Facts and fallacies of left handed knitting

  1. Knitting is a 2 handed skill.  FACT.  You use both hands to knit however one hand will definitely take the lead.  You can knit in either direction with either hand taking the lead – I know you can, I do.
  2. There is no reason to teach mirror knitting to lefties. FALLACY.  Everyone should learn mirror knitting it makes those tedious button bands, shawl borders and entrelac so much quicker.  Some LH just can’t get knitting in the same direction as RH and some RH teachers are more comfortable teaching the same technique in the opposite direction rather than a different technique in the same direction.  Teaching the same technique in the same direction leads to people giving up because it is all too hard, this is akin to making us all write with our right hand. ( I was  taught the same technique in the same direction as RH but adapted very quickly to having my LH dominate)
  3. Lefties should be taught RH continental.  FALLACY.  I found continental to be more one handed than English style knitting.  If you enforce RH continental you enforce making the stitch with your right hand.  This is a total no-no.  Ask anyone who was forced to write with their right hand.  What people may be referring to here is simply knitting holding the yarn in your left hand, but still wrapping the yarn around the needle english style, otherwise it is totally right handed.
  4. Mirror knitters are doomed to always having to rewrite patterns. FALLACY.  Most knitted items are symmetrical therefore does it matter which end you approach it from.  The shaping at the start of the row and end of the row is still the same.  There may be the odd occasion where simple modifications are necessary (eg. cables will twist in the opposite direction otherwise).  Just remember the instruction for the right front will give you a left front and vice versa.  Thinking is good for the brain!
  5. Mirror knitters need to reinterpret charts. FACT.  If you are knitting in the other direction the key for the symbols  needs to be reversed in some cases (your start of the row is their end of the row).  Not difficult once you understand how to knit, most people don’t refer to the key very often anyway they just know what the symbol means to them.
  6. There are some things a mirror knitter cannot do.  FALLACY.  Huh? Where did this come from, if you can do it in one direction you can do it in the other.  If it ends up a mirror image who cares.
  7. Mirror knitters can’t get friends/family to fix mistakes.  FALLACY.  Just pick an experienced person who understands knitting and can knit through the back of the loop.  Once off the needle you can’t tell which direction it was knitted in.
  8. Mirror knitters will be stared at in public.  FACT, so will continental knitters, nordic knitters, english knitters, combination knitters…..we are all different and doing something the public will want to look at.  Get used to it!

So it is up to you, do you want to work in the same direction as your RH friends?  Knit from the left needle to the right but still use your left hand to make the stitches?  No problem that is my ‘normal’.  Do you want to knit in the opposite direction taking the work from the right needle to the left?  That way you use the same technique as your RH friends but in reverse.  No problem here either.  If you learn to knit from the left needle to right but have real trouble with wrapping the wool you can swap the wool to your left hand; this is also quite common.

The hardest part of learning is tensioning the yarn to get an even fabric.  This is difficult for everyone and no more difficult for any one group. One thing I have noticed, if you crochet or plan on crocheting then you will tension the yarn with your non-dominant hand as the hook is in your dominant hand.  RH english and LH contintental both require tensioning with the right hand. I crochet left, Knit english right and knit continental left; I always tension the same way.   Just something to keep in mind.

Remember we all knit differently, there is no right and wrong other than what feels right to you. Just don’t let a teacher bully you into knitting Right handed.  Learn the basic stitch from them then go home and work out what you are really doing so  your left hand can take over the control.  If they say you are doing it wrong later then tell them to learn left and not let their right hand take over; I bet they can’t do it!

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11 thoughts on “Facts and fallacies of left handed knitting

  1. Actually, even #1 isn’t entirely true – I know a woman who is missing one hand, and she still knits! She uses her arm to hold the needle against her body, and it works like a champ. 🙂

  2. Yes as long as you clamp the other needle one handed knitting is definitely possible. People recovering from strokes etc are often taught to knit one handed to get the brain working.

  3. I’ve never heard of RH continental. From my understanding Continental knitting is when the yarn is carried in the left hand and a plucking rather than throwing technique is employed.

    You’ve pipped my interest and I would love to see this technique, could you perhaps add a youtube clip to show us how it is done.

    • You have described continental knitting right handed.

      Continental knitting left handed is where the yarn is carried in the right hand and the plucking occurs with the left.

      Like every other knitting technique it can be done right or left handed.

  4. I agree with everything you say!

    When I was working on becoming a Craft Yarn Council of America Certified Knitting Instructor, I was really annoyed at their approach with left-handers (learn to knit the right-handed way, lefties are already so smart because they are coping so well with a right-handed world, etc.). I though it was just soooo patronizing.

    I decided to learn to knit both LH and RH, and to be able to teach both, using either English or Continental (I’m bi-needle-al, too). So I go with what the student wants. I give the pros and cons of learning LH (it’s more comfortable, but you might run into challenges when reading patterns – as noted in the main blog), or learning RH (it’s a bit uncomfortable, but you’ll get used to it, and you’ll be able to get assistance from – or assist – RH knitters). I make the decision her own choice.

    • Thanks Judy, I offered to help teach a leftie so I thought I’d better do some research and LH practice. I was amazed at the number of ‘facts’ my LH Mother taught me that were wrong.

  5. Pingback: Left Handed Knitting. « Yarn Meter Maker

  6. I have just found out that if you are using a graph to knit a shadow design you design will end up a mirror image of the original. You will need to create a mirror image of the graph ( or read it from right to left) to get the same picture as RH knitters due to the way these graphs are used.

  7. I’ve been a left handed crocheter for years and am now trying to teach myself knitting. I’m trying to decide whether to do it left or right handed. This really helped. People can be so patronising about left handed knitting – saying it is “reversed” knitting and “wrong”. I’ve tried learning right handed and I just can’t pick it up. So now I’m going to try left handed.

    As a left handed crocheter I hold the yarn in my right hand and find this method the most comfortable. The common advice about holding the yarn in the left hand for left handers doesn’t work for me. (Wonder if it’s right handed advice!)

    Also, I like the idea of knitting left handed. I’m left handed. Why should I knit right handed if I don’t want to?

    Thanks for this post.

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