Help for Left-Handed Crocheters

Jocelyn Sass

Learning to crochet with your left hand in a right-handed world can be really confusing! Don't despair—help is on the way with our handy tips!

Crocheting for left-handed people in a predominantly right-handed world can be a very frustrating experience! What makes it so frustrating? First of all, approximately 10 percent of the people in this world are left-handed, and more of them are males than females. Since more women crochet than men, left-handed crocheters really can be a minority!

Finding information to help left-handed crocheters is nearly impossible. This is mainly due to a lack of instructional tools written especially for left-handed people. While you can find a few helpful articles on the subject, many of the most prominent crochet how-to books actually suggest learning to crochet right-handed! It's no wonder we have trouble finding help!

There are two widely suggested methods for teaching left-handed crochet: sit the left-handed person sits directly across from a right-handed crocheter, or have the left-handed person watch a right-handed person crochet in a mirror. But no matter what method you use, crocheting left-handed can be simple with the right (oops! we mean CORRECT) instructions. As with any new skill, practice makes perfect—and we mean PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE!

Getting Started
How you will hold your crochet hook is the first thing to determine. Your hook will be held in your left hand and the yarn or crochet thread will be manipulated in your right hand. You can expect some awkwardness at first while you manipulate the hook and the yarn together.

There are two commonly-used ways to hold the crochet hook. The first is called the pencil hold. For this hold, you grasp the hook between your thumb and index finger, much like you would a pencil when you write. The second is called the knife hold. In this one, you grip the hook like you hold a knife when you cut food on your plate. Try both ways and see which feels best in your hand. It’s really up to you; there’s no “correct way” to hold the hook.

Just as there are different ways to hold your hook, there are also different ways to hold the yarn or thread. The most widely accepted way is to loop the yarn around the index finger of your right hand. Keep the free end up and allow the end attached to the skein of yarn to feed across your palm. Now, make a slip knot on your hook with the free end of your yarn.

Hold the slip knot in your right hand between your thumb and middle finger. The yarn will come out between the hook and your index finger. Use your index finger to keep the yarn tight to create an even tension, which is very important if you want to maintain even stitches. When you loop the yarn over your hook, it is called “yarn over” or, as you see in patterns, “yo.” That’s how you create new stitches; you pull your yarn over loop through previously made stitches.

Nearly every crochet project begins with a foundation chain, which is abbreviated “ch.” With the hook in front, yarn over and bring the hook up and over to catch the yarn and bring it through the chain (which is, at this point, the slip knot). This is your first chain stitch; when doing your crochet pattern, you never count the loop on the hook as a chain.

Continue yarning over and pulling through—chaining—until you have the amount of chain stitches required for the pattern. You might want to do some practice chaining before going much farther. Even chains are very important! Many crocheters make their chains too loose, which will make one end of your project too tight and can throw the whole thing off. Remember, as a house needs a good foundation, you need a good foundation on which to build your project!

Differences between Left- and Right-Handed Crocheters
Here are a few very important differences to remember about left-handed crochet:

  • When working back and forth in rows, left-handed crocheters work their stitches from left to right, and right-handed crocheters work from right to left.
  • When working in rounds, left-handed crocheters work to the right (counter clockwise) and right-handed crocheters work to the left (clockwise).
  • When working back and forth in rows, the finished crochet work will look exactly the same for both right and left, except for where the work was fastened off (ended).
  • When working in rounds, the finished crochet work will look different for left and right-handed crocheters. Some people actually prefer the look of crocheting-in-the-round done by left-handed crocheters, while others think it looks backwards!
Working from Graphs
The majority of adjustments that left-handed crocheters will have to make will be in reading and interpreting the written patterns and the graphs used in crochet.

There are two types of graphs used in crochet. The first is for color changes made within a row of crochet stitches. In these graphs, each square of color on the graph usually represents one stitch.

The second, and typically more complicated type of graph, is for a crochet technique called filet crochet.

 

Reading filet crochet graphs can be a bit challenging at first. The "filled-in" squares of the graph are called blocks, which usually consist of three double crochets worked into three separate stitches, or chains, of the previous row.

The open square is the "mesh" or openwork, which is a mixture of double crochets and chain stitches. The graphs are generally numbered by stitches and rows, and are automatically written for right-handed stitchers. It will be necessary for the left-handed crocheter to amend the graph slightly before starting a crochet project. If you do not amend the graph, you would still be able to complete your project, but the finished crochet piece will be reversed from the graph and crochet project pictured in your pattern! This might not be a major problem with color-change graphs or filet pictures, but if you are doing a filet crochet graph with wording, your words would be written backwards!

It is necessary for the left-handed crocheter to read the first row of the graph from left to right; (right-handed crocheters read the first row of the graph from right to left). For filet crochet graphs, the stitches will be different but the graphs will be read in the same way. The first row of the right side (front of work) will be read from left to right. The wrong side (back of work) will be read from right to left.

Fortunately, most crochet instructions written today are suitable for both right- and left-handed crocheters. The majority of patterns that will need to be amended will be clothing, but occasionally you will need to reverse instructions for other crochet patterns as well. An example of an adjustment for a non-clothing item might read "join yarn in upper right hand corner of crochet piece". In a case such as this, you would be joining the yarn in the upper left hand corner. When crocheting garments, most of the directional instructions need to be reversed.

Try not to shy away from patterns that are not written for a left-handed crocheter. As with anything, the more you convert patterns, the better at it you will get. Keep in mind that the majority of patterns today are suitable for both right- and left-handed crocheters!
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