If Sandy Koufax crocheted

Sandy Koufax is my mother’s favorite baseball pitcher. Ever.

Given the level of his success on the pitcher’s mound, the much esteemed Mr. Koufax might (or might not) be surprised to learn that some people are a bit short-sighted about value of being a southpaw.

Years ago while shopping online, I came across the following title:

America’s Crochet Book.

Written by Gertrude Taylor and published by Scribners in 1972, the dedication reads as follows:

To all the nimble fingers,
past, present, and future

The book, like the author, is an odd combination of unassuming and authoritative. Here is the book looks without the dust jacket:

America's Crochet Book
A view of the front of America’s Crochet Book

here is a view of the spine:

America's crochet book
The spine of America’s Crochet Book

and here is the title page:

Title page America's Crochet Book
The title page of America’s Crochet Book

If one were to judge a book by its cover (something often warned against), one might not be surprised to read these words of wisdom offered on page 5:

If you are Left-Handed
Left-handed people can and should learn to crochet right-handed. Hold the hook as right-handed people do.

Ms. Taylor’s notion that left-handers should learn to crochet right-handed is not only antiquated, but if heeded deprives right and left-handed crocheters acquiring a useful crochet skill.

Here are two spiral cookies I made for my cookieghan project:

two spiral crochet cookies
Two spiral cookies crocheted with my right hand

One cookie begins with white at the center and one cookie begins with red; working from the center out, both spirals depict a turn in a counterclockwise direction. Try as I may, if I want the spirals to depict a turn in a clockwise direction when working from the center out, the easiest (and as far as I know, only) means by which to make such a spiral is to crochet left-handed.

So today, I threw caution to the wind, channeled my inner southpaw, and worked on improving my skill at crocheting left-handed.

At first it felt awkward to hold the hook in my left hand, but as I got used to the feel of the hook, I became much more acutely aware of the awkwardness in how I held the yarn and the swatch with my right hand.

The non-hook hand in the one that is responsible for creating an even tension which in turn allows the hook hand to create even stitches. To say that I was having some trouble with this doesn’t really capture the level of cognitive discomfort I experienced, but I persisted and eventually the stitches I worked holding the hook with my left hand got a bit more even and regular.

To highlight the difference, I crocheted this swatch of 10 rows of 15 single crochet stitches with my dominant hand; it was worked with a standard chain-1 turn at the end of the row:

single crochet done with a turn
Standard single crochet stitches worked with a turn at the end

This next swatch, however, was worked with only the front side facing the me. Rather than turning the piece, I simply changed which hand I worked with, made a chain-1, and continued on my merry way:

single crochet without turning
White rows are crocheted with the left hand, red rows with the right. No turns made

I don’t have the level of skill yet that I need to make the clockwise spirals for the cookieghan, but in another day or two, I expect that I will have the clockwise spiral cookies made and that I will be ready to go head to head with Mr. Koufax in a crochet off in any yarn store of his choosing.

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2 thoughts on “If Sandy Koufax crocheted

  1. I found this absolutely fascinating. I am not ambidextrous by any means but there are quite a few things I use my left (non dominant) hand for & now wonder whether learning to crochet left handed might not improve general ambidexterity. I found your identification of why the spirals in your crochet cookies always travel anticlockwise most intriguing & the idea that one could reverse that by using the other hand so clever. Really looking forward to seeing the outcome of your experiments. Elizabeth
    Ps I would really like to follow your blog but you don’t seem to have a list of folllowers to add to. I’ve clicked the notify by email button and hope that this works out as the same thing. Not very up on all the various different options with different blog providers.

  2. When I took the Craft Yarn Council course for certification as a crochet teacher, we were told to learn to crochet with our non-dominant hand so we could teach. My lefty crochet isn’t great – but it’s good enough. I admire your commitment to this and I’m looking forward to the spirals!

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