English Knitting Guide: All You Need To Know

By Jodie Morgan

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English knitting or ‘throwing’ is popular in England and places in Europe. Many people learn to knit in the English style. Learning to knit? Try English knitting as your first knitting style.

English Knitting Guide

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What makes English knitting different is you hold the working yarn in your right hand. (Left hand if you are left-handed). (Aka American knitting.) The knit and purl stitches in the English knitting method are easy to learn.

I reviewed, fact checked and updated this post on May 18, 2023.

Table Of Contents

How To Knit English Style

How Do You Do The English Method In Knitting?

I’ll explain how to do the two most commonly used stitches in knitting: the knit stitch, the purl stitch, and knitting them left-handed/right-handed. You can use any needles for this method. For more info on the types, read my post.

English Knitting Left Handed

The Knit Stitch

  1. Tension the yarn in your left hand, and ensure the working yarn is coming from the back.
  2. Insert the left needle into the first stitch on the right needle
  3. Wrap the yarn around the right needle.
  4. Pull the stitch through the loop on your right needle with your left needle.
  5. Take the newly knitted stitch off the right needle.

The Purl Stitch

  1. Tension the working yarn in your left hand, and ensure the thread is coming from the front.
  2. Insert the left needle into the front of the first stitch on the right needle.
  3. Wrap the yarn over the left needle so the thread is coming from below it.
  4. Pull the stitch through the loop on the right needle.
  5. Take the newly purled stitch off the right needle.

English Knitting Style Right Handed

The Knit Stitch

  1. Tension the yarn in your right hand, ensure the working yarn is coming from the back.
  2. Insert the right needle into the first stitch on the left needle.
  3. Wrap the yarn around the left needle.
  4. Pull the stitch through the loop on your left needle with your right needle.
  5. Take the newly knitted stitch off the left needle

Here’s how to do the knit stitch in English knitting.

The Purl Stitch

  1. Tension the working yarn in your right hand, and ensure the thread is coming from the front.
  2. Insert the right needle into the front of the first stitch on the left needle.
  3. Wrap the yarn over the right needle so it’s coming from below
  4. Step 4
  5. Pull the stitch through the loop on the left needle.
  6. Step 5
  7. Take the newly purled stitch off the left needle

English Rib Knitting

What Is Ribbing? In ribbing, you alternate knit and purl stitches to create a richly textured, stretchy fabric. People use ribbing for edges on beanies, gloves, socks, and the bottoms and cuffs of sweaters.

2 x 2 Rib: alternates two knit stitches and two purl stitches.

  1. Tension the yarn in your right hand.
  2. Work 2 knit stitches.
  3. Bring the yarn to the front.
  4. Work two purl stitches.
  5. Repeat Steps 2 – 4 to continue knitting the 2 x 2 rib

1 x 1 Rib: alternates one knit stitch and one purl stitch.

  • Tension the yarn in your right hand.
  • Work 1 knit stitch.
  • Bring the working yarn to the front of the work.
  • Work one purl stitch.
  • Repeat from Steps 2 – 4 to continue working the 1 x 1 rib.

Knitting Colorwork English Style

In Stranded Colorwork/Fair Isle Knitting, you knit with two or more pieces of yarn. When you switch colors, you leave strands (also called ‘floats’) of yarn on the back of your knitting. (Why it’s called ‘Stranded Colorwork.’)

When working Stranded Colorwork with two strands of yarn, it’s beneficial to hold one yarn in your right hand. (English style yarn tension) The other in your left hand (Continental style yarn tension).

You knit in the English style with one color in your right hand and knit Continental with the other color in your left hand. It’s essential in Stranded Colorwork to keep your floats nice and loose. I’d you don’t, your fabric ends up too tight.

How To Knit Stranded Colorwork English Style

(Right-Handed)

Step 1

  • Gather the materials needed for your pattern.
  • Tension the yarn in your right hand, and cast on the stitches.

Step 2

  • Start at the bottom right corner of your chart pattern
  • Working over to the left
  • Knit the required amount of stitches in the first color
  • The chart tells you which color to use

Note: Each square in the chart equals one stitch.

Step 3

  • Insert the right needle into the next stitch on the left needle
  • Loop the second yarn leaving a tail
  • Put the loop on the right needle
  • Use a loop with no knots
  • Pull through to make a stitch
  • Knit the rest of the needed stitches in the second color
  • Using the working yarn
  • Not the tail end of the second color

Note: Keep the floats loose.

  • Repeat steps 1 – 3 until you reach the end of the row
  • Only this time, in step 3, you don’t add in the second yarn; it’ll already be added. If you get stuck, look at your chart

Knit a few swatches to get used to knitting with two colors.

Step 4

  • Now you’re on the wrong side row
  • Knit across from left to right on the chart
  • Use the same technique as before
  • Your pattern tells you what stitches to knit

How To Knit Stranded Colorwork Video

Pin Now to Save for Later

English Knitting Pin

FAQS About English Knitting

English Vs Continental Knitting

Continental Knitting: quicker knitting, and fewer hand movements, but the gauge is sometimes loose, and it’s harder to purl.

English Knitting: Great tension, and it’s easier to learn if your dominant hand is your right hand, but it’s slower, and there’s more hand movements.

Some find English knitting slower than the Continental style. Knit fast with both if you practice long enough.

Is English Or Continental Knitting Easier?

Some who’ve learned to crochet find Continental knitting simpler, while other knitters find English knitting easier. I recommend learning both of them. Afterwards, compare the two styles and decide.

Tips for knitting faster English style from Kendra Makes.

What Are The 2 Types Of Knitting?

  • 2 Basic Knitting Styles: The two basic knitting styles are the Continental method and the English style. There are more, like Portuguese knitting.
  • 2 Basic Knitting Stitches: The knit stitch and the purl stitch.

How Can I Knit Faster In English?

Here are three great tips for faster English knitting.

Tip 1 Practice! Set yourself a time in your day to practice English knitting. Depending on how much time you have, practice for 10, 15, or 20 minutes a day.It may take a while, but the more you practice, the more proficient and faster at English knitting you get!

Tip 2 Stop To Check For Mistakes Frequently! You may think stopping and checking is slower. In the long run, stopping and checking for mistakes helps you notice errors quicker. The quicker you see the mistake, the quicker you fix it.

If you didn’t check, you might see a dropped stitch in your fabric ten rows back. Super frustrating to rip it out and redo.

Tip 3 Take Notes! Write down the needle size and yarn weight of your project. Save your pattern digitally or note it down on paper, so you always have it saved somewhere.

Pro Tip: Note down what row you’re up to. If you walk away and leave your knitting, and forget what row you’re on, you’re in trouble! Writing down your current row number reminds you to knit row number 7 or whatever row you need to knit next. Doing this saves you a whole heap of row-counting.

Conclusion

Time to start your next English knitting project. I hope you found this post helpful. Did you learn to knit with this style of knitting? I’d be interested to hear your experiences. Want to learn another style? Try Continental or Lever Knitting.

About The Author

Jodie Morgan From Knit Like Granny

Jodie Morgan (Author & Founder)

jodie@knitlikegranny.com | Lives In: Regional Australia

Author: Jodie Morgan is a passionate knitter and blogger with 40+ years of experience currently living in regional Australia. Taught by her mother and wonderful grandmother “Mama”, she fell in love with crafting from a young age. When she’s not knitting, you’ll find her enjoying a cup of coffee with cream, or sharing helpful resources and tips with the online knitting community. Get to know Jodie and the team on our meet the team page.

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