L is for Left

Every time I knit something for myself I pick a pattern that contains either a new stitch or a new technique.  I want to improve and to eventually get to the stage where I’m an expert.  But I have a problem, I’m left-handed and I knit left-handed.  Knitting patterns are written for right-handed knitting.  If I want to follow a pattern, and I want my finished piece to match it, I need to be able to read things in reverse.   If I don’t, I will end up with something that is a mirror image of the original pattern.

I’ve been knitting lace and I have been trying to work out why people think that left-handed knitters should always reverse lace charts.  The patterns I’m knitting are symmetrical.  I haven’t reversed the current pattern I’m working on and it’s incredibly difficult to see that there is a difference in my finished product than the pictures of the design.  I also don’t know why following every pattern to the letter is so important.  Who cares if my beautiful piece of lace was created using left-slanting decreases instead of right-slanting decreases?

The problems come when I’m trying to match a diagram and I suddenly realise that my added on piece is on the wrong side.  I’ve been working on knitted on boarders and all the instructions are for right-handed knitters.  I need to try to reverse these pictures in my head and I am not good at doing that.  Even something simple like “my new piece will actually be on the left and not the right” isn’t an easy thing for me to understand.  I know what all those words mean in English but something about the words “left” and “right” makes my brain freeze and begin to panic.  If I try to read the written instructions it might use the words “left” and “right” 10 times in one paragraph. At that point I turn into a robot out of a bad sci-fi movie who just wants to say “does not compute” over and over again.  Thankfully I live with someone who can understand and reverse diagrams, even if he doesn’t knit.

I have been trying to get more information on left-handed knitting but often the only advice is that you shouldn’t do this.  I have tried to knit right-handed. Knitting was taught in the primary school I attended, when I was about 7 years old.  I was the only child in my class who couldn’t knit.  I can still remember how frustrating it was to not be able to produce squares like the rest of the class.  My teacher realised that my problem was that I was left-handed and taught me how to knit the basic left-handed stitches.  In no time at all, at least it appears that way in my cloudy memory, I was the best knitter in my class.

Recently I tried this again thinking that maybe my right hand will work better now.  It doesn’t.  I can’t even make the needle go through a stitch.  It would be comical if it didn’t confuse me so much.  I also can’t use a pen in my right hand.  I thought it would speed up my knitting if I used my right hand to record rows for me.  All I had to do was write tally marks or the number one on a sheet of paper.  I find it hard to hold a pen correctly in my right hand.  I also can’t draw anything that looks like a straight line and since it takes me about three attempts to write the number one it’s much quicker to set the knitting down and use my left hand.

I’m glad that I didn’t grow up in a generation forced to use their right hand for writing.  If I can still remember how frustrated I was with not being able to knit I dread to think how badly it would have affected my academic progress if I had felt the same way about writing.

4 Responses to “L is for Left”

  1. Marcus Ramberg Says:

    Without having thought this through properly, I would imagine it would be possible to write some code to take knitting instructions and reverse them? 🙂 I guess the hard part is digitizing them in the first place.

  2. karen Says:

    It is possible to do that, I have done it for some things. Don’t know if many knitters use vi for reversing instructions 🙂

    But yes, getting the instructions in digitized form isn’t always easy. I also don’t have a complete list of the stitches and what they are called when reversed – but I imagine that eventually I will have this.

  3. Andrew Noble Says:

    Well you know that left handed people are in their right mind…

  4. karen Says:

    So I’ve heard – but then who really knows what going on inside our brains?