Continental Knitting

You may have noticed in my February Slow Living entry  I had listed Continental knitting under the 'Discover' category. I've been having such a lot of fun learning this new technique and even though it's like learning to knit all over again..(or maybe that should be absolutely from scratch because I never seemed to know how to hold the yarn properly anyway!), I can see how fast it will become with time.

The main difference between Continental knitting and English knitting is that the yarn is held in the left hand, instead of the right. This therefore cuts down enormously on hand movements, eliminating the need for the right hand to be constantly swinging over and over the left needle (do you ever get a tired arm from this? Maybe it's just me..). The actual knitting feels like a mirror image of the English method - quite a challenge to get the brain around the first time!

Right now I'm smack bang in the middle of knitting up my homespun Bluefaced Leicester into a sweater and have been practicing knitting every other row in the Continental method. I'm not quite there yet with the pattern side...this I'm finding a little tricky. Plain and purl are just fine though. Below are a couple of pics for my own reference, as well as yours if you are interested in trying this technique..

(If you are after an in depth tutorial, scroll down for a youtube clip that I found most helpful when needing a 'real life' demonstration)

Steps involved for a knit stitch:
I've been holding my yarn like this. Through the pinky and the ring finger, then
up over the index finger , wrapped around twice. 

The right needle is inserted into the knit stitch as usual. The yarn in the
left hand is then wrapped around the right needle just as
it would be in a regular knit stitch...

...and pulled through to form the stitch. 

The looped stitch is then able to slide over to the right needle..

..thus completing the action. Now time to do it all over again!

Slowly, slowly, it will get there.

As I mentioned, this clip is super helpful when a moving demonstration is just what is needed:

Happy knitting out there! 

Do you knit the Continental or the English way? Who taught you?


  1. Ahh yes, I'm a continental knitter. I can never remember the label. ;-)

    It seems there's a lot more going on in the English way. I haven't tried it... it looks confusing. ;-)

  2. Good luck with the knitting. I had an Austrian friend try to teach me but just couldn't get it. I know it's a lot faster.

  3. wow that looks quite easy - I can see where you could build up more speed with this system - I will have to try it. I have always kitted the English way, but am not adverse to change if it is an improvement.

    1. Yep, after trying this way, the English method does seem confusing.

      Thanks, Kate. I wish I had've learned this way from the start!

      It's fun to try every other row or whatever suits you, africanaussie. Good luck!

  4. Well, that does look different! I can see how it works, but I think I'll stick to my plain old knitting. My granny taught me to knit when I was about 7 years old. She knitted me a lovely red cardigan that I loved. I learnt how to knit a vest with her. She taught me a lot of things and I really miss her now!
    I love your homespun! You are an excellent spinner!:-)

  5. Hehehe, it just looks like a more efficient version of my clumsy left handed knitting!

  6. My Austrian mother taught me to knit the continental way when I was younger and although I haven't knitted much over the years I did remember the basics when I recently wanted to knit something!! I had to look up some you tube clips though and I still cant read a pattern but I'm trying and feel I'm getting better at it! A really great site is - - I watch her very easy tutes over and over again......
    And no it wasn't me or mum that tried to teach Kate to knit...!!

    1. That's such a beautiful memory to have, Faeryfay. Thanks for sharing it xx

      hehe! I can tell you now that the version that's been happening here this week has been pretty clumsy at times, Jen ;)

      That's fantastic, Evi. I think it would be fabulous when large expanses of stocking stitch are required and it would make short work of ribbing! I'm off to check out that link, thanks. :)

  7. Ohhh that's great, my mum taught me to knit and I have only ever knit one thing - a jumper for my husband, who was then my boyfriend, luckily he didn't hold the ugly overstretched fluffy thing against me! It was truly horrible! I brought some chunky wool in preparation for you posting this after reading your month goals and it really is faster. Can't wait to teach my mum!

