Continental Method vs. English Method

Being a beginner to knitting, I am curious to know the pros and cons of each of these methods. I am being taught the English way, but want to make sure this is the method I want to use.

It’s not a `brain’ decision, it’s how comfortable and natural you feel with a method. I’d say learn one way, and after you get some experience with it, try the other method. You don’t have to do either one or the other; some of us do some combination of both for different types of knitting.

I think English is easier to learn, so I think that starting out English is fine. It’s how most peoplee start out.

I also agree with suzeeq (as usual!!! lol) that once you’ve learned one way, it’s beneficial to at least know how to do the other type (I use both hands in Fair Isle - with one color in each hand, I use Continental for one yarn and English for the other) and if you decide that you prefer Continental, then it would be fine to go with that.

For many people, Continental is faster, so that’s definitely a plus. However, when I knit Continental, the tips of my fingers hurt from pushing the pointy needle tips. I find English knitting very therapeutic, and for me, it feels know knitting is supposed to be.

I agree! I do english but that was what I was taught and it came easily to me. So, I feel comfortable with it. Maybe try both and see which you like better.

I knit and first learned continental. While it took me a few weeks to get how to hold the yarn down, I’m so glad I learned this method. I can knit pretty fast.

If you’re learning to knit English, there’s no downside to it. The first part of learning to knit is understanding how everything fits together. After you know that, you can experiment with the different styles.

I think it just depends on the person – I found English incredibly hard to learn. If I hadn’t found Amy’s continental videos, I most likely would have quit knitting. Continental just felt sooo much more natural to me – I caught on right away. I always tell people that learning is frustrating, that’s normal – but if it really sends you over the edge, you might want to try a method other than the one you started with…worked for me! :smiley:

I would suggest to most people that they try Continental out before they have become too accustomed to knitting English, and become equally used to both before you decide which you prefer. If you know how to knit English you might find Continental awkward from the first row and not keep trying. I certainly find Continental faster, especially for ribbing or seed stitch, where you frequently change between knit and purl.

learn conti before english becomes second nature. that’s how i did it and i will never regret knowing how to do it both ways.


[LEFT]This is one of those subjects that comes up again and again and most people, naturally, when they see photos and videos of English knitting are more familiar with Miss Marple’s method - holding the needles like a pen.

There are very few (maybe two or three) descriptions on the web of (northern) English knitting, which involves holding long needles in a totally different way, even though the wrap the remains the same.

There’s a drawing here to give some idea of what I’m on about:(just scroll down the page slightly)

If you look at the knitter’s right hand, you’ll see that the index finger is used to wrap - most women I know who knit like this, however, use the middle finger to wrap. The middle finger in the drawing looks curled under and it is - I tension the wool around my right pinky, the yarn lies across my palm and then it flows smoothly [B]under [/B]my middle finger.

The main advantage to knitting like this, as opposed to the pen method, is that the needle is stabilised under your right arm - meaning that if you have a yarn bracelet, as in the KH shop, you can walk around with the knitting and after some practice, it’s amazing how you can do a good number of stitches without looking.

There’s no need to hug the needle tightly (especially if you’re delicately ample) and it takes away alot of the weight from the wrists. In the drawing, the left needle is pointing directly upwards, which is a bit daft, because that needle is held in the left hand in an easy, horizontal, grip.

I’m not 100% sure but I think English knitters adapted the Shetland method of knitting with four dpns, using a belt which allowed the knitter to move around and do other jobs.

The way of knitting in the diagram was used in the horrendously noisy weaving sheds in the cotton mills of Lancashire, where it was impossible to have any conversation but using this method, it was easy to knit, while keeping an eye on the weaving looms.

Hope this might be useful to some folks. :thumbsup:


I agree that it’s mostly what you are comfortable with–I find conti much more comfortable than Eng but in my SNB, I’m the only continential knitter! I think learning both ways is a good idea–what’s most important, IMHO, is that you UNDERSTAND what you are doing moreso than just going through the motions.

Yes, regardless of which way you knit, it’s very important to know how to `read’ your knitting. How to tell a knit stitch from a purl stitch, for example.

Also, I think it’s important to keep in mind that it really does come down to personal preference (once you’ve give both ways a good deal of practice and a fair chance) I know that when I was beginning I did actually feel some pressure to knit continental, because it seemed like that’s what “real” serious knitter used. But in the end, after trying both, English was best for me. There are very great knitters who use Continental, and there are very great knitters who use English.

