Any out of the closet Bi-Knituals?

I know that most of us knit the way we were taught, whether the English/North American or the continental style. I only do it the standard Canadian way, yarn in right hand etc. etc. But every once in a while I hear comments from others about how much better, or faster or something the other one is. And I know that those who have learned the continental method swear by it. My question: Is it honestly worth the effort to learn? And just how hard is it to switch? What would be the advantage of switching, if it were possible for me? Have any of you guys learned one way and then joined the other team? I am not the most nimble of people when it comes to small motor skills, but am tempted to try. But I really would like some honest feedback about it before I invest a lot of effort and frustration in it. Is anyone here bi-knitual? :-)


albert's picture

Hi Alan,

I am an out of the closet bi-knitual. I originally learned right handed but taught myself left handed in order to be able to knit with two colors more easily. Yes, it's awkward at first but becomes second nature after a while. As to speed, I have heard that many people consider left handed faster, but this is not an issue for me as I do not go for speed. I am as ham-handed as the average guy but that has not stopped me. I encourage you to learn it and then practice knitting with both hands at the same time. It really does become a natural movement and is a lot of fun.

I am curious too. Need to find the time to teach myself cause it does look more efficient.

RichMcKay's picture

I've been wanting to learn Continental for a LONG time... but I always seem to have one project or another on the needles -- which is NOT the right time to try and learn a new technique!

I've only actually tried it once (under the supervision of the owner of a LYS), and I felt so klutzy at it that I haven't bothered to sit down with a ball of "junk yarn" and try it again!

albert's picture

But have you ever tried a new motor skill that did not feel klutzy at first? Press on!

BuduR's picture

I have the same problem, I always have something on the sticks. I don't want to learn a new method and have my tension all off. from what I have heard with continental you will stitch loose. I'll find time one day.

MWK's Token Estrogen-American

MWK's Token Estrogen-American

purlyman's picture

Hi Alan,

I've tried to switch to knitting continental based on what people say about it being faster. However, I've pretty much given up on switching for doing a regular knitting project. But, I've been doing a lot of stranding projects lately which has forced me to learn continental since one color's in the right hand (English) and the second color's in the left hand (continental). It's really not difficult and I think it's worth learning it for stranding (as I've seen the option of keeping both colors in the right hand). I agree with Albert, though, that eventually, you can pick up anything. I remember when I first started knitting, I thought it seemed like I'd never pick it up, but it's completely natural now.

Good luck!



rjcb3's picture

I first learned how to knit the "English" method. That's the way I was taught, and that's what's good for me.

I did take the time and learn how to knit Continental style (according the Elizabeth Zimmermann's memoires, the "German" way of knitting as she was scolded for when she was little.)

I still knit the "English" method as a rule...even when I'm doing two strands of knitting.

I run the "main" colour strand across my forefinger, as is the norm, and the "second" colour across my middlefinger, and regulate tension by the feel.

My take on the whole switch-knitting is that there's more than one method to get to the same end result -- kinda like organised religion. If it works for you and you are comfortable with your method, then make whatever you will, and make it beautiful.


MasonM's picture

I tried conti but it just didn't seem natural to me and I just couldn't get the tension right on the purl stitches. It may be faster, but I'm in no hurry.


Linux: because a PC is a terrible thing to waste


Linux: because a PC is a terrible thing to waste

Asplund's picture

Don't know if this is of any help, but I am or at least used to be biknitual - what a brilliant word! I learnt continental (left hand) as a child and English (right hand) as a teenager when I spent some summer weeks in the UK.

I managed to knit fairly quickly the English way, but still preferred "my" technique and must have forgotten the other one by now... Probably partly a question of habit, but I also thought there were unnecessary movements having to throw the yarn back and forth. However, I'm sure there are those who manage to knit English quicker than I knit continental.

Knitting with two colours I run both strands on my index finger, background/main colour closer to the tip.

scenter's picture

I knit continental (German or picker) style, but I have learned English (or thrower) style for doing Fair-isle. English still seems awkward for me, and I have problems with stranding that way if the pattern involves purled rows. I purchased a yarn separator recently and we'll see if that helps. The separator is a little doohickey that slips onto your index finger and has a slot for each yarn, you choose which strand to knit with according to the pattern - up to 4 colors.

As for continental being faster, that is what I have heard, and that it is less strain on the wrists (less chance of carpel tunnel syndrome), but I have seen some very fast 'throwers' here in GA.

I originally learned the English method but quickly taught myself continental. I do find it faster and more efficient with less hand movement. I also find ribbing much faster because repositioning the yarn from front to back is a simple move of the finger. all-in-all, I think it was worth the time invested.