Whohoooo! I'm continental!

Yay! I finally seem to have figured how how to knit and purl continental, thanks to the incredibly helpful videos here! :smiley:

When I started knitting, all the way back in October 2004 :wink: , the easiest thing for me was combination knitting with the yarn in my right hand. It took about halfway through the first scarf to find out I was twisting my stitches; it was easy to figure out how to untwist them, but for the sake of uniformity I knit the rest of the scarf twisted. After that, I just knit ‘eastern uncrossed’, aka combined.

Still, all the waving about of hand and yarn, and the adapting of patterns I have to do gets a little tiresome. I’ve also recently done a stretch of seed stitch, and that seemed like it would be soooo much easier when knitting continental.

So tonight I took the plunge, grabbed some raspberry red yarn and some needles, plunked myself in front of the computer and tried it out. It wasn’t nearly has hard as I thought it would be!
I’ve also figured out how to knit English ‘properly’, so that the leading leg of the stitch is the front one. So really, I now have three ways of knitting at my disposal! :lol:

I’m still having a bit of trouble controlling the tension of my yarn when I knit continental though; for some reason it doesn’t flow across my pinky smoothly, so I end up choking my fingers and my knitting. But I suppose that will get better with practice.

Now, the dilemma… will I practice that on the ‘Bella’ cardigan I’ve just started, and run the risk of horribly uneven knitting? Or just go the easy way and knit that one in English, and practice my Continental knitting on something else?
Hmmm… :roll:

Ps; I’ve found that when purling, I tend to use my left thumb rather than my left middle finger to press down the yarn. Is that something I can keep doing, or does that have any disadvantages?

I keep thinking of myself as ‘she’s gone Continental’, rather like ‘she’s gone postal’… :wink:

Yay Bummble! You’re going to love having all those skills. They all come in handy!

I know exactly what you mean, about not wanting to go through the extra hand movements. I originally was taught English, and taught myself Continental after learning to hold the yarn in my left hand like that through a crochet video. Continental comes naturally if you hold the yarn like that. I didn’t know I was doing it “Continental,” I just thought of it as efficient knitting with fewer hand motions. I think that kind of efficiency comes naturally when you do something a lot. I’ve seen some very efficient English knitters, too, who have it down to a very fluid science. But there’s no arguing that Continental requires fewer motions, especially when it involves alternating between knit and purl stitches. I’m sure you’ll love it!

Hmmm, should you do the sweater now? I see your dilemma! I’d say if it’s ribbed, or patterned, then yes. If it’s all stockinette, then you might want to do a small project first, or at least start out by knitting the back.

Happy knitting, and congrats!

Funny thing is, I crocheted before I knitted, but I still had trouble with Continental.
Then again, I’ve never crocheted very much.

The sweater is mostly stockinette, with a little seed stitch at the hems. Only the sleeves have a fancy, leaf-like pattern. I guess I’ll stick to English for it for now (that also still goes a lot faster than Continental).
I’ll probably start a little pixie-hat today using Continental though, to get my fingers used to it.

Thank you so much for putting up those videos, they really are the most useful I’ve ever come across!

I really like this forum as well, it’s friendly, not too crowded (yet) and the layout is pleasing to the eye and very clear.

Bumble, for years I did ‘thumb-purls’ too. A few years ago, I finally learned how to do it with my index finger (which is the finger I use to guide the knit stitch.) I found htere were two advantages to this. 1) It requires less motion in your left wrist. Good for people with repetative stress injuries. 2) It is faster, once you get the hang of it, since you are not moving the yarn from thumb back to index finger.

However, even now, sometimes if I’m doing a long row of purls, I will still revert back to the thumb to give my index finger a rest.

I saw this post a little while ago and thought maybe I’d try to learn continental–and I’m so glad I did! It’s so much faster for me, especially the knit stitch. Purl is still giving me some trouble, but I think I’ll get it soon.

So I’m also a bit sad that I’ll have to do some more practicing before I can start on my first sweater I had wanted to do, but I think it will go much faster once I do start!

Thanks for the videos Amy–most of the beginner books I’ve seen barely even mention continental, so I don’t think I would have bothered trying it without this site!

oh. i want to be continental too. but i am always in such a hurry on my projects i never have “time” to learn.

soon though. soon.

Just a thought for Bummble:

If the yarn is choking your fingers, are you putting the yarn ball in a place where the yarn can flow into your fingers smoothly without crossing itself? Depending on your hold, your lap might not be the best place for good yarn flow. I set my yarn on a table to my left. Also, do you pull enough yarn out of the ball at once so it can flow in a relaxed way? If not, it can cause a real struggle. Or maybe it’s just that fingers take their own sweet time to learn things, sometimes.

I’m very impressed that you can knit in three different styles. I’m not sure whether I’m up to learning more than one. I was attracted to Continental because I’m left-handed, and it seems to use the right and left hands fairly equally.