But they’re both fun! :smiley:

I feel this way, too… I learned English. I eventually learned to knit continental and I prefer it EXCEPT I find the first stitch of a new row to be difficult in continental so sometimes I will do that stitch in english. I have been trying for YEARS to master purl in continental and I can finally do it but I feel like I am slower, my tension is less even, and I am more apt to drop stitches since I feel like I need to work closer to the ends of the needles. I have learned, in between trying to figure it out and actually figuring it out, that there are those who knit continental and purl english, as I have been doing for years. So now I feel like, hmmm, nothing wrong with it then. :slight_smile:

I will probably keep pegging at continental because the appeal of flying through ribbing is so tempting but… I dunno. Last night I did a row of k1p1 in english (I do pattern rows in english) and it took me 6 minutes. Then I went to do a row in continental to see how long it took, and 4 stitches in I dropped a stitch which sent me scurrying through the house for a crochet hook and essentially caused much panic. So I dunno… my ribbing done english style looks fabulous and I never drop stitches, even if it takes a little longer, so I feel like I am sily to try so hard to do it a different way.

continental and english are just 2 major variations of European knitting.

there are other styles besides these 2 (English has throw and lever style, there is scotish style, there is standard continental and an american lever style continental.)

and then there is Eastern style–(world wide, a much more common style, but less common in western europe and the english speaking world) and there is combo, too!

there are lots of ways to knit, and in time most knitters learn several ways.

I learned and knit continental. I find that by using it I knit faster than I would with English since after I was well established as a continental knitter I tried English. I also think it is easier to knit socks knitting continental because there are so many needles! But you have to see which one you like better and go for it

[FONT=“Trebuchet MS”]I learned to knit using the English method, but I eventually taught myself to knit continental using various videos on the Internet. I have found that I personally prefer to knit continental, but for the life of me I can’t seeem to purl continental. <sigh> [/FONT]

I have followed this thread with interest.

I wish each poster would have indicated whether s/he is right or left handed in addition to telling us s/he knits. Some people refer to continental as being “left-handed” and English as “right-handed”.

I guess if I were just starting out, I might factor that into my decision on which method to use first.

I learned to knit English and knitted that way for years, but that period of my life I didn’t knit as much as I have the last 20 years. I had a friend at the LYS (the owner) who knitted Continental and she showed me how to do it. She didn’t put English down or coerce me into it but I decided I wanted to learn Continental. I picked a project with a lot of stitches and, even though it was more awkward at first knitted the whole thing Continental and have never looked back. I’m saying this because I think you don’t have to learn them both at the same time or learn the second method before you get the other one in your brain too well. You can switch anytime you want if that is what you decide to do.

I still use English when I do two colors, one in each hand and choose it as my method of choice to teach children, because it is easier to get started with. I think people who know how to crochet are great candidates for Continental though. I taught my husband to knit last fall and taught him to knit Continental but when it came to purling he couldn’t do it. So I suggested he try English purling and that worked for him. Now he does it all in English when he has to do ribbing or something. In the round he will do Continental and does two color knitting with both.

There are all kinds of ways to hold your hands when you knit Continental (English too I suppose). I have a friend who knits CS but she holds her index finger so low that the purling is not easy. She still has to stop and move the yarn back and forth for moving from knit to purl and back. I do my purling just like Amy on the videos on this site. Works great for me!

We are all different and have to pick what works best for us.

I don’t choose Continental because it is faster, although I think it is (for me), but I find it a lot easier on my hands. And I love the ease of switching back and forth from knit to purl that it affords. They both produce the same result. That is important to remember.:knitting:

Mrs Davis, the handedness you refer to only has to do with which hand you hold the yarn in, not whether a person is right or left handed in other things.

I learned to knit Continental and thought that was the way to go – ok, really, I learned to knit combined at first but that also holds the yarn in the left hand. I always thought that English knitting looked cumbersome and had a lot of extra movement to it. The whole wrapping thing looked like a lot of extra work to me.

Since I am getting ready to teach a beginning knitting class I thought I’d better give English a try and see if it would be an easier way to teach knitting. So yesterday I plunked myself in front of my computer with Amy’s videos and the help of my English knitting 9 yo dd and I just knitted and purled English for several hours.

It was fun! And I didn’t do too bad (if I must say so myself!) Purling took me a bit to get comfortable with but my swatch looked pretty good for the first time I’ve ever knitted English. My gauge was tighter than it is when I knit Continental (that’s always too loose!) and my stitches were even.

I can see how it would be easier to learn to knit English although I think it was easier to learn English after knitting Continental than it seems to learn Continental after knitting English.

Now I feel like a could go either way with my next knitting project and I may just start it English just for giggles! I agree with RedheadedRachel – either way is fun!