Is Now a Good Time to Learn Continental Knitting?

Knitfreedom student Margaret recently asked, "Hi Liat, I notice that you are knitting the Continental way.

"I’m still doing what I learned as a child 60+ years ago :), wrapping the yarn around the needle with my right hand.

"Would this be a good time for me to learn Continental? Is there a benefit to learning to knit that way?"

My answer, and it applies to all of you, is, "Yes! I think this is a great time for you to learn Continental knitting."

What is Knitting Continental?

Continental Knitting GIFWith Continental knitting, you hold the working yarn in your left hand. All your stitches come out the same, you just use different movements to make them.

The movements are fast and streamlined (see examples in the video below).

Why Learn to Knit Continental?

Continental tension blue yarn square
Learning to Knit Again... With the Left Hand
Learning to Continental knit is a great goal, and something you can always come back to you when you feel like you want an extra challenge.

You also don't have to do it all at once. You can learn how to do it, and start practicing bit by bit. Then when you're on an easy project like a Garter-stitch scarf or slouchy hat you can practice your Continental knitting.

I originally learned to knit the American way, and I am really glad that I took the effort to switch to Continental knitting because for me it really is much easier and faster and more fun.

American Knitting vs. Continental Knitting

Notice how much less my hands have to move when I use the Continental style.

American Ribbing vs. Continental Ribbing

The speed advantage is multiplied when doing ribbing.

What KnitFreedom Students Have to Say About Learning Continental Knitting

I Am Now a Continental Knitter!

I am now a continental knitter! Your course was exactly what I needed to learn how to accomplish it. I’ve tried several times previously but just couldn’t manage to do it and have it feel comfortable. Now when I pick up my knitting, I automatically start with the yarn in my left hand and it feels natural. My tension is perfect, and my speed has definitely increased, but more importantly, my arm and shoulder don’t hurt and my hand doesn’t go numb, so I can knit for much longer periods of time without needing to take a break. Thank you.

– Katherine B.


I Fell in Love With Continental and With Liat

I came to KnitFreedom specifically to learn Continental style. I was frustrated with throwing because of all the movement and how slow it was for me. I fell in love with Continental and with Liat and I use my KnitFreedom access all the time.

– Melissa M.


It’s Much Easier and Faster

I had been taught in a knitting class some other way that I didn’t like, and when I saw [your class on Continental Knitting], I watched, practiced, and it’s almost natural and much easier and faster.

– Janice G.


I Learned How to RELAX While Knitting

I never found knitting relaxing until I learned Continental from you and followed your instructions and learned how to RELAX while knitting!

– Polly V.


It’s the Only Way I Knit Now

Your videos are how I learned to knit Continental, and it has been a revelation. It's the only way I knit now.

– Karen H.


I Learned Continental and Was in Heaven!

I’m left-handed and learned how to knit English (throwing with right hand). I took the Super Star classes to perfect my knitting. Then learned Continental and was in heaven! So much more comfortable for me as a lefty and now purling is a breeze!

– Aida H.


It Totally Made All the Difference

I was very, very new to knitting when I found KnitFreedom. That's where I learned Continental, and it totally made all the difference.

– Liz P.


Considerably Easier Than I Expected

I made the switch [to Continental Knitting], and I found it considerably easier than I expected. The huge benefit is that I can now knit Fair-Isle Designs two-handed!

– Amy T.


Knitting Garments Continental Style

I went from knowing nothing at all about knitting to making awesome garments (continental style!) just from your ebooks so thanks!!  :)  You seriously rock!

– Kristin


Absolutely the Best!

I'm a lefty. I tried for years to be good at knitting, but it was always a struggle. Then I found KnitFreedom and the video showing Continental style knitting was "spot on"! I am knitting and having a lot of fun now! Thanks Liat you are the best. BTW for anyone not sure: Liat's videos are done so well, there is no way you can't "get" what she's teaching. Absolutely the best!

– Deb L.


So Much Better

I’ve been trying to learn continental knitting for a while, but holding my left pointer straight up in the air (like so many vids on YouTube show) gets uncomfortable after like 2 minutes. Your way is so much better :)

– nemo1500


Benefits of Continental Knitting

Knitfreedom Knitting Superstar Facebook group* members report that they find many benefits of learning to knit Contintenal.

