Ultimate Guide to Left-Handed Crochet
by Kathryn Vercillo
Many of the left-handed crafters who learned to crochet decades ago had to learn the craft "backwards" from their natural approach because they learned from a right-handed crocheter. Today, that's no longer necessary. There are teachers, tutorials, patterns and more for the left-handed crocheter. In this guide, you'll learn the basic stitches in left-handed crochet, tips for learning more, information on finding left-handed pattern sources and guidance for adapting existing patterns to your left-handed crochet style. Are you a right-handed crocheter who wants to teach a leftie how to crochet? There's information on that in this guide, too!
Basic Understanding of Left-Handed Crochet
Left-handed crochet is basically a mirror-image of right-handed crochet. The left-handed crocheter holds the crochet hook in his or her left hand and the yarn in the right hand. Learning how to hold the hook (in either "pencil grip" or "knife grip") and manipulate the yarn is similar to learning as a right-handed crafter; follow your teachers and tutorials but also figure out what works best for you.
The majority of crochet tutorials, and nearly all crochet patterns and symbol charts, are written for right-handed crochet. In left-handed crochet, you follow the exact same instructions, but you work in the opposite direction.
This means that when you are working rows, row one will be worked into the foundation chain starting on the left side and working towards the right. This should feel fairly natural to you as a left-hander. It also means that when you working in rounds, you will be crocheting clockwise, rather than the counterclockwise way that righties are working.
How to Crochet Chain Left-Handed
Instructional photos by Rachel Lane of The Little Room of Rachell
In this guide, we'll learn how to crochet three basic stitches: chain, single crochet and double crochet, using a left-handed technique. If you learn better from crochet videos, check out our Red Heart Basic Left-Handed Crochet Video.
1. Begin with a slip knot.
2. Yarn over. Note that every time you "yarn over" in your crochet work, you will be scooping the yarn clockwise with your hook to pick up the yarn.
3. Draw hook through loop. You'll scoop the yarn clockwise here.
4. Repeat steps 2-3; each repetition is one chain.
How to Single Crochet Left-Handed
1. Crochet a foundation chain of any length.
2. Insert hook into second chain from hook. Your hook will be held in your left hand, the chain will be extending out to the right, and you will insert the hook into the second chain that is to the right of the hook.
This photo demonstrates how you'll go into the chain with your hook, so you have 2 stands on top of the hook and 1 below.
3. Yarn over.
4. Draw through loop. You will see two loops on your hook at the end of this step.
5. Yarn over.
6. Draw through both loops on hook. This is your first sc.
7. Insert hook into next chain and repeat steps 3-6.
8. Repeat step 7 across row.
How to Double Crochet Left-Handed
1. Crochet a foundation chain of any length.
2. Yarn over.
3. Insert hook into fourth chain from hook. This is the fourth chain towards the right, working from left to right away from your hook.
4. Yarn over.
5. Draw through loop. You will see three loops on your hook at the end of this step.
6. Yarn over and draw through the first two of those three loops on the hook.
7. Yarn over and draw through the two loops now on the hook. You've completed your first double crochet.
8. Yarn over and insert crochet hook into the next stitch then repeat steps 4-7 for the next stitch.
9. Repeat step 8 across row.
10. Turn work. Chain 3 for turning chain.
11. Yarn over and insert hook into next stitch.
In the photo above, Rachel shows that you are crocheting your next stitch into the 3rd chain of the turning chain from the previous row. She explains, "this ensures stitch count remains correct and shape is not triangular; I made plenty of accidental 'bunting' when I was learning!" Repeat your dc stitches across the entire row.
Important Tips for Left-Handed Crochet
This photo depicts the "wrong side" of double crochet stitch, as described below.
- Leave your beginning yarn tail hanging at the start of each project (don't crochet over it); when a pattern mentions the "right side" or "wrong side" of the work, look for that tail as a cue. The "right side" will be when the tail is on the bottom right corner.
- Remember that every time you yarn over, you are going to "scoop the yarn clockwise". Rachel says that she repeated this mantra to herself regularly when first learning to crochet.
