View Full Version : Learning continental knitting

05-21-2008, 02:05 AM
Hey everyone,

So I'd been knitting about a month using the English method when a woman in a local knit group suggested trying to learn continental. I've been trying it for a few weeks now, and I'm definitely not picking it up as quickly as I did English, with the main problem being keeping all my stitches the same tightness. Have other people had this problem when switching over? How long did it take for it to become routine? I think part of my problem was starting with a seed stitch pattern, so I've gone back to good old garter stitch and stockinette stitch samples. Quite boring, but I'm hoping it will help.

Thanks in advance for any advice!

05-21-2008, 07:58 AM
Many people swear by conti knitting, but I have the same tension problems with it. I only use it when working with two colors, otherwise I'm quite happy with English.

I'm sure it's much like anything else, and just requires a lot of practice to get good at it and maintain an even gauge. If you really want to knit conti then just keep practicing until it starts to even out.

05-21-2008, 09:08 AM
I tried the continental method and my gauge was way off. I did find it faster but it really changed my gauge. I don't want to switch needles because of a knitting style. I am sticking with English. If I was younger I would try and get my gauge up to speed but I will be like Knitting Guy and stick to English.

of troy
05-21-2008, 09:09 AM
its great to be able to knit in different styles.. but NO ONE STYLE is superior.

I've tried, and i can't knit english.. (or any other style with a right hand yarn hold--and i am right handed!)

but i can knit portuguese, and backwards (true left handed) and Proper Continental, and my standard style (flick my left index finger, (not twist right needle) with a combo purl!

there are those who advocate 2 handed knitting for color work(ie fair isle) but i've managed 3 colors in 1 row, (all 3 yarns in one hand!) --and done it beautifully.

So, keep at it (learning continental) IF YOU WANT.

or don't! (but think about learning knitting backwards (great for entralac, or knitting on edgings!) or some other style..

there is always something new to learn in knitting...(i am still finding new things after 45 + years!)

Sunshine's Mom
05-21-2008, 10:02 AM
I taught myself how to knit using a book for English method. The book, however, was wrong in how a knit stitch should be done so I was really Combination knitting. Once I figured out I was doing it wrong I fixed my English method to be correct.

Then, my mom asked me to make her some washcloths for Christmas. The only pattern that I really liked and thought would stand up to repeated uses was seed stitch. Since I had always had a problem going from knit stitch to purl stitch in English method, I watched Amy's videos here and taught myself Continental. SOOO MUCH EASIER! I can't even remember how to do English now. It takes practice, practice, practice for sure, but I'm so happy I did it. I can't go back now. Of course, you'll get frustrated and tension is a problem to overcome. But, if you keep at it you'll get it.

Frankly, if my mom hadn't asked for the washcloths I may have stopped knitting altogether because I found the English method to be so slow for me. It wasn't fun to knit. Now, I can rip through socks like nobody's business and I'm having fun again.

05-21-2008, 10:36 AM
I kit to relax. It does'nt matter what method you use, knitting is about enjoying the process. A time to ease your mind and body, releaving the stress of the day. Their are many ways to knit and each way will get you to a finished garment or blanket if you keep knitting. I have heard that Contiental is faster, combination is the only way to go, Enlish is more graceful and elegant looking, But none of this matters if your pulling your hair out to do it and you begin to hate knitting.

What I am trying to say is this, No matter how you knit, enjoy the process. Let the rhythm of the stitches, as you create them, ease away the stress of the day. I remember reading from one of Elizabeth Zimmermans books that when she was drawing near to the end of a project, that she began to feel sad, because the project was over. I never understood this, until I started to knit for the sheer joy of knitting and not trying to keep up with what the next knitter was doing.

I hope this helps some. Just folow your heart and all will be well.


05-21-2008, 10:56 AM
If you haven't already, check out Amy's videos here (http://www.knittinghelp.com/videos/knit-stitch) - sometimes I think it's easier to see it to help get a rhythm down. I knit conti, but I have the same problem with uneven tension when I knit English - it gets a little better when I keep at it though. You might also switching up how you hold the yarn - I have to hold different yarns different ways depending on how smooth they are just to keep the tension right.

Good luck with it!