When I recently asked them, in particular they mentioned:

  • Ease of movement
  • Less stress and tension
  • Feels natural if you have crocheted before
  • Relaxing
  • Economy of movement
  • Faster
  • Lets you knit Fair-Isle with two hands
  • Easier on the hands if you have arthritis

*Our Knitting Superstar Facebook group is a knitting support group for students who have purchased our Knitting Superstar class or are Premium Lifetime members.

Interested in learning more? You can sample our Continental Knitting class free when you sign up for KnitFreedom Premium.

Featured Course: Continental Knitting

Continental Knitting is the art of knitting with the working yarn in the left hand. It is ergonomic, efficient, and the preferred knitting style of many European knitters.

I learned to knit the traditional way (for Americans), then switched to Continental-style knitting after many years because I loved how fast and easy it was.

Rainy Season Brings Smiles to Mexico

Carlos and Milo at the beach Summer 2020We are all smiles here in Sayulita, Mexico!

The rainy season has begun in earnest and today Milo danced and played in the rain with other neighborhood kids and adults. Everyone loves a "Mexican shower!"

We also got to get out of sleepy Sayulita for a few days and go to Guadalajara, the nearby capital of Jalisco and second-biggest city in Mexico. We tried "tortas ahogadas" (drowned sandwiches) and had a memorable scone and coffee in the fashionable Chapultepec neighborhood.

Milo also turned one year old yesterday, which made me and his father tearfully reflect on the tremendous day of his BIRTH. What an occasion a birth is in the life of one's family! I love sharing pieces of my life with you. Thanks for reading.

Leave a Comment

I'd love to hear your thoughts and questions about Continental knitting. Have you tried it and had trouble? Have you always wanted to learn? Leave a comment and let me know.

By Liat Gat - Founder
Liat Gat is the founder and video knitting expert at KnitFreedom.com. She gets great joy out of supporting and encouraging students through instructive videos and blog posts.

20 thoughts on “Is Now a Good Time to Learn Continental Knitting?”

  1. Continental knitting appeals to me but i wonder if at my age i should switch my method of knitting. I am 85 years old and feel as though i would be losing time knitting projects i am doing now. I would appreciate your advice. Thank you

    1. Hi Eileen,
      Great to hear from you! If Continental knitting appeals to you, I don’t think it could hurt to try it. You already own our Knitting Superstar class and Continental Knitting is included as a bonus chapter, so you could check out a few of the videos and give the technique a try. I think in about 20 minutes you’d be able to tell if this is something you’d want to spend more time on.
      How does that sound?

      Here’s a link to the class: https://www.knitfreedom.com/my-classes/knitting-superstar/part-v-bonus-chapters/ch-15-continental-knitting/

      Cheers,
      Liat

  2. I learned to knit from great grandmother who came to NY from Scotland. So she taught me continental knitting on bone needles with very thin wool.
    I was only seven years old.

  3. I started out knitting American style but quickly switched to Continental because of the economy of movement. After I joined a knitting group, one of the people who had been knitting since the age of 7 made a comment about my stitches saying they looked the way her mom’s did. She said her mom would knit with one size needle and purl with another so her stitches would be even. I became so self-conscious that I stopped knitting and learned how to crochet instead (it was also easier to crochet when the knitting group met because I didn’t have to pay as close attention to what I was doing and if I made a mistake, I could easily rip it out and start again without too much frustration). That being said, what can you do to create even stitches without having to resort to using 2 different size needles (which I will never do!)? I love crochet but I also want to love knitting again!

    1. Hi Sally,

      Wow I am so glad you posted here! I feel like writing that whole blog post was worth it if it inspires you to get back to loving knitting again.

      These comments stick with us so deeply. I feel grateful that you remember the root of your self-consciousness of knitting – it is now time to banish those bad feelings and understand the comment so you can get back to knitting again.

      Some people purl more loosely on Continental style than they do American-style. Certainly while you are learning this might happen. It may be a factor of how your hands tension the yarn. Some people with arthritis don’t have as nimble of fingers and they have trouble tensioning the yarn well and their stitches are looser. So for that knitter’s mom, it may have made sense to use two different needle sizes. It seems like an ingenious solution!

      For you, however, I don’t think that will be necessary. You may end up deciding to just notice what happens when you knit and purl Continental, if you feel any difficulty or tension. You can watch my videos on Continental purling and Continental tension and see if they spark some change in how you knit.

      Finger Aerobics II – Continental Purling

      Continental Knitting Tips – Do You Have the “U?”

