Switching from English to Continental

With repetetive motion injury always peeking over my shoulder I have decided that I shoud learn to knit Continental as well. EZ's Tomten will be the test....but first I thought I should run off a few test rows. It looks like I have never touched neeles in my life! I watched the videos on knittinghelp.com and am avoiding purling for a while. Any other wisdom from those who have made the switch? - Phil

Thomasknits's picture

I made the switch a year ago. Find a project to make that is mostly knits. Perhaps one in the round? You kind of have to pretend like you're starting over from the beginning. Then once you're ready to purl, find a ribbed pattern, and search youtube videos for fast continental videos...Or get a friend to show you how... You'll find a way that feels comfortable for you, and then eventually you'll wonder why you hadn't switched sooner.


BrianFTL's picture

It took me a while to switch, for a while I just kept dropping the needles like I'd never knitted before... now I can't imagine going back to english style. You might want to check out the videos over on knitpicks web site (community.knitpicks.com) for some visual help.

Just keep at it, and working a circular pattern is a great way to practice the knit stitch, then when you're up to it try throwing in a few purls. One thing I did find odd was that I tend to knit tighter than I purl in the continental, yet with the english way I always had a problem with purling too tight. Good luck!

YarnGuy716's picture

It really is like learning to knit all over again. I knit Continental but wanted to practice English for doing Fair Isle, it felt very clumsy, just like when I first learned. So follow the advice we give all newbies and just keep knitting and you'll get better at it.

waterback74's picture

When I decided that really wanted to learn continental knitting, my biggest problem was getting proper yarn tension and becoming accustom to feeling the yarn feed through my hand. I tried weaving the working yarn through my fingers in every way possible but after two or three stitches it would stop feeding or fall out of my fingers.

What i did was purchase a metal, Norwegian knitting thimble. Typically worn on the index finger for two color knitting, I wore it on my pinky and threaded the one color of working yarn through it. This gave me perfect tension and it also kept the yarn feeding up and over my index finger in the same spot rather than wandering to the very tip of my finger or down to the bottom of my finger.

Now after training my hands with a garter stitch scarf and a ribbed scarf, I am free of the knitting thimble and knitting faster than ever.

crmartin's picture

I used this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XuRLFl36tDY to learn continental knitting. It was quite easy for me to switch, I hold the yarn the same as in the video except, I wrap the yarn around my ring finger instead of my pinky.



mrossnyc's picture

When I was teaching myself how to knit a few years ago I decided to just learn Continental because it was going to be so much faster. Just like in the video crmartin mentioned, I do a double wrap of the yarn but use my index finger instead of my pinkie. It does keep the yarn tighter than the pinkie would and it took me a while to get used to knitting looser. Bottom line, find a comfortable method of holding and tensioning the yarn and just keep practicing, you'll get it and your knitting will be much faster. Good luck!

PhilNmtl's picture

Many thanks for all of the support . . . .

I have been watching the vids and practicing - I can't stand knitting nothing for practice so the Tomten jacket it is. I haven't had cramped hands for years but it will take a while for me to relax and release the death clutch of the needles in the new position. I am tryinh different ways as per your suggestions. My plan is to be knitting somewhat naturally :-) by the time my knitting group meets this Thursday. I'll keep you all posted. Thanks again for such practical suggestions

Thomasknits's picture

The knittinghelp.com video is really my favorite...


knit_knot_eat's picture

Good luck and keep me informed. I've been wanting to do the switch too but can't seem to do it. Whenever I try, the yarn justs gets stuck on my fingers and doesn't feed. I also have problem holding my fingers in the right positions.
Right now, I'm in between projects and have some free time. I'm thinking of doing the switch.

scottly's picture

I made the switch about a year ago as well. I'm left handed and crocheted for years before knitting so I took to continental like a duck to water and it has improved my knitting to no end. I'm much faster and my stitches are more even. As far as the tension goes I find that different fibers require different technique. Some times I wrap it once around my pinky and sometime not and wrap it twice around my index finger. It also makes a difference if my hands are warm or cold. Albert suggested wrapping the yarn once around my wrist and that works great for me too, I always to that.

By the way I don't knit left handed but continental seems to be easier for lefties who knit right handed.

Thomasknits's picture

I second that, I'm left handed too and knit right handed. It was definitely weird at first to knit continentally, but now it seems much more natural.


thairapist's picture

I wrap the yarn around my ring finger as well. I used to be able to do both but am exclusively continental now. I need to work on my English.