Left-handed people do various things to fit into a right-dominant world. Manual can openers, doorknobs, and watching things in a mirrored fashion come into play. I learned how to crochet from my mom by facing her rather than being seated beside her, viewing the process from the opposite direction. My gramma would jokingly tell me that I would “unmix” the batter stirring it with my left hand rather than my right.
With most crafts, using your left hand to create an item does not affect the outcome. However, I can think of two where handedness does play a part—cake decorating and crochet. You can always tell if a leftie decorated a cake by the direction in which the borders flow around the edge. Borders on right-handed cakes will go counterclockwise, while left-handed decorators move the in opposite direction.
Crocheting as a left-hander does not affect the look of the finished piece, but round items must be worked in the opposite direction. As a left-handed crafter, I wanted to see if spin and ply direction would have any effect on handspun yarn. In the first part of the experiment, I spun and plied fiber in both directions: S twist, Z plied and Z twist, S plied. The results showed that for left-handed crochet projects, yarn created using the S twist, Z plied was preferred. Would there be a preference in spin and ply direction for projects crocheted with the right hand?
For this part of the experiment, I had to turn things around and use my right hand, crocheting swatches with the yarn I had previously spun and plied in the different directions. What did I learn?
What a different experience! I have crocheted since I was young, but using my off hand was a challenge. Nothing felt correct and it took time to adjust. Due to the cross wiring of the brain—left lobe controlling the right side of the body and vice versa—studies have been able to show that using the opposite hand for tasks increases neuroplasticity and connections within the cortex.
In creating my new swatches, the yarn that was S twist, Z piled was more difficult to work with. The plies wanted to separate and lose their twist. This made finding the location for the next stitch more difficult. The Z twist, S plied yarn was so much easier to work with. The plies did not separate, stitch location was easy to see, and the overall stitch definition is cleaner in this swatch.
While I did not expect the results I got in the first experiment, those in my second experiment were expected—that yarns spun and plied in opposite fashion would behave differently for each hand. What did I learn from this? I learned that if I am going to crochet with handspun using my left hand, I need to plan my project and be sure to S twist and Z ply when spinning my yarn.
Katrina King just keeps learning in craft and in life. Along with lace knitting, she also has crochet, weaving, spinning laceweight yarn, embroidery, and tatting in her tool bag. You can follow her craft adventures at Threaded Dream Studio. When she’s not crafting, she can be found following sports, reading epic fantasy novels, and keeping up with her two daughters.