How to Knit Continental Style

For a DVD with full instructions on how to knit check out my DVD on How to Knit.

To ‘knit continental’ means holding the yarn in your left hand while knitting the stitches from the left needle onto the right needle.

The important thing to remember about knitting is the path of the yarn between the needles. If you hold the yarn in your right hand you need to ‘throw’ it forward and round the needles to make a stitch. When you hold the yarn in your left hand, continental style, you pick at the yarn with the needle to make the stitch.

The working end of the yarn is held over the forefinger of the left hand with tension on that yarn achieved in any number of different ways. Some people like to wrap the yarn around their little finger, others wrap it around the forefinger, and still others, like myself, hold the yarn against the left hand needle with the middle finger to keep it taut as necessary. Try to see what works best for you.

Continental Knitting - Knit stitch

To make a knit stitch holding the yarn in the left hand:

  1. Insert the right hand needle into the first stitch on the left hand needle from left to right and front to back.
  2. Scoop the yarn from the forefinger with the tip of the right hand needle bringing the needle towards you so that the yarn is caught between the needles.
  3. Bring the right hand needle back through the stitch with the loop of yarn and allow the original stitch to drop off the left hand needle.
  4. Repeat the above 3 steps for every stitch you want to knit.
Continental Knitting - Purl stitch

To make a purl stitch holding the yarn in the left hand:

  1. Flick the yarn in front of the left hand needle
  2. Insert the right hand needle into the first stitch on the left hand needle from right to left and from back to front ensuring it goes behind the flicked forward yarn.
  3. Scoop the yarn from the left forefinger with the tip of the right needle bringing the needle towards you.
  4. Bring the right hand needle back through the stitch with the loop of yarn (a judicious thumb helps here!) and allow the original stitch to drop off the left hand needle.
  5. Repeat the above 4 steps for every stitch you want to purl.

Very important note: when you knit continental the yarn will sit at the back of the work after every stitch whether it was a knit or a purl stitch. Consequently it is vital to bring the yarn forward before every purl stitch.

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