The thing with the left stitch

Just yesterday, in my facebook group for dedicated test knitters, the question came up again whether you have to knit in the front or from the back in a right stitch. The most common answer was:" You have to knit in the front, otherwise you will knit an interlocked stitch!"

Actually this is also true. But only actually. Because I too have only been knitting since about. two years in front in my right stitches. Before that, I have been knitting in the back for decades – without producing any interlocked stitches.

How this. The secret is not in the right but in the left stitches!

On the trail of the secret

First of all, let’s have a look at how such a right-hand stitch is normally knitted:

So you stab in the front or in the back. from the bottom up into the mesh, then get the thread and pull it through the mesh. Then take the stitch from the left needle to the right needle and you are done.

Meanwhile, the purl stitches are knitted in this way:

You stitch from top to bottom in the stitch, go with the needle under the thread and pull it through the stitch. This stitch is also slipped from the left to the right needle and knitted as a purl stitch.

This is how I do it. And that’s how I learned it. But: At the tender age of 14 I felt that this way of knitting purl stitches took too long (in the life of a teenager it’s all about milliseconds). That’s why from then on I got used to knitting the purl stitches that way:

Do you see the difference? I didn’t go UNDER the thread after inserting the right needle, but put the needle over it. So in principle I worked similar to crocheting an air stitch. So: I put the needle over the yarn and then pulled it through the stitch.

So far, so good. Nothing changes in the purl stitches. However, it is completely different with the right stitches:

Instead of bending to the right as in the normal case, so that you could comfortably knit in the front, the right stitches now bend to the left – if you would knit in the front now, the stitch would be interlaced. The minimally altered technique of knitting left-handed virtually turned everything upside down. To give the right stitches a normal appearance, you now have to cast in the back instead of the front.

The disadvantages

Actually, it should not matter whether you stitch in the front or in the back, right??

Not quite. At the beginning of my knitting life, my method had no disadvantages compared to the conventional method. Because I only knitted plain right (yes, I actually started the simpler curly right later on!). But as soon as you start to try pattern knitting, you run into problems.

This already starts with garter stitch. There are no purl stitches here. That is, in the first row after the cast on, you can still slip into the back of the stitch, but already in the second row the stitches are again in such a way that you have to slip in the front. Because there are no left stitches.

It is similar with knitting in rounds. If you knit smooth right, no purl stitches are knitted here, so the stitches always lean to the left and you have to stitch in the front.

If you then want to knit z. B. If you also try to knit lace patterns, it becomes quite complicated. Because knitting instructions are basically based on the traditional method of knitting. If you knit two stitches together, they do what you expect them to do: The second stitch overlaps the first and slants to the right. Not so with the "wrong" Method: If you stitch in the back, the first stitch overlaps the second and bends to the left.

Do you notice what? If you use the wrong method, what would happen if you use the right method and knit two stitches right side together would happen! So you really have to turn all knitting patterns around in your head. What there as "2 sts right together" is declared, it becomes "knit 2 sts right over" and vice versa. If you don’t notice this, you’ll spend the rest of your life wondering why your lace cloths always look "funny" look.

Relearning makes sense

At some point I had understood the principle and have the instructions in my head just always "reversed" . It only became difficult when I started to give training courses and to write instructions. First of all, I didn’t really want to teach novice knitters anything wrong and secondly, it would have been much too complicated to explain the knitting patterns again and again.

So one fine day I sat down and practiced – quite cramped at the beginning – to knit the left stitches according to the conventional method. And meanwhile I can’t do it any other way without getting cramped up. This makes my life easier because I now think the same way as the vast majority of knitters and can therefore recognize and solve problems much more quickly. And we no longer talk past each other.

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