Continental vs. English

This is probably the most frequently asked question in the knitting world. Which is better: Continental knitting or English knitting? Continental knitting is where you hold the yarn in your left hand. In English knitting, you hold the yarn in your right hand, so you are a “thrower” because you need to throw the yarn over the needle while knitting.

My first knitting teacher was an English style knitter, so she taught me her style. I struggled with it for a few days and after that it was a piece of cake. I have read many threads about Continental vs. English on knitting forums, but never bothered to think over it even for a second. Until I started the seed stitch scarf. I consider myself a moderately fast knitter, and when I saw I have knitted just 4 inches of scarf over the past 2 days, I was shocked.

I have to throw the yarn for every stitch and I also have to switch the yarn back and front for every stitch. Thanks to all this throwing and switching, my right wrist hurt. That is when it dawned upon me that Continental knitters must be fast in 1×1 ribbing because they don’t have to switch yarn and they don’t have to throw.

So, I started learning Continental knitting. I learnt knit and purl stitches from Knitting Help. Knit was fairly easy. I fumbled for a few stitches, but purl was the rebel. After purling for a few rows, now I think I get the hang of it. The movements are still not smooth, but I know I will get there one day.

I need to practice this style till my knits and purls are consistent. The day is far away when I can continue my 4-inch seed stitch scarf in Continental style. Even then, it feels good to know I can knit in Continental if I want to. Who doesn’t want to learn a new skill?

I am in no way answering the question of which style is better. I think when I am doing alternate knit and purl stitches, Continental knitting will come handy. It will speed up my knitting and give some relief to my wrists.


4 thoughts on “Continental vs. English

  1. Marsha

    The speediest knitters I know are all knitting Continental style. One of these days, I’ll sit down and learn it myself. Until then, I’ll just knit at my usual pokey speed, I guess! 🙂

  2. Preeti

    I’ve tried to break the throwing habit, but I guess I’m stuck with it until I practice knitting continental on a laaaarge swatch or project. I totally agree about the wrists though, English knitting does make them feel sore!!! Us knitters, we’ll bear any pain for just one more row:)

  3. Houlie

    I have been knitting English style for maaany years, and I often try to switch to Continental, but the whole purl thing–I just can’t manipulate my fingers correctly. I would love to learn it, but for me, it’s so slow.


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