Before I get into the techniques for left hand knitting I'm going to go over what happens during right hand knitting. This knitting anatomy needs to be understood if you want to avoid some headaches later on. Starting with some terms...:
- The "front" of your work is the part facing you, regardless whether it is the right or wrong side.
- The "back" is the side facing away from you.
- "Right" side is the side that will be on display when you are finished with the project and "wrong" is the part that will hidden, such as the inside of a shirt.
- The "working needle" is the needle that catches the yarn while the "holding needle" holds the stitches that have yet to be worked onto the working needle.
- When wrapping yarn around the working needle, "inside" refers to the space between the needles and "outside" is the area away from both needles.
- "Up" is above the working needle, and "down" is the below the working needle.
- The "tail" is the yarn strand that starts at the work in progress and leads to the yarn ball.
- The "working leg" of a stitch is the one that is closest to the working needle.
- The "holding leg" of a stitch is the one closest to the hand holding the holding needle.
Left hand knitting matches the way you wrap your yarn, but mirrors how you insert your working needle. This is because left hand knitting is essentially a horizontal flip of right hand knitting.
|Left hand knit stitch, wrapping from|
inside and down to outside and up.
|Left hand purl stitch, being wrapped|
from outside and up to inside and down
Personally, I'm finding that switching from right to left hand knitting makes flat-worked stockinette a LOT more fun to knit as I'm no longer turning my work, resettling the piece I'm working on, rearranging how I hold the needles, and so on.
A few easy "gottchas" for the knitters first trying this:
- If you wrap the stitches wrong you will twist your stitches. Twisted stitches have the working legs on the back of the holding needle when working right to left and on the front when working left to right. If you work into the holding leg by mistake, when the stitch drops off the holding needle it will form a loop, not to mention feel much stiffer to work than if knit through the working leg. Twisted stitches can be hard to spot in relaxed fabric, but stand out when the fabric is pulled tight because they look like they're choking the stitch above them.
- The tail of the yarn always comes off the working needle. If the tail is coming from the left needle, you were working left to right when you put your knitting down and if it comes off the right needle then you were working right to left.
|The yarn tail is coming off the left needle, |
indicating that the piece is being worked
from left to right.
- Especially as you're getting used to knitting left to right it's a good idea to push the new stitches all the way on the working needle as you make them to ensure your tension isn't too tight, and double especially if you hold your yarn "Continental" in your left hand.