- Left-handed crochet is possible to do with both written patterns and visual ones. With charts and graphs, you can reverse the image (see below in the section on adapting existing patterns) and use the reversed image as your guide.
Resources for Learning More Left-Handed CrochetThere are several crochet designers who offer free tutorials online for learning both right-handed and left-handed crochet.
- For example, Tamara Kelly of Moogly offers a beginner's guide with videos for learning left-handed crochet; she also offers tutorials for both hands when she shares new stitch patterns on her website.
- Donna Wolfe of Naztazia, Teresa Richardson of Crochet Geek and The Crochet Crowd for Left-Handed Crocheters all have videos available on YouTube
- Kim Guzman's video tutorials on the CGOA website
- Planet June's left-handed amigurumi basics
Additionally many crochet magazines include both left-handed and right-handed crochet patterns in the learn-to-crochet resource guide that is typically found at the back of the magazine. Check your favorite crochet magazines to see if they include this.
Finally, there are so many great online resources where community members help each other out. There are Ravelry groups and Facebook groups for left-handed crocheters; you can join these to ask questions and share what you learn with others!
Sources for Left-Handed Crochet Patterns
If you do a search online for left-handed crochet patterns, you'll find that there are some great designers and teachers out there who share this information widely. For example, check out Maggie Weldon's YouTube channel. But did you know that you can also find a lot of left-handed crochet pattern instruction right here on Red Heart Yarns for free? Here are just a few examples of our crochet patterns with left-handed instructional videos:
How to Adapt Patterns to Left-Handed Crochet
A simple straightforward crochet pattern can be followed exactly as it is written, just reversing the direction that you're working. However, some patterns will need to be reversed to work properly. For example, in tapestry crochet and other types of colorwork crochet, you will need to reverse the pattern or you're going to get a reverse image, which can look backwards unless the design is symmetrical. (For example, if you did a filet crochet pattern that had a word on it, the word would read backwards if you didn't first reverse the image to adapt for your left-handed crochet approach.) This means that you will work the odd and even numbered rows in the opposite of their stated form; so if a right-handed crafter would work the odd rows from right to left, you would work them left to right.
Symbol charts are written for right-handed crocheters. You will do the exact same stitches but in the opposite direction, as a mirror image of the chart. So how do you reverse a crochet pattern? Some people are able to do this in their heads, just reminding themselves that they're working the opposite direction of the stated instructions. However, it's okay if you can't do this. You simply need to create a mirror image of the pattern for yourself, so you can use any pattern that has a chart, graph or symbol instructions and reverse it. Use photo editing tools to simply reverse the image on your computer and use the new image for your instructions. (Holding a mirror up to the visual pattern would also work.) You can also reverse videos by doing a "horizontal flip" on your computer.
Above are the original filet crochet chart, on the left, and a reversed filet crochet chart, on the right.
As for written patterns, it can be helpful to go through the pattern and highlight all of the cues that indicate the direction of the work. Some examples would be, "join yarn in right corner" or "working into the wrong side of the work". Each of these directions needs to be reversed, which you can do mentally or actually cross out and write in to the instructions so they say, "join yarn in left corner" or "working into the right side of the work".
How to Teach Left-Handed Crochet
Many right-handed crochet teachers have left-handed students that they would love to help. The most common way to teach an opposite-handed crafter how to crochet is to sit opposite from one another so that the student can mirror (rather than mimic) the teacher's steps for learning to crochet. If you are a teacher who uses videos or photo tutorials, you can create your tutorials in your right-handed crochet technique and then reverse the instructions using photo or video imaging software. Just remember to consider and include any special instructions where the student needs to consider the reversal more carefully; such as in the example of making filet crochet word charts as explained above. Finally, either you or your student could opt to learn to use their non-dominant hand; meaning that you could teach yourself left-handed crochet in order to explain it better or work with a student who is willing to learn with the right hand.
Note: The instructional photos for this tutorial are from left-handed crocheter Rachel Lane. She wanted to learn to crochet when she was young but thought that she couldn't because she was left-handed. Now she knows that left-handed crocheters can thrive in the craft and she shares what she knows on her site The Little Room of Rachell.