Left handed in a right handed world

There are a lot of us around.  Left handers who have been taught to knit “the right way”.   Mum went to the school when I started Prep and insisted that I was left handed and I was to stay that way, but when it came to knitting right handed was enforced.  My Mother was LH too but she refused to teach me to knit.

Why?  So that people wouldn’t stare at me on the train.  WTF?  Evidently people would stare at her knitting while commuting, according to her it was because she knitted RH english style but held the wool in her left hand.  My grandmother, a very good right handed knitter taught me to knit.  She insisted I hold the needles and yarn properly.   Of course that took a lot of practice as my brain is wired for left handed, not right handed manual skills.

I have realised now that I don’t knit exactly like a RH.  When watching a RH knit I notice that they move the RH needle, putting the tip into the stitch, wrap the yarn, pull the RH needle through and pushing the stitch off the left needle.  When I knit I tend to move the left needle a lot more.

I move the left needle to the tip when inserting the RH needle in the stitch, wrap the wool with my RH, but then I hold the RH needle still and move the left needle over the tip of the RH needle and pull it back so that the stitch falls off.  This means that I’m a slower knitter than RH’s but the adaptation allowed me to knit right handed, making it easier supposedly to follow patterns and get others to fix my mistakes.

So why not swap to lefthanded?  I can’t tension the yarn on my left.  I tried, I can’t do it.  When knitting entrelac I knit back rather than turn and purl.  I leave the yarn in my right hand and do a combination of wrapping it with my finger and directing the left needle under the yarn as a continental knitter does.

Maybe I should find a continental knitter to teach me and try continental left handed.  Although after 35 years is it worth trying to change?  How long would it take to get my speed up?  I could end up slower than I do knitting right handed.

I was taught to crochet left handed as there is only one hook.  Mum was a true left handed crocheter so I was allowed to do that left handed, I was also taught sewing and embroidery left handed.  It was just knitting that had to be done right handed.


4 thoughts on “Left handed in a right handed world

  1. My children are both left handed – actually calling them children is not quite right – they are almost 48 and 45. Anyway I had to teach my dd the right handed way, as I could not figure out (I am rh) how to do it the other way.
    I knit English style, but I never take my hand of the right needle to throw the yarn. I would like to knit European style, but my problem is the tension – it is also a problem in crochething. I only crochet scarves and afghans or blankets.
    Happy knitting – actually there is no ‘wrong’ way to knit is there?

    • I think that is where I have the advantage. If I try continental it would be left handed so I would still be using my right hand for tension.

  2. I’m LH, and I was taught to throw – in the English style. Yarn in RH, et al. Continental makes sense to me, and looks easier, but I can’t for the life of me tension it properly. I think I’m going ot have to make a concerted effort to learn. It may just make my LH-wired brain happier.

    • The problem I have found is finding a continental knitter to show me how it is done. Reversing it should be easy. All my friends knit English style.

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