A speedy knitting style known for seemingly complicated hand movements, an advanced user zooms through stitches.
Table Of Contents
What Is Continental Knitting?
Continental knitting is a knitting style.
What makes this style unique is how you hold the yarn and work stitches.
(Aka left-handed, European, and German knitting.)
The term “left handed” to describe this style is a misnomer. Left hand and right handed people do it.
Knitters using the continental style hold their yarn in the left hand, other styles use the right.
Unlike English (‘throwing’), and Portuguese knitting, work knit stitches with the tip of your right knitting needle.
There’s no wrapping of yarn required. Some call continental knitting ‘picking.’
Do the hand motions change the stitch’s look? No.
There are various ways to work stitches, but they look the same when completed.
A great tool to have is a knitting winder. It makes everything easier.
Continental Vs English Knitting
English style knitters hold the working yarn in their right hand, while continental knitters hold the yarn in the left hand.
There’s less hand movements in continental.
The knit continental style is a popular knitting style used for fair isle knitting and Norwegian knitting.
The knitting abbreviations and patterns are the same.
Continental Knitting For Beginners
Here is how to do continental knitting.
How To Hold Yarn For Continental Knitting
(Note: Holding yarn is the same as tensioning yarn.)
Hold Option 1
- Wrap the working yarn around your left wrist 1- 2 times
- Take the yarn under your pinky
- Over the next three fingers
- Stick up your index finger with the yarn over that finger
- Pull the yarn coming from your wrist if the pointer finger is too high up.
Note: This hold is for tight knitters, and produces a loose gauge.
Hold Option 2
- Wrap the yarn around your left index finger 1-2 times
- Lift that finger slightly
Hold Option 3
- Wrap the yarn around your left pinky two times
- Take it under the fourth finger and middle finger
- Over the forefinger
Neither work for you?
Experiment and find a comfortable yarn position.
How Do You Wrap Yarn For Continental Knitting?
Wrapping yarn creates a new loop or stitch when knitting.
For the knit stitch, wrap the yarn around the right handed knitting needle from left to right.
Pull it through and complete your knit stitch.
Looking for something new? Read my arm knitting tutorial.
How To Do The Knit Stitch in Continental Knitting
Here’s how to do the knit stitch when you knit continental.
- Cast on the desired number of stitches.
- Tension the yarn
- Keep the working yarn in the back
- Take the right-hand needle from left to right
- Place it in the first stitch on your left knitting needle
- Keep the right needle in the back
- Use your thumb to wrap the yarn around the right knitters needle
- Pull the working yarn through the first stitch on your left hand needle through and off.
You’ve completed the knit stitch!
How To Cast On Knitting Continental Style
Here is how to cast on when you knit continental.
Casting on with this technique is good practice.
- Make a slip knot with yarn
- Put a needle through the loop
- Tighten slightly
- Tension the yarn
- Hold the needle like a knife with your yarn hand
- Push the right needle into the first stitch (the slip knot)
- On your left hand needle as if to knit
- Wrap the yarn with your index finger around the right-hand needle from left to right
- Pull the new stitch through
- You have one stitch on each needle
- Your knitting needles will be crossed
- Take the left knit needle into the right side of the stitch on your right needle
- Your needles will be crossed in the same second stitch, with the right knit needle behind the left
Repeat steps 1 – 6 until you have the stitches needef.
How To Cast On Continental Style On A Circular Knitting Needle
Here’s how to cast on on circulars in the knit continental style.
Casting on with circular needles has the same knitting method as casting on with straight needles.
Keep your stitches loose, so they slide over the needles.
Casting on in the round is similar, but you knit the first and last cast on stitch together before the next round.
How Do You Purl Continental Style?
Here is how to do the purling stitch in knit continental.
- Maintain the yarn tension
- Hold the yarn you’re working with in the front
- Pull the yarn forward and down
- Push the working needle right to left into the first stitch on the left hand needle
- Wrap the working yarn from the bottom
- Over the right knitting needle
- Back down again
- Pull the new stitch through the old loop.
How To Bind Off Knitting Continental Style
Here are two ways to cast/bind off in continental knitting.
- Knitted cast-off
- Purled cast off
Note: Casting off and binding off are the same.
Knitted Bind/Cast Off
- Knit 2 stitches.
- Take the left needle tip through the left side of the first stitch you knitted on your right needle.
- Lift that stitch over the second stitch on your right needle. Now you have one stitch on your right needle.
- Knit 1 stitch.
- Repeat steps 2-4 until you have one stitch on your right needle.
- Cut the yarn leaving a 10″ tail
- Take the stitch off the needle
- Poke the tail through
Purled Bind/Cast Off
- Purl 2 stitches
- Poke the left needle tip from left to right into the first stitch you purled.
- Lift that stitch over the second stitch on your right needle. You now have one stitch on your right needle.
- Purl 1 stitch.
- Repeat steps 2-4 until there’s one stitch on your right needle
- Cut working yarn and leave a 10″ tail
- Take the stitch off the needle
- Put your tail through the loop
Is English Or Continental Knitting Easier?
Learn both methods of knitting, and see which you prefer.
Some say knitting bulky yarns in the English style is easier.
Others think learning continental knitting is easier if you’re good at crocheting.
Continental knitting is faster than English knitting, especially with the knit stitch. However, it depends on your skill.
How Do You Knit Faster In Continental?
Knitting in the continental style helps you gain speed.
The more you knit, the better you’ll get.
Why Is It Called Continental Knitting?
The continental style came from continental Europe and was popular in Germany.
During the early 19th century, this style’s popularity increased.
During World War 2, continental knitting decreased in popularity due to the technique’s connection with Germany.
Thanks to Elizabeth Zimmermann, continental knitting gained popularity again in the USA.
Countries where people often practice continental knitting include Greece, Bolivia, Portugal, Peru, and Turkey.
Is Continental Knitting Better?
It depends. You might like it because of its limited hand motions, speed, efficiency, and ease of movement.
Other people prefer other knitting techniques because of the tensioning knitting method and where you hold the yarn.
Try different knitting styles and see which is better.
Is Continental Knitting Looser?
Some yarn holds help you knit looser if you’re a tight knitter.
Change needle size if your gauge is off.
Happy knitting, and good luck trying something new.
Want another speed method? See my lever knitting guide.