Learning a new style - grrrrr!

So, when I first started knitting, I knitted in a “somewhat english” style. Not quite classic english, but close enough that when I tried to learn how to do formal english knitting, it was easy enough to pick up. I’ve recently started trying out continental knitting, mostly for the speed benefits, but also to make intarsia easier…

…And I’m beating my head against the wall now because it’s so darn frustrating! My fingers don’t want to move like they should and the tension is all over the place! And while I can see that once I really get it down it might be quicker, it is waaay slower than my english knitting right now…

Has anyone else had similar issues trying to switch between styles? Any tips you can give me for making the transition easier?

Just for the record knitting english style can be very fast for some of us. That said… yes, there often are some tension differences. It really just takes practice.

I knit english most of the time, but I do know continental for when I’m doing stranded (fair isle) knitting or when I’m doing a lot of ribbing.

I knit continental. Since I am 4 years old. That makes a lot of muscle memory! My mother in law is American and knits English style. First time I ever cam across it… I was puzzled. I tried to copy it, and miserably failed.
From all the (good and bad) knitters I have seen with both styles: Mostly the continental was much quicker. But there are some FAST English knitters our there.

So I encourage the transition. But I also see your pain. I would not do the switch for me. Even though someone tried to tell me the saying they learned in school with bunny ears and holes and all of that. Well, but I just want to knit! :smiley:

The [B]tension [/B]problem is not sooo uncommon I think. With continental knitting in general. It all depends on experience of course. But it also depends on how you run your yarn trough your hand. Can you describe what way the yarn takes from the coil to your needle? Maybe I can help to fix that part of the problem - at least somewhat.
Just to describe my way for “regular” yarn (not especially sticky or slippery): from the coil in between my pinky and my ring finger, out above my ring finger, around my index finger and down to the needle.

If the yarn is very slippery I hold it once around my pinky or one extra turn around my index finger (don’t cut of the blood flow).
If the yarn won’t slip at all, it just goes into my hand and through the “fist” up to the index finger.

This is all not mandatory but you have to find your own way to do it.

With the tension of the yarn held propperly equal you use your right needle to pull the stitch to the desired size / tightness.

Practice. That means swatching in an easy yarn (rips out easily and with little damage, and one that doesn’t split easily) Alternately you may choose a simple garter stitch dish cloth or scarf pattern for such practice. Then you get something usable while developing you new skill.

Start with simple repetition of one stitch (knit or purl); start slow and after several correct repetitions increase your speed. Repeat with the other stitch and again with a mix of these stitches. I you have 20 to 50 stitches per row then in just 50 or 20 rows you will have mastered the stitch and be well on your way to getting consistent tension.

If you hate to waste yarn on swatches and don’t want a dish cloth, make it larger in a plastic yarn (acrylic) and use it to wash your car.

If you plan to rip it out and reuse it:
You might want to use a braided ply of cording that is about worsted weight yarn. Less splitting and easier to FROG (one of the terms here for ripping out your work because when you say “rip-it, rip-it” it sounds like a frog croaking.)

Time and patience are rewarded. Good luck. Crossed Fingers

Edit to add after reading Hyperactive’s post…:
Continental is often call German knitting. :wink:

I’ll add that if you crochet, the direction you wrap the yarn may trip you up because crochet wraps in the opposite direction from western knitting. (I use western to include both continental and American/English styles that wrap both the knit and purl in the same direction.) Combined knitting is generally used to refer to the method that wraps the yarn for purl sts in the opposite direction from knit sts. I :think:

I started with english style, then changed to continental, for the ease of ribbing, and as I found out later, double knitting as well.

If it doesn’t feel comfortable to you, you don’t have to switch, it might be that you’re faster in english than in continental. And even though I was not very fast in the beginning, with practice, speed goes up.

Keep on trying, and if you really don’t like it, don’t do it.
Otherwise, practice

Hi! :waving:

I would definitely vote for continental. I switched over a year ago and I love it. My knitting motions are smoother and switching from knit to purl on ribbing is incredibly easy.

But I had this you tube video to encourage me. It’s the best I’ve seen on the subject anywhere.


Just practice this until you get past the “Holy-Cow-I’m-all-thumbs-and-feel-like-I’m-starting-over” stage which probably won’t take more than a few hours or so. The worst that can happen is that you’ll have learned two knitting styles that you can use whenever you want them!

Good luck and let us know how it goes!

Ruthie :knitting:

There’s also use for both techniques in double knitting, if you prefer to use the continental/english mixed method.

I personally don’t do it. I just knit with two strands on the left hand.

Thanks for the tips all!

I know intellectually it will just take time and practice, but boy is it frustrating right now…

I [I]am[/I] fairly quick with english style, but I do want to get continental down as well…

To answer hyperactive, I wrap the yarn once around my pinkie finger then run it up and over the back of my other three fingers…this way I can “grab” it between my pinkie and ring finger to control the tension…once again practice is the key here I guess…

Oh, and Ruthie, thank you for that video link…I really liked that video - it was a lot more comprehensive than the videos here and had a lot of great tips…

When I’ve done stranded color work in the past, I’ve been knitting with both strands in the right hand…

I think if you do English with the yarn wrapped and flick your finger instead of the big hand motion it’s just as fast as Continental. (Not getting into those who are fast with the big hand motion.)
Watch Knit And Crochet Now on PBS Create, Brett Bara knits like that.

