Learn How to Continental Knitting

Learn How to Continental Knitting

Knitting is a popular craft that has been around for centuries, and it continues to be a beloved pastime for many people today. One of the most common knitting styles is known as continental knitting. If you’re new to knitting or want to try a different technique, this comprehensive guide will teach you all you need to know about continental knitting.

Continental knitting is a method where the yarn is held in the left hand, making it easier to maintain an even tension and work at a faster pace. This technique is widely used in Europe and is known for its efficiency and ergonomic benefits.

In this guide, we’ll start with the basics of continental knitting, including how to hold the yarn and the needles. We’ll then move on to casting on, which is the first step in starting a knitting project. You’ll also learn how to knit and purl using the continental method, as well as common knitting techniques such as increasing and decreasing stitches.

If you’re a visual learner, don’t worry. We’ll provide detailed instructions along with step-by-step illustrations to help you grasp the concepts and techniques. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced knitter looking to expand your skills, this comprehensive guide to continental knitting will have you creating beautiful projects in no time.

“Continental knitting is a versatile technique that allows for greater control and speed. It’s a fantastic skill to have in your knitting repertoire, and with this guide, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a continental knitting pro!”

Benefits of Learning Continental Knitting

Continental knitting, also known as German knitting or European knitting, is a method of knitting that involves holding the yarn in the left hand. While it may require some practice for those accustomed to English knitting, continental knitting offers several benefits that make it worth learning.

  1. Speed: One of the main advantages of continental knitting is its speed. Holding the yarn in the left hand allows for more efficient and faster movements, as the right hand is primarily focused on manipulating the needles. This can be especially beneficial when working on larger projects or when knitting for extended periods of time.
  2. Tension control: Continental knitting provides better tension control compared to English knitting. Since the yarn is held in the left hand and the purl stitch is easier to execute, knitters can achieve more even and consistent stitch tension. This can result in neater and more professional-looking finished projects.
  3. Reduced strain: Continental knitting tends to be easier on the hands and wrists compared to English knitting. The movements involved in continental knitting are generally more natural and ergonomic, which can help minimize the risk of repetitive strain injuries or discomfort, especially for those with joint or muscle issues.
  4. Compatibility with colorwork: Continental knitting is particularly well-suited for colorwork projects, such as fair isle or stranded knitting. With the yarn held in the left hand, it is easier to switch between colors and maintain an even tension, resulting in clean and well-defined patterns.
  5. Versatility: Learning continental knitting expands your knitting skills and techniques, making you a more versatile knitter. Being able to switch between different knitting styles allows you to choose the method that is most comfortable and effective for each project. It also opens up a wider range of knitting patterns and designs that may be better suited to continental knitting.

Overall, learning continental knitting offers many benefits, from increased speed and tension control to improved comfort and versatility. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced knitter, taking the time to learn continental knitting can greatly enhance your knitting experience and open up new possibilities for your projects.

Improved Speed and Efficiency

One of the main advantages of learning continental knitting techniques is the improved speed and efficiency it offers compared to traditional knitting methods. Here are some reasons why continental knitting can help you become a faster and more efficient knitter:

  • Minimal Hand Movement: In continental knitting, the yarn is held in the left hand, allowing for a shorter distance the yarn has to travel between stitches. This reduces the amount of hand and wrist movement required, resulting in faster knitting.
  • Smooth Motion: The motion of picking the yarn with the left-hand needle and knitting it with the right-hand needle is fluid and efficient. This smooth motion allows for quicker transitions between stitches.
  • Consistency: Continental knitting promotes a more consistent tension throughout the fabric. This helps avoid tight or loose stitches, resulting in a more even and professional-looking finished project.
  • Ability to Knit in the Round: Continental knitting technique is particularly advantageous when knitting in the round, such as when making hats or seamless tubes. The continuous motion of continental knitting allows for faster progress without having to constantly turn the work.

By learning continental knitting techniques, you can significantly increase your knitting speed and efficiency. With practice, you will find yourself completing projects more quickly while maintaining high-quality stitchwork.

Reduction in Hand Fatigue

Continental knitting, also known as European style knitting, offers several advantages that can help reduce hand fatigue.