  8. When I saw this I thought it was the same thing that I had seen once when I went to German lady's homespun wool shop, but I am not sure if it is...must be though. She was so fast! I thought it was a good techinique to learn as I am newbie at knitting and don't have knitting habits entrenched just to find the time to knit!

  9. I was curious about continental knitting after reading your last post so I checked it out and am inspired! Can't wait to start my next knitting project so I can try it out. Cheers.

    1. Ahh, your then boyfriend was obviously a keeper, Juggler! I'm amazed you had enough faith in me to post about this and even stocked up on wool in anticipation! Thankyou, :)

      It would surely be, Wendy. I wikipedia'd it and it originated in Germany but fell out of favour during WWII. I'm with you on not having habits entrenched (well maybe a few bad habits!). Time to fix that. :)

      It's SO much faster, Mrs Homespun. Happy clicking. :)

  10. I tried continental knitting once and as you say it is like learning to knit all over again. I eventually mastered it to a level that I knew I could do it but then went back to what I was comfortable with. I don't move my right hand excessively anyway only using small movements from my index finger to 'throw' the yarn. I think learning both will come in handy for fair isle techniques though so worth learning.

  11. I saw Becca's video of her teaching her 7yr old to knit this way and it was so much easier than the English version I know and love(for 35yrs). As with crochet my left hand refuses to do it's bit and maintain an even tension so I waste too much time...I would love to get the hang of it though as it will prevent shoulder strain in the future(I'm only 55yrs old now)
    Loved the photo of you with Rhonda BTW...lucky ducks..both of you!

    1. Ahh, I envy those index finger knitters, Chez. I never learnt how to hold the yarn this way so was constantly picking it up again with each stitch! Very frustrating!

      Becca has a video, Sue? I must hunt this down, she does lovely work!! It isn't taking as long as I thought to pick up, perhaps a good little project for a rainy day?
      Thanks for your kind was a total thrill to meet Rhonda, she is every bit as lovely as she is on her blog. :)

  12. Hmm I think I need to learn this method - it looks so much faster.

  13. I usually knit the english way but have had little tries at the continental method. Once mastered, I'm sure it is much quicker. If I do a few rows of continental in the middle of english it looks different, my tension is not the same.
    My mother taught me to knit. My aunt, my mothers sister, had a tiny yarn store, and I remember 'holidays' at the yarn store! - my mother, my aunt, my grandmother and usually one or two of their friends, knitting in the store or kitchen (directly behind). I would go between playing with my boy cousins and knitting up bits of 'scrap' yarn with the 'ladies', oh yes, and going down to the beach, where my mother would still be knitting!

  14. I've been doing tutorials since last night and I have to say that this is the best one for continental knitting! I learned the English method (and am very much a beginner), but I see that the continental method is far more efficient... I'm trying to master it! :) Thanks for the link...

    1. It sure is, Lilian :)

      Wow, how lucky are you, Emma, to have memories of a family yarn store!! Fantastic!

      This is great, Sherri! I'm so pleased your trying it too, it takes a little getting used to but surely in the long run it will save SO much time, eh?! :)

  15. I'm not much of a knitter the English way so maybe the Continental way will suit my 'backwards' methods :P. I need some more knitted dishcloths so that will be a good way to practice and if I make mistakes it won't matter!

  16. I have knitted for about the last 50 years & always used my left hand to guide the yarn, although I am right handed. At our craft group the girls always comment on how quickly I knit - maybe it's because I've been continental knitting all these years & never known it!!! My Mum taught me to cast on using the thumb method & for that I use my right hand - funny isn't it!!! I love your Tarra spinning wheel - I would love to get back to spinning (I learned the basics when I lived in Scotland), but it would be just another hobby that I'd have to try & fit into my "too many hobbies" life. Happy days


Post a Comment

Hi there, so nice of you to stop by! Thanks for sharing your thoughts, I love hearing what you are up to. Christine x

Popular Posts