Saturday, October 07, 2006

Left-handed knitting (The Left Out Knitter)

I have started a book. In my small withering mind, the book is about left-handed knitting. There are two distinct combinations of left-handed knit and purl stitches that result in a flat knitted fabric. There are any number of combinations that do not, stitches are re-oriented and twisted stitches result. In a burst of productivity, I have documented every possible way of knitting left-handed! I mean knitting from right needle to left needle. I even wrote Yarn Harlot (maybe I should send her chocolate again) about her agent. I have absolutely no idea how to get this idea and rough draft to a publishing house. I am now thinking the mind-set will be negative. After all, lefties have been left out of knitting for ages, why would the resurgence of knitting change that? Despite the plethora of knitting books, shows and DVDs there is not one single publication dealing with left-handed knitting. Even those that do give it a mention show only the basic stitches and expect left-handed knitters to use mirrors or PhotoShop to flip more complicated stitch instructions. If it were that easy, why in the world would there be a million dollar publishing industry for right handed knitting? Wouldn't a simple comment be enough? Lefties need printed knitting material too. Not separate patterns.
The biggest myth in the knitting world is that knitting is 2 handed so lefties can do it the "right way". That's wrong, knitting is 2 handed, but some brains can't wrap themselves around manipulating the yarn with the right hand. The second biggest knitting myth is lefty knitters have to reverse patterns. If righties sat down over an adult beverage and contemplated this comment it might, just might dawn on them that their very own cardigan patterns say "right front: repeat as for left front reversing shaping" ::GASP:: You mean they don't have to have it written out exactly opposite? That they can grasp the difference between a right leaning decrease and a left leaning decrease? How CAN that be? Listen knitting siblings, lefties can do it to. And while it may seem like an incredible praise to say to a right to left knitter "it's amazing you can do that" it only shows your bias. Knitting right to left is as easy for their brain as knitting left to right is for yours. It is not rocket science, but a comforting and creative passion that they refuse to be "left" out of.
I hope to have a short article accepted on this topic by a major knitting publication and it is still my dream to find a publisher that recognizes the market for a left-handed knitting book. If righties have to have specific pictures for their increases and decreases, why not lefties? My ideal book will show both methods of creating flat knitting right (needle) to left (needle) and their corresponding increases and decreases. It would be wonderful if a very small DVD accompanied it for the basic stitches. Until some agent sees the merit. This remains just another dream of a Left-out Knitter.


Letia said...

Thank you!!! I followed your link from KR. A left out knitter. :( And left out of everything else for that matter!

TSmith said...

I know left-handed knitters should be perfectly at home manipulating the free yarn with their left hand.
My left-handed step daughter and I had a terrible time teaching her to knit a few years ago. We looked at illustrations; I sat across from her; I sat beside her and almost turned my hands inside out for it to "make sense."
** Sigh **
She ended up learning the "right-handed" way because I just couldn't figure out how to cast-on leftie-style.
I quickly showed her how to knit in Continental style and things went very well.
Now I'm knitting backwards (no purling on the stockinette side - just heading back to the right).
She gets along well with the right-handed method, but I wish I could have had a resource.
Good luck with the book!

Pink Dandelion said...

I followed a link from KnittingHelp more out of curiosity than anything. I was afraid that this would be another person telling us lefties we 'just' needed to flip all our k2togs to ssks forgetting the fact that most of the time our patterns work up mirror image so works just fine with our mirror image decreases! (except in the case of some charts - that's another story)


Telling us 'dumb-lefties' that we can all just knit right hand continental, 'cause afterall, knitting is a two handed thing! (Left-Handed Conti here - I don't think I could even get my right needle through a knit stitch if I tried!)

I'm very pleasantly surprised to see that that's NOT the case here! Here's another "Left-Out" knitter signing your petition ;-) I'd love to buy your yet-to-be-published book!

Cro-knit Monkey said...

I'm not left handed, but I consider myself more ambidextrous than most. I knit Continentaly, the right handed way and put the needles down for about half a year, picked them back up and I guess I started to forget how I knit before, and I started knitting the way you are explaining. It isn't hard at all to do and it is nice. I believe there is a market for this ;)

Joanne said...

