knit one, purl . . . how do you purl again?

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I grew up seeing the ladies around me crocheting.

I was fascinated by the speed and expertise that they used those unassuming needles to create the most intricate patterns.

I wanted in.

So my mother tried to teach me. Then my grandmother tried to teach me.

But I just couldn’t get it.

Maybe it was because I was a lefty surrounded by a right-handed world. It all seemed very unnatural to me.

I was relegated to making my little scarves with one of those weird knitting contraptions.

It just wasn’t the same.

getting the knots out

Then a magical thing happened.

In my late 20s, one of my co-worker’s suggested we start a knitting club.

I told her I wanted to join, but I didn’t know how to knit. She said she’d teach me.

Even though I thought it was hopeless, I agreed to join. At least I’d get to be in the presence of knitting greatness. The plan was to meet Fridays at lunch in one of the many boardrooms.

After the first meeting, I learned an easy way to cast-on and the classic knit and purl stitches.

One lesson.

Now I’m not blaming my mom or grandma for not being able to teach me. I was young and restless at the time. And I needed a different way of learning.

Carmina, my knitting guru, saw that I was struggling with the conventional way of knitting. So she showed me another method that was less common, but that would be easier for someone with my extreme lefty-ness.

sandy c knits!

With my new found knowledge, I started knitting a proper scarf. Then another one. And then another one.

I specialize in scarves.

The first one I made was for me and then I started giving them to family and friends. (Apparently, babies don’t wear scarves. How was I to know? Baby Buttercup will get hers in a few years.)

I like to knit one scarf a year, so that I don’t forget the skills that took me so long to learn. That purl stitch can be tricky!

I may never become a knitting aficionado, but that’s okay with me.

Just learning to knit was enough for me to see that when we think we can’t do something, maybe it’s because we haven’t found the way that works for us.

Update: The style of knitting that I learned that works for me as a lefty is called Continental Knitting.

15 thoughts on “knit one, purl . . . how do you purl again?

  1. NicolaB

    I’m an avid/addicted knitter..I was taught to knit in one way (yarn in right hand) but have been teaching myself to knit with yarn in left hand as well, to make knitting with two colours at once quicker…it’s tricky!! I remember thinking at school that the best teachers were the ones that found a different way to explain something if you didn’t understand the first time.

  2. Marcy

    I totally sympathize! I, too, am a lefty, and various members of my family tried for years to teach me to knit, usually with the ‘sit across from me and watch every move I make’ method. I did learn to crochet, though I have never really learned to follow a pattern, and I sew just about anything, I can do what I call ‘light upholstery’, and I even taught myself how to smock, the old fashioned way- by hand-pleating. But, still I YEARN to knit, maybe…one day……cudos to you, for learning, and keeping your skills up!

  3. Marcy

    PS_ I once bought a book, quite expensive for me at the time, on how to make a real Scottish Kilt. I thought long and hard before plunking down that much money for the book, and wondered how I could afford the fabric, and where I would find it (pre internet). But, I swallowed my doubts and fears, ordered the book, and when it arrived, filled with gorgeous pictures, I was giddy with excitement. I read every word, I flipped back to look at pictures of right and wrong ways to pleat, I reviewed the intricate steps in my head over and over as I was falling asleep…..for like 2 days. When I finally read a small paragraph, in a bubble, on the bottom of a left facing page. Which said that, because of how a Kilt is constructed, if you are left handed, you would either have to teach yourself how to sew right handed, or have someone else make the kilt for you, because it is nigh on impossible to make a true Kilt if you are left handed. I am still crushed.

  4. Koliti

    Hi! I’m left handed and one time my mother told the “adult” me that when I was little she tried to discourage me from being a lefty by taking things out of my left hand, but I would get this look on my face and put it back in my left hand. YAY! I applaud my spunky “little” self and my gumption!

    With a little assistance from a co-worker, I taught myself to crochet left-handed and I made quite a few items from patterns – scarf, baby sweater & hat, table cloth, adult sweater, etc. They all came out well – I just followed the pattern and held the crochet hook in my left hand. Haven’t done it for a long time now…..I am always amazed how a ball of yarn can become wearable art with just using a crochet hook or knitting needles.

  5. Swaps

    I can relate to this too! I am left handed and couldn’t learn to knit from my mom, my sister picked up the skill so effortlessly… :) we even tried ‘mirror’ method but it just confused me, lol ;)

  6. Karen T.

    I’m a lefty too, and would love to learn to knit! What is the method that your wonderful teacher showed you? My younger daughter is an accomplished knitter — her aunt taught her, but was unable to teach me. The “oppression of the left handed” indeed!

  7. living lagom Post author

    She taught me the Continental style of knitting. Apparently, the English (or American) style is more popular. Which is kind of odd as I would’ve thought my mom and grandma would be using the Continental style…

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