English vs. Continental Knitting Styles and Why You Wanna Use Both


Hurray for personal style! Everyone's got it, whether they realize it or not — and that means knitters too. I'm not just talking about the way you hold your needles. Think about which of your hands holds the yarn, the tension you use, the kind of yarn you like. Do your friends all knit the same way? I didn't think so.

All these little choices determine your knitting style. And of course there are bigger decisions too. Let's focus on English vs. Continental knitting styles for a sec.

The main difference between the two is the way the yarn is wrapped around the right needle before it's pulled through to knit a stitch. In English-style knitting the action is throwing the yarn , while in Continental-style knitting the action is picking the yarn .

Some knitters are fiercely loyal to one style, but (hear me out) learning how to use both interchangeably can actually be very useful. Let me tell you why.

Pain Reliever

Do you ever finish a long knitting session with an ache in your fingers and wrists? Switching up your style can help with that since each type involves a different hand-and-wrist action.

Gauge Getter

I'm usually a Continental knitter, but I decided to change it up and try English style to see what it feels like. I made a couple of discoveries, but the most obvious thing I noticed is that my tension is a little different when knitting English style. I'm thinking that this could save me the next time I'm having issues getting gauge . Though, if your tension is different when you switch styles, be wary of that if you're swapping styles halfway through a project.


Stranded knitting gets a lot more fun when you don't have worry about your colors getting tangled. If you're comfortable knitting with both styles, you can hold one color in your left hand, and the other in your right. No tangles here!

Here's a little guide that will help you decide when to use each type of knitting:

English-Style k=Knitting

  • Holds yarn in the right hand
  • Throws the yarn when wrapping
  • Easier with chunky-weight yarns

Continental-Style Knitting

  • Holds yarn in the left hand
  • Picks the yarn when wrapping
  • Easier for crocheters to learn

Notice I didn't call out which style is faster — it really depends on you. Sure, many people believe Continental has the potential to be faster, but if you're super comfortable knitting English-style, that may always be the fastest style for you. Knit however makes you happy!

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Increase knitting speed, bolster efficiency and ditch hand strain as you conquer Continental knitting for your best stitching yet.
Lorilee Beltman
Lorilee Beltman
Introduction to Continental Knitting (Picking)
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Explore reasons to pick before learning how to set up the needles for knitting and purling Continental style. You'll also learn the Norwegian purl, and Patty demonstrates alternating between knits and purls.
Introduction to English Knitting (Throwing)
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Explore reasons to throw as Patty demonstrates four approaches to yarn tension.
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English vs. Continental Knitting Styles and Why You Wanna Use Both