Continental vs English Style knitting

Hello All-

I am trying to teach myself to knit in the continental style. I learned in the english style. My question is this… Have you found your contenintal style to be a tighter knit than your english? If so, (or even if not) is there a secret to getting a looser knit?


i knit both but no

Hi! I knit both in Continental and English. I use either for different reasons. I have a bad right wrist so obviously knitting for long lengths of time using English get uncomfortable and even downright painful with all the work my right hand has to do to feed the yarn and work the stitch so I switch to Continental which more equally distributes the workload to both my hands.

I find that certain patterns and situations are easier for me to work in either Continental as opposed to English and vise versa. Example:

  • It’s easier for me to work with multiple DPN (double-pointed needles) like knitting the crown of a hat or small cuffs using the English method.

  • It’s easier for me to work knit stitches with the Continental method so if a pattern is worked in mostly knit stitches I’ll use Continental. I can pick up some hardcore speed using Continental.

  • Working in 1x1 or 2x2 ribbing it’s easier for me to use the English Method. It’s easier for me to move the yarn from the front (for purl stitches) to the back (for knit stitches) using this method.

I’ve noticed that I knit slightly LOOSER using the Continental method. In order to compensate, I wrap the thread around my index (pointer finger) TWICE instead of once (as illustrated on this website in videos). It helps to pick up the slight extra slack.

So I would suggest in order to get tighter knitting, simply wrap the thread around your index finger one more time and conversely if you want looser stitches only wrap the thread around your index finger-- you can loosely thread the rest of the yarn over and under your other fingers but don’t WRAP them. works well for me.

Good luck! :slight_smile:

You might try using one size larger needle if you knit tightly. However, experimenting with holding the yarn different ways for tension is good too. You have to find what is the most comfortable for your style of knitting.

I knit a little looser with Continental knitting. I am comfortable with the way I hold my yarn, so I sometimes just go down one size of needle and it works out fine.

tension, tension tension! All my problems with switching styles have had to do with how I’m holding the yarn and adjusting my tension. I still struggle but if you can master both you’re a talented knitter in my opinion!

i find that i knit looser continental–i can’t seem to get the yarn wound around myfingers at correct tension. maybe if you wrap the yarn more loosely?—liinknit41

I’ve just started knitting continental. In fact I did it in the middle of a scarf I’m making and I see no difference in tension. :knitting:

I first learned English and am still coming up to speed on Continental but I have to agree with many of the knitters I know who say that knitting Continental is faster.

My main problem initially was that when I knit Continental, it was MUCH tighter than my English knitting…especially when I purled. I think it all has to do with the tension on the yarn really.

Once I started holding the yarn a different way (I hold it in my left hand with it looped loosely around my middle finger and then over my second finger which is held straight instead of looped around the pinky or pinky and middle finger or some other combo like I’ve seen done elsewhere), it changed everything and now as long as I make sure I have enough loose yarn from the skein so it doesn’t pull the tension too tight, my knitting is pretty even.

Hope that helps a little! :slight_smile: :hug:

Thanks everyone. I guess I will just have to really work on that. I will finish my current glove with the same hold, but then really consentrate on loosening my tension.

I’m glad to hear that others switch between the styles. I have found that english works much better for ribbing for me, but I like contenintal for knitting and purling.

Thanks again for the input.

I’ve tried to knit Continental, but I find that my stitches are looser because I have a more difficult time controlling and maintaining my tension with my left hand. I’m right handed and I have an easier time maintaining consistent tension knitting English style. I tried to purl continental and gave up on that.

I’m exactly like annomalley. Cont is too loose for me given my left hand never gets a feel for the tension. (If I could work in reverse, being right handed, perhaps that’d work!) I prefer to move the yarn with my right hand than manipulate the entire needle, and whatever is hanging on it.


I’m trying to learn Continental, just because it looks so quick and easy when I see others do it. I have the basic idea, but just having trouble ‘hooking’ the yarn to pull it through. Sometimes it goes really easy, and then between one st and the next, it just won’t work properly. Purling in Continental is beyond me for the moment. I’m going to try and get the knitting down pat before attempting the purl st again.

I only knit Continental so I can’t really answer the tightness question except to say that it seems that English knitters do seem to knit tighter. I do wish that I had learned English first because it would be nice to give a hand a break if I’m getting a cramp in it. So if you are teaching yourself still, I hear it’s good to learn English first, otherwise you won’t ever want to give up Continental for English. Continental also seems to be faster.

Unless of course you are the Yarn Harlot. She knits english and is amazingly fast.

Yes, I’ve seen the video of her Cottage Style knitting. Mind-blowing!

I learned English first and swtiched to Continental. I find that I knit tighter in Cont. When I make a conscious effort to make sure the stitch I’m making is all the way on my right needle as opposed to right at the tip before I slide the stitch off the left needle, my stitches don’t come out quite as tight.

I had a lot of trouble with this at first, too. Make sure that when you hook the yarn and bring it back through that you get a good downward angle with your right needle. It’ll help hold onto the stitch.

Old Wanda Witch here hit the wrong button (thanks instead of reply), but I still DO thank everyone for their remarks regarding continental vs English knitting. After returning to knitting after many years I went back to what I knew, meaning English-style knitting but this old dog has learned a new trick. Continental knitting. I admit, the purling is still a bit of a chore and not as fast as the knitting, but IF I can master this I think anyone can. I found a video of the ‘Finnish’ style continental knitting I find a lot easier to manipulate. I have yet to try my new-found style of knitting on anything except my practice thingy, but intend to with the next project. Keep it up, I did and you can do it too.

I knit both ways. I learned English first but recently changed over to Continental. I knit looser using Continental but really prefer it over English. I do it thisway so it’s almost like Irish Cottage Knitting but holding the yarn in your left hand. Pretty quick once you get used to it & there’s very little movement in both the knit and the purl stitch.

I have recently switched from English to Continental, and find Continental much looser (which is fine - my English is very tight).

The best tip I got for learning Continental (especially purl), is to wrap the yarn around your left hand so that the yarn always goes over both your middle and index fingers (assuming you use the index finger to push the yarn down), not under the middle and over the index as in crochet. This made all the difference. You can configure the rest however you like for the tension that works for you.

I’m still not comfortable using Continental for cables though: my one attempt was a disaster.