Some people have been curious about the coiled wire Strickfingerhut I mentioned in my post on the Cursed Socks. Here’s a shot of the two most common kinds:
I’veseen mostly these two Inox models, but there are also a couple of others on the market. They are both intended for the same purpose – to assist Continental knitters doing stranded colorwork. Strickfingerhuts hold two (or more) strands of yarn at the same time, allowing the knitterto reach in with his or her needle tip and select the desired color.
I’ve been using one for about six years now, and I can nowknit stranded work in the round at about 90% of the speed at which I can knit single-color stockinette. Before I found my gadget I used to do my stranded work two-fisted, with the dominant or background color being held in my left hand and knit Contiental/picking style, and my contrasting color held in my right hand and beingintroduced in English/American/throwing style.With practice the two-fisted methodwas faster than drop-and-grope, but I never was entirely pleased with my tensioning. I always ended up with puckering as I could never quite get the contrast color yarn to knit as loosely as the main color – especially across the "corners" between DPNs. With this gadget my tensioning is perfect, and even unblocked, my stranded pieces are smooth and unpuckered. I **love** my Strickfingerhut and at this point, detest stranding without it.
After extensive experimentation, I’ve found I the coiled wire version to be better for the particular way I knit. It’s also more comfortable to use. The coiled wire type shapes itself to one’s finger over time. Brand new, it tends to ride a bit further out on the finger than after it has been "broken in." With use the the coils nearer my knuckle expand just a tad and the thing develops an in-out directionality. Although it has a slit in it, the plastic type does not expand overly much, and is too tightfor comfort. The closed end limits the location of the thing on my finger, and makes it feel hot and sweaty.
Comfort aside, in terms of working utility, the way I hold my yarn and needles makes the coiled wire type a clear winner. The coil can be set at any angle. I get the most efficiency by letting the eyelets ride on the front of my left index finger, angled forward so that they’re almost underneath. The two eyelets are offset and separated, giving lots of room for strand selection, and for finagling with the two colors if long floats need to be twisted in. By contrast, the channels of the plastic model must be positioned so that they ride on top of the finger because the little bar that secures them isn’t strong enough to resist bending if the yarn is pulling against it. It holds the yarns flat in the same plane. I find it much harder to both select a strand and to do the weaving in motion over long floats.
Here’s how I hold my yarn and work a normal stitchusing a Strickfingerhut :
In the photo, I’m about to make a stitch with the multicolor yarn. I do admit that in normal knitting my index finger isn’t waving out there so much. I’m holding it further away from the work than normal so that ou can see the separation of the strands.
Now if I were to want to make a stitch with the multicolor yarn but I wanted to strand the black yarn in because otherwise it would be carried over a very long float this is what I’d do:
Instead of just grabbing the multicolor yarn in the most straighforward way, this time I reached up and under the black yarn to retrieve it. Similarly, if I wanted to strand in the multicolor while knitting a black stitch, I’d reach down and under the yellow to grab the black. LATE BREAKING ADDITION: The stitch that’s holding the contrasting color I’ve stranded in will be seated the wrong way. Its leading leg will be in the back of the working needle. I correct the problem and avoid leaving a twisted stitch by knitting into the back of that stitch on the next round.
About the only drawback of these thingies is that it is possible to bend the eyelets and stretch them out over time. The coiled wire ones aren’t as easily broken as the plastic ones with their swivel bars, but I have managed to go through a couple over the years. At this point I keep two. One relatively new one with nice, tight eyelets that I use for sock and sport weight yarns, and another older one with slightly larger eyelets I use for heavier yarns. My only other caution has to do with liking them so much you become dependent upon them. Loss is a big problem, and even though most yarn shops that stock Inox accessories can special-order them, very few keep the wire Strickfingerhuts as regular on-the-shelf stock. When I see one, I usually buy it (they’re very inexpensive, especially for something so totally useful).
What do I do when I can’t find my Strickfingerhut? I admit I’ve never mastered holding two yarns in the same hand without some sort of mechanical aid. If I’m up a creek without my paddle, Iuse a ring with a large stone bezel that I normally wear on my right ring-finger and jam it on that last knuckle of my left index finger. Then I hold my yarns as I usually do, but make sure one strand is on the left of the stone, and the other is on the right. This is much slower than using my Strickfingerhut because the two strands are closer together and aren’t separated by that little angle, but if it means the difference between knitting and not knitting, it will do.
Footnote: Standard disclaimer – no affiliation yadda, yadda…