Left-Handed, Right-Minded

I just knit.

And it had been a long time since I gave much thought to how I knit. But then I was in an yarn store today looking for a book, and I got to talking with the clerk about EZ. I was buying “The Opinionated Knitter” for reference (because I think some of my “next sweater” ideas are starting to coagulate), and I said something about how I love EZ’s style, even though she wouldn’t approve of my “backwards-ness”.

And so we got talking about backwards knitting and handedness.

Now, I only started knitting left-handed because I couldn’t seem to make myself do it the standard way. It was very awkward. There were some helps on the internet, but for the most part, I figured it out myself. And it makes sense to me. It’s just what I do, and I don’t try to press it upon anyone, or make a case that everyone should do it my way.

So I guess I find it kind of surprising that some people are very insistent that everyone should knit in the “standard” way (and by “standard”, I mean using the right needle as the working needle). Why do they find it so troubling that other people are doing something differently and achieving the same result?

I’ve heard all sorts of arguments for why it’s silly that anyone should feel a need to knit “backwards”:

Knitting is a two-handed activity, it shouldn’t matter which hand is doing what

It’s so much more complicated because you have to re-write or interpret patterns to compensate for working at it form the wrong direction

There are a lot more, but I think you get the idea.

I think it’s actually funny that some supposedly creative, artistic folks can be really closed minded about methods of the craft. (What is interesting to note here is that even with”standard” knitters, there are pickers and throwers, and all different styles amongst them. If you ever sit and watch a bunch of people knitting together, chances are you won’t see any two people doing exactly the same thing.)

In some ways, backwards knitting actually makes more sense. When you’re reading a chart, for instance, and you can follow it left to right, as you would read anything else in English. But most of the time, it’s just the same. You just have to understand how the stitches are formed and how what you’re doing contributes to the shaping of the item.

In other words, you have to have The Big Picture.

And when you’ve backed up far enough to take in the whole scene, you’ll see that we’re not really doing anything different, you and I. We’re just doing it from different perspectives.

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