how do you knit?

Carol_AnnFebruary 23, 2007

OK, first off, I have to confess: I'm a self-taught knitter, probably like a lot of people. Maybe not like a lot of people, I couldn't get the hang of how to hold the yarn while knitting so I improvised and came up with my own style... not very "professional" looking, I'm sure, but I get the job done.

But it's occurred to me lately that if I did it "right," then I might knit more efficiently and maybe a bit better (more even stitches, although mine are ok if I don't put a project down for too long, and maybe it would be better as I learn new stitches and stuff.). Anyway, in looking for instructions, I was reminded that there are at least two common methods to hold the yarn. I watched a video and decided to try the continental method. It's a bit awkward, but it's already feeling better than when I try to hold the yarn with my right hand (correctly or incorrectly. When I hold it correctly, it definitely doesn't work for me).

So I was wondering how y'all knit... and have you tried both, and have you had better luck with one than another? I'm guessing for most, whatever you learned first is what you like best, but that didn't work out for me. What are your thoughts? Is my cobbled method ok if it works, or for the long run, is it worth learning to use a more traditional method?

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I throw my yarn, and some day I am going to sit down with a video and learn continental. Right now, I do not need to rush my projects; I knit for leisure pleasure and to give my hands something to do as I watch TV. So there's really no need to change. I learned to knit as a girl, and thus that is how I knit now.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2007 at 11:05PM
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I knit like my mom taught me. Like shelajoyce, I throw the yarn, knitting with the yarn in my right hand. I have tried continental and can see the advantage of it but it just doesn't feel natural to me so I always go back to my old way. Also when I throw the yarn I let go of the right needle, some people don't.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2007 at 9:18AM
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I knit both ways but discovered after I got the hang of it I prefer continental I also found this video that made sense on how to hold the yarn since I crocheted for years before I learned to knit. Hope that helps ;0)

Here is a link that might be useful: continental knitting

    Bookmark   February 24, 2007 at 11:44AM
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I appreciate the input! zipper, that video is excellent -- thanks -- I'm not concerned with speed but the way I knit is awkward and I like the ease that comes with the continental method -- it just seems and feels like a good way for me. For whatever reason, I can't get the hang of throwing, and I never have liked having the yarn on the right. I have a feeling my knitting will benefit if I learn to hold the needles and yard in a way that allows me to knit smoothly. Now to practice, practice, practice! :)

    Bookmark   February 24, 2007 at 2:11PM
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I'm a thrower, although I can knit continental. I also crochet, but I knit more frequently because I've got severe tendonitis in my hands. If I knit continetal, it triggers it and I can't use my right hand for days.

I took a class, and they taught both contiental and english, but I preferred English because of that.

I also hold my yarn pretty goofy. Sometimes, I don't hold my yarn at all.

~ Kit

    Bookmark   February 24, 2007 at 9:08PM
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I lurk here and participate in some other forums. It's a good group.

My Swedish grandmother taught me to knit 50 or so years ago, and I do most of the work with my left hand, so I guess it's the Continental way. I've seen people do it the other way, and it seems much less efficient.

I hadn't knit in many years and started again this winter, and I found it's like bike riding, once you start doing it, the technique comes back.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2007 at 11:39PM
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I knit contintental, but have a hard time purling, so I taught myself to knit backwards by throwing (English).

Yes I knit backwards to purl. Knit left to right, purl right to left throwing the yarn.


    Bookmark   February 26, 2007 at 5:28PM
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This only works for entire rows, so sometimes I actually have to purl, then I have to drag my knitting book out and try to remember how to do it without twisting my yarn.


    Bookmark   February 26, 2007 at 5:30PM
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I knit mostly English, throwing with my right hand. I can knit continental, but purling that way, the stitch comes out backwards. I also have learned pin-tensioned knitting, which I like, but am really slow at. When the arthritis in my right shoulder flares up, I like the pin tensioned best. You throw the yarn with your left thumb and tension it with the middle finger on your right hand. Continental actually makes my shoulder worse, which is why I seldom crochet any more.

Vickey, I want to see how you knit backwards!


