Sunday, April 14, 2013

Learning to Knit Left Handed! It CAN be Done!

     Being a life long lefty I have always had to search out how to convert any hand craft to a left handed perspective.  Whether it's embroidery, cross-stitch, crochet or knitting you can learn to do anything left handed no matter what the naysayers say.  Many people will tell you "Just learn how to do it right handed.  It'll be easier."  They're right, it will be easier.  FOR THEM.  Mind you, most of those individuals would never consider trying to do something left handed.  It just wouldn't feel natural to them; but project the assumption it would feel natural to us.  When you hear the do it right handed advice, I recommend that you smile and say "I'll consider that" and in your mind bank shot it right into the waste basket knowing, while they mean well, they are not taking into account the issues of: dexterity, visual perception, and cognitive processing.  They are also not realizing that it is the teacher who must learn adaptability to their student's learning needs and not the student who must adapt to the teacher's limitations.  I have learned to knit left and right handed in both Continental and English styles of knitting.  As a teacher it is my job to adapt to the students needs.  Not make them contort to my limitations.  Am I slower knitting right handed?  I sure am.  I'm not right handed.  I'm also slower when I knit English style left handed as I prefer Continental.  As a left handed person we become accustomed to automatically flipping things around in our mind since we live in a world that is customized for right handedness.  Personally, I think this makes us much more adaptive.  This adaptability makes us well suited to learning hand crafts and the subtleties within them.  Let's face it, the education field realized decades ago forcing a left handed child to learn to write right handed had no actual benefit.  Why do we keep on with that myth in crafting?  

     Learning to knit left handed has several benefits over forcing yourself to learn to knit right handed. First off, as a left handed knitter, you will come to understand the construction of your knitting much quicker than a right handed knitter.  Right handed knitters will, for the most part, simply recreate a pattern exactly as written.  Where as a left handed knitter very quickly learns when we knit a pattern exactly as written we do not get a reproduction of the pattern but a mirror image (and in some cases an inverse image.)  This makes us notice how certain stitches slant to the left or right for us but for a right handed knitter they slant in the opposite direction.  Why this happens is not important right now.  Just realizing that it does and which stitches go in that direction or the other sits in our minds.  We then realize in order to reproduce the pattern we will need to substitute certain stitches to do so.  This is something right handed knitters do not consider unless they begin to make their own patterns.  Who'd have thought being a lefty in a right handed world would be so educational?

          I realize this can sound a bit overwhelming at first.  The truth is, whether you're a left-handed or a right-handed we all start at the same place.  We learn a basic cast on, then the knit stitch followed by the purl stitch and then a cast off.  After that we learn the amazing variation in the textures we can create from alternating knit and purl stitches.  My advice is take your time learning in the manner that is comfortable for YOU.  Try both styles of knitting (Continental and English) from the left handed perspective.  See which one feels right for you and go from there.  Remember, in the end the hands are attached to your body not anyone else's.

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