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How to Knit in Continental Style

In knitting, there have been many styles with each knitter having a unique way to hold the yarn, knitting needles and making stitches. The most common knitting styles are Continental and English. Almost all knitters learn one of them when being taught to knit on single pointed needles or circulars. The difference in English and Continental knitting styles lies in how the yarn is held. Both these ways produce the same results. No matter how you knit, you work with both of your hands while holding the needles and hold the yarn in one hand. If you have been knitting in English style and are pretty adept, it’s still worth learning the Continental method.  In this blog, we will take you through the steps of continental style of knitting. We also have a list of reasons why knitters prefer the left handed style.

So, let’s get started.

What is the Continental Style of Knitting? 

The Continental style of knitting is known by other names such as German knitting and left-handed knitting. Another name “picking” explains a lot about how the style works. The yarn is held in the left hand and you pick the yarn with the knitting needle tip to make the stitches. While the English style, the yarn is held in the right hand and you basically throw the yarn on the needle to make stitches.

Many knitters believe that continental knitting can help with faster knitting, stranded colourwork (two yarn colours), expand your repertoire and even improve your skills. Keep reading if you want to know more.

Continental Style Knitting

Here’s a quick tutorial on Continental Knitting 

Cast on Stitches - The first step of every knitting project is to cast stitches. Whether you knit Continental, English, Lever or Portuguese, you always start with this. You can use any method you prefer. The knitted cast on method will help you practice your stitches as well as the different way to hold the yarn. Cast on the number of stitches you need on any knitting needle you prefer. You can go ahead with any single pointed needle or circulars if you are knitting back and forth. For your project knitted in the round, you can freely choose circular knitting needles, double-pointed needles, or ones according to the project.

Hold the Yarn in your Left Hand 

Hold the needles like you normally do. The one with the cast on stitches in your left hand or non-dominant hand, this will be your right hand if you are a left-handed knitter.

Hold the yarn in your left hand at the back of the work. Wrap the yarn once or twice on your index finger while maintaining a uniform tension in your palm. It may seem awkward to hold the yarn in the other hand but will get easier with practice.

The Knit Stitch

To make the knit stitch, insert the right-hand needle under the cast on loop. Yarn over with your left hand holding index finger or middle finger.

Slide the stitch off the left-hand needle on the right-hand needle.

You can continue this for a row or as the pattern suggests. If you make rows of knit stitches, the pattern is formed of garter stitch pattern that is a wonderful way to begin your first knitting projects.

The Purl Stitch

The purl stitch is just the opposite of the knit stitch. In fact, the knit stitch always looks like a purl when seen from the backside of the project.

Bring the working yarn to the front of your WIP. Insert your right needle tip from the front from right to left.

Wrap the working yarn coming from below around the needle.

Pull the yarn through the stitch.

Slip the stitch you worked to the left needle to finish the purl stitch.

Cast Off

Once you have completed your knitting project, you need to cast off the stitches. You will follow the knit or purl stitch technique but with two stitches at a time. Just follow the above instructions

Continental vs. English Knitting: Which is the Best for You? 

Continental or English knitting style is a common question asked in personal and professional knitting circles. Many knitters have the opinion that continental knitting is the fastest way to knit due to the hooking method of yarn used by the working needle. It’s also a good technique for knitters that have a dominant left hand. English knitting gives more control over the tension of your yarn, since you are throwing the yarn instead of carrying it. Regardless of how you knit, you should feel the love as you do it.

If you still looking for reasons to switch to the Continental Style of Knitting, then let’s share a few.

● If you have learned to crochet first then this knitting style would be more convenient. It is because crochet and continental knitting use the same yarn orientation, holding yarn in the left hand. Similarly, if you learn continental knitting, you might have an easier time learning how to crochet.

● Being able to knit with more than one method leads to more varied movements. This in turn decreases the chances of developing knitting related fatigue and injuries.

● It does great wonders to your knitting by alternating stitches for a different hand-and-wrist action on the same project. You will be reducing hand and arm strain if that's a problem for you.

● Knitting both methods also comes in handy when you're working with two colours of yarn in the same row. You can hold one yarn in the left hand and the other in the right hand. This will not only speed up your knitting but make it easy to work with two colours at a time. Plus, it's more fun to learn more techniques.

Even if you do not commit to the knitting style, do give it a try with some beginner friendly projects such as a dishcloth or scarf.

As always, happy knitting! Make sure to always use your trusted knitting needles and accessories and enjoy the craft.

stainless steel knitting needles