    Bookmark   March 2, 2007 at 9:06PM
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Guess I knit the englsh way. I tried continental way, but it felt too awkward. I remember a gal I knew when I lived in Montana, and she held the left-hand needle under her arm, in her arm pit. It really looked wierd, but she said thats how she taught herself to knit and it worked, so didn't see any need to change. When it comes to knitting....what ever works. Dottie

    Bookmark   March 3, 2007 at 4:20PM
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yup, looks like there are many variations of what works! I'm about 5 hours of knitting into the continental method and for the first time in my knitting life, it feels natural and smooth, and I'm loving it! For anyone who's interested in learning, I would suggest the video that zipper posted (and I repost it here) -- it's made a huge difference in my understanding of the method, and includes a great section on how to purl correctly using the continental method. Thanks again, zipper, and happy knitting, everyone!

Here is a link that might be useful: continental knitting video

    Bookmark   March 4, 2007 at 4:04PM
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I learned to knit the English way and have never changed. I did try the Continental method but it just doesn't feel natural to me, although I crochet also. I would say just do what feels right to you. If you are more comfortable doing the Continental method......go for it!

    Bookmark   March 4, 2007 at 9:32PM
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I learned to knit from a book by the English method but because my fingers are short I had to drop the right needle to throw the yarn and it really slowed me down and felt ackward. I saw a coworker who knitted all the time and she used the continental method. I felt too dumb, clumsy, shy and uncomfortable to ask for her help. Later when I decided to get more serious about knitting, I tried the yarn on the left hand and it worked pretty well. Later on through this forum I found the video and realized how close I had come. I wind the yarn around my little and middle finger instead of index because the tension is better for me. I love this forum because you can ask anything and everyone is so helpful. It's tough being young and shy but now I know if you don't ask you may never learn.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2007 at 7:23PM
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I knit English and also self taught. I taught myself to learn the stitches then I usually just make the patterns up or copy a boughten sweater or vest. Growing up in the 50's when the basics were the norm. I also use yarn for markers. I would love to learn the continental method but I get along fine with my way. knitting keeps my hands limber during the winter. If you can believe it I did just make my first pair of socks this year. Reading the stitches helped with turning the heel. I also like all the help I get from this forum.
I hope we can keep on sharing patterns, and advice plus the friendship that is so great here.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2007 at 10:22AM
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I'm a COntinental Knitter. My daughter is 6 yr old and would like to learn to knit. I remember having great difficulty learning to knit and maybe it was because I do it the Continental way. I want learning to be as easy as possible for her. Which way would be the best way to teach her???

    Bookmark   March 26, 2007 at 2:52PM
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For me, any needle art I learned, I instinctively had a feel for whether or not it was "right" for me... knitting English was so awkward, and I've been so glad to learn continental! For your daughter, it's probably the same -- one way (or maybe both) will just feel more natural to *her.* I'd go ahead and teach her whatever you're most comfortable teaching and see how she picks it up; if that doesn't work, teach her the other way. I personally find continental much easier and English very awkward, but that's me... Knitting isn't hard, she'll pick it up either way. Have fun!

    Bookmark   March 28, 2007 at 8:06AM
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This is my first post to this form and I find this discussion most interesting. I have been knitting for over 50 years, beginning in high school with argyle socks, angora dice, then on to knitting school at Sears where I learned charting patterns and lots of trims. I became too busy to knit and so after about a 35 year hiatus, have picked up knitting and crocheting again in the fall of 2005 with great fervor.

I had never heard of continental knitting. I went to visit my teenage grandaughters this past Christmas season and they were knitting in the continental style. They brought out their scarfs and proceeded to knit in the continental manner and asked me for tips on knitting. I asked them how they learned to knit that way,which I thought was completely backward, and so I taught them what is I now find called the english style.

Amazing, knitting so many years ago and never hearing these terms. I must have been under a big rock.

When I was in my early twenties (before knitting school) a lady named Hilda taught me to hold my right needle and knit material over the top of my hand with the tip of my right needle between my thumb and forefinger using the baby finger and forefinger for tension as done in continental style. Hilda told me this was the proper way to knit, so I gave it a try. I also hold the needle and material overhand sometimes, holding loosely under the right needle with thumb and middle finger, but still using my forefinger as a bobbin and pinkie for tension.

The way I knit is very speedy and uses just a little motion of the fight forefinger and left forefinger to push the loop on the left needle into position. Now I know what it is called, I feel the throwing method may use a lot of movement. I have arthritis in both thumbs and until January had a bad shoulder, which surgery has repaired, so I looked for as little movement as possible.

I think continental may be preferable to throwing as far as efficiency is concerned.

Does anyone out there knit the way I do?

    Bookmark   April 2, 2007 at 9:22PM
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