Picking or Throwing??

Hey All,
So I am a thrower (english) and in-between projects. I'm thinking of trying continental for my next (simple!) project, and was wondering how did the switch go for any of you out there? I have given it a half-hearted attempt a couple of times, get frustrated and go back to throwing....but have heard picking is much faster which I would like to be!!




Joe-in Wyoming's picture

A lot of learning to pick [or "scoop" - as I sometimes say] is finding a comfortable way to hold the yarn. Since a friend taught me to crochet before I seriously tried Continental, it wasn't uncomfortable to hold the yarn in my opposite hand. Finding a comfortable way to do purling was a different matter. I had to play around with that for some time but finally started using a method that Elizabeth Zimmermann taught, which was also the way I found in a book written by a Swiss woman for children. The move is similar to "Norwegian purling" but the yarn is held in front of the needle - just as you normally purl.

Good idea to learn picking on a simple project, that way you can just concentrate on what you need to learn rather than deal with more complex directions at the same time. Good Luck and thanks for being willing to try something new.

Books, knitting, cats, fountain pens...Life is Good.

santaml's picture

I first learned to crochet many years ago when my first neice was born. I haven't been crocheting much in the last couple of years but thinking of going continental on my next project. I'll tell you guys how I feel about continental after a couple of rows. Comfortable with english method which I was supprised I pick up better than continetal since I was so used to crocheting.

ronhuber's picture

Speed is not everthing. I always knit the English method at school because that is what they insisted we use and I used the continental method at home because that is what my mother did. I prefer the throwing or English method because of a nicer tension and because my writsts often hurt when I use the continental method. As Joe said, pick a simple project and practise the knitting stitch. Perhaps watch a video that explains how to tension the wool in your hand and over your fingers and stick to that one method until you have conquered it. Many people use both methods in stranded knitting, but I use just the English method. Always good to have as many skills under your belt as possible. Good luck

bobinthebul's picture

I had learned English when I was a kid, but not very seriously. When I decided to get back into knitting, I looked at lots of YouTube videos and tried different things. My first project was a pretty ugly acrylic scarf. I started out English but wasn't doing it very efficiently, and didn't like the business of bring the yarn forward and back. You do it in Continental too of course but it's a bit less effort since the yarn is already at the needles. By the time I finished the scarf, I was pretty much sold on it, and it was that easy of switching between knitting and purling that did it, more than the speed factor. I've seen English style knitters who are really fast anyway, especially the ones who "flick" the needle, so it's not so much a matter of wrapping the yarn around the needle. There are so many different ways. The only thing I'd say is to try some different things (maybe even different English styles) and be willing to go slow for a while till you adjust, because it will feel odd at first, and you probably will be slow! I think with any new skill, it's good to be okay with sucking at it for a while. :) Give it a chance to settle in and then choose. And have fun!

scottly's picture

I learned to crochet when I was six or seven, way before I learned to knit and I'm left handed - a great combo for continental. Originally I learned English and that's what how I knit for twenty years then one of my LYS ladies was showing me different techniques and when I saw her knitting continental it looked just like crochet - the way you hold the yarn, the rhythm and the way you move the working needle looked just like crochet to me. When I tried it it felt just like crochet too. With in an hour or less I was knitting continental twice as fast as I could knit English and with more even tension. I'm happy to know both but continental is by far the best technique for me. I can figure out new stitches much more quickly and it took my knitting to a much higher level and continues to do so. But that's my story - yours could be different. I think the more you know about knitting the better your knitting is going to be.

Tom Hart's picture

There is a third way, of course, called Portuguese knitting or PK.

This is a video of the purl stitch on YouTube:


And this is a video of the knit stitch on YouTube:


The yarn goes around your neck and under your collar like a necktie. You neither pick nor throw with this method. You flip the yarn over the needle with your thumb. You also don’t hold any yarn in either hand. Your collar holds and tensions the yarn. I find this method easier than picking or throwing. There is a Portuguese knitting group on Ravelry too. As far as anyone can tell this method originated in Turkey or somewhere around there and was brought to Portugal and Spain when the Arabs held sway there many centuries ago. If you want more videos go to YouTube and type in “Portuguese knitting” or “knitting around the neck”. All the best with it, Tom

mikeylikesknit's picture

Still a fairly new knitter here (a little more than a year). Started off with English but after a couple months switched to Continental.

