Knit a River square and the Continental method

I'm on my second Knit a River square and I decided it would be a great time to learn the Continental style of knitting.  I watched the videos on and had my yarn and sticks while doing it so I could practice.  It's been a struggle, but after 12 rows, I am just beginning to get the hang of it.

My biggest problems are finding a yarn hold that will work for me, getting used to using my middle finger to manipulate the stitches and left needle instead of my index finger and keeping that index finger away from the needle.  No matter what hold I use, it seems like the yarn ends up falling off my finger.  Believe it or not, I've acutally found the purl stitch to be easier to execute than the knit stitch.  I'm knitting fairly tightly and my left hand is a bit sore because I'm so tense.  I'm hoping I'll relax into it soon!

My motivation for learning this method is just to be able to knit a bit faster.  On down the line, it would also be great for knitting with two-colors at the same time. 


YarnGuy716's picture

Remember, it's kind of like when you first learned to knit all over again.  I've been knitting Continental since the day I first learned, nearly 20 years ago.

For my yarn hold I run it between my pinkie and ring finger, then up and over the index finger.  Some times I give it a wrap around the index finger, other times I just let it go over the index finger.  I'll try to remeber to take a picture of these holds and post them here.

Hope this helps. 

Gabriel's picture

Hey Warren,

I agree with YarnGuy....I use my index finger on the left needle....and hold the yarn like he does.....I have only knitted this way...never throwing consistantly.....but it is like starting over.....but once you get it .......I think, you'll never go is so much faster! Also it helps me if you kind of think of the main worker being your right is like picking the stitches.....and your left really just ends up toggling the yarn back and forth between knit and purl fact I think some people call it picking. Be easy on'll get it!



KenInMaine's picture

Hi Warren, I started out by learning English and did that for some time, but in the last few months I've been using Continental almost exclusively.  After seeing the videos on Amy's site and seeing how much less work it actually is, I decided I'd give it a try and see how I did.  At first the results were not so great, but after a few nights of practicing I got the hang of keeping the right 'tension' and things seemed to fall into place.  I still use English sometimes, too and it's nice to be able to switch styles when one is more convenient than the other.   For my left hand, I usually end up holding the yarn with one wrap around the pinkie and then up over the index finger (the second method that Amy shows in her knitting example, the one she says she prefers), though I have used the two wraps around the index in the beginning when trying different 'holds'.  But no matter what, if you have an interest in learning Continental, I'd say keep with it, it WILL get easier and you'll be speeding along in no time!

I'm with ken on this one!  I actually learned to knit "combined" continental ( through the back loop ) which dumbfounded friends when we first met.  I just recently started knitting continental through the front loop because I couldn't follow standard increase/decrease methods, they looked different.  I run the yarn from my wrist over my hand, down between ring and middle finger and up between middle and index. it allows me to work the stitch with the right hand, and hold the needle with my left little-ring and thumb, throw loops with middle and index.  it sounds funny, but comfortable to me.  I will still revert back to combined continintal if I am just working stockinette in the round without decorative increases/decreases just because i think it's smokin' fast.  one last note.  I cannot throw with the right!  it is disastrous.

YarnGuy716's picture

Another advantage of Continental is that it is less stress on the hands and wrists.  About 3 or 4 years ago, my carpul tunnel in my left hand was acting up.  I had first had a flare up 6 or 7 years before, but use of a wrist splint took care of it.  My doctor sent me to a neurologist who questioned me about various repetative stress movements that I might be doing.  I mentioned that I was a knitter and let her know in no certain terms I would not stop knitting.  So she had me bring my knitting to the next appointment so she could watch how I knit.

Not being a knitter she was unclear why I was knitting differently from how she saw others knit.  She had seen English style knitters and she said the way I was working did not put the same stress on my hands and wrists.  She also noted that I altered how I worked slightly as I went along, so that I was not doing the exact repetative motions.  So I was given the all clear for knitting.

Warren's picture

Guys, thank you all for the support and tips!  It's going a lot smoother now on the square.  Who knows, once I'm done with it, I hope to feel confident enough to make my next garment using the Continental method!