Tuesday, March 28, 2006

The circular needles and I

Several people asked what's the story between circulars and me, so I thought of answering publicly.

I do not like them.

I admit that "despise" and "hate" are too much strong words for my feeling about those wirely objects, but I do not like them. They kill my wrist and if I work with them too much I get a pain in my left shoulder.

I learned how to knit as a child, and I had never seen a circular needle before moving to this country about 10 years ago. Even then, I looked at them, could not figure out how to use them, and never tried again until last year.

So part of it is finger memory, I can knit on my straight needles in my sleep, part of it is how I knit. Weird, someone would say, but almost everybody I knew before moving here knits like me, so I could argue, this is a weird country. Well, for bigger reasons that how people knit, but I believe in "whatever float your bloat", so I knit like I knit, and so everybody else.

I hold the yarn with my right hand and I flick my right index to wrap it around the needle. I do not "throw", I think that throwing is the American variation of English style. Now, to knit like I knit, I need to anchor my needle to something, if I don't anchor it, them I become a "thrower" too. The way I anchor my needle is sticking it under my right arm - I always use 14" long needles. My grandmother liked shorter needles, so she used to anchor them against her tummy, like she was wearing a knitting belt.

So, when I use my long straight needles, my knitting is weightless, because my right needle is under my arm, my left needle is lower on my lap, I have no weight whatsoever on my needles. I believe that that is the reason why I get a pain in my left shoulder when I knit too much with circular needles - the weight of the knitting. I agree when people say that you can "balance" your knitting with circulars, but it still weights on your hands. The way I knit, it's weightless.

I am not saying that my way of knitting is better - there is no better or worse in knitting. I am just saying that it works for me. But I have to admit that sometimes I get irked when people say, "With circular needles, you can balance your knitting, while you can't with straights". It all depends on how you hold them. There are a gazillion different ways to hold the needles, even if a lot of knitters seems to know only two.

The turning point in my relationship with circular needles was when I learned to hold the yarn in my left hand. I taught myself to knit combination and to purl Norwegian because holding the yarn with my right and circulars needles just can't be for me. Too unnatural.

Holding the yarn with my left hand is tougher on my wrists, so I do it only when I use circular or dpn's. And I like English knitting better anyway.

So, circulars needles are growing on me, like American food. Can't have French fries and hamburger everyday, not even once a week. But hey, once a month? I am all for it.

But I am not eating peanut butter.

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