It took me some time to get the hang of it, but with some practice I've been able to get a good rhythm going which has been much smoother and faster than what I was doing with throwing.

Initially I could not do the first row after casting on in Continental - had to switch back. But now it is not a problem.

Also, my tension would be inconsistent, but I found that was because I was letting my stitches fall too far down the needles and I wasn't working the yarn closer to the points of the needles.

I modified my grip based on one of the tutorials I was watching. On my left hand (that's holding the working yarn) I let my index finger rest on the stitch I'm working at the same time that the working yarn is wrapped around that finger. Other videos I watched showed the index finger kind of off the needle and the middle finger was on the stitch being worked. This would make my hand stiff. You may find differently.

Modify it the way that works for you!

I still get ever so slightly tripped up purling; however, switching the working yarn in position between purling and knitting is super easy for me compared to English.

rc_in_sd's picture

I was a thrower for years and never liked that my purl rows seemed to take twice as long as my knit rows. When I first saw someone knitting continental, I really wanted to learn because it seemed so much more efficient than what I was doing. I tried, and the knit stitch went well, but the purling continued to be really awkward for me.

After seeing Tom Hart post about Portuguese knitting, I looked it up and took to it right away. I still mostly throw my knit rows, but if I have to purl, or work a row with a mix of knits and purls, I use Portuguese every time. I can now purl faster than I knit, and ribbing or seed stitch go a lot faster, too. I've even done garter by purling every row instead of knitting every row.

Just a week or so ago, I looked up some "knitting faster" videos on youtube and found some interesting ideas. Sorry, but of course I can't find them now. One had a guy demonstrating a continental purl technique (not the Norwegian purl mentioned below) that looked like it could work for me. Another had a woman demonstrating a faster way to do the knit stitch using the throwing technique. It involved holding the right needle like a pencil.

Anyway, while you're new to knitting is the best time to explore and experiment. My advice is to expose yourself to as many techniques as you can. It's harder to change habits down the road. And your technique(s) of choice may very well evolve throughout your knitting life.

Kudos for exploring your options, and best of luck!

bobinthebul's picture

I do this sometimes too, though the continental purling does get easier with time. The most convenient sort of "combination" knitting for me is with stranded ribbing. I do the knit stitches in continental, and the purled second color in Portuguese. You just have to make sure to put the purled color to the right of the working while knitting the other color.

EricJT's picture

I learned portuguese style first, having given up on continental, then learned continental later when I realized I could hold the yarn the same way I hold it for crochet. Knit stitches are fast but my purling is clumsy in continental. I still use portuguese style for most things, but if all knits in a row and I switch to continental. P style is fast. Try it. I have some posts with tips on my blog at www.knitforbrains.net.

"Knitting your brows won't knit you a hat."

chipsir's picture

I tend to use the throw method unless I am double knitting or doing stranded work in the round, I have tried continental many times and can do the knit stitch quite well but purling is my nemesis, I can do a few stitches but more than that and my tension goes to pot lol. Just need practise I guess.

Joe-in Wyoming's picture

Very true, Dennis. I just sat down and worked on purl-wise garter stitch for row after row, working very carefully to maintain an even gauge. A lot of work but it paid off since my stitches are fairly even - most of the time - between knit and purl. Did the same with throwing and picking so as to have consistent gauge when switching hands.

Books, knitting, cats, fountain pens...Life is Good.

Bill Basler's picture

Going to give it a try. One of the ladies at the kitting group that I have been going to is determined to teach me Continental. So this week I am going to take a ball of left over yarn and a pair of needles and give it a try. I've tried several times on my own watching videos to get started with no luck.

Personally, when I first started knitting I used the English style and for a couple of months that was fine. But my usual impatience thought there had to be a faster way.
Along came the DomiKnitrix. In her book (which right now I don't remember the name of as I gave the book to a more experienced knitter), she tells how her grandmother's friend was finishing more projects faster using Continental knitting. she also says that its a good way for right hand teachers to teach lefties.
It took me a little while to get the tension even, but its just practice. Now its the only way I knit unless im color knitting. Make sure you keep your English hand up, mine's terrible now, lol.