Knitting back – it has 101 uses

A few years ago I heard a story about a left handed teenager learning to knit.

Her mother taught her the knit stitch right handed and got her started.  The mother then went to answer the phone and when she came back the teenager had 4 rows of stocking stitch knitted.  She had not been shown he daughter what to do when she got to the end of the row so she just went back the other way and worked out how to do it to get the stitches looking right.

Of course being another LH I decided that if she could do it so could I.  It is not difficult and I have found a lot of uses for it over the years.  Button bands, edgings and entrelac I use it all the time so I don’t have to turn.

I’m now working on a lace shawl that has patterned rows on both the right and wrong side.  When I knit I constantly check the row below to ensure I haven’t made a mistake.  With most patterns I can just purl back then fix any errors on the next right side row.  I have found with this though that I was turning it around regularly to check where I was on the even rows.  So I’ve given up and I am just knitting every row on the right side.  That way I know exactly where I am and what comes next.

This is easier than you would think.  This is how I do it:

Odd rows: – knit my normal way, RH english style.

Even rows:  For a knit stitch, knit into the back of the stitch, wrap the yarn in the opposite direction to normal (over the needle from back to front) and pull it through. For purl stitches, bring the yarn to the front and purl into the back of the stitch taking the yarn under then over the needle.  I have found that this gives me all my stitches aligned correctly for the next odd row.

I don’t swap the yarn over because my tensioning with my right hand is more natural to me as I learnt this over 30 years ago.  So my knit back is similar to but not identical to the way a left handed person knits continental style if they knit off the right needle onto the left.

Just remember if using a graph to still read the even rows left to right and if you are using written instructions to swap your knits and purls.

and one last thing…if the yarn is hanging off the left needle you are knitting back, if it is hanging off the right needle you are knitting.  It is easy to pick up the work and go in the wrong direction.


One thought on “Knitting back – it has 101 uses

  1. me, too.. i learned to knit true left handed some years ago.. and i knit with yarn in left hand both ways..

    I just can’t get good tension with a right hand yarn hold..

    so knit rows, i work continental.. and true left hand rows, i knit a backwards english lever style.. (my mother knit right hand yarn hold, english lever style (this style is also called irish cottage.. (by Yarn Harlot) I could, from the start do it well and evenly–(slowly at first, but now, at about 90% of speed of ‘normal knitting’ and getting faster every time i do it!

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