Crafty Manolo » Left Handicrafts

Left Handicrafts

By Twistie

I don’t know how many of you out there are fellow southpaws, but my parents knew pretty much the moment I emerged from the womb that I was a dyed-in-the-wool leftist… er… leftie. Any and all political leanings came much later in life. Probably my first political act (and it was an accidental one at that) was when I was five years old and I inadvertently convinced the principal of my elementary school to order left-handed scissors for all the classrooms.


We who are wired the other way ’round have had to face a lot of challenges in life. One of the most annoying to me is the fact that when there’s a craft we want to learn, we’re often forced to either do it with out less agile right hands, or we have to sit down and figure out how to turn everything around to work with our dominant hands. Things have gotten better over the years, but I must admit that one of the things that really appealed about bobbin lace to me was the fact that it doesn’t favor one hand or the other. Both hands are used pretty equally throughout the process. As long as I have a pair of scissors I can use in my left hand (and those are nearly universally available now!) I can use any book, any pattern, any tool I can lay my hands on.

But what if you want to learn something that does make more use of one hand than the other? What if you’re not good at turning things around mentally? What if your right hand just doesn’t have the necessary dexterity for the craft in question?

Well, I’ve found a few good resources to help you learn some of these crafts.

Naalbinding. I’m taking this one up. I’m just waiting for the book to arrive. But while I’m waiting, I knew I needed to find some sources to help me flip the instructions that are winging their way to me. Fortunately for me – and for any fellow southpaws who want to learn this fabulous craft that has survived so many centuries, I also found this site with links to videos teaching left-handed naalbinding.

Shuttle Tatting. Tatting is something I’ve long considered giving a go, but I was always flummoxed by the lack of instruction for lefties. Well, no more! I found this site with good, clear graphics supported by some well-penned written instructions that should make it easier to learn if I just acquire a shuttle in the near future.

Embroidery. I gave up on embroidery yonks and yonks ago. I couldn’t even make a French knot work. But you know what? I may just give it another go, now that I’ve found this website with clear diagrams of basic stitches for southpaws.

Crochet. Okay, I had more problems than just awkwardness with my right hand on this one. Tension was something I never could seem to get the hang of. That combined with trying to make my right hand and wrist do things it just wasn’t willing to do… yeah, crochet and I didn’t get along so well. Still, I might have had a fighting chance if I’d been using my left hand. The Crochet Guild of America has this chart of basic stitches to help you do just that. Click on the highlighted stitch names to see useful diagrams.

Quilting. I love a good quilt. Alas! Between my loathsome lack of geometrical skills and my inability to do the most basic embroidery stitches… yeah, this one never worked for me. But if you’re a leftie with more native talent for the craft, this site might well help you find an easier path to quilting than I did.

Whatever your craft, if it can be done right-handed, it can be done left-handed. The good news is someone has probably already figured out the hard part of writing down or filming the mirror image version for you. All you need to do is a quick Google search to find out how it works

9 Responses to “Left Handicrafts”

  1. Jen AKA Jupiter Says:

    I could have written that shuttle tatting part, only when I learned there wasn’t an abundance of tatting websites. I just gave up on crochet altogether. It made me very angry.

  2. Tara Says:

    There are tons of tatting websites and blogs. Georgia Seitz has lots of information on her web site and is a great start – . I also found the book by Jeanette Baker, Learn to Tat, with the accompanying DVD very helpful. Shuttle tatting is all about the left hand holding/releasing the tension and making the “flip” for the lark’s head knot. The right hand just basically moves the shuttle over or under the thread held and manipulated in the left.

  3. ZaftigWendy Says:

    I’m glad knitting wasn’t on your list. I’m a knitting instructor and have taught hundreds of people to knit, including many left-handers, and I find that one of the nicest things about knitting is that it’s a true two-handed activity – each hand has new skills to learn and lefties can learn the same way righties do!

    As a matter of fact, my own normal way of knitting is often called “left-handed” (Continental), and I have left-handed friends who knit “right-handed” (English).

  4. Twistie Says:

    Knitting wasn’t on the list for precisely that reason, Wendy. It’s a truly ambidextrous craft, which is pretty fabulous, if you ask me.

  5. ZaftigWendy Says:

    I imagine bobbin-lace is much the same. You don’t have to be right-handed or use mirrors to figure out what to do.

    Oh, and spinning (yarn, not bikes) is another great ambidextrous craft! Many times lefties find it easier than righties!

  6. Twistie Says:

    @Wendy: You’re absolutely right about that. Bobbin lace is completely ambidextrous. It’s one of the things that made it so easy to stick with for me.

    I hadn’t really thought about spinning that way, even though I did learn how to do it as a child and I didn’t recall any need to turn the instructions around. Hmmm…. maybe it’s time to give it another shot. Well, maybe after I get needle felting under my belt. That’s another that doesn’t need any mirror imaging to do. You simply hold the needle in the hand that feels most comfortable and keep stabbing… at least that’s how it looks from what I’ve been seeing.

  7. ZaftigWendy Says:

    Yup, that’s exactly how needle felting is done. You do need to bone up on your cuss words, though, because you will need them when you accidentally stab your finger instead of the wool. But you learn rather quickly to keep your more important digits away from the stabbing area.

  8. Twistie Says:

    I’m painfully good at cussing, Wendy. But I imagine I’ll come up with some new ones while learning not to impale myself.

  9. ZaftigWendy Says:

    It’s always good to expand one’s vocabulary…

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