything–in several sizes that I use a lot. My new favorite needles.

So, my own colorwork rules?

1. Use wood or bamboo needles
2. Pick up and drop
3. Keep one yarn always above and the other always below
4. Keep your stitches moving along the aft needle, but don’t worry about tension, as long as you:
5. Stay relaxed

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