Continental Purl

I grew up knitting English and knit that way up until my late 50s when I decided to try Continental Method. I have triedabut every method shown on YouTube for Continental purl but do find that I get rowing (loose rows every about 3rd or 4th row). I was shy of using Combined Method because of it making the stitch mount backwards to me. But it is so far the only purling method which does not produce rowing out which is a pattern which shows up in reverse stockinette which is the background for cabling. I am knitting the GAAA.

I think as we all have different size hands, it may make a difference as to why regular Continental purl does not work for me because as my hands get more tired, my stitches look looser, it is probably because I did not form the muscle memory in my youth.

I do know how to knit backwards but I find it is easier to knit backwards English than Continental as I am right-handed and the left handed method I like rehabilitation in progress though I do it and it is slowly improving. I don’t get rowing out when I knit Continental backwards, it just feels awkward for now.

What kind of purling works best for you? Is rowing out in Continental a problem for everyone of just the unlucky few?

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I have never tried continental only the English way, someday i would love to learn but at the age of 63 it better be sooner than later.

I knit Continental. I’ve always had tension problems. Recently I came across a video that helped a lot. The only real change I made was how I hold the yarn. When I knit or purl I hold the needles in a T shape, much like I’ve seen for Russian knitting. I don’t do my purls clockwise, but if it works for you then it’s good. Some people like Norwegian purling with the yarn staying at the back of the work but it tires me out more and seems to require wrist movement that can get painful.

Try as I might I can’t knit English style very well. I learned Portuguese and it’s great for purling but I don’t like the knit stitches. Working them is sort of like dong the Norwegian purl and they give me the same problems.


Thanks GrumpyGramma for the heads up

Age is a matter of mind, if you don’t mind, it does not matter. But the more we learn as we age, the more grey matter we keep. So easy is not always better. Changing knitting styles on a project can also keep it from becoming boring. And it also allows other parts of the fingers to be used which is good for arthritis and sore fingers such as can happen from opening a jelly jar after my husband’s closed it and is not around. LOL!


Thank you, she makes some excellent points for being able to tune up my knitting. Her videos is going in “favorites” so I can watch it again if my stitches get droopy.

I do Norwegian Purl too but actually when I do Combined in the round and put purl over purl, it is Norwegian purl by mounted as for Combined.

I have to say when I knit in public, I have been told I don’t knit right. So then I cycle through the various styles I know and all of them backwards and am asked if I am a knitting teacher. I say “no” I just like to know my options when it comes to knitting. It has helped more than anything to have hands that no longer hurt for me as the movements are gentle.

I never realized that there were so many different ways to knit. I guess I am really behind the times. Lol!

Don’t feel bad. I heard about a lady in England who was expert at archaic languages, she could read and write 16 ancient languages. Her professor was fluent in 20.

I am a knitting linguist, I think. But then you can see more easily what to do to solve knitting problems. It isn’t for everybody.

Knitting involves long-term use of the hands which just happens to cause more of the brain to be active, a significant part of the outer surface and this extra blood circulation (I think because it is health) creates clarity of thought at the same time a state of peace. And there are no apparent withdrawal symptoms except I want to get back to it later in the day. It doesn’t make one crazy, it helps keep one, in this crazy world, sane. Meanwhile I listen to lectures on all kinds of things while I knit or music I love.

When more blood goes to the brain, it carries more nourishment upstairs as well as oxygen. It is being postulated that this has a long term effect on the brain as knitters are showing less signs of forgetfulness with aging and therefore are more free of Alzheimer’s disease. If you were playing an instrument using most of your fingers, like a piano, or doing a lot of typing, similar benefits for neurons could be reached. However, I can knit for 4 hours straight, I don’t play the piano for that length of time. But there is something about yarn also, and wool yarn in particular, and even knitting with natural wood or bamboo needles which seem a positive help as why expose yourself to chemicals if you don’t have to?

There are generations of Alzheimer’s on my dad’s side of the family, my maternal grandmother died of it too. So I am 64 and before I began my knitting project to heal my arthritis by knitting, (which worked) that it would do the same for my memory issues. I could not add any longer without a calculator, now I am back to doing sums in my head even multiplying and dividing. Knitting seems to help release endorphins and it relaxes me enough to go to sleep. I am an insomniac otherwise.

So knitting it is saving me on day at a time. I think I may have a book in me about it, what do you think?

But I’d have to find other people who are like me to join in my experiment. Thinking about joining the local Senior Group and seeing if I can teach some who attend who are of my age to knit. If I can involve them in a study, and they show similar benefits, maybe we can whip AD. It may not help everyone, but then no drug does either. But in the meanwhile it seems to help people who were suffering from depression and panic disorders also become happy.

