Mastering the Art of Continental Knitting: How to Hold Yarn Like a Pro

Knitting is a beloved craft that has been passed down for generations. From beginner to advanced, there are many techniques and styles to explore in this versatile hobby. One popular style is Continental knitting, also known as picking. This method uses the left hand to hold and tension the yarn, providing a faster and more efficient way of knitting. However, for those used to the traditional English style, learning how to hold yarn Continental knitting can initially be a bit intimidating. Fear not, as we will guide you through the steps and tips on mastering this technique in no time. Get ready to elevate your knitting skills and try out something new with Continental knitting!

Knitting is a beloved craft that has been around for centuries. It involves creating fabrics by interlocking yarn loops using knitting needles. There are many different techniques and styles of knitting, one of them being continental knitting. This style, also known as German knitting or left-handed knitting, involves holding the yarn in the non-dominant hand and using the dominant hand to manipulate the needles.

Continental knitting is becoming increasingly popular among knitters due to its speed, efficiency and comfortability. Unlike English or American style knitting where the yarn is held in the right hand, continental knitters use their left hand to hold and control the yarn while their right hand focuses on moving the needles. In this guide, we will cover everything you need to know about how to hold yarn for continental knitting.

The Basics of Continental Knitting

Before we dive into how to hold yarn for continental knitting, let’s first understand the basics of this technique. The most striking difference between continental and other styles of knitting is the way the yarn is held. In continental knitting, instead of throwing (looping) the yarn with your right hand around your needle every stitch like you would in English or American style, you feed it from behind with your left finger.

Another unique aspect of continental knitting is how you tension your yarn – instead of wrapping it around your fingers like a puppet string in other styles; you wrap it once around your pinky finger then loop it once between your ring and middle fingers then over your index finger.

This particular way of holding tension on part of one finger helps regulate sufficient slack without entanglement complications still allowing easy gliding through your fingers.

Benefits Of Holding Yarn For Continental Knitting

Although holding yard in different techniques may seem like a small detail when it comes to overall outcome results in any item; when it comes to continental knitting, it is an essential factor. Continental knitting allows you to control the tension of the yarn, resulting in even stitches which create a smooth and professional-looking fabric.

Holding yarn for continental knitting also offers more comfort and fewer movements compared to other styles, making it ideal for people with repetitive strain injuries. It not only reduces muscle fatigue but also increases your knitting speed since you have less distance to travel between each stitch.

Another great advantage of holding yarn for continental knitting is the convenience in terms of using multiple colors. You can easily switch between colors while maintaining tension, allowing you to create beautiful colorwork or fair isle designs effortlessly.

How To Hold Yarn For Continental Knitting

Now that we understand why it is beneficial to hold yarn for continental knitting let’s dive into how to do it correctly. Here are five simple steps to guide you on how to hold yarn for continental knitting:

Step 1: Start by positioning your hand in a loose fist with your fingers curled slightly downwards towards your palm.

Step 2: Holding the working yarn around both sides of your left index finger, form a slip knot at the end of your needle.

Step 3: Gently drape the working yarn across your palm from underneath going up towards your pinky finger.

Step 4: Loop the working yarn halfway around your pinkie finger forming an X between both fingers (the index and pinkie).

Step 5: Using this loop – only once – wrap another loop between your ring and middle fingers passing over into going back down below around index finger (indicative and bottommost areas) in continued side-by-side fashion though space separating them continuing

Once you’ve followed these steps, you should have a comfortable grip on the thread that will allow for proper tension when working on continental knitting. Remember always to keep the movement of untangled yarn while keeping distance constant ice with both fingers beginning stitches. If you feel that your tension is too tight or too loose, you can adjust accordingly by either wrapping or unwrapping more tension around your pinky finger.

Final Thoughts

Holding yarn correctly for continental knitting is crucial for any knitwear artist. It may take some time to get used to this technique, but once you do, it will result in faster and more comfortable knitting. Remember, everyone has their unique way of holding the yarn, and there is no right or wrong technique as long as the outcome is satisfactory to you.

Take your time to experiment with different ways of holding the yarn until you find what works best for you. With practice and patience, continental knitting will become second nature, and you’ll be able to create stunning pieces with ease. So grab your yarn and needles and give continental knitting a try – who knows, it could become your new favorite technique!

What is Continental Knitting?

Continental knitting is a method of knitting that involves holding the yarn in your left hand. Also known as European or German knitting, this style is commonly used in countries such as Germany, Austria, and Scandinavia. It has gained popularity in recent years due to its efficiency and speed compared to traditional English-style knitting.

One of the main differences between continental and English knitting is how the yarn is held to create the stitches. In continental knitting, the yarn is draped over the left index finger and tension is created by wrapping the yarn around your pinky finger. This allows for a more fluid movement of the hands while creating stitches.

Why Learn Continental Knitting?

There are several reasons why you should consider learning continental knitting. First and foremost, it can help improve your speed and efficiency when knitting. The motions involved in this style of knitting are more natural and fluid compared to English-style knitting. This means you can create stitches at a quicker pace which can be particularly beneficial when working on larger projects.

Additionally, continental knitting can also reduce hand and wrist strain since there is less movement required compared to other styles. This makes it an ideal option for those with hand or wrist injuries or conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome.

Furthermore, many knitters find that continental knitting allows for better tension control, resulting in more even stitches throughout their projects. The way the yarn is held also makes it easier to switch between knit and purl stitches, making more intricate stitch patterns easier to achieve.

How To Hold Yarn For Continental Knitting

To hold the yarn for continental knitting, follow these steps:

1. Start by threading your working yarn through your left-hand index finger from front to back.
2. Allow the yarn to drape over your index finger.
3. Wrap the yarn around your pinky finger once or twice to create tension.
4. The remaining yarn should be held between your middle and ring fingers.
5. Rest your hand on your knitting project, with your index finger lightly touching the needle.
6. Use your right hand to hold the working needle and create stitches.

It may take some time to adjust to this new way of holding yarn, but with practice, it will become second nature.

Common Mistakes To Avoid

When first learning continental knitting, it’s common to make a few mistakes. Here are some of the most common mistakes and how to avoid them:

– Yarn tension: One of the biggest concerns for beginners is maintaining consistent yarn tension. Make sure to wrap the yarn around your pinky finger tightly enough to create tension but not too tight that it hinders movement.
– Using too much hand movement: The key to efficient continental knitting is minimal hand movement. Try to keep your left hand relaxed and let the needle do most of the work.
– Holding yarn too tightly: It can be tempting to hold onto the yarn tightly, especially if you’re worried about dropping stitches. However, this can create uneven tension and make it difficult to slide stitches along the needle.
– Poor posture: Make sure you’re sitting in a comfortable position with good posture while knitting. Hunching over or holding your hands too close can affect your speed and lead to strain on your neck and shoulders.

Tips For Mastering Continental Knitting

1. Practice makes perfect: As with any new skill, practice is key. Spend some time getting comfortable with holding the yarn and creating stitches before starting a project.