How to Bead Left Handed

Dec 8, 2011

Learning how to bead can be a challenge if you are left-handed!
Are you left-handed or right-handed? When I learned how to ice skate, it became apparent that I am a die-hard righty. To make a turn while skating, you have to make a move called a crossover where you put one foot in front of and to the side of the other. It was easy enough for me to cross my right foot over my left as we sped around the rink, but trying to do the reverse and cross my left foot over my right usually ended with a spectacular face-down crash on the ice. (Ouch.)

When I was learning how to bead, I had no problems beading right-handed. But for other crafts like knitting and crochet, I was taught left-handed, since my mom was a lefty. I still do my knit and crochet like I'm left-handed, but trying to bead with my left hand, well, that's something else. I don't think I ever really thought about trying to learn how to bead with my left hand, but I know that learning how to bead can be a struggle for a lefty in a world full of right-handed directions and patterns.

So what's a left-handed beader to do? I asked my faithful readers on the Beading Daily Facebook page and in the forums for some left-handed beading tips, and here's what they said:

Remember to reverse your direction when working from charted peyote stitch patterns if you are left-handed.
Learning a new stitch: If you are learning from a teacher, sit opposite from her and copy her motions. You can also set yourself up in front of a mirror and watch your reflection as you work a thread path with your left hand.

Beading table setup: Make sure your light is coming from your right side. Put your tools and beads on the left, where you will be able to grab them quickly and easily as you need them.

Reading a beading pattern: Flat peyote patterns need to be read backwards or they will BE backwards. For peyote stitch word charts, you can just start at the end of the row and work your way back. To help distinguish each bead color noted in the word chart, use a colored marker or highlighter on each different color in the row.

My favorite story from a reader came from Ragina Young who said that she tried to learn right-angle weave and was almost in tears during the process. She finally figured out that her "right"-angle weave is now left-angle weave!

Crafters who are already familiar with ways to reverse their crochet or knitting patterns may have some tricks and tips for how to bead left-handed, too. If you're already used to reversing patterns for crochet and/or knitting to accommodate your left-handedness, you can do the same thing to your beading patterns and instructions.

If you're ready to test the waters with some easy (but beautiful) seed bead patterns and try your hand at some left-handed beading, there's no better time to download The Best of Step By Step Beads 2011 through Zinio! Zinio is the leading digital magazine subscription platform that works on laptop, desktop and tablet computers. You can download your copy of The Best of Step By Step Beads 2011 be beading and reading instantly!

Are you a left-handed beader? Do you have any tips for left-handed beaders who are just learning how to bead left-handed? Share your tips, advice or ask a question here on the blog!

Bead Happy,


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OriginalSin wrote
on Dec 9, 2011 2:16 AM

I'm ambidextrous, but left-hand dominant when it comes to many things including writing and...yes, beading. When I wrote my first tutorial I had to face the graphics dilemma - I realized halfway through the first diagram that I was charting for left-handed beaders, while most of my public was presumed to be righties. I solved the problem by going ahead making my left-handed diagrams, then flipping the image with a photo-editing software so it would read correctly for righties.

Likewise, any pattern or diagram can be scanned and the image flipped to make for easy as pie chart-reading for lefties!


Cimbi wrote
on Dec 9, 2011 5:28 AM

Oh, I was so happy to read your post! Though I believe we lefties can learn any technique or stitch if we really want to, it is often funny - and sometimes frustrating - to be living in a right-handed world. As OriginalSin wrote, it is easy to read graphic patterns if you flip the image. This is why I prefer graphic patterns to written instructions - I often get confused when I try to follow a written tuto, because I tend to forget that what is left there will be right to me and vica versa. The two-needle technique is a nightmare, for the same reason... But if I could learn to use those horrible scissors which maime your fingers if you use them in your left hand - I will not be discouraged by a beadwork pattern :)

cjokinen wrote
on Dec 9, 2011 8:03 AM

I am also a left hander, however I am able to use both hands for many things.

I really have never struggled being left handed even with knitting, crochet and even beading. I follow the pattern exactly how it is printed, I just hold the needle in my left hand.  You may have to slightly adjust how you hold the angle of the body of your work for some stitches but it works just fine.  If the pattern calls for circling to the right then that's what I do.  It makes for less confusion then trying to read a pattern backwards.  Once you get the hang of it, you won't even think twice!

Capemaynuts wrote
on Dec 9, 2011 8:33 AM

I'm a lefty, but I usually hold my needle in my right hand. But I have noticed that when following patterns I tend to start on the right side and work myself to the left side. When following a peyote or brick chart, I find I turn the pattern on its side so I'm actually working up and down as opposed to left to right.

Capemaynuts wrote
on Dec 9, 2011 8:33 AM

I'm a lefty, but I usually hold my needle in my right hand. But I have noticed that when following patterns I tend to start on the right side and work myself to the left side. When following a peyote or brick chart, I find I turn the pattern on its side so I'm actually working up and down as opposed to left to right.

ChrisB@37 wrote
on Dec 9, 2011 8:56 AM

For leftys who are learning to bead and are following diagrams, consider scanning pictures and charts into your computer. Then, using the "draw" menu in Word or Publisher (or other graphic applications) choose "flip" horizontally and your pictures will reverse. Print those out and you won't have to follow charts backwards ever again.

on Dec 9, 2011 11:33 AM

I am a righty, but in my last class I had four lefties out of 15! I can bead awkwardly with my left hand but when I have to, I can feel this physical jerk in my brain as I switch! It is really weird.

