Ready To Try Continental Knitting?

Continental knitting is also referred to as:

  • German Knitting
  • European Knitting
  • left handed knitting
  • picker

As with most aspects of knitting, there are many names for the same thing.

It's all about feeding the working yarn with the left hand.

Some might think you must need to be left handed to master this style. Not so.

It also doesn't matter what part of the world you are from.

It seems that there was a bit of snobbery going on in our history. Depending on where you were from, you learned the style that originated in that part of the world.

Today, knitters recognize the benefit of mastering both the left handed knitting style and the right handed knitting style.

Are you new to knitting? You might be asking "which style should I start with?"

The answer...

Whichever one you feel most comfortable with. Once you get the hang of one, try the other and get comfortable with it too.

There will come a day when you will be thrilled with the added flexibility you will have.

Let's step through how to "knit" continental style.

How you hold the yarn is the most difficult aspect of learning this style.

Why? Because you will need to feed the yarn with a stable tension. You will want the yarn coming off the index finger.

In this photo, the yarn is wrapped around the pinky finger also.

Others may be able to carry the yarn in the palm of their hand and provide good tension.

There isn't a right or wrong way of doing this. Just play around with it until you hit on the best way for you.

Once we have the working yarn positioned with adequate tension, we are ready to begin the knit stitch.

Insert the right needle into the loop on the left needle, from left to right.

Wrap the yarn from the index finger counter clockwise around the right needle.

Using the right needle, pull the wrapped yarn through the loop on the left needle - from right to left.

Slide the old stitch off the left needle and start the next one!

So, what's A Picker?

Ha! So glad you asked.

It may be a generic term for all left handed knitting, but the following photos should give you an idea of how the name came to be.

Shorten up the working yarn.

Use your index finger as a backstop to "pick" up the yarn.

Bring the yarn through the loop the left and slide off as normal.

You may find it helpful to start a swatch of about 40 stitches.

This will give you a good basis to establish a bit of rhythm for learning a new method.

Purl The Continental Way

Mastering the purl stitch is a bit more awkward, but once you get it, you should begin to recognize the benefits of continental knitting.


Beginning position

Guide the yarn with the index finger to the front of your work.

Insert the right needle into the loop on the left needle from right to left.

Wrap the yarn counter clockwise around the right needle.

Bright right needle down and through the loop on the left.

Slide the old stitch off the left needle and...

Start the next one!

When first learning how to knit continental style, it may be helpful to keep practicing on a good sized swatch.

If your experience is anything like mine, you will find as your swatch grows, your stitches will look much neater and you will be able to have some confidence in your gauge.

What's The Benefit?

The most noted benefit to continental knitting is the speed and ease of execution.

Your index finger is responsible for most of the motion when switching from knit to purl.

All in all, it is much more efficient than the:

  • English
  • American
  • British
  • right handed
  • thrower

Always remember, there is no right or wrong way. It is always "knitter's" choice!

Have fun practicing continental knitting and...

Keep On Knitting!

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