Here are some other resources related to this: Elizabeth Zimmermann calls this "mirror knitting." Priscilla Gibson-Roberts wrote a great article about different kinds of approaches to knitting in an old Interweave Knits, and there's a Threads publication that focuses on "knitting techniques from all over the world." I've even found a small book by Regina Hurlburt called "Left-Handed Knitting", published in 1977.

I transfer my knitting from my right needle to the left, as you describe, and recently I've taught myself to knit backwards--knit "right-handed" so I never have to turn the work and purl. I write knitting patterns, so I know things get *confusing* for knitters in terms of right/left, regardless of handedness, even the most uptight or rigid rules oriented knitters have these troubles at times! I do find that knitting cables can get messed up with my approach; I've had to rewrite complicated cable patterns.

If you want to write a book on this, check out some books from the library on writing non-fiction book proposals, write your proposal, and start submitting it to agents and publishers! Good luck!

Ariel said...

I'm standing in line waiting for your book. :-)

Learning to knit left-handed by a right-handed person wasn't bad for me at all. She is one of my best friends and taught herself to knit backwards so that I could knit the right way for me.

Anna said...

Thank you for this article!! As a left-handed crocheter who is trying to learn knitting, I'm having a hard time at it. I did have one lady (my first teacher at a Knit Out event) that managed to help me start out, but everybody, and every BOOK since then just doesn't get it! I even had one lady tell me that it was *impossible* to knit left handed, that things wouldn't come out correctly. Well, I tell you it isn't. I've managed to teach myself knit and purl going from right needle to left needle and apparently I do this Continental Style. So I guess I'm a Left-Handed Conti too! :) I haven't actually finished a project yet, bc it just takes so much more time to knit for me, but I have done lots of practice knit and purling.

I would buy your book. I would consider it a godsend.

Btw, I followed your link from your Cast-On comment. :)

jane said...

OMgosh. I love you. Trying to tell anyone that I am a true left handed knitter has them in a flutter. How can it be? Its wrong, its backwards! I've just started my first pair of socks. I'm doing good, no twists or turns, I just had to figure out how to purl the "left" way - and it all worked out. I can't wait for your book!!!

Mama Bear said...

My household includes a left-handed English lever knitter, a left-handed continental knitter, and a right-handed continental knitter. Great article!

I couldn't find the links to the videos though!

Anonymous said...

OK you should definately make the book happen. I am not a Lefty but my mother is and she has never learned to knit because of it. She had to teach herself how to crochet because back in the day there were no lefty directions for that either. I am quite good at using my left for everything except writing and when I knit I switch hands to work the yarn depending on whether I'm knitting or purling. I've been searching for help teaching my Mom to knit so I will be on the look out for your book. Remember alot of people are doing desk top publishing now so if the big companies will not listen then woman do your owm thing!

Hamncheezr said...

I wish you would be able to get this published! I am left handed and my Mom taught me to knit by having me sit in front of her and watch her, ie backward. It was recently suggested to her that she has done me a great disservice by teaching me that way. I've never had a problem but have only learned the basic stitches. In fact, Mom and I have not been able to understand why when I do a "slip, slip, knit" and a normal "decrease" they look the same?

PLEASE make a book for lefties!!

Denise said...

Dianne, I watched your video (over and over)and it's awesome. I had a right handed teacher learn to knit left handed and taught 2 of us lefties at the same time. We both knit beautifully (the other girl is actually better than I am) but many of the stitches we were doing were not correct until we got your video. What a God send it is. I hate having to go to the video when I have one simple question and I have bought every book in and out of publish that I could find on left handed knitting but noone teaches it like YOU DO! You're the Best "ask me I'll tell you!" I desperately need your book and am tempted to watch your video, take pics of me doing stitches and just put something on a word doc. I'd buy an email version. JUST publish something and give us lefties some relief! You're the best thing that ever happened to left handed knitters. Thanks, count me in for first edition in ANY format!
PS read your comment on yahoo about the sticky note to follow patterns - one better is "post it" tape. You cut the length desired and move it with each row. It's great!

Joan said...

How is the book coming along? I am almost desperate for it. And how do I subscribe so I can open the link to the left-handed knitting link with the DVD? Frustrated, but hopeful.