I don’t know if that would help with Intarsia. I knit Continental and knit backwards when doing Intarsia. I don’t change my left hand hold, I pluck the yarn with my right hand.
I bet if you did it like Brett does you could also pluck to knit backwards like I do.

To answer hyperactive, I wrap the yarn once around my pinkie finger then run it up and over the back of my other three fingers…this way I can “grab” it between my pinkie and ring finger to control the tension…once again practice is the key here I guess…

Sounds like you have spent time thinking about it. That is good. As I said: Everybody needs to find their own way to hold the tension. And it depends on the yarn of the day. Maybe just try around some, if you keep being unhappy with the tension!

I knit both ways. I am way looser when doing continental but consistent. It takes some practice; I knit dish towels to practice because they don’t have to a specific size and don’t have to be beautiful. Having both is great for doing stranded knitting (fair isle). Continental is a bit faster perhaps but I find the major advantage is ergonomic. I use english for lace because I find the yarn flying around if I don’t and somehow I can’t see the knitting quite well enough.

Well I started as an English ish knitter and I moved to continental but I found my tension horrible and I couldn’t do purl. But I have practiced a lot now and I switched to Norwegian purl and life is much better! I have to say this is my perfect combo…fast and easy on the fingers :slight_smile:

[COLOR="#330099"]For as many knitters as you ask, you will likely find each has there own preference and even variation upon the standards.

Learning other techniques or methods is good simply for expanding your own abilities. One may not know that the favor a different style until they try that style.

I started with continental/German and I learned English/American to do two handed fair isle color work.

In a pinch, I can switch hands if my left hand needs a rest, but I find continental to be more comfortable. I believe it is because I was first a crocheter, so I find my left hand better able to control and provide a consistent tension.

Try new things until you get them technically correct or it becomes too frustrating. Sometimes a different teacher, set of instructions, or a different set of eyes is needed to help you over a stone in your path of learning. Don’t count it as a failure if you can’t quit get a different technique perfect at first or long, frustrating practice. It just may not be the right time to learn it yet.

Good luck in your expansion of skill, may it be enjoyable in the end.[/COLOR]

Hi! :waving:

I, too, had difficulty with purling continental until I saw this video and found that I wasn’t holding the yarn in my left hand properly. Once I made sure that the yarn wrapped around my pinky and then lay across all three remaining fingers the purling just skyrocketed. And it was much more comfortable than purling had ever been before.


Happy knitting,

Ruthie :hug:

Hi Ruthie!

this video was very interesting to me. I knit continental for 30 years, as I said. Various places of picking up ideas, techniques and help, but mostly just knitting by myself or teaching others.

So I was wondering…

my hand position for left hand is different than in that video as I wrap the yarn as I described above.
I do not have my yarn over the 3 fingers (and even before I wraped my own way, I learned to hold the yarn on the inside of my hand, running through my fist. So the result is that this method of purling in your video looks like something I have DONE before but do not favor.

My purling works by pushing the yarn towards me with my middle finger. I hold my knitting mostly with my ring finger and push the yarn forward. That seems to me as even more economical, since I keep my yarn finger (index finger) in the same position and do not tamper with the tension or the slack. I also do not have to dive the needle through that much.

I am just not near any of my knitting (lunch break) but I dare say: My purl is almost as economic as my knit. It IS a little slower but I dare say by a minimum fraction. Ribbing, seed and moss stitch and the like become no-brainers.

Nonetheless it was very interesting to me to see the video. I never tire to learn new ways. It also helps me when helping beginners and intermediate knitters, because I can help them on their way instead of twisting their brain.

And it will help me myself when my finger gets tired of pushing the yarn. I do not think that pushing that yarn endlessly in the same way is ergonomically good. Neither way.
So knowing this as a “different method” now, I can switch when I want to and that will be helpful.

No way looks better to me, just knowing them is good! Find your own style.

Ok, well I think I’ve got my style down now for the foreseeable future…

I’ve done a lot of practice with continental and I now feel much more proficient with it…I’ve found for myself that I find it much easier to knit and rib (and do seed/moss stitch) with continental but I will continue to use english for purling when I have long rows of it ( ie stockinette stitch)…I’ve now got a fairly even tension with continental and am really appreciating how much quicker it seems to feel…for some reason it still doesn’t feel quite right purling with continental and I am certainly much quicker and more even purling with english so I am sticking with that when I can…

Thanks again for all your tips folks!

I have taken this thread as a reason to look up different videos on how to do a purl stitch. And you know what? NONE had my way yet. So I will make a video and hope that someone says: Oh, yes, I do it like that, too. :smiley:

I’ll let you know.

I really thought I would find a video just easily with this method, but so far: really no luck.