English vs. Continental

Knitting Blog Challenge Day 18

Do you knit English or Continental?

I had to look up the differences to be sure of my answer for this one. I always get them mixed up. The short answer is that I knit English style, and the long answer is that I knit both ways.

When I first learned I was holding the yarn in my right and dominant hand. I don’t know if this was a conscious decision or it’s just what I was seeing in youtube videos. That’s the way that made sense to me, although they say continental is easier for crocheters to learn.

When I started stranded knitting I was throwing both yarns with my right hand and spent a lot of time detangling my yarn. The strands would twist every time I switched colors and after a few rows it was a giant mess. This method also took a lot longer and my tension was not very good. I don’t remember if someone told me or I saw a suggestion online, but I started holding one of my strands in my left hand and one of my strands in my right hand. It made knitting go a lot faster and my fabric ended up looking much neater. I have since learned that holding the background color strand in your dominant hand and the pattern color in your non-dominant hand makes colorwork patterns really pop. The slight difference in tension means that the pattern stitches are a little looser making the background recede.

In my quick google search today, I learned that a lot of people say continental is better for people with repetitive stress pains from knitting since picking the yarn requires slightly less movement. It takes me a lot longer to knit continental so I usually give up pretty quickly but it might be worth forcing myself to work a whole project that way and see if my joints feel better.

As a side note, I think it’s super interesting that there’s a regional based difference. I had a roommate who learned to knit continental from her mother. Her mother was from Germany where the continental style seems to originate. It would be an interesting history lesson to see which method people use – especially if they’ve learned from a family member. Which way do you use?

About the Author

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I’m like you, I can use both, but my preferred style is “continental.” I first learned “English” and then learned “continental” and “continental” just became my preferred way of doing it.

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I learned to knit continental years ago at school. When I started knitting color work a few years ago, I tried to teach myself English as well. The problem was that I hated having to pick up my yarn over and over again. So I spent this summer teaching myself to flick with my right hand. It’s a long process but I’m hoping to get good at that so I can knit interchangeably at some point.

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