A Shout Out to Left-Handed Knitters and Crocheters

I’ll admit this right away: I’m right-handed. But as a knitter, crocheter and yarn craft teacher, I have great respect for left-handed knitters. Today, on Left-Handers’ Day, let’s celebrate our southpaw friends — especially those who knit and crochet.

Left-handed knitters and crocheters have to craft in a world ruled by the right-handed. Instructions, diagrams, illustrations — nearly all of them are written and drawn with right-handed crafters in mind. And if you’re right-handed and you’ve ever tried to teach a left-handed person how to knit or crochet, you know what a challenge that can be for both you and the student.

While knitting is a craft that requires the use of both hands, that can still raise a few problems.

Should lefties knit backwards? Should they try and imitate right-handed knitters even though it feels weird? For left-handers, learning a new craft just isn’t as simple as following illustrations and videos.

Woman Holding White Ruffled Purse with Wooden Handle
Photo via Craftsy member JackieMoon

Lefty pride

If you ever feel like you’re the only left-handed knitter or crocheter around, look no further than the Craftsy community. Craftsy member profiles are full of knitters, crocheters and other crafters who are either left-handed or learned from a left-handed relative.

Here’s just a taste of a few Craftsy lefties:

Craftsy member Jackie Moon taught herself how to crochet left-handed. (That’s her gorgeous Spring Ruffled Purse above.) It’s such an accomplishment that she even mentioned it in her Craftsy profile!

Jackie is not the only Craftsy member who makes her left-handed talents known. AwkwardSoul learned to knit and crochet right-handed, despite the fact that she’s left-handed. Years later, she relearned both crafts the left-handed way.

Craftsy member Talk of the Town learned to knit from her left-handed grandmother. Her grandmother was thrilled that her granddaughter learned how to knit left-handed — until she pointed out that her grandmother actually knitted right-handed.

Woman Modeling Grey Knit Dress on Runway
Photo via Craftsy member Vanessa Rae

Designer and knitter Vanessa Rae is also a proud southpaw. She says she loves to create unique patterns for left-handed knitters. This Chunky Cable Knit Dress with Diamond Cutout pattern, seen above, is written especially for lefties, so right-handed knitters have to reverse the cables to follow the pattern.

Ever see a right-handed person who knits left handed?

Craftsy member lisa lotti can tell you all about that. She’s right-handed, but she learned to knit from her left-handed mother. So while Lisa does everything else right-handed, she knits left-handed.

Warbler01 found crocheting as a lefty to be a bit easier than knitting. But don’t worry, she never completely gave up on knitting. She took it up again a few years later and now makes lovely knitted items. Take a look at her My Maren sweater she worked up while taking The Top-Down Icelandic Sweater Craftsy class and you’ll see what I mean.

To all my left-handed knitters and crocheters, keep rocking your yarn craft, no matter how you do it — and just be thankful you don’t have to buy special needles and hooks for lefties!

For more left-handed knitting advice, see Sarah’s tribute To the Left-Handed Knitters: You Can Knit Your Own Way.

Are you a left-handed knitter or crocheter? What are a few of the challenges you’ve faced when learning to knit and crochet?

20 Comments

Rosetta

I am left handed and learned to knit first so when I learned to crochet the yarn was already in my right hand so that is why I crochet left handed. There was one pattern I had a problem with. Diamond Ridges Hat because when I tried to work the pattern as written, it didn’t work out. I had to work it in the opposite direction.

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Dewalt0515

I was at a local yarn shop recently and I was told that I should relearn to knit right handed because everything for knitting is written for right-handed people and nothing will come out correctly if I continue to knit left-handed!

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Susan

Pahhhhh I say x…..I am left handed and I must admit patterns I write are in the right handed method. However, I have been knitting for more than 50 years and have NEVER had any difficulty reading patterns. We use our brains to work these things out, do not feel under pressure!

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Sharron Cote

Self taught leftie. I learned from a book and reversed all the instructions. I still do the same thing using a pattern. I mostly crochet and I have been doing this for 65 years.

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Helen

I knit and crochet both left and right handed, I love the look of one row one way and the next row the other. Also like never having to turn a project.

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Debbie Winn

Ashley,

This is Warbler01 – Great article! I was quite surprised when I was reading it and saw that you mentioned me and my Maren sweater. Thank you!

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felicity richards

I am left handed. My mom taught me to knit but she didn’t know how to teach me left-handed so I knit right handed.