And, I too have to say THANK YOU, AMY! because without Amy’s videos the process might have been thousands of times more frustrating than it has been – thanks, Amy. :smiley:

Hi Eggplant!

LOL, I wouldn’t be too impressed if I were you - it’s not as if I am ‘fluent’ in Continental yet…:wink:

Actually, usually the problem is that my stitches get too loose.
I’ve turned out to be a rather loose knitter anyway, much to my surprise; this from someone who clenches her teeth in her sleep until they crack, and regularly bends or breaks pens because she pushes too hard…

But I think my stitches are turning out more evenly now. :slight_smile:

I have the opposite desire. I learned Continental from my German grandmother, but I have a hankering to teach myself English.

I’m not sure why? Just so I can say that I’m knitting “ambidexterous” I guess.

Someday, I too will plunk myself down in front of the 'puter with red rasberry yarn, watch Amy’s fab videos and try to “go English.”


Well, I was reading this thread and feeling jealous because even though I’ve been knitting for 30 years, I had never learned continental. I decided it was high time last night at about 8:00 and I, too, plunked myself down in front of the computer to learn, thanks of course to Amy and her great videos.
I have also been crocheting all these years and foolishly assumed there would be nothing to it! :roll:
The knitting got to the point at which it was pretty fluid. The purling, not so much. For one thing I have pretty short fingers and found that the motion of pushing down the working yarn with my middle finger was almost impossible and began experimenting with the index finger and thumb, but I got annoyed because I figured I was somehow cheating or something.
At other times, I got my fingers/needles/yarn twisted into some pretty funky shapes, aka like a bunch of pretzels, like a five-year-old.
I love the idea of the sheer economy of motion with this method. I’m going to press on, thinking that teaching an old dog a new trick is perhaps just a matter of teaching my fingers to get used to something new. This will be a really valuable skill to have, especially for Fair Isle knitting. What a luxury it will be not to have two colors twisting around and around each other!
This morning my left hand is kind of achy, so for sure I was messing up the purling motions. On the other hand, I did end up with a little swatch of stockinette stitch in the end.
I will keep practicing!


I knit continental, which I like better probably because I’m left-handed. I don’t use my middle finger to manipulate the thread while purling. It was too hard to hold the needle and I found that my thumb would try to compensate for everything. I use index finger only. It works best when you can keep the tension of the yarn in your hand even. Hope this helps.

That sounds good. I guess it doesn’t really matter which finger is used to manipulate that working yarn just so long as it gets where it’s supposed to go. And I know what you mean about your thumb trying to compensate–last night while I was trying to learn this, my left thumb was waving around doing all sorts of things as if independent from my body! :smiley:
Also, the tension–you are so right. There were times when my left hand was way too far away from the left needle, trying to keep that working yarn taut. I had to keep it creeping up closer and readjust the tension every few stitches. Hopefully, it’s just a matter of getting used to it.
I remember watching my mother knit when I was little. She taught me to knit. She herself holds the working yarn around her right index finger and doesn’t move much at all when she YO. I don’t know how in the heck I turned out to be a thrower.

Hi Yvonne,

I do what beldaraan does – index finger only. Don’t worry, eventually your hands will settle into a position that works consistently, and when that happens they will relax. They just have to learn the new sequence of moves. and become more comfortable and trusting through repetition.

I use my index too … except … I use my right index :wink: I can do continental, but I’m an English knitter at heart. Power to proud “Throwers”!! :lol:

I’m still practicing my continental purling, and I found that if I don’t bring the working yarn over the right needle first before bringing it under, it still looks ok. So what I’ve been doing is just bringing the yarn to the front, placing the right needle over it after I go down into the stitch, and then pulling it through. That way I don’t have to move the yarn to a different finger. Amy’s video shows the yarn coming over the top of the needle and then under, and I was wondering if I needed to do that for any reason, or if just going under was ok.

Does anyone else do it this way? Will it turn out the same? Hope I explained it well enough. :?

Answering my own question–I think what I’m doing is combined purling, which sounds too confusing to work with to me. :frowning: Darn!

Yeah, Mer, I was thinking that sounded like Combined purling. You can see why some people love it, though, the needle just wants to grab the yarn from that side!

Yvonne and Beldaraan, I use my left index finger too, sometimes, to push down the working yarn. I tend to go back and forth between my middle and index fingers, and often use both fingers together! It’s not something I think about, it’s just automatic. I think I do it differently depending on how much slack is in the yarn, in order to maintain tension. If I use my middle finger, it makes for a tighter stitch than if I were to use my index finger with the same yarn slack. But I actually purl tighter than I knit. I wonder if using the index finger in general might make me purl a little looser? It would be handy to purl at the same tension, because then I could use the same needle size whether knitting in the round or flat! Currently I have to go down a size if I knit in the round!

I think it’s more common to use the index finger.