Have you ever wanted to knit faster? Continental Knitting just might be the solution!
You’ve probably been there. You realize you have a project that’s far from finished, but it needs to be done tomorrow. Maybe it’s supposed to be given as a gift or shipped off to an Etsy shop customer. Regardless of why you need to finish it, you need to finish it NOW. Under pressure and stress, you scramble to get it done as fast as possible, desperately wishing your fingers could move just a little faster so you could finish in time.
Well, believe it or not, the key to faster knitting isn’t moving your fingers faster. It’s all about moving them more efficiently.
You see, there are many different methods of knitting. Every style is a bit different. They all produce the same stitches, but use different methods and motions to do so.
Let’s look at one of the main knitting methods used by many knitters in North America.
What is knitting English style?
Like many North American knitters, I learned to knit with the English method. This is the method generally taught in most “teach yourself to knit” pamphlets. The yarn is held and tensioned in the right hand, and is “thrown” around the tip of the right-hand needle before pulling the needle through to make a stitch.
The problem with English knitting when you’re trying to knit faster is the position of the yarn. When the yarn is in the right hand, it is at the right of the right needle. For each stitch, the yarn needs to go to behind the needle tip to the left, and then back to the front of the needle tip to the right. So your hand has to move with the yarn to get it wrapped around the needle.
English Style Knitting
The English Style requires three separate motions to make a stitch:
- Insert the right needle into the first stitch that is sitting on the left needle
- Lift the right hand (with the yarn tensioned in it) or extend the right index finger to “throw” the yarn around the tip of the right needle in a counterclockwise direction.
- Place the right hand back on the right needle and use the needle tip to pull the new stitch through.
Before we go any further, let me point out one very important thought:
As long as you are making the stitches correctly, there is no wrong way to knit. There is nothing wrong with English knitting. Every knitter’s preference will be different. There are many English Style knitters who can knit pretty fast, because they’ve had plenty of practice and have become good at it. If you love the English Style, use it!
The most important thing is that you use the style that works best for you. However, there are other knitting styles out there that may be more efficient.
What is continental knitting?
The continental method of knitting originally came from continental Europe. A continental knitter holds and tensions the working yarn in the left hand. With the yarn in the left hand, it takes less motion to get the yarn around the tip of the right needle and pull the new stitch through. The right needle just “picks” the yarn up to grab it. I like the speed and efficiency I can get with this method, without using a knitting pin or putting the yarn behind my neck.
Holding the Yarn and Needles for Continental Knitting
For the continental method of knitting, you’ll hold and tension the yarn in your left hand, with your left index finger lifted slightly above the needle tip. Then, grasp the left needle in the left hand, and the right needle in the right hand. You’ll want to use a gentle grasp, so don’t grip the needles too tightly.
There are many ways to wrap the yarn between or around the fingers of the left hand. Some people even like to wrap the yarn around the wrist. However you choose to tension your yarn, the important thing is that the yarn comes over your left index finger towards the knitting, and that the amount of tension is right for you.
I like to weave the yarn under and over my fingers so it comes over the top of my index finger towards the knitting, but you may find a different method that works better for you. Check out this post for my 5 best tips to correct tension problems in your knitting.
How to Knit Faster with Continental Knitting
The video below will show you several ways to work the Knit stitch and the Purl stitch in the Continental Style. These basic methods can be modified to suit each knitter. As long as you form the stitches correctly, it’s OK if you use slightly different motions to form them.
I recommend trying a new knitting style on an entire small-ish project before deciding whether it is right for you. It may take more than a small swatch for your hands to get comfortable with a new knitting style. Feel free to modify how you hold the needles or tension your yarn to make it work best for you.
Have you tried Continental Knitting yet? How did you like it?