I decided to ick up the knitting again, as I've been rather crochet intensive of late (Screech, Baby Camo Vest, Party Princess Sweater, Japanese Sunburst tank, etc.). I'm making the mohair cowl-neck sweater from the Winter 2005 issue of Interweave Knits using the hand-dyed loopy mohair that I bought up in Oakland at the Fiber Arts Market. It's knit in the round, so the stockinette body is just knit row after row, so I figured it would be a good project to work on while I'm up at camp in a few weeks (because lord knows that I am not a fast knitter).
But then on Tuesday, before SnB, I was watching Knitty Gritty, and it was the "Home is Where the Knit Is" episode with Annie Modesitt. I've heard of Annie before (my sister has met her and I even think Annie blogstalks Crazy Aunt Purl), so I knew that Annie was a proponent of "combination knitting," which just sounded hard to me.
Let's back up a step: I learned how to knit by sitting down with the first Stitch n Bitch book and just following the diagrams, and because Deb Stoller knits using the English or throwing method, I did too. Now, after Jenny met Annie, she suggested that I learn combination knitting because it used both hands, like crochet, and was faster because you never dropped the right hand needle. I didn't listen, frankly because why should I take advice from a girl who refuses to learn how to knit (Jenny is exclusively a crocheter). But I was still frustrated by how slow my knitting was. Mel, of Remarkable Cow, suggested I learn continental knitting, which also doesn't involve throwing, but I never could get the hang of it.
So back to Knitty Gritty. I was watching the episode, and they used the Knitty Cam to do a closeup on Annie's hands as she knit, and for whatever reason, it just clicked with me. She held her yarn in the left hand, knit through the back stitch and never dropped her needles. So when I went to SnB that night, I tried it. And it worked. The combination method seemed so much more fluid than stopping every stitch to throw the yarn. I'm still not completely comfortable with it, but the speed I'm going now (after a grand total of 2 days) is about the same speed I'm going doing English method (which I've been doing for over a year), so with practice, it should improve. I haven't tried purling yet, but I'll get there. I'm very excited by this new possibility of fast, fluid knitting.