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English Knitting Guide: All You Need To Know

English knitting or ‘throwing’ is extremely popular in England and some places in Europe. What makes English knitting different from other styles is you hold the working yarn in your right hand. (Left hand if you are left-handed).

Also called American knitting.

Lots of people learn to knit in the English style. If you’re thinking about learning to knit, trying English knitting as your first knitting style is a great idea.

The knit and purl stitches in the English knitting method are easy to learn.

Table Of Contents

How To Knit English Style – How Do You Do The English Method In Knitting?

In the following, I’ll explain how to do the two most commonly used stitches in knitting, the knit stitch and the purl stitch. I’ll tell you how to knit them using both left-handed and right-handed instructions.

English Knitting Left Handed

The Knit Stitch

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

The Purl Stitch

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

English Knitting Style – Right Handed

The Knit Stitch

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

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

The Purl Stitch

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

English Rib Knitting

What Is Ribbing, And What Is It Used For?

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

#1. 2 x 2 Rib.

The 2 x 2 rib alternates two knit stitches and two purl stitches.

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

The 1 x 1 rib alternates one knit stitch and one purl stitch.

  • Step 1. Tension the yarn in your right hand.
  • Step 2. Work 1 knit stitch.
  • Step 3. Bring the working yarn to the front of the work.
  • Step 4. Work one purl stitch.
  • Repeat from Steps 2 – 4 to continue working the 1 x 1 rib.

Switching From English To Continental Knitting

Knitting in the continental style helps you finish long rows of knitting quicker. You do fewer hand movements when doing Continental knitting, thus reducing hand and wrist pain.

Switching to the Continental style may help you if you get pain when knitting in the English style.

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. That’s why it’s called ‘Stranded Colorwork.’

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

This way, you can 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 super essential in Stranded Colorwork to keep your floats nice and loose. I’d you don’t, your fabric will end 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 required amount of stitches.

Step 2. Starting at the bottom right corner of your chart pattern and then working over to the left, knit the required amount of stitches in the first color. The chart will tell you which color to use.

Note: Usually, 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, and put the loop on the right needle. Don’t you a slip knot, just a loop without any knots. Pull through to make a stitch. Knit the rest of the needed stitches in the second color. Make sure you are using the working yarn and not the tail end of the second color!

Note: Keep the floats good and loose when you are knitting them.

Repeat steps 1 – 3 until you reach the end of the row. Only this time, in step 3, you won’t have to add in the second yarn; it will already be added and knitting in. If you get stuck, look at your chart, it will help you out.

It also helps to knit a few swatches to get used to knitting with two colors.

Step 4. Now you are on the wrong side row. Knit across from left to right on the chart, using the same technique as before. Your pattern will tell you what stitches to knit.

How To Knit Stranded Colorwork English Style Left-Handed

Step 1. Gather the materials needed for your pattern. Tension the yarn in your left hand, and cast on the required amount of stitches.

Step 2. Starting at the bottom right corner of your chart pattern and then working over to the left, knit the required amount of stitches in the first color. The chart will tell you which color to use.

Note: Usually, each square in the chart equals one stitch.

Step 3. Insert the left needle into the next stitch on the right needle. Loop the second yarn leaving a tail, and put the loop on the left needle. Don’t you a slip knot, just a loop without any knots. Pull through to make a stitch.

Knit the rest of the needed stitches in the second color. Make sure you are using the working yarn and not the tail end of the second color!

Note: Keep the floats good and loose when you are knitting them.

Repeat steps 1 – 3 until you reach the end of the row. Only this time, in step 3, you won’t have to add in the second yarn; it will already be added and knitting in.

If you get stuck, look at your chart, it will help you out. It also helps to knit a few swatches to get used to knitting with two colors.

Step 4. Now you are on the wrong side row. Knit across from left to right on the chart, using the same technique as before. Your pattern will tell you what stitches to knit.

How To Knit Stranded Colorwork Video by Wool And The Gang

English Knitting Abbreviations

Some knitting patterns will have different stitch abbreviations that aren’t in the following list. They will commonly be cables stitches from a cabled pattern.

The pattern instructions will explain what that stitch abbreviation means.

  • k = knit
  • p = purl
  • dec = decrease
  • inc = increase
  • cont = continue
  • m1 = make one (an increase stitch)
  • stst = stocking stitch
  • rep = repeat
  • tog = together
  • p2tog = purl 2 together
  • k2tog = knit 2 together
  • p3tog = purl 3 together
  • pm = place marker (a stitch marker)
  • k3tog = knit 3 together
  • ws = wrong side
  • rs = right side
  • rem = remaining or remain
  • CO = cast on
  • BO/CO = bind off/cast off
  • DPN = double-pointed needles
  • kfb = knit front and back of stitch (increase)
  • pfb = purl front and back of stitch (increase)
  • rnd = round
  • wyib = with yarn in back
  • wyif = with yarn in front

Your Questions Answered

English Vs Continental Knitting

Pros And Cons Of Continental Knitting

Pros

  • Quicker knitting
  • Fewer hand movements that English knitting

Cons

  • The gauge can sometimes be loose
  • Harder to purl versus English purling
Pros And Cons Of English Knitting

Pros

  • Great tension
  • Easier to learn if your dominant hand is your right hand

Cons

  • Slower than Continental knitting*
  • More hand movements than the Continental style

Some people find English knitting slower than the Continental style, but you can knit fast with both methods if you practice long enough.

Is English Or Continental Knitting Easier?

Some people who’ve learned to crochet find Continental knitting simpler, while other knitters find English knitting easier.

If you are trying to decide which one you want to learn, I recommend learning both of them. After you have learned both, you can compare the two styles and decide which one you find most natural.

Here are some tips for knitting faster English style from Kendra Makes.

What Are The 2 Types Of Knitting?

The 2 Basic Knitting Styles

The two basic knitting styles are the Continental method and the English style. There are a few more knitting styles, such as Portuguese knitting.

The 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, you can 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 will get!

Tip #2. Stop To Check For Mistakes Frequently!

What you just read is probably making you think that stopping and checking will make you go slower. It doesn’t.

In the long run, stopping and checking for mistakes now and then helps you notice errors quicker. The quicker you see the mistake, the quicker you can fix it.

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

Tip #3. Take Notes!

Write down the needle size and yarn weight of your project. You can also 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, then come back two hours later and forget what row you are 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 will save you a whole heap of row-counting, especially if you are knitting something big like a blanket!

Now you’ve learned about English knitting. It’s 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 did, and it’s the way I’m most familiar with. I’d be interested to hear about your knitting experiences.

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About Jodie Morgan

Hi. I’m Jodie Morgan, owner and creator of Knit Like Granny. (Yes, I’m a real person :) ) Thanks for being here.

I created Knit Like Granny to help show 1,000,000 people the benefits of knitting & highlight alternatives to fast fashion.

I love knitting and have met so many other fabulous knitters through this site. I enjoy learning and helping others discover the joys of working with yarn.

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