Trouble knitting continental style

Hi. I’m in the process of trying to switch from English, throwing style, to the faster continental style with the yarn on my left finger. I can’t seem to keep any tension in the yarn no matter how I wrap it around my fingers. I can do a straight knit, but not purl, or anything else complicated. As soon as I start to lose tension it all falls apart. Any advice?

It’ll take some practice to get the right tension, just like it did with english. You can look as some of the other continental purl versions, like combined or the Norwegian purl.

suzeeq is right, it takes practice. How you hold the yarn can make it easier or more difficult. In Knitting - Basic Knit Stitch (Continental Method) Amy shows two ways of holding the yarn, I find the second is the best for me for purling. Try different ways until you find what works for you.

Thank you. I am going to just have to practice. I watched the videos, and I think I see how to do the purl without dropping the yarn accidentally. I am going to have to make the switch because I started a project that I need to finish quickly, and the throwing style is making my right wrist and elbow hurt with all the time I’m spending knitting.

There’s a lot of different ways to hold the yarn and needle in the right hand too. I don’t really ‘throw’ my whole hand or arm, I just sort of flex out my index finger to wrap the yarn around the needle tip. Here’s some examples of other ways to knit english -

I’m a Thrower
Knitting english
I’m a "flicker"
That’s How I Do It

I wonder if working on a different way of knitting English wouldn’t work as well as or better than learning Continental. Being able to switch between the two would be good, though. Your gauge may differ between styles so pay attention for that. Whatever you do, however you ultimately manage this problem, best of luck to you. I’d hate to have to stop knitting but right now if I had to knit English I’m not sure I could manage it. I can make Ks but not Ps English-style.

Interesting, I find purls english style much easier than continental, almost easier than knitting a stitch. The needle just goes into the stitch the same way the needle points - R to L - and you wrap the yarn the same direction as the knit.

I started out doing Continental. Now I’m doing Eastern European but the yarn is held the same. Try holding the yarn with your middle finger. I don’t know why, but that’s the way I was taught to do it. It may work out easier for you. Get some scrap yarn and just practice doing the stitch over and over. Rip out the yarn. Cast on. Keep doing it. This is what I did to work on tension and decrease stitches. Work slowly. Think about what you’re doing. Pretty soon this will have become a habit and you will find yourself doing the mechanics naturally without even thinking about it.

I actually spent a good few hours practicing, and I thought I was getting the hang of it when I realized I was slanting everything the opposite way. I think it was the combination style, I can’t explain how I was purling, something like pulling the yarn from underneath, but I was knitting into the backs of the stitches. It seemed OK, but I’m not that experienced of a knitter to be able to follow a pattern that way if I needed to adjust increases or decreases the opposite direction. So I went back to try to figure it all out again. I think wrapping the yarn around my pinky and using the index finger will work the best for me, I just need to practice keeping tension in the yarn.
I’d rather not try to adjut my English style because I still knit really slow and I’d like to speed it up without flicking my wrist around.

You’ll be fine - many many people knit this way, a combination of eastern and western styles. Just knit into the leg closest to the tip of the needle and the sts will be untwisted. The only thing in following a pattern is that you’ll need to swap the decreases so they lean the correct way. Do a k2tog tbl for the ssk, and ssk where the pattern says k2tog.

Continental isn’t necessarily faster because it’s continental, it depends very much on the individual knitter and how productive their movements are. If you look at the youtube links I posted for english/throwing as well as loads of others there, you may find a style that’s better for you and easier on your wrist without trying to learn a whole new style which is going to take time to get better at.

I had to switch to Continental because I have something wrong with my right hand and could no longer maintain tension in English style. At first I knit the standard Continental way but I had trouble with purling and I hated ribbing and seed stitch because I was(as in English too I guess) always switching back to front and this exhausted my weakling hands and wrists.
I then found this Cat Bordhi video where she demonstrates how to tighten purl stitches for Continental knitters with tension problems. It’s a great video, but the one that really helped me most is this one. This method is called Norwegian by most knitters I think and it even has its own Ravelry group.
I’ve found this method to be the best for me and you may want to try it. I still sometimes switch to regular Continental or Combined if I’m doing p3tog or some other tight stitch, but then I have to look up how to do it because I’m so used to Norwegian style now.
Ultimately, I think its faster even though it seems like more manipulation at first.
Whatever method you learn, I think it does take a few weeks of awkwardness because you had muscle memory built up with your old way and now you are a beginner again with your new way. When I first switched to Continental I was in the middle of a stranded mitten project and had to put it aside and knit garter stitch scarves and such for a bit. It was very distressing but it was temporary and now I love knitting again. :mrgreen:

I knit continental. I loop the yarn around my pinkie, over my ring finger, under my middle finger, and over my first finger, and I keep the tension very well. It will take practice. I learned to knit by throwing when I was a child, but, as an adult, I taught myself to crochet, where you hold the yarn in your left hand (since I’m right handed), so when I started to relearn knitting, I had to learn continental.

You might also get some tips by watching videos of people who knit continental style. People hold and manipulate the yarn differently even while using the same style, and one of their tricks might help you with tension.

For example, the woman in this video for German short rows ( uses her right index finger to hold the yarn on the needle to form the purl stitch.

I’m trying to adjust my purling to doing it this way because it looks like less finger fatigue than what I’m doing. And in the process of trying this out, I noticed that my purl stitches were tighter than normal–which means my tension was tighter.

Antares, that’s a great video! That is also just about how I do purls when I have a tight spot.

Yes, that is an interesting video. I am definitely going to try that method of purling. I am also going to try the Norwegian purl as well. I’m just in the middle of a rush project. I tried to switch to continental in the middle, but the stitches were too loose. Not a good idea. I make my switch when this is done!

Thanks everyone for the great videos and advice!

And if all else fails, wash and slightly dry your hands every few minutes. The dampness makes your tension tighter but, of course, will probably also chap your hands. So be sure to slather on the lotion at the end of your knitting session.

On the bright side, you can count your trips to the sink as exercise! In fact, add ankle weights and tote your fully-loaded knitting bag back and forth each trip! And that, my friends, is how you combine knitting and exercise! :wink:

Antares, too funny!!
I could always knit with a finger bowl handy. Of course, I live in the desert and have perpetually dry hands already…:wink:

Fascinating thread, this.

What style of knitting is most common in North America?

In Australia - we (mainly) use the English style, though I have my own modified version as I find the purl stitch problematic. (the knit, fine).

In N America, English and continental are most common, though I think I’ve seen english more often. There are also a lot of knitters who use some form of eastern euro/russian style, some who do Portuguese and some use a combination of eastern/continental.

I find it interesting that you’ve seen more english here in N America. I do a lot of looking things up on YouTube and have noticed more continental. Although, I admit that I don’t see a lot of people knitting in general. I think that English is easier for right handed beginners to learn. It is how I learned.