  • Ergonomic hand position: When knitting continental style, the yarn is held in the left hand, allowing for a more relaxed and natural hand position. This can help reduce tension and strain on the hand and wrist muscles.
  • Efficient finger movements: Continental knitting involves using the index finger to pick the yarn, while the other fingers hold the needle. This finger movement is known as “picking” and is generally considered to be more efficient and less tiring than the “throwing” motion used in English style knitting.
  • Less repetitive motion: Continental knitting requires fewer hand movements compared to English style knitting. The smooth and fluid motion of the yarn and needle can help minimize repetitive strain on the hands and fingers.

By adopting continental knitting techniques, knitters can enjoy longer knitting sessions with reduced hand fatigue. However, it is important to note that individuals may have different preferences and knitting styles that work best for them. It’s always good to experiment and find the knitting technique that feels comfortable and enjoyable for you.

Enhanced Stitch Consistency

One of the key benefits of practicing continental knitting techniques is the ability to achieve enhanced stitch consistency. By holding the yarn in your left hand and using your right hand to manipulate the needles, you can create stitches that are more uniform and even.

Here are some tips to help you improve your stitch consistency:

  1. Relax your hands: Tension in your hands and fingers can lead to uneven stitches. Take a deep breath and consciously relax your hands before you start knitting.
  2. Find your knitting rhythm: Knitting with a consistent rhythm can help you create more even stitches. Experiment with different speeds and find the pace that works best for you.
  3. Hold the yarn consistently: Pay attention to how you hold the yarn in your left hand. Consistency in your yarn tension and positioning can lead to more consistent stitches.
  4. Avoid tight stitches: Pulling your yarn too tightly can result in tight stitches. Make sure to maintain an even tension as you work each stitch.
  5. Practice, practice, practice: Like any skill, the more you practice continental knitting, the more consistent your stitches will become. Set aside regular practice time to improve your technique.

By focusing on these tips and practicing consistently, you will see a noticeable improvement in your stitch consistency. This enhanced stitch consistency will not only make your knitted projects look more polished, but it will also make the knitting process more enjoyable.

Examples of Stitch Consistency
Before Practice After Practice
Uneven stitches Even stitches

Remember, each knitter is unique, and it may take some time to find the best techniques and rhythm that work for you. Be patient with yourself and enjoy the process of learning and improving your continental knitting skills.

Materials Needed for Continental Knitting

Continental knitting is a popular technique that involves holding the yarn in the left hand, making it easier and faster to knit. To get started with continental knitting, you will need the following materials:

  • Needles: You will need knitting needles suitable for the project you wish to work on. The size and type of needles will depend on the yarn weight you are using.
  • Yarn: Choose a yarn that is suitable for your project. The weight of the yarn and needle size should match to achieve the desired tension and gauge.
  • Scissors: A pair of scissors will be useful for cutting the yarn when needed.
  • Tapestry Needle: You will need a tapestry needle to weave in the yarn ends and finish off your project.
  • Stitch Markers: Stitch markers can be helpful for marking specific stitches or sections in your knitting.
  • Row Counter: A row counter can be useful for keeping track of your rows, especially in larger projects.
  • Measuring Tape: A measuring tape will come in handy for checking your gauge and measuring your finished project.
  • Pattern: Choose a knitting pattern that suits your skill level and project preferences. Make sure to follow the pattern instructions carefully.

Once you have gathered all of the necessary materials, you will be well-equipped to start learning and practicing continental knitting techniques.


Yarn is the material that is used to create knitted projects. It is made from a variety of different fibers, such as wool, cotton, acrylic, and silk. The choice of yarn depends on the desired characteristics of the finished project, such as its warmth, durability, and drape.

Yarn comes in different weights, ranging from laceweight to super bulky. The weight of the yarn determines the size of the knitting needles or crochet hook that is used to work with it. The thicker the yarn, the larger the needles or hook needed.

When choosing yarn, it is important to consider factors such as texture, color, and fiber content. Yarn can be smooth or textured, solid color or variegated, and made from natural or synthetic fibers. Each fiber has its own properties, such as warmth, softness, or moisture-wicking ability.

There are also specialty yarns available, such as self-striping yarns or yarns with added texture. These can add interest and unique effects to your knitting projects.

Yarn is usually sold in skeins or balls. Skeins are twisted loops of yarn, while balls are yarn that has been wound into a round shape. Some yarns come in hanks, which are large loops that need to be wound into balls before use.

