What Causes Mirroring?
Mirroring happens due to the difference in directionality between left and right hand knit fabric construction. The right handed knitter creates fabric from right to left while the left handed knitter creates fabric from left to right. This simple change of direction causes mirroring.
When reading instructions both left and right handed knitters read them from left to right. This makes sense since patterns written in English and other European languages are written and read from left to right. When it comes to the resulting piece of knit fabric the knitting world at large reads it from right to left because that is how fabric is created by the majority. As a left handed knitter the tendency is to read patterns AND fabric from left to right. For our general purpose, it's fun for me knitting, this works out just fine.
Approaches to Removing Mirroring
Right handed knitters read this instruction just like any sentence is read from left to right. (Keep in mind their fabric is constructed from right to left.) As a left handed knitter we naturally read this same instruction from left to right also. (Keep in mind left handed fabric is construction from left to right.)
Now, as a left handed knitter let's take the same instruction of K2P2 and reverse it or read it backwards (P2K2)
We can expand the premise of reversal to anything that is balanced such as: K3, P2, SSK, K4, k2tog, P2, K3. By reading this instruction backwards (K3,P2, k2tog, K4, SSK, P2, K3) we end up with all resulting stitches lining up and leans matching what a right handed knitter would get. There are times reversal will NOT work which brings us to the next way of counteracting mirroring.
For example: K2, P3, SSK, P3, K2. Reversal will not eliminate the mirroring issue since the cause of the mirroring is the lean of the decrease. The right handed knitter's SSK will result in a left leaning decrease ( \ ) where the left handed knitter's SSK will result in a right leaning decrease ( / ). In this instance substitution is required to remedy the mirror. The left handed knitter would need to know a k2tog left handed results in a left leaning decrease ( \ ) and substitute this in place of the SSK.
Another example: K4, P2, C4B, P2, K3. Reversal is not an option because the issue causing the mirror is the way the cable travels. The right handed knitter's C4B results in a right crossing cable ( / ) where a left handed knitter's C4B results in a left crossing cable ( \ ). The left handed knitter would need to know to substitute a C4F in place of the C4B.
In the grand scheme of things these are overall something minor. Let's face it no one is going to have a loss of life because of it. The average person is going to see ribbing or a cable and think nothing of it. When I knit for myself I do not care if my ribbing or cable is the inverse. Personally, I like it. However, when I am meeting the expectations of a client or student then adaptation on my part is necessary.
In the end the remedy to mirroring is understanding and critical thinking. This information is provided not to promote conformity but to promote empowerment through knowledge. The more knowledge a left handed knitter can gather the more their abilities will expand. The more their abilities expand the more confident they become.
One last riddle...
When is a Mirror not a Mirror? When it's a Palindrome.
Let's look at the example of: Work in k2p2 ribbing across; end k2. If we take a pencil and paper and write this out we have: K K P P K K P P K K. This combination results in the stitches being the same forwards and backwards? This is a palindrome. These situations do not require any adjustments on our part. Regardless of handedness the results will appear exactly the same. Instances like this are hand friendly. These can be as simple as the one listed or become more complex in their patterning. The question to ask is, is the combination of knit and purl stitches the same in both directions? If the answer is yes, then the results will be identical between left and right handed knitters.