Does it really matter?

When doing two handed stranded knitting, does it really matter what yarn you carry in which hand? decide.

Your practice knitting - when holding yarns in both hands - knit with the yarn from your right hand - then when you knit with the yarn in your left hand it automatically comes from underneath - and when you knit stranded (aka fair isle) you knit along like that, never all you have to do is decide which stitches on your chart you are going to knit with the right (top) yarn.....or the left (bottom) yarn.

Some knitters decide round by round - knitting the shade that is most used in the round with their dominant hand.  This means that they will be changing the position (top or bottom) of the yarns depending on the motif.

What I'd like to demonstrate here is that it is your choice - but you must be aware of the position of your yarns and maintain that position throughout your project.

For these two swatches, I used Jamieson's Shetland Heather in Charcoal and North Sea on a 5mm circular needle.  I knit across, broke the yarns, and pulled my knitting back on the circular needle so that I was always is important to do a swatch for circular knitting in this way.....some of us create a different gauge when purling - so if you are going to do your project in the round, your swatch must be in the round.

These swatches have been washed and lightly steam pressed - and of course the "fringe" has been trimmed to make them tidier.  When doing a two colour swatch like this, I knit the first and last stitch with both shades - it neatens things up a bit.

Swatch 1 - knit stitches alternating from one shade to the other.

The bottom half is knit with the Charcoal in my right (top) position and the Light blue in my left (bottom) position.

The top half is knit with the Light blue in my right (top) position and the charcoal in my left (bottom) position.

The gauge on both halves of this swatch measure 5 stitches and 5 rows to the inch.

To me - the light blue stitches on the bottom half look taller - and in the top half look wider. Same thing with the Charcoal - they look wider on the bottom half and taller on the top half.

When you look at the back side of this swatch - you can see the dramatic difference. 

Does any of this matter?

Swatch #2 - same yarn position as the first swatch - but now I'm knitting a traditional diagonal stranded motif.

Do you see how the bottom motif is more predominant?  How it is more defined than the motif on the top half?  Background shade in your right hand (top position) and pattern shade in your left hand (bottom position).
And you can see the difference more clearly on the back here too.  

Can you see how changing the yarn "position" - from right (top) to left (bottom) in the middle of a project may cause a problem - your knitting will look almost like it has a shade on it - or is faded perhaps - but it could just be a case of mixing up which yarn you knit with which hand.

All of the knitters that I've taught have had this same phenomena happen in their knitting - it would be a great exercise for you to do for yourself - sometimes it's great to see it in person - to be able to hold it and inspect it closely.  If you do decide to try this for yourself - let me know what your results are.


  1. I like the look of the lighter shade "popping" more. And when I think about it, it would be my natural inclination to have the background shade in my right (dominant) hand since it general has more stitches knit in it.


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