Before starting a knitting project, it is a good idea to check the yarn label for information on recommended needle size, gauge, and care instructions. This will ensure that your project turns out as expected and that the finished item will last for a long time.

Overall, yarn is a versatile and important part of the knitting process. Choosing the right yarn can greatly enhance the success and enjoyment of your knitting projects.

Knitting Needles

Knitting needles are essential tools for any knitting project. They come in various sizes and materials, each suited for different types of knitting projects and techniques.


  • Knitting needles are available in different sizes, ranging from small to large. The size of the needle determines the size of the stitches you will create.
  • The size of the needle is denoted by a number or a letter. The higher the number or letter, the larger the needle size.
  • Common knitting needle sizes include US 0 (2 mm) to US 17 (12.75 mm).


  • Knitting needles are made from various materials, each with its own unique properties.
  • Common materials used for knitting needle construction include:
  • Metal: Metal knitting needles are durable and smooth, allowing stitches to slide easily. They are great for fast knitting and create even stitches.
  • Wood: Wooden knitting needles are lightweight and warm to the touch. They provide good grip and control and are less likely to slip out of stitches.
  • Bamboo: Bamboo knitting needles have similar characteristics to wooden needles. They are flexible, lightweight, and provide good grip and control.
  • Plastic: Plastic knitting needles are affordable and come in a wide range of colors. They are lightweight and quiet when knitting, but may not be as durable as other materials.
  • Acrylic: Acrylic knitting needles are also affordable and lightweight. They have a smooth surface and can be a good option for beginners.


  • There are different types of knitting needles, each suited for different knitting techniques:
  • Straight Needles: Straight needles are the most basic type of knitting needle. They are straight and come in pairs, with a point at one end and a stopper at the other.
  • Circular Needles: Circular needles have two needle tips connected by a flexible cable. They are used for knitting in the round or for projects with a large number of stitches.
  • Double-Pointed Needles (DPNs): DPNs have points at both ends and are used for knitting in the round, especially for small projects such as socks or hats.


Choosing the right knitting needles is important to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable knitting experience. Consider the size, material, and type of needles that work best for your knitting style and project. Experiment with different needles to find your preferred tools for creating beautiful knitted items.

Stitch Markers

In knitting, stitch markers are essential tools to help you keep track of your stitches and count your rows. They can be used to mark specific stitches, such as the beginning of a round or a pattern repeat, or to indicate important points in your knitting, such as increases or decreases.

There are various types of stitch markers available, each with its own purpose:

  • Open Ring Stitch Markers: These are small, circular markers that can be easily placed and removed from the needles. They are usually made of plastic or metal and can be used to mark specific stitches or sections in your knitting.
  • Split Ring Stitch Markers: Similar to open ring stitch markers, split ring markers can be easily attached and removed from the needles. However, they have a small opening that allows them to be placed directly onto a stitch, making them ideal for marking increases or decreases.
  • Locking Stitch Markers: These markers have a locking mechanism that keeps them securely in place on the needles. They are usually made of plastic or metal and are great for marking stitches or sections that need to be counted later.

When using stitch markers, it’s important to place them correctly in your knitting. To mark a stitch, simply slip the marker onto the needle between the stitches. Pay attention to the type of marker you’re using, as some markers need to be placed directly onto a stitch, while others can be placed between stitches.

Stitch markers can also be used in combination with other techniques, such as lace knitting or cable knitting. For example, in lace knitting, markers can be used to separate pattern repeats or mark important points in the lace design. In cable knitting, markers can be used to indicate the beginning or end of a cable repeat.

Using stitch markers can greatly improve your knitting experience, especially when working on complex patterns or projects with multiple stitch variations. They help to keep you organized and make it easier to count stitches and rows. So next time you pick up your knitting needles, don’t forget to grab some stitch markers!

Basic Continental Knitting Techniques

Continental knitting is a method of knitting where the yarn is held in the left hand instead of the right. This technique is also known as “picking” or “German knitting.” It is popular in Europe and has gained popularity in other parts of the world due to its efficiency and speed.

