How to Knit If You're Left Handed

Woman knitting a pink scarf

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Many left-handed people are convinced that they can't​ learn to knit. Others think they have to learn a complicated mirror-image type of knitting that involves working the stitches from the right-hand needle onto the left-hand needle.

It's certainly fine to learn and use this method of left-handed knitting if that's what you're comfortable with. However, the truth is that it doesn't need to be that difficult.

Knitting Uses Both Hands

No matter which hand is your dominant hand, both hands are used in knitting. That's due to the simple fact that there are two needles involved. Right-handed people can use their left hands when knitting, and left-handed people can use their right hands in the same way.

Some left-handed people find it easier to learn the continental method of knitting. The yarn is held in and manipulated by the left hand, which may seem more natural. It is possible to learn the English knitting method as a leftie, too. You may want to practice both to find out which style is right for you.

Just like right-handed people, you will need to practice in order for knitting to feel comfortable and natural. If you're a left-handed person, you might find it best to try the continental method before you try to learn what's known as left-handed knitting.

Learn Left-Handed Knitting

If you gave continental knitting a shot and want to learn left-handed knitting instead, there are great resources online. As you research it, you'll also find many different approaches as well.

Many find the best way to learn is from a fellow leftie who has been where you are now. Unless you know someone personally who is willing to teach you, there are a few places that offer great advice.

One such website is appropriately called Left Handed Knitter. It is run by Karen Lynn, who has dedicated her entire blog to this topic. The archives are deep and offer a wealth of knowledge for new and experienced knitters alike. From the basic stitches to advanced topics like reading charts and finding left-handed cable needles, any obstacle you find in your knitting is probably answered there.

Another great option is to take an online class. One such class, called Left Handed Knitting, is taught by Rick Mondragon—both a lefty and a professional knitter with four decades of experience. The class runs you through the basics and you can work at your own pace, so it's a great way to get started.

If you want to dabble in the learning process, The Knitting Site has a series of short videos available for free. They don't go in-depth, but it might help you with any initial questions regarding how to cast on, knit and purl stitches, and cast off.

Of course, there are a number of differences in left-handed knitting, but two keys to keep in mind as you learn are:

  • You need to reverse any shaping in the pattern.
  • When reading charts, you will read from right to left (left to right is taught to right-handers).

Start Knitting

The most important thing to remember is that if you truly want to knit, you can. Everyone feels awkward those first few times they pick up needles, but if you stick with it, you'll get it.

No matter which approach you take, start with a goal of a simple garter stitch scarf and just keep working the knit stitch over and over again until you run out of yarn. Then, move to a stockinette scarf and practice purling while fine-tuning your knit stitch.

Those two projects should give you plenty of time to hone your skills and it doesn't matter how the scarves turn out. The point is that you're developing the muscle memory that all knitters get over time. Before you know it, you may even join the ranks of the yarn obsessed and be teaching other lefties how to knit.