      But the most important thing is, do you enjoy knitting this way? If she had said, “How beautiful! Your stitches look just like my mom’s. I love the way she knits,” would you have any problem with that? Even if the stitches are uneven, is that bad? Does it mean you shouldn’t knit? Do we really care?

      What do we knit for, anyway? To take our cares away, to enjoy the moment, to play with fun yarn, to wear custom-made stuff that only we imagined? Or do we knit to turn out machine-quality perfect products or to make other people happy? I think not.

      I hear you loud and clear when you say you want to love knitting again, and I want that for you too! Please stay in touch with me here as you decide to re-explore knitting, and let me know what you discover!

      Big hugs,
      Liat

      1. Thank you so much for your encouragement, Liat. You are right that we should be knitting just for the joy of it in and of itself, so I’ll stop letting what someone said rob me of that joy. Thank you for the links to your videos. I’ll take a look at them to see what I might be able to do to tension the yarn differently when I’m purling – and then not worry about it anymore!

  4. I really love your knitting articles, tips and ways to do things! Keep posting and thank you. Your little boy is adorable!!

  5. Hi Liat!

    Your son is adorable! 😁 I’ve got 2 grand-nephews a little older than he is & it’s just a joy watching them grow. I’m going to be challenging my pattern comprehension skills by trying to knit a sweater for each of them for Christmas — more complex than what I normally do. I still get confused by instructions that tell me to do things “at the same time” when shaping.

    I have a couple of thoughts on Continental knitting. I’m so happy I made the switch from English/American style to Continental. I learned to crochet decades before I learned to knit but I initially found everything (needles *AND* yarn) easier to coordinate with the yarn in my right hand when I was first learning to knit. Your course made all the difference and I’m a happy Continental knitter today. Because I was (much) older than most beginning knitters I was never able to comfortably perform the Continental purl you demonstrated but I discovered the Norwegian purl stitch which is a Continental technique which allows the yarn to remain *behind* the left needle instead of being brought to the front. Using it, my yarn is always behind the left needle. I recommend it to anyone having the dexterity problems that frequently accompany “maturity” (aka “aging”!).

    Another thing I’ve discovered is, that in addition to fair isle, double knitting became much simpler after I learned Continental knitting. I hold one color of yarn in my left hand and the other in my right hand and alternate Continental stitches with English/American stitches to produce the two sides of double knitting. Continental just seems to make everything go smoother! 😁

    Rich

    1. Hi Rich,
      Yay! Sorry it’s taken me so long to get back to your comment. I would love to do a sweater class for kid sweaters (just like I used a baby sock in my live sock classes).

      I love your tips about Continental knitting and your reminder that there are alternatives to the way I teach it. The Norwegian purl is a great alternative!!

      I’m hoping to do a blog post soon about Double-Knitting and I’m looking forward to publishing your tips (the ones you sent me about a year ago probably and any new ones you come up with). I’ll be in touch with you about that.

      You have a great inquisitive spirit and you add so much to KnitFreedom. Thank you.

  6. Awe, you’re little guy is darling. I’m so happy for you❣️Children are such a blessing❣️
    Thanks for the demonstration Liat. Watching you knit is like listening to music… relaxing, rhythmic and beautiful. It’s something we all strive to obtain.
    I love continental knitting but purling always sends me back to throwing. What do you think about knitting backwards. Seems once I got the hang of it I’d love it. So many times I turn my wip and decide it’s a good time to put my work down. Anyway, thanks again. And By the way, I’ve sent a personal email to you this morning.

    1. Hi Donna, thank you so much! I love what you said about listening to music. Thank you.

      I have a few videos you might enjoy that can help you with Continental purling AND knitting backwards. The Continental Knitting class is part of your Knitting Superstar class. We have two videos on purling that might make it easier/more fun. (But there’s no pressure to knit Continental if you’re not moved to!)

      Finger Aerobics II – Continental Purling

      The Continental Purl Stitch

      About knitting (well, purling really) backwards, I’m a BIG fan. I always do it if it’s not very many stitches. Here’s my video on how to do that:

      How To Knit or Purl Backwards And When To Do It

      And I’m looking forward to checking my email now, thank you!

      Liat

  7. A precious child you have. Congratulations and God bless you and your family.greetings from a Continental Knitter!

  8. I will give continental knitting another try because if anyone can teach me, it’s you. I’ve tried before, but didn’t really find it any faster for me. One concern is that I’ve heard your gauge can change when you switch between styles, so should I wait until I’m starting a new project?
    Thanks!

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