Here are some basic continental knitting techniques to get you started:

  • Positioning the Yarn: Hold the yarn in your left hand, allowing it to run over your index finger. Use your other fingers to control the tension of the yarn.
  • Knit Stitch: Insert the right needle from the front to the back of the first stitch on the left needle. With the yarn held in your left hand, wrap it around the right needle counterclockwise. Then pull the right needle with the loop of yarn through the first stitch, slipping off the old stitch.
  • Purl Stitch: Insert the right needle from the back to the front of the first stitch on the left needle. With the yarn held in your left hand, wrap it around the right needle counterclockwise. Then pull the right needle with the loop of yarn through the first stitch, slipping off the old stitch.
  • Knit 2 Together (K2tog): Insert the right needle from the front to the back of the next two stitches on the left needle. With the yarn held in your left hand, wrap it around the right needle counterclockwise. Then pull the right needle with the loop of yarn through the two stitches, slipping off the old stitches.
  • Purl 2 Together (P2tog): Insert the right needle from the back to the front of the next two stitches on the left needle. With the yarn held in your left hand, wrap it around the right needle counterclockwise. Then pull the right needle with the loop of yarn through the two stitches, slipping off the old stitches.

Remember to practice these techniques slowly at first until you become comfortable with the motions. With time and practice, continental knitting can become a fast and efficient way to knit.

Advantages of Continental Knitting Disadvantages of Continental Knitting
  • Can be faster than traditional English knitting
  • Less hand movement and strain
  • Easier to switch between knit and purl stitches
  • Produces a more even tension
  • Requires learning a new technique
  • Initial awkwardness and muscle memory adjustment
  • May feel less natural for some knitters

Continental knitting is a valuable skill to add to your knitting repertoire. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced knitter, learning and practicing these basic techniques will open up new possibilities in your knitting projects.

Casting On

Casting on is the first step in any knitting project. This technique creates the foundation row, also known as the “cast-on row,” from which you will begin your knitting. There are various methods to cast on, but in this guide, we will focus on the long-tail cast-on method.

To perform the long-tail cast-on, you will need a long tail of yarn. The general rule of thumb is to measure out approximately three times the width of your knitting project. This tail will be used to create the stitches.

  1. Make a slipknot at the end of your yarn, leaving a tail of the desired length.
  2. Hold the slipknot on your needle with your right hand. Insert your left thumb and index finger between the two strands of yarn, creating a loop.
  3. With your right hand, reach over the front of the left-hand yarn and hook it with your needle, pulling it through the loop on your left hand.
  4. Release the loop from your left hand, tightening the new loop on your needle.
  5. Repeat steps 2-4 until you have cast on the desired number of stitches.

The long-tail cast-on method creates a neat and flexible edge, making it popular for a variety of knitting projects. Once you have mastered this technique, you can explore other casting on methods to suit specific patterns or personal preferences.

Remember to practice and take your time when learning any new knitting technique. With patience and perseverance, you will improve your knitting skills and be able to tackle more complex projects.


What is continental knitting?

Continental knitting is a style of knitting where the yarn is held in the left hand. The knitter uses their right-hand needle to insert it into stitches and complete the knit and purl stitches.

What are the benefits of continental knitting?

There are several benefits to continental knitting. Firstly, it allows for faster knitting because the yarn is already in the left hand, reducing the need to move the yarn back and forth between hands. Additionally, it can be less straining on the hands and wrists compared to other knitting styles.

How do I hold the yarn in continental knitting?

In continental knitting, the yarn is typically held in the left hand. One common method is to wrap the yarn around the pinky finger, then bring it under the ring and middle fingers, and finally over the index finger. Experiment with different yarn-holding techniques to find what is most comfortable for you.

Can I switch to continental knitting if I’ve been knitting another way?

Yes, it is possible to switch to continental knitting if you have been knitting another way. However, it may take some practice and adjustment to get used to the new technique. Start by practicing the basic continental knit and purl stitches, and gradually incorporate them into your knitting projects.

Are there any specific tips for mastering continental knitting?

There are a few tips that can help with mastering continental knitting. First, practice with a smooth, light yarn that glides easily. This will make it easier to manipulate the yarn. Additionally, focus on keeping your hands relaxed and avoid gripping the needles too tightly. Finally, be patient with yourself and give yourself time to adjust to the new technique.


Knitting Traditions Podcast Ep.73- a finished longterm wip, cardigan knitting and crochet flowers

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *