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Sarah E. White

How Do You Knit?

By March 24, 2009

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I learned to knit in the English or throwing style, and I've pretty much stuck with that my whole life. I know that people say Continental (or picking) is faster and easier on the joints (which I certainly need), and I can work this method if I want to or need to, but I still feel a lot more comfortable with the English method, since that's what I've been doing for so many years.

I assume most of us are the same way, that we knit the way we learned originally, but I'd love to hear from any of you who learned one method first, then tried another and decided that was the better way for you. Why did you make the switch? What do you see as the advantages or disadvantages of the method you use?


March 24, 2009 at 10:02 am
(1) Laurie says:

One of the annual traumas of my childhood was my mother trying to teach me to knit the English way. I couldn’t do it, didn’t understand it, and was horribly frustrated by it. When I was about ten, I got the hang of crocheting and spent the next ten years crocheting and doing x-st and needlepoint. One day, away from home and Mom’s knitting lessons, I picked up a McCall’s knitting magazine, a ball of yarn and some needles and almost instantly began knitting Continental style! It made perfect sense, and I’ve been knitting happily for 30 years now. I was just born to be a Continental knitter!

March 24, 2009 at 10:56 am
(2) Theresa Prince says:

I was taught to knit English and I am pretty fast using it. I have now had to have my right hand operated on for tendinitis. So I have been doing continental and I find I like it much better. At least now I can use my right or left hand.

March 24, 2009 at 11:54 am
(3) Leslie says:

When we were in Turkey I learned to knit the Turkish/Portuguese way, with the yarn tensioned around my neck or running over a button or pin. I don’t use it all the time (English is what I learned & I’m still faster at it), but I prefer Turkish-style for purling and I use it for color work.

March 24, 2009 at 12:31 pm
(4) Good Yarns says:

I learned English style, but when I found Continental style a year or so later, I quickly moved over. Continental IS more fast and much easier on the joints. I don’t think I even could throw now.

March 24, 2009 at 2:10 pm
(5) Ellen says:

I learned the “English” way, as most of us prairie kids did, and stuck with it until, in my 50′s I met a Swedish grandmother who taught me the Continental way. It really is much faster, easier on the hands, and is my usual way now. I use the Continental “thumb & 1 needle” to cast on, but English to cast off!

March 24, 2009 at 2:11 pm
(6) Debbie says:

I am a self-taught knitter and a long time crocheter. I think I am a Continental knitter for the knit stitches, but I definitely have a unique purl stitch. It’s neither English or Continental, but it gets the job done! I’d say it’s a hybrid of knitting and crocheting, if you can imagine that.

March 24, 2009 at 5:44 pm
(7) lattewoman says:

I taught myself to knit in 1972 in the English method. It works fine. I made a cable sweater with it. Later, a German friend taught me to knit continental and I’ve used that method ever since. I like always having the yarn right where I need it, and it feels more efficient to me. BUT I’m all for having fun with knitting, and efficiency and speed don’t necessarily enter into that. Besides there are several English style knitters who speed circles around me. I say enjoy what you are doing and ignore negative advice.

March 24, 2009 at 6:23 pm
(8) Carolyn says:

I am 70 years old and learned to knit English from my Mother when I was about 5 years old. I used it until I was about 16 and a friend taught me Continental. I have used it ever since and my Mother watched me and learned. She used Continental after that. She had taught herself to knit and had not had the opportunity to learn until then. She could make those needles fly!

March 24, 2009 at 8:36 pm
(9) Carol Roberts says:

I knit Portuguese style. I didn’t know it was also Turkish!

March 25, 2009 at 5:46 pm
(10) Anne Maurer says:

I learned to knit the English way. I can knit continental, but not purl in
continental. I prefer the English way. I have always felt comfortable with it and will continue to knit that way. You can’t tell which method was used in a finished garment, so what difference does it make?

March 26, 2009 at 2:17 pm
(11) bskst says:


March 30, 2009 at 11:25 am
(12) Susan Strobel says:

My mama was Swedish, so she taught me to knit the Continental way. Now that I’m older, I am so grateful that it’s easy to do, even with arthritic hands!

March 30, 2009 at 11:49 am
(13) TSprole says:

My mother taught me the English method more years ago than I want to think about. I taught myself Continental shortly after I started to teach knitting about 8 years ago so that I could teach lefties that method. Since I did that, I’ve never had to teach the English method left-handed! Also, it makes Fair Isle go so much faster and neater to be able to do one color English and one color Continental.

