Guest Author - Beverly Elrod
Some people are born with the ability to do things with either their right or their left hand. These persons are said to be ambidextrous. Others do everything with either their left or their right (such as eating, brushing teeth, batting, writing); thus, the name left-handed or right-handed. Thereís also another group of persons who do most things either left or right handed, but when it comes to a few select activities (one almost always seems to be batting), they switch to their other hand. Iím not sure as though thereís a name for this duel-sidedness or not, but thereís nothing proven to say that the approximate 10% ratio of those who are left-handed are less smart, less coordinated or less anything else.
When it comes to teaching left-handed persons the fiber arts, it can be a bit undoubting to teach them from a left-handed viewpoint. You would almost have to mentally wrap (as the saying goes) your tongue around your eye tooth to accomplish this unnatural positioning of the body and what has always seemed to be awkward movements. Iíve had a bit of advantage over the years. If Iíd get bored doing something one way, I always tried to find another way of doing it or even do it backwards. Puzzle books with have those complicated looking mazes; where one would start at a set point and weave their way through the puzzle to reach the other end (usually at the center of the page). After starting at the beginning and searching out alternative routes to take me to the same destination, Iíd eventually try it backwards just so it would be a bit more of a challenge. Then, Iíd put the pen to the paper and make it permanent.
These tests, which challenge the brain, are not only said to Ďstrengthení the brain, but they teach our body to be multi-directional. And, vice versa, the multidirectional movements of the body are also challenges that strengthen the brain.
How does this help with teaching someone to crochet who would normally hold the hook in the other hand? Because you can work at visualizing yourself, crocheting right-handed, and make your left hand work just the opposite. It can be quite entertaining to pay attention to how the hook and yarn feel so clumsy being out of sorts from their normal positioning. How you hold the yarn, how you hold the hook, working each stitch-all seem to be like attempting to understand a new language that youíve only read before.
Instead of using a mental mirror, you might attempt to actually sit side-by-side, with your student, facing a mirror. As your student looks at your mirrored image, he/she might find it easy enough to duplicate your movements. Another option is to sit in chairs (straight backed chairs are best, so that you can sit close-for better vision) and ask your student to mimic your moves with a little clarification as you go.
If these tips donít work, maybe the first thing to ask them, might have been, ďAre you ambidextrous?Ē I frequently will ask a left-handed person to attempt the right-handed way first. Even though, part way through your instructions, they will probably tell you that isnít working. By the time they put the hook in their left hand, itíll feel as right as rain in that hand and the rest of the class should move along quite smoothly. And, like most anybody else, who is a little different than the norm,Ötheyíll appreciate the fact that youíre willing to try whatever it takes to help them to learn a wonderful fiber art skill.