Can't do the continental

Iacobvs's picture

I promised myself that this weekend I would learn how to knit by the continental method and I have had it!My next project is going to be a sweater in a seed stitch and I read somewhere that if I could knit in the continental method it would go faster and smoother. NOT TRUE! I have been practicing now with the seed stitch in the English method and have no trouble moving the yarn with just a wave of the index finger. Seeing as it's a basic k1 p1 pattern, I don't lose the tension on the yarn and it is coming out just great. So I have set myself free from believing I am not a good knitter because I can't do the continental. For all you continental knitters out there--an you bi-knitters too I suppose--good for you. I commend you. I applaud you! But I no longer envy you! I will get it done with the English method and feel no shame.


Kilted Knitter's picture

I can do the knit in

I can do the knit in continental, but can't seem to master the purl. I haven't given up, just haven't tried lately.

Joe-in Wyoming's picture

As long term readers know, I

As long term readers know, I have my rants about knitting and handedness. They mainly refer to which hand dominates your knitting actions. [But that hasn't any real bearing in this post.] However, I always stress that a knitter do what is comfortable for them as long as it gives them the results they want. I use both methods interchangeably and - after lots of practice - can achieve even tension in both styles, even in the same project. I mainly use Continental to speed up my ribbing and ease my hands and wrists when they act up because of whatever factors. But, overall, knitting is knitting and the final piece is the important thing. If you like how it turned out, that's the main thing. If you want to try another style just for kicks...go for it. No harm in trying. Just have fun with it. -- Books, knitting, cats, fountain pens...Life is Good.

Iacobvs's picture

Books, knitting, cats and

Books, knitting, cats and fountain pens? If it weren't for the cat thing I would agree with you 100%. Thanks for the support Joe. Here's to the day that Microsoft developes a "Palmer Method" font for MS Word!

Joe-in Wyoming's picture

You're welcome. I promise

You're welcome. I promise not to hold it against you that you don't care for cats. [Unless you advocate wholesale slaughter, of course.] I even like dogs, for the most part. Just don't care to have one as a pet. [Or should that be "master"?] -- Books, knitting, cats, fountain pens...Life is Good.

michaelpthompson's picture

I haven't tried Continental

I haven't tried Continental yet, but it's on my list, much like I want to learn crochet one of these days, mostly because I hate to say I "can't". I did see a lady doing rib stitch with Continental and it was much faster for her because she could just flick the yarn from front to back or vice versa with her index finger. It didn't take as much movement as letting go of the needle with the right hand and moving it like English method.

I would just like to have the flexibility to choose the method that's best for any individual project.

Buck Strong's picture

I love the Fred and Ginger

I love the Fred and Ginger reference. Trivia time....what movie?

To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring-it was peace.
~Milan Kundera

Tom Hart's picture

I like the

I like the yarn-around-the-neck method. For color work it simply cannot be beat. It just can't. All you need are two thumbs and a neck. It does not require any special coordination. It does not require holding or tensioning the yarns. It does not require the use of the non-dominant hand. One of life’s great mysteries for me is why this method hasn’t caught on.

albert's picture

Tom, I remember a while back

Tom, I remember a while back there was mention of a YouTube video on this method- do you recall the name of the video?

Tom Hart's picture

Yes, Al, if you type in

Yes, Al, if you type in “Portuguese knitting” some videos by “chuanavit” come up. They’re very good. Her English isn’t perfect but I remember the videos as being very helpful. Also there’s a 7 minute video by Andrea Wong that’s good too. For color work wherein you want to trap or weave in the floats, type in “knitting around the neck” and some videos by “Ixtabsknitting” come up and they are very helpful too. She’s got a new video called “Colour Dominance on the Purlside”. I don’t quite understand it all but she shows two Fair Isle mittens she made using the exact same pattern and the exact same colors and the exact same yarn. One mitten was knit using a combination of the English (throwing) method and the Continental (picking) method. And the other mitten was knit using the Portuguese method. The two mittens look very different. She says the reason they look different has to do with color dominance. Another difference between the methods has to do with motifs that have direction. For example something like > > > > > will come out < < < < < if you use the Portuguese method because with the Portuguese method you purl it all from the purlside versus knitting it all from the knitside with the English/Continental way. But I’d say that’s more of a concern for the advanced knitter. I am a rank novice in the craft and the Portuguese method has allowed me to do stranded work with zero amount of fuss right from the get-go.

albert's picture

Thanks much, Tom!

Thanks much, Tom!

asbrigida's picture

Thank you Albert!

Thank you Albert!

YarnGuy716's picture

What most knitters forget

What most knitters forget when they try to learn the other method is that it is like trying to learn to knit all over again. You've knit English for X amount of time, but you certainly didn't master it over a weekend.