I learned to crochet left-handed and haven’t had any problems – even when I watch videos and they are crocheting right-handed – I just naturally know how to do it left handed.

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Susan

I too am a left handed knitter/designer. My Mum taught me to knit back in the days when if you were left handed, tough!! Everyhting was done the right handed way. I even had lessons in school to try and make me write right handed, oh well no luck there you crazy people !!!! So all my knitting and knitting patterns are the right handed way, but I was rather self satisfied to learn we had a special day. xx

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Nadine Buchholtz

I, too, am left handed and learned to knit right handed because I just could not understand the instructor. However, years and years later I learned to crochet left handed from right -handed instructions with BIG pictures. Took a long time to catch on. So, now I knit right handed and crochet left handed and have no big problems with either, although I do have to check the stitch directions for crochet. I am far more comfortable with knitting, however.

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MamaNoah

I knit right handed, English style, but when I cast on its left handed so my first row is always ‘backwards’. I couldn’t figure out why that first/set up row was always so tight. I just recently figured it out. So now, when I start I knit/purl into the back of the stitch.

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Marianne

I am a lefty also!! Many years ago I took a knitting class and the teacher insisted that I do things her way, I hated the class but finished the project and never touched the needles again for 28 years. Taught myself through the books available at a discount store, never realized there were more options other than those in that one style of books, so put the needles away again fast forward to 2011, I am now retired with a disability, time on my hands and I find my old knitting needles, so off to the discount store to find a new book, wow, talk about changes!!! I continue to knit right handed, I have been battling to learn to crochet, I have the Craftsy classes but still trying to learn how to single crochet, ROFL.. I will learn.. thanks to Craftsy’s programs of repeat, repeat and repeat again, LOL

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Karen

My mom is a lefty and the fastest knitter I ever met, even at 86! Her secret for teaching righties how to knit? She has them sit across from her and mirror what she does. Works like a charm. I prefer crocheting, and so she sat across from me to learn my craft. Easy peasy! :)

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Gwen Bortner

Craftsy teacher here and proud lefty. If you take my course, Entrelac Knitting (http://www.craftsy.com/entrelac), you will see that I knit in both directions but originally learned to knit what is truly right-handed from my left-handed mother, so I didn’t think a thing about it. I consider knitting a two-handed craft so don’t get too focused one way or the other.

Crochet, on the other hand (get it?!?!), is very handed. Luckily, once again I had my left-handed mother available to teach me the basics and now I can figure most anything else out if I need to! But recently was asked to develop a class on basic crochet for lefties — which I think I am going to do to add to my catalog of classes that I offer for in-person events!

Like I often say…everyone is born right-handed, only a few of us overcome it!!

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Darlene Krystal

Hi…I’m definitely a left hander…I’ve always been a left hander…when I had a very serious accident when I was little my left arm was nearly severed off….during the resewing and healing I spent a lot of time in therapy getting the hand to work again….one of the things that my grandmother did for me was to put braiding strips on a thrid hand holder on the edge of the table….then I’d braid them with my right hand….as my left hand healed I found that I would go back and forth from using my left to my right…..Today I turned 49 and I am still a left hander who has learned how to be ambidectrous in knitting…and in crocheting…but when I quilt it’s mostly left handed….and I have not ever looked at it as being left handed or right handed….sometimes life teaches you that both hands are needed……

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MamaNoah

Gwen Bortner, I would love to take your lefty crochet class. I seem to be crochet challenged. Hopefully, you’ll have it together for Stitches West, next year. ;-)

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Kathy Partridge

I’m a lefty taught by a right-handed My left-handed knitting means I never purl a row, I just knit forward (righthanded English style) and then backwards (lefthanded continental style). My stockinette is smooth and even. I never mastered crochet, though – would definitely sit in a left-handed crochet class. Thanks for the shout-out to us southpaws.

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Stacey

I just realized something and even I can’t figure it out: I hold the hook in my left hand, but I work the yarn right-handed.
For example, I’m making granny squares right now, and all of them I made in a clockwise fashion. I just happened to notice on another blog the left-handed directions indicate working the granny square counter-clockwise. When looking at the photos, I was baffled.

So then I began looking for help with how I happen to work the yarn. I’ve been teaching myself how to read a pattern, but I have never ever tried to crochet “backwards”.

And now I’ve got all these squares and I’m going to finish these projects before learning how to crochet “properly”. Or I may teach myself how to crochet right-handed.

Thanks for this post! It really cleared up some things for me, and it helped me see why I am so confused!

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