Continental vs English method and sock knitting

I taught myself English over 40 years ago and since then I developed severe arthritis all over my body but particularly in my shoulders, elbows and hands. I go to the gym 5 days/week, pump iron/run to keep fit but also to keep the arthritis at bay. This forced me to learn Continental; I looked at a book displaying in excellent detail but decided I was going to have to learn by someone showing me. I went to a retreat in Missouri about 6 years ago and an elderly lady coached me into learning it and I was able to apply the diagrams to what I learned. It took all summer, but I forced myself to "unlearn" English and learn Continental. As a result, I made 6 pairs of socks in time for Christmas, cutting my usual production time for sock knitting in half.

With all of those wonderful sock yarns out there (Sockotta, Online, etc) that actually pattern the colors for you by themselves it doesn't seem necessary to learn how to change colors to create different patterns, but I would encourage you to try. If you already know Continental, you can hold a different color in your right hand and change far more quickly than with the English method. Once you've tried it, you're hooked! The trick, of course, is learning to adjust your tension and weave the floats in as you work. Attaching the colored yarns to each other is also fun when you learn to "spit join", the way our ancestors did centuries ago to avoid knots that rub into you where you've changed colors.

I'm not a guru on this by any means.


crmartin's picture

I am learning continental and am doing fairly well. purling is still somewhat awkward though.

Check out this video for the "the fastest knitter in the world"




In the classroom the purl stitch has caused my students to shake, sweat, cuss, cry, furiously rip out 2 hours' work and throw their needles/yarn across the room.

It's a necessary evil that seems to throw a wrench in the works of all but a very few, so you're in good company. It really frustrates someone who's left-handed. I'm not, but I've taught left-handed people the Continental method.