I learned to knit in the '80s at a time when Continental was "the way" to knit. That was the method my LYS was teaching. When trying 2 handed color work I struggled with holding the yarn in my right hand. It felt slow and clumsy. It was actually faster to drop and switch colors with my left hand than it was to use both hands. The best I was able to do was switching colors every other stitch using both hands. Any other color pattern was excruciatingly slow and my gauge was enormous!

I figured my problem was my English skills were not to the point of my Continental skills. So I took some leftover yarn, a set of needles, cast on 20 stitches and started to knit Garter Stitch using the English method. It was slow going, but I improved bit by bit. Now I'm too the point that I can do 2-handed color work. Although at time I will go back to the drop and switch method. I haven't attempted to learn purling English method, nor have I actually made anything using only the English method. That might happen sometime in the future.

What I advise other knitters is do what works best for you which gives you the results you are looking for. When knitters comment that I can knit so fast, it's because I knit Continental, I'm more apt to say it's because I've been knitting for over 20 years.

Tallguy's picture

I have seen knitters using

I have seen knitters using the Continental method, and have tried it myself. I understand the principle, and I guess it does work a bit. But it is just all wrong. The tension is completley off, and purling is ridiculous. I can't see the point of it... it is just too damned awkward to be of any use. I intellectually understand that some people find it faster (it takes all kinds to make up this world), but I just don't feel it is any better or faster than English.

My sister is left-handed, and she writes very fast, and it's quite legible. I can't do it. There is no use in even trying... it is just too awkward and serves no useful purpose. I feel the same about Continental.

If it works for you, then great. I don't want anyone telling me I am doing it wrong, and trying to force me to change to "a better way" of doing something that has worked well for me all these years. You do it that way, and I'll do it my way, and let's just agree to disagree.

Thomasknits's picture

I'm def a continental

I'm def a continental knitter, though I started out english. If you want to give it another go, it might be worth it simply for colorwork patterns. Perhaps try a simple garter stitch first before you throw the purls in? The purls are really the hard part of continental, but it will come.
Otherwise, I totally understand sticking with what you are comfortable with. I tend to knit hats on DPNs simply because it's what I learned knitting in the round on (I hate 16in circulars).

scottly's picture

To each his own. As a lefty

To each his own. As a lefty and a crocheter continental is a natural for me. For others I can see that English is easier. Viva la difference!!

TheKnittingMill's picture

That's what's so weird about

That's what's so weird about me knitting English! I was a crocheter for 10 years before I ever picked up a set of needles so you would think continental would have been the natural transition (I'm right handed), but for some reason it was much more comfortable the other way. I feel like I can't hold the yarn right when I hold it in my left hand. I'm still trying to learn for fair isle. I hold the crochet hook like a pencil. Maybe that has something to do with it. Albert, do you knit fair isle with only your rt. hand?

If some sissy tried to kick my ass I would say, "Hey, Mary, go knit me a sweater before I slap you in the face!”
--Eric Cartman, South Park

albert's picture

I knit color work two

I knit color work two handed- continental with the left and English with the right at the same time. I'm left handed, but still prefer English style for single color knitting.

KilgoreTrout's picture

I switched to continental a

I switched to continental a few years back. It was excruciating at the beginning, but after 3 or 4 days of daily practice I did find it to be faster and smoother, though the tension issues are different than when I throw. Is it really SO much faster? I don't know..... does it matter so much? Probably not! Knit away, however it works for you!

I, obviously, am an English

I, obviously, am an English knitter and also cannot understand the obsession. Here in Spain I was very surprised to see women sitting in the shade down by the beach knitting English style. When I stayed with my husband in hospital last year lots of women came to see the crazy foreigner knitting on one needle. They were all most interested in the circular needle but not one of them thought it was odd to 'throw'. But then, each to his own I guess.

TheKnittingMill's picture

My name is Mill and I'm a

My name is Mill and I'm a thrower! I've tried continental too and it just doesn't work for me. Albert puts it quite eloquently--don't be sheep!

If some sissy tried to kick my ass I would say, "Hey, Mary, go knit me a sweater before I slap you in the face!”
--Eric Cartman, South Park

albert's picture

I am an English knitter-

I am an English knitter- have been since my grandmother taught me to knit some 45 years ago. In my not-at-all-humble opinion, there is a mania upon the land- not unlike the Dutch tulip madness of a couple of hundred years ago- in which continental knitting is now considered to be an evolutionary leap forward. It's a fad, a sort of "political correctness" afflicting knitters. FREE YOUR MINDS!! and your suffering fingers! Knit however you damned well please! As knitters, we need sheep- but we need not BE sheep!
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'll climb off my soap box, turn it upside down, and store some stash in it.