Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Left-handed knitting

Once I joined Ravelry and discovered the many other knitting/crochet groups to be found there and through Yahoo groups I realize that I had been happily, ignorantly knitting lefty (reading patterns left to right, knitting left to right).  I had never attempted anything too technical, the hardest being a simple top-down knit bulky sweater.  I also knitted a tank top once, results fine.  I learn about Ravelry and join up.  I then became hooked on knitting dishcloths.  There are many groups out in cyberspace that can allow you to indulge yourself to your hearts content.  I joined one called Monthly Dishcloths.  I thought that it would be fun to make them, a great way to try new stitiches and by the end of the year I would have a wonderful pile of cloths to do as I pleased with.  January went great, did 2 cloths with no problem.  Then along came February.  That is when I was hit square in the face with the realization that knitting, along with most everything else in society is/was created for right-handed people!  The process of this knit- along is such that you get the pattern in increments over 5 or 6 days.  By the last day you have the completed square.  Easy enough.....  I am blissfully working along not paying much attention, just knitting the directions as I get them.  Finally the last day arrives, I knit it and then I actually look at - study - my square.  Imagine my surprise to realize that something is drastically wrong.  I know that I knitted the pattern word for word, I am good at that, lol.  The pattern was on a pair of lips with the words KISS ME on a knit background.  I know that you are probably laughing by now at what my results turned out to be.  The lips were lovely and so were my words KISS ME, but..............they were lovely on the BACK side of the square and backwards!!  I was horrified!  I redid the square, with the same results.  By now I am wondering if I had lost my mind.  I had joined a group on Yahoo that was located in the suburb where I live.  I posted on that group about whether there was a group that actually met and was invited to join them at the weekly get together at a nearby Starbucks (one of my other favorite things to do).  All was good, they profess to welcome any level of knitters and will help anyone who needs it, etc.  My first visit there I take my lovely lips with the backwards knitted words for suggestions on how to correct this little problem.  It was met with a good chuckle, expected and no problems there.  But then a couple of the ladies there decided to tell me that the only way I would be able to fix my problem was to A:  learn how to continental knit and B: learn how to do it right-handed!!!  Being the new person there I just smiled and nodded.  Inside, I wanted to bop her over the head and suggest she learn how to knit left-handed.  Another one suggested that I read the pattern backwards from right to left.  This seemed more to my liking.  I tried it and with one minor glitch (which I never quite figured out) it worked out.  The next week I went back with my correct square, lots of oohs and oohs and nice works, etc.  BUT, they were still trying to convince me that I needed to, if I wanted to ever be able to knit CORRECTLY, learn how to knit right-handed!  I am 54 years old (on the outside maybe, but inside I am still 30), been left-handed from birth.  Was never made to use my right hand and I have never wanted nor had any inclination to change what nature made.  My left hand has always worked great for me and served me well.  I eat with it, without spilling food (just like a righty), I write with it, and you can read my writing (just like a righty),  I used to play tennis and racquetball with it, both fairly well (just like a righty), I paint with it (just like a righty),  when I ride my horse I can even hold my crop snugly in my left hand (just like a righty),  I use a right-handed mouse with it (how about that righty world!), I am a master of the remote control with it (just like a righty is, learned that from my lefty husband!),  I successfully navigated right-handed desks in school (and I do not write with a bent wrist over top of the written words), I even mastered using a right-handed butter knife!!!  So imagine how it felt after 54 years of success as a left-handed person in a right-handed world being told that if I wanted to do something right, I would have to change!  I actually taught myself how to continental knit right-handed, did an entire cloth that way and hated every stitch.  It was abnormal, awkward, uncomfortable and totally unnatural.  I showed it to the group, they oohed and ahhhed and said wasn't it wonderful that I could do it right.  Now I could be a successful knitter, according to them.  Just needed practice.  I went home pondering all of the above.  I got mad.  I thought who are they to tell me that if I wanted to do something right I had to do it their way.  At that moment I realized that what I was looking for would not be found in that group.  No one there would understand the challenge of trying to figure out how to adapt a pattern to work for a left-handed person.  Why would they, it was not nor ever would be an issue for them.  The simple answer for them was to do it the way they do, problem solved.  For me, that was a big fat NO.  I love being left-handed.  I know that I will figure out how do get done what I want to get done without having to change my entire life just to satisfy some ignorant people.  I know that I live in a right-handed world and that's ok with me.  What's not ok is for someone to tell me that in order to be successful I have to change/adapt to their way of doing things.  I know that some changes are necessary, but not changing my entire way of doing things.  I have found ways to adapt so far, and I will continue finding ways to adapt.  I am not the only left-handed knitter in the world.  Some have re-learned the right-handed way, but most have learned how to adjust so it works for them.  Those are the people who can help me figure out what I need to do to achieve the desired result without changing who I am.  I knit very nicely, if I do say so myself!!!  Every single person I have given a knitted or crochet gift to has loved it.  Not one person has ever noticed that it was knit by a left or right handed person.  I knit because I enjoy doing it, I find it relaxing and it gives me something to do when watching tv or dvd's with my husband.  I get great pleasure with the finished products.  I love giving something to someone that I made myself.  It's unique, it's personal.  For a brief space in time I allowed someone to jarr that happiness with their idea that since I didn't do it the standard way, I would never be successful.  Fortunately, I came back to my senses quickly, dropped out of the group and am blissfully knitting away from left to right.  I joined a left-handed knitting group online where I have found some awesome suggestions on how to adapt patterns should the need arise.  The internet has become my best friend when it comes to answers to problems I might run into.  Someone has already faced that problem and sought help, the answers are out there if I just look.  To the ladies in that neighborhood group:  your loss is the value I could have brought to the group, the different perspective, not to mention that I am a really nice, fun person to be around.

3 comments:

  1. I did laugh about the end results because I knew it would be on the back and backwards but the way you were treated was appalling. My mouth is still hanging wide open. The nerve!

    I have been a lefty all my life and am so fortunate to have a left handed mother and brother to relate to. I am starting to knit as well and am doing fine so far with my left hand. I mean who would have thought that my pitiful little left hand could hold those big old knitting needles much less make something with them. There are only two lefty groups on Ravelry but they are amazing and they will make you laugh and not take yourself too seriously. I mean we know we live in a right hand world and must endure but I will never let anyone make me feel that I need to change that unique person, that is me, to so called get something right. I'll get it it just might take a minute.

    Phew!! That felt good.

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  2. I just came across your post in Ravelry and had to read your left-handed story. I have a few of my own. Anyway, I wanted to add you to my friends and let you know you're not alone. And, yes, we can have the same beautiful results as right-handed knitters. If you want to stop by my blog, there are a few left-handed resources on my sidebar. Plus quite a few left-handed videos on You Tube. Take Care!

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  3. Your story reminds me of going into a knitting shop to look at yarn and being told that I should learn to knit (when I told the employee that I crocheted) and that I would have to learn right handed. That turned me off of the knitting shop and learning to knit. Maybe someday I will stillpick up knitting (other than on a knitting loom.) I totally understand how you feel.

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