Most of the designs in The Nordic Knitting Primer include stranded colorwork, and Kristin Drysdale aims to show anyone how to tackle them confidently.
A big question with stranded knitting is how to work with two yarns at the same time. Although some knitters prefer to pick up and drop yarns as they need them, and some hold both yarns in one hand, Kristin recommends learning to hold one yarn in each hand.
I agree with Kristin's recommendation. By keeping the yarns in separate hands, the two yarns don't tangle, it's easy to keep a good tension in each, and you're not constantly picking up and dropping yarns.
However, it does mean you need to learn to knit with your "other" hand—the one which doesn't currently hold the yarn. That's not something you can just magically do. I learnt to knit with my left hand a few years ago and at first it felt like being a beginner all over again. I could hardly even move the existing stitches along the needle, let alone make new ones. But it didn't take too long to improve. Within about half an hour I found I could make stitches reasonably easily, and within a couple of hours I could knit with even tension. It got easier after that and my speed developed gradually from there.
In the book, Kristin provides a plain wrist-warmers pattern as a way of practising with your non-favored hand. By knitting every row of the first wrist-warmer and purling every row of the second, you get to practice both knit and purl while still ending up with two identical garter stitch wrist-warmers.
I think being able to knit with either hand is valuable even if you're not interested in stranded colorwork. Once you're proficient, you can swap hands if one gets tired, or even if you get bored! You can also choose whichever hand feels easiest for the stitch pattern you're using. For example, I find brioche, seed stitch and rib much faster and more satisfying with the yarn in my left hand, but I prefer the yarn in my right hand for lace and intarsia.
If you are up for the challenge of learning stranded knitting—as well as gaining all the advantages of being able to knit with the yarn in either hand—then I think The Nordic Knitting Primer can help you get there. Kristin has chosen her designs carefully so as not to overwhelm knitters with too many new techniques at once. For example, you don't need to worry about catching in long strands in any of the patterns in the first colorwork chapter. She recommends making one design from each of the four chapters, and there are many designs in each chapter to choose from. Just pick your patterns and follow your path to becoming a confident stranded knitter!
New and discontinued yarns
Swirly DK – DK – 100% Acrylic – Plied – Self-striping
Essence DK – DK – 85% Acrylic, 15% Wool – Single ply – Self-striping (gradient marl)
Big Twist Yarns
Tranquil – Worsted – 100% Acrylic – Plied – Solid colors
Seriously Chunky Delights – Jumbo – 100% Acrylic – 2 ply – Marled colors
Tweed Aran – Aran – 100% Acrylic – Plied – Heathered colors
Eco Harmony Worsted – Worsted – 55% Wool, 45% Organic Cotton – Plied – Semi-solid colors
Alpaca Heather – Sport – 70% Wool, 30% Alpaca – Plied – Solid colors, Multicolored
Faux Mo – Aran – 53% Viscose, 37% Acrylic, 10% Nylon – Fuzzy – Solid colors
Landscapes Breeze – Heavy Worsted – 68% Modal Rayon, 26% Acrylic, 6% Wool – Fiber-filled net – Self-striping
Mandala Sequins – DK – 98% Acrylic, 2% Polyester – Sequinned – Self-striping with sequins
Roving Tweed – Super Bulky – 100% Acrylic – Single ply – Multicolored marls
Touch of Silk – Aran – 60% Polyester, 20% Cotton, 20% Silk – Tweedy – Semi-solid colors
Loops & Threads
Baby Delight – DK – 70% Acrylic, 30% Nylon – Plied – Solid colors, Self-striping
Pastoral Knits – Sport – 100% Acrylic – Plied – Self-striping (gradient marl)
Winqu – Aran – 85% Organic Cotton, 15% Silk – Slubby tweed – Solid colors, Marled colors, Multicolored marls
Avon – Light Fingering – 85% Merino Wool, 15% Mulberry Silk – 2 ply – Solid colors, Tonal colors, Multicolored
Reflection – Sport – 100% Acrylic – Single ply – Self-striping (gradient transition)
Baby Dream Tweed DK - A Luxury Touch – DK – 45% Nylon, 38% Acrylic, 17% Viscose – Tweedy – Marled colors
Badana – Aran – 100% Wool – Single ply – Solid colors
Alpaka Zauber – Aran – 50% Wool, 45% Alpaca, 5% Linen – Slightly felted – Gradient
Sweet Dreams DK – DK – 100% Acrylic – Plied – Tonal colors
Impress – Sport – 50% Organic Cotton, 50% Soy Viscose – Plied – Gradient
Nuance – Sport – 100% Organic Cotton – Plied – Self-striping (gradient transition)
Softlino – DK – 80% Linen, 20% Cotton – Fleecey chain – Solid colors
Westhampton – Worsted – 100% Cotton – Plied – Solid colors
Fey – Super Bulky – 70% Wool, 30% Alpaca – 2 ply – Solid colors, Marls
Alize Blanket EZ Wool – Jumbo – 54% Acrylic, 24% Nylon, 20% Superwash Wool, 2% Polyester – Fixed loops – Solid colors, Tonal colors, Multicolored
Mega Bulky – Jumbo – 100% Acrylic – Plied – Solid colors
Pirouette – Heavy Worsted – 41% Alpaca, 41% Merino Wool, 18% Nylon – Bouclé – Solid colors
Blue Sky Fibers
Eco-Cashmere – Aran – 100% Cashmere – S on S plied – Solid colors, Heathered
Touch of Yak – Worsted – 90% Acrylic, 10% Yak – Plied – Solid colors
Euro Sock – Fingering – 100% Merino Superwash Wool – Plied – Tonal colors, Multicolored
Patons (North America)
Cobbles – Super Bulky – 49% Acrylic, 49% Wool, 2% Polyester – Single wrapped with thread – Solid colors
Dreamy – Bulky – 100% Acrylic – Plied – Solid colors, Self-striping
Alpaculence – Fingering – 76% Acrylic, 9% Alpaca, 9% Wool, 6% Metallic – Single ply – Self-striping (gradient transition) with metallic thread
The Plucky Knitter
Cashmere Sport – Sport – 100% Cashmere – S on S plied – Solid colors, Tonal colors
Blue Faced Leicester DK – DK – 100% Blue Faced Leicester Wool – Plied – Undyed colors, Solid colors
Yarn and Colors
Fresh – Jumbo – 70% Acrylic, 30% Wool – Single ply – Solid colors
Super Charming – Bulky – 66% Cotton, 34% Acrylic – Plied with a soft haze – Semi-solid colors
Urban – Jumbo – 85% Acrylic, 15% Superwash Wool – Single ply – Solid colors
I'm on the panel for "Knitters Question Time" at Unravel this Saturday, 12 February. I would love to see you there!
See you in March!
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