05-21-2008, 11:17 AM
I switched from English to continental a few months ago, and I definitely like continental a lot better. However, I think it's because I'm mostly left-handed, and so the continental style lets me control more aspects of the knitting with my left hand. My guage is must looser with continental but I think that's partly because I'm a more relaxed knitter than I used to be.

The other thing that I had to get figured out with continental knitting (well, all knitting actually) was how to wind the yarn around my fingers to provide some tension. When I first tried it the yarn would just get stuck and not move, so then I was just letting the yarn hang free and manually tightening down each stitch. That's all a lot slower and more inconsistent for me. I can't actually figure out how I got the problem fixed though...

05-21-2008, 11:17 AM
When you guys say that it changes your gauge, what do you mean? Do you get tighter? Or looser?

Also, what is combination purl? In stockinette stitch, for instance, my purls sit backwards so that I knit into the back of the stitch when coming back on a knit row. Is that combination?

of troy
05-21-2008, 02:47 PM
Yes! you can google combo knitting, or read anne modisett's blog, or glumperina's blog, or ...
there is lots of information on the BIGGIES--
Eastern knitting
Western Knitting (of which, english and continental are sub sets)
Combinations (combo) knitting.

Eastern has a sub set of 'eastern crossed'
and portuguese, and there are then things like norwegian purl (which the reverse of portugues knit!)

Western also has 'irish cottage knitting" (aka lever action), and other less common subsets.(scots style with a harness to hold a needle

there are lots of ways to knit..
(oh yeah, there is also true left hand (aka backwards knitting)
in which the stitches move from RIGHT HAND NEEDLE TO LEFT HAND NEEDLE-- (vs stitches moving from left hand needle to right..

(and there are others, like frame and machine knitting... spool,.. (i'll think of others..)

05-21-2008, 03:02 PM
As a sinister person, I learned Continental knitting so that I wouldn't knit backwards, and because it's much faster for me. Also, it's easier on my rheumatic old body, since there are fewer moving parts. :)

But, what was said about knitting however you can have fun with it is so true. I mean, why bother to knit if you're not enjoying yourself? You can go and buy clothing just about anywhere, and for much less.

Which ever hand you use, I hope you just enjoy the whole process.

05-21-2008, 06:18 PM
When you guys say that it changes your gauge, what do you mean? Do you get tighter? Or looser?

Looser for me, especially the purls.

05-21-2008, 06:19 PM
I mean, why bother to knit if you're not enjoying yourself?
I couldn't agree more.

Lisa R.
05-22-2008, 09:38 AM
I knit the English way and am perfectly satisfied with that. If and when I get into colorwork, I might be bothered to learn continental, but for now, why mess with a good thing?

I say do it if you want to, but if not, stick with what works.

05-22-2008, 12:53 PM

I knit english style. I've only been knitting for almost 3 months. The knit stitch, english style, was SO difficult for me that I purled everything I knitted for the first 2 months. I finally got the knit st down pat.

The DVD i bought also has continential knitting. Last week I tried the knit st. I can't believe how EASY it was. I got it with 1 try. I havn't tried the purl st yet. It looks more difficult.

I wanted to learn one style at a time. I'm finally comfortable with english style.

It really does take a lot of practice. I practiced for a month before I "made" anything.

I'm sure you'll get it.


05-22-2008, 01:57 PM
I think my purling tends to be a little looser than my knitting in Continental (my chosen method), but I have learned to compensate and get them even. I use to knit real loose on everything doing my Continental, but old age or something has caused me to get a bit tighter. :)

I agree that whatever works best for you and you like best is what you should use. Try the Continental long enough to give it a good chance (it is always good to have several arrows in your quiver) and if it doesn't fit the bill, knit English. I'm glad I know how to knit both ways and use both for 2 color knitting.

There are those who advocate 2 handed knitting for color work(ie fair isle) but i've managed 3 colors in 1 row, (all 3 yarns in one hand!) --and done it beautifully. Of Troy, I am amazed at your ability to do this feat. :thumbsup: When I saw Amy use two colors in the left hand I was impressed. I thought I would try it. No way could I do it. It was such a good idea too. So I have to settle with one color in each hand.

05-22-2008, 02:44 PM
All these replys have been very helpful to me, I haven't given up yet but reading how everyone stuck to it has just given me the push to watch some videos! I have been stuck, can't get past cast on!!!