Guest Post: Left Handed Crochet
After a chat on twitter last week about left handed crochet, Rachell from The Little Room of Rachell agreed to come over to give some tips on Left Handed Crochet.
When I’ve crocheted in public I’ve sometimes had comments about looking “cack-handed”, been told it “looks really odd like that” and been asked “Don’t you find it hard - doing it like that?” The last one just makes me laugh. Actually I like being different to the majority, although when I was learning to crochet it was a different story as I grappled with instructions and illustrations where the hook was always shown held in the right hand. I tried to squint and imagine it all reversed, but this wasn’t very successful at the beginning.
I have heard that you can learn from, or teach, a right hander by sitting opposite them and copying their actions as if they are a mirror image. I haven’t tried this approach yet. I need a willing victim to try this experiment.
In the end I found a small range of teaching aids. The best one was a smallish booklet I found on Amazon called Crochet Unravelled by Claire Bojczuk, which is for complete beginners and uses illustrations for left and right handers. I can’t tell you how good I found this straightforward guide. To be honest I credit Claire Bojczuk with teaching me to crochet. I don’t know her, we’ve never met or corresponded, but I think I’d give her a bunch of flowers if we ever did!
YouTube videos showing left handed demos can be really useful as they’ll show you ways of holding the hook and how to scoop the yarn in a clockwise direction (as opposed to the righties who scoop it up anticlockwise.) When I was learning I watched sometimes, just for the pleasure and encouragement of seeing another leftie. I don’t know any other left handed crocheters and sometimes just watching for a few minutes can set you on your way; especially if you’re having problems visualising what to do, don’t know where to go into a stitch or are just feeling a little fed up of instructions written for a right hander.
Simply Crochet magazine has a how-to section at the back every issue which includes a photo tutorial for some stitches for left and right handers. This approach seems to be pretty rare compared to most crochet and craft magazines.
There are several Ravelry groups for left-handed crocheters, where I’m sure you would be welcome to ask questions and seek advice.
Although I do use left-handed scissors when cutting lots of paper or fabric, I haven’t found that I’ve needed any different tools for crochet. If you do know of something crochet related for lefties I’d love to know about it, please.
Crocheting in Rows
If you’re left handed you’ll be crocheting rows from left to right. When you begin your first row (called the foundation row) you’ll be working along the chains from the left to the right.
When a pattern tells you that the foundation row is the right side of the work, remember that’s the side where the cut tail of the yarn will be hanging down on the right hand-side. If the foundation row is the wrong side of the work then the cut tail of yarn will be on the left. I leave the tail hanging until the end, as it can help me see which side I need to darn into.
Crocheting in Rounds
As a leftie you’ll be crocheting around to the right, or clockwise. This is worth remembering when you start using symbol patterns. These types of patterns show the stitches going to the left for right handers. You will be doing the same stitches, in the same order but going around to the right. It’s a bit like trying to pat your head and rub your tummy at the same time! Are you beginning to see why the moral support of YouTube videos, books and tutorials for lefties can be so encouraging at times?
Leftie crochet is just a case of remembering that the pattern will be written assuming that you’re right-handed 99% of the time. Most of the time this doesn’t matter at all, but just pause and think about the instructions before you begin. For example: if you’re going to try some colour-work you might need to reverse the instructions, unless the design is symmetrical. So, if you’re told to follow the chart with odd numbered rows going from right to left, just remember that your rows are going to be from the left to the right.
Is all this confusing? As clear as mud? Don’t worry - once you’ve got the hang of crochet as a leftie everything will become second nature and you won’t think about it too much, apart from sometimes when you might find yourself saying ‘Oh these crazy right-handers….!’
My German aunty and cousins came over to visit when I was quite small and brought me a Sindy doll. One rainy English day they crocheted clothes with scraps of wool, without a single pattern, and very quickly Sindy had a huge wardrobe. After that I really, really wanted to learn to crochet. I was given The Ladybird Book of Crochet and tried hard to master it. It wasn’t to be, partly because the drawings were all for right-handers. I did get the hang of chains but that was it. Years later I suddenly decided I’d have another go and so, in 2011, I studied crochet magazines, books, videos and blogs like my life depended on it. This time I wasn’t stopping until I’d cracked it. I crocheted in the car, first thing in the morning, in hotels on holiday and long into the night - I was a woman obsessed. I started my blog as a way to keep an online journal of my progress, keenness and connect with others.
Thank you Rachell! Head over to her blog to read more about her crochet adventures!
Are you left handed? Any tips or tricks you want to share to help other lefties?