The humbling experience of learning to knit all over again

Someone I know lost half of her index finger. She was an avid knitter and crocheter, and it's been hard for her to have her crafts taken away from her. This Christmas, I'm hoping to help her back into knitting. I ordered two sets of Tunisian Crochet hooks - the extra-long crochet hooks with space to hold extra stitches - and a yarn-tensioning pin.

The technique where the yarn is held in front, flicked with the thumb, and tensioned around the neck or a tensioning pin is commonly known as Portuguese Knitting, though it's used in many places around the world including Peru, Turkey, and Egypt too.

I can't say for sure yet whether this knitting style will be suitable for my friend - but since there are different movements and different muscles involved, it's worth a try.

Before I can show her how to get started, of course, I have to be familiar with this style of knitting myself! I used these instructions by Andrea Wong from Piecework magazine. Andrea also has a wealth of videos, including more advanced stitches, on her Youtube channel.

My personal style of knitting is a little bit idiosyncratic - resting the righthand needle against my body, left hand moves the stitch, right middle finger flicks the yarn. I never learned the proper English 'throwing' style. But I've learned a few other techniques - Contintental knitting, two-handed colourwork, backwards knitting... so picking up a new style should be no big deal, right?

Yes and no! The first few rows were intensely humbling. Where do my fingers go? What do I do with the yarn?! For a moment I was transported back to making my very first garter stitch scarf. But after those first few rows I understood what I needed to do, and a few more rows after that I even got into a rhythm. Having some years of knitting under my belt helped - I could tell at a glance whether the stitch was correct after I'd made it - and my friend has many decades more experience than me, so she should be able to get into the swing of it too.

The hooked needles are a revelation, honestly. I felt like I didn't need as much fine control in my fingertips because the hook was doing the work for me. It's a very pleasant way to purl!

The left-hand hook did get in the way a little bit but I just had to keep it rotated so that the stitches would slide off and not get caught in the hook. (I needed hooks on both sides because I'm knitting flat -- but most of the hooked needles I've seen *meant for this style* are DPNs with the hook on one side, so you're knitting off a smooth needle, and onto a hook. In the round = no turning, no need for a hooked left needle!)

The hooks are not necessary for this type of knitting, but I found it a great help, and I think they would be especially good for anyone with motor issues, RSI, or other issues with their hands.

I'm pleased to have had a short introduction to a new technique, and I look forward to showing it to my friend. Hopefully it will work for her and this will let her start creating again!


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