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Amy Solovay

Left-Handed Crochet and "Back Loop Only" Stitches

By February 17, 2010

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Pauline contributed a new page to our list of reader stories about crocheting left-handed. The following is an excerpt from that page:

I taught myself to crochet and knit with my left hand; I couldn't make my brain work backwards. I have been crocheting for years but hadn't tried a pattern that said use the back loop only. (that is the loop I have always used) I have run into problems with stitches not working out. In crocheting, when it says to use the back loop only, the stitch involved does not work out the same as a friend who is right handed. And, in knitting, to try the seed stitch by K1, P1, K1, using my left hand I get ribbing. Has anyone else experienced this? It is really strange that some things don't work out and I have no idea why.

Let's put our heads together and see if we can help Pauline. If you've experienced these things and have figured out a solution, we'd really love to hear from you!

I can't say that I've personally experienced these issues, but here are my thoughts on troubleshooting them. First of all, let's start with the crochet-related dilemma - let's take a closer look at the difference between a "back loop only" stitch and a regular stitch.

When you crochet through only one loop, the fabric is structurally different than it would be if you were to crochet through both loops. The look of the fabric will be different. The amount of stretch you get will be different. Your gauge could possibly even work out to be different.

I have posted a couple of pages that will show you some of the differences:

When you look at these pages, please be aware that you can click the photos to see a close-up view. If you don't look at the close-ups, you might not be able to see the subtle differences between each variation.

To be honest, I have never compared a left-handed person's stitch variations against mine to see if they end up looking the same. But it seems to me that being left-handed shouldn't hinder your ability to work any of them.

Regardless, I would guess that some are likely to seem easier than others, and you're probably going to have to practice the ones that don't come as easily.

I'm right-handed, and personally I find the first stitch in back loop single crochet to be really awkward. I'm guessing that this awkwardness isn't a problem for you with the back loop version, but perhaps, due to the way you crochet, you might be running into some similar awkward spots that are hindering you from achieving some of the other variations.

When I was first learning to crochet, I had to practice the back loop single crochet quite a bit before I got the hang of it.

For me, working the first stitch in every row of the back loop single crochet involves an extra step - namely, getting the yarn out of the way. This is now second-nature to me, but it took a lot of practice to get to that point.

When I try to think through how it is that you'd be working your regular single crochet, (the version that is worked through both loops) I am guessing that perhaps your working yarn might be getting in your way on that first stitch in the row. I'm thinking that's probably why you prefer to work into the back loops - depending on how you crochet, and how you hold your yarn, perhaps those back loops are easier to reach than the front loops would be?

If that is the case, just do what you can to get the yarn out of the way before you work that first stitch - move it, reach under it with your hook, or work around it however you can. I end up reaching under it, but before I figured out how to do that I would actually physically just pick it up and hold it up out of the way 'til after I'd inserted my hook into the proper spot. Then I'd drop the yarn and use it to complete the stitch as usual.

All this might seem like a nuisance, but the yarn only gets in your way like that for the first stitch in every row - just do whatever you have to do to get that first stitch worked. It gets easier with practice!

RE your question about the seed stitch in knitting: Sarah E. White, our knitting Guide, has posted several seed stitch articles and patterns:

I'm not entirely sure where you're going wrong with the seed stitch, but if her articles don't clear it up for you, you are more than welcome to ask for help at Sarah's knitting forum. I am pretty sure there are some left-handed knitters hanging around who might have some insights.

If anyone else can offer suggestions for Pauline, I am sure they would be most appreciated. Thanks in advance to anyone who posts comments for her.


February 20, 2010 at 9:55 am
(1) Joyce Moore says:

My son is a huge New Orleans Saints FAN and I would love to find a Crochet pattern with the Fleur-de-lis so I can make him an Afghan.
Do you have any ideas.
Thank you,

February 22, 2010 at 3:58 pm
(2) barb says:

i have taught several lefthanded people to knit and crochet.
biggest tip…sit them in front of you and tell them to do as you do, like a mirror image.
works great

February 22, 2010 at 5:25 pm
(3) Sher says:

Knitting left hand, or right hand. . . it doesn’t matter. . . unless you use an UNEVEN number of stitches you will get the rib pattern. Use 33, 35, 37 stitches, etc. and you will be fine. I’ve been knitting (left hand) for 40 years. Have fun.

P.S. I also taught myself to crochet by borrowing a video from the Library, taking a large mirror off my wall, placing the mirror in front of the TV and then sat in front of the mirror. Perfect every time.

February 24, 2010 at 10:01 am
(4) Mandi says:

My comment echos Sher’s – If you are not using an odd number of stitches for the seed stitch, you will get ribbing.

Also, for practicing and learning new stitches left-handed, you could probably hold the pictures from a book up to a mirror to get the right image? I’ve honestly never understood why doing it left-handed is difficult. The basic procedure should still be the same, just with the other hand.

November 8, 2010 at 12:52 pm
(5) Kori says:

I don’t understand why it would be any different left-handed than right-handed. I am left-handed; I knit right-handed but I crochet left-handed, and I haven’t had any trouble learning, everything in crochet just needs to be done in the mirror…

November 10, 2010 at 4:34 pm
(6) Kary says:

Pauline, I completely understand your frustration as I’m a left handed crocheter too. I’ve tried using my right hand as like many left-handers, I’m somewhat ambidextrous, but I just couldn’t get it down with my right hand.

I recently worked very hard on a gorgeous scarf, restarted it SEVEN times, and on the 8th try I realized because I’m left handed and therefore my work angles slightly to the left, not the right (or no angle at all), there’s no way this was ever going to work. This is the scarf I tried:


Notice how the designs on the left and right side move up the scarf to meet in the middle? Well, mine met in the middle alright, but with the designs leaning to the left…it just didn’t look right. I haven’t figured out a way around it. It’s not like I can turn the paper and get my letters to lean differently as I do when writing.

I’m betting that’s one of the problems you’re having.

One thing I have learned by studying my right-handed friends’ work is that they always go through both loops unless the pattern specifies to go through the front or back only. But even then, my work just looks different then theirs, although still beautiful. Try looking at theirs in a mirror and see if it looks the same as yours when not looking in a mirror. I’ll bet they look more alike then.

I hope that helps. Hang in there, my left-handed friend!

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