March 30, 2009 at 12:28 pm
(14) Judith says:

I learned to knit the English or throwing way, but I am trying to learn how to do the Continental method, but I am impatient and it isn’t fast enough yet!

March 30, 2009 at 12:29 pm
(15) Lesley says:

I was taught to knit by my mother’s friend who was like a second mother to me at a very young age. She knitted English style and that is all I ever learned. I don’t think that I could knit Continental if it was called upon to do.

March 30, 2009 at 12:35 pm
(16) mousepotato says:

I knit English style from the time I was 4 until my late 30′s when I taught myself Continental style. I’ve never looked back, and I’m not sure I could purl English style now if I wanted to. I know that every time I try my stitches end up backwards . However, knowing both methods makes colorwork much easier since picking one color and throwing the other saves time. Continental has also been so much easier on my hands and shoulders and the arthritis/bursitis that I’ve suffered. And I’m in the process of teaching myself Portuguese style .

March 30, 2009 at 1:03 pm
(17) Karen says:

I taught myself to knit using the english method then learned the continental method. I rarely use the english since learning the continental. I like the fact that it is easier to switch from knit to pearl to knit, etc. I also find it to be faster and puts less strain on my hands. I can be quick using both methods. I taught my husband to knit the english method and he is not interested in taking the time to learn the continental, although he does acknowledge that it would be easier to switch from knit to pearl.

March 30, 2009 at 1:34 pm
(18) Carol says:

I learned to knit the Englis/throw style when I was around 8 years old. Now, at 61 I’ve switched over to Continental/picking and I find it so much easier, faster and kinder to my joints. Only a couple of years into it, I can’t see switching back, although I am glad I do know how to use the English style if need be.

March 30, 2009 at 2:34 pm
(19) craftilady says:

I knit the english way because of the pain in my wrist. I had to quit crocheting for that reason. The contintal style looks like it would be faster, but I don’t like it.

March 30, 2009 at 3:37 pm
(20) pat says:

Can you really teach an old dog new tricks??I just can’t get it..(Continental

March 30, 2009 at 5:59 pm
(21) Gini says:

I learned to knit the English (throwing) way until my sister came back from Germany & taught me the Continental method she had learned there. I can’t believe how much faster & easier it is!! Especially with seed stitch or ribbing, where you are constantly changing from knit stitches to purl stitches! It took me awhile until I was proficient in this method, because it was difficult for me to get the tension right, but I kept at it & love it!However, I don’t know if I could learn from scratch with this method; I think I got insight with the English method, making the Continental much easier to pick up.

March 30, 2009 at 6:14 pm
(22) charl says:

I learned “combination” knitting in school many years ago. I always thought I was knitting backwards until I found the definition of combination knitting. This is like continental and very fast. I have learned to knit continental and use it when there is a lot of garter stitch to do, or in open (lace) work. I have also learned to knit a k2tog when the pattern calls for ssk, and vice versa. This reversal allows the decrease to lay the proper way in combination knitting. Anyone else learn this way?

March 30, 2009 at 6:37 pm
(23) Texasknitwit says:

I taught myself to knit and crochet from a book at age 20. The book showed the English method. Later in life I was watching a woman doing Fair Isle knitting. She held one color in her right hand and the other color in her left hand. She showed me how to do continental. I went home and practiced and loved it. I have made some Fair Isle sweaters and hats, and Continental is the only way to go when doing 2 or more color knitting. When doing continental, I do hold my fingers different for knitting than I do for purling. Continental is much faster and easier especially if you are doing ribbing. Continental is my favorite way to knit.

March 30, 2009 at 9:54 pm
(24) Kathleen says:

I learned to knit in the UK. A very patient neighbor taught me. My first project was a sweater for my husband.
I use 14 inch needles for all my projects. I also hold the left need under my left arm. It take the weight off the hands. I enjoy making afgans with complicated patterns. Unfortunately with the 14in. needles all the work is gathered up.
My husband made me a set of 36″ needles our of doll rod. Put the blunt end into a pencil sharpner and sand off the rough bits and wrap masking tape around the other ends so the work will not fall off.
If the yarn is not to heavy you can sit in a chair with low arms or no arms . If the work becomes too heavy you may wind up sitting on a low stool or the floor. Needless to say you can not travel with them, they do not fit into the luggage…
Also if you have a large project you can knit half way into the center and lay out the worked part to see if you are folling the pattern correctly.
I never under stood why manufacturers never made a longer needle 18 in or more or at least like the circulars to make the main tips screw into a longer bit for variety knitting.Oh well…….

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