With the way I draw my instructions it would not be hard to flip them horizontally but it would also involve rewriting them for the text to be oriented correctly. If lefties would tell me in advance that they would be in my class, I would try to do it for them because it would make teaching easier for both of us.

Also, it is good for all teachers to try beading with their left hand so they know what it is like for someone who is learning. You never know when a skilled left hand might come in handy.

Diane Fitzgerald

devorahtwo wrote
on Dec 9, 2011 1:22 PM

As a lefty, I sometimes scan the pattern on my computer and then reverse it. I also enlarge it to see it better.


Beading_Sue wrote
on Dec 9, 2011 1:24 PM

I'm another lefty.  until I read this article, i never really thought about it.  I just automatically put the needle in the left hand and went.  I do bead from left to right and I do the LAW rather than RAW.  I never have written instructions or have done diagrams.  So thanks for the heads up!

Crowbubbie wrote
on Dec 9, 2011 2:09 PM

I am a lefty and what to know why no one has ever done a left handed beading book of all the basic stitches.  I have left handed needlework, knitting, etc.books.  I have sent numerous e-mails to Beadwork and Bead and Button asking why they have never printed left handed instructions.  No replies.  

Kayeln wrote
on Dec 9, 2011 2:27 PM

I teach knitting & crochet and also bead and make jewelry. One of the tricks I have learned for crochet charts (which are quite confusing to follow backwards!) is to hold them up to the mirror (which allows them to be read "correctly" for a lefty) and take a picture. By printing the picture, you now have a correct chart. This would work for beading charts as well.

JannM wrote
on Dec 9, 2011 3:22 PM

i'm a left-handed beader and spent a lot of time frustrated and upset with myself because i often 'didn't get it' when it came to some stitches. several years ago i teamed up with Glenda Payseno and began converting all of her patterns from right to left-handed. in my experience, it isn't always as easy as just flipping something to go in an opposite direction and she and i both struggled over it for several months. now i find i have very little problem reading 'righty' and beading 'lefty'. LOL however, i do still struggle some with netting and RAW stitches if i have to work from a righty pattern.

if you do a google search, you will find links at yahoo and Lulu that will help you find patterns geared just for the southpaw beader. and Crowbubbie, there is a lefty book of stitches in the works. [i hope i'm not breaking the forum rules by saying that if it's not ok, please LMK.]

myransky wrote
on Dec 10, 2011 8:17 AM

I am left-handed and I remember quite vividly my mother teaching me how to bead, cross-stitch, knit and crochet when I was a child. She was right-handed, but a very saavy teacher and figured out that the best way to teach me was to sit directly across from me and have me follow her motions as if in mirror image. It worked very well and I think, as a result, it's helped me to be able to read and duplicate directions as written whether they are written for righties or lefties.

I would highly recommend this approach to anyone out there who is right-handed and has a left-handed child they wish to teach crafts to.


Crowbubbie wrote
on Dec 10, 2011 11:29 AM

Thanks JannM for starting a book of left handed stitches.  I just don't understand why it hasn't been done before.

Nemeton wrote
on Dec 16, 2011 4:23 AM

I'm left-handed and have never really found it a problem - although it may explain why I rarely follow patterns exactly! I tend to find that once I've understood the thread path for a stitch or a component, it makes no difference which way up I'm holding the beadwork or whether I'm going from left to right - I can still follow a diagram and I just hold the beadwork whichever way is most comfortable for me. Designs with lettering are a bit more of a problem though...

equinox wrote
on Jul 20, 2012 2:24 AM

I am left handed and also have Fibromyalgia (including brain-fog issues). But I LOVE bead weaving and I am absolutely determined to learn them all and then be able to make those lovely patterns in beading books and magazines that require you to know several different weaves.  But I need help - desperately.  Due to the severity of my illnesses - they are disabling - beading is one of the few things left to me that I can still do - that I truly enjoy.  So if anyone has any help/advice they can give about learning RAW, ladder, square, ,brick tubular (everything), netting, herringbone etc. I would be very very very greatful.

I have made a few even peyote bracelets, a few simple netting necklaces, and done a few other kits (I even made berries that required several stitches but I didn't know it back then, I just muddled my way through the directions the best I could).  But I am feeling frustrated and sad at my inability to make things (even from kits that claim to be very simple) due to being left handed.  I am pretty much home bound due to illness so I haven't taken a class (although I would probably be too intimidated to do that as I would be afraid I would be the only one who didn't "get it" and would hold the entire class up...)

Anyway, all suggestions welcome.

mrobin13 wrote
on Mar 8, 2013 4:48 PM

Equinox, I share all of your problems plus a very bad back.  I thought that beading was for me after back surgery.  I am now frustrated to the point of throwing away thousands of dollars of beads due to not understanding the stitches and how to use them. Shops I have visited usually understand right hand very well. Left hand users are left only with their beads to admire, frustration. I am trying to convert the patterns only some are not easily converted.  Hope we get some help somewhere,

I am finished with giving away my money for classes not to be able to go home with a beaded project.  12 UFOs