There have been studies showing that teaching knitting helps children who have learning disabilities to succeed and also Autism. Children are being taught how to order their brains and aging adults benefits from the same activity. In Europe, knitting is taught as part of the curriculum in Scandinavian countries and they have higher test scores. I don’t think it is genetics, I think it is knitting. Knitters also seem to be able to recognize patterns outside of knitting faster so it isn’t just helpful in reading charts of various kinds. The skills seem to transfer towards mathematics.

In the meanwhile, knitters are very helpful people which helpfulness is becoming more rare. We don’t just make things for ourselves, so it involves some altruistic traits which are likely as healing as the activity itself.

If we have 80 or so years, it isn’t forever, but will seem like it is as time drags when we are miserable, not if we are happy.


Sallybode i could not agree with you more, the mind is a powerful organ. I too find knitting to be very therapeutic and could be used to control if not cure many of what ails us. Thanks for the post it was enlightening to say the least.

Your more than welcome!

I knit Continental and purl in reverse, and I’ve found my row outs are few and far between now that I do it this way! My tension is super-loose.

Grumpy Grandma gave me a link to a video which helped me out a lot. I too do Continental backwards but find it awkward to do, find it easier to knit backwards moving the yarn to my right hand as that way it is more “Continentalish”. I made the move to Continental for learning something new which was more efficient, and that is why I pass the yarn.

But the right angle explanation of how Grumpy Grandma keeps her tension even, is spot on, no more rowing out. My tension in Continental is medium. But if I go to loose as I am working cables, then the cables do not have definition. Thanks for the feedback.

I’m glad the video helped you. I do my needles perpendicular to each other because then I can pick my purls. It’s easier on my fingers and hands. I think it probably helps with evening my tension too. I’m working on a reading wrap, a rectangle shawl with pockets, in bulky yarn and sz 11 needles. I’m not seeing rowing out in my stockinette! but do have occasional loose stitches.

When I knit Continental, I usually don’t force my finger down but use the Russian Western Purl as taught by Faina Letoutchaia. So when I need a Western purl, I’ve done her method but it becomes too loose for me for background purling whereas then the Eastern purl does not for me.

I knit whatever style is the most useful for the pattern since I know several styles. Having knit American/English Flicking which is efficient and the purls look just like the knits, it is however too much tension for my hands now, so I mostly use Continental all the time now. So I am a Combined knitter most of the time.

I know how to knit so with an Eastern purl, the next row untwists the stitches and it looks good but in doing complex cables, tends to let the yarn unwind itself and I end up with snagging my stitches. Could also be that my current project is using acrylic yarn. But the afghan would be outrageously expensive as I am making enough squares to give all my children the same afghan for Christmas.

So thank you for your input, got me thinking on trying to work the knits to match the angle of the yarn and the tension has been very good now. It was a great help. But the method of purling pulls the stitch itself large to maintain the hand position whereas if I watch I do not stretch my stitch, then my purls are then better. Any angle other than about 90 degrees can distort the tension. You have nailed the reason, Grumpy Grandma.

I didn’t start knitting till 2005 and I’m now 64 so everything I’ve learned it’s when I’m older. :joy: I was a crocheter, but I found it easier to knit english when I learned and that is my go to method. Several years ago I decided I needed to know both ways so I set out to learn continental. What worked for me was to knit a scarf with a k1, p1. It was slow going at first which is to be expected, but by the end it was pretty easy.

I still knit english for most things, but I’m comfortable using continental when I knit fair isle where I use two hands each with a different color or when I need to do a lot of ribbing. :slight_smile:

Glad it helped. I was redoing the top of a pair of socks that somehow had the bind off coming loose and had to revert to my previous way of holding the yarn. I didn’t like the way I’d finished them so reworked the rib entirely. I’ll have to work on hold sock yarn to get better, more even rib but I just needed to get this rib redone and the bind off finished. I think if I knew someone IRL that knits and could learn from them it would have helped. Meanwhile I have a very forgiving and accepting select few I knit for so even when it’s not to my total satisfaction my work is appreciated.

Not sure if this will save and come up as a built in YouTube search but here it is.

My search words were: Bind off for ribbing of socks. You will perhaps find what you are looking for here.

What a wonderful post! Wish the world could read it, so yes, there must be a book within you!

I second BonnieS post that there must be a book within Sallybode!!

Well, thank you all for the vote of confidence in me.

I shall get started and if it is alright with the forum as it is an unusual request, that it would be allowable for those who would like to, to critique it as I am not a professional writer. Perhaps not here, but via email. So long as it is helpful to other knitters, we are more than just what we knit, with our needles we shower love on those we know as being a conduit of love. For all the hours it takes to make an afghan or a knitting lace shawl and the learning involved, the investment of time and materials, a hand knitted item is a gift of love which endures and shows to other how much worth we place in them.

We are among those who are moved to say: we are human and human beings are aided by computers, not replaced by them. Yet apart from them, we who live all over the country, indeed, even the world, can share our thoughts with others. We live in a wonderful time and an uncertain one.

To knit is to think, let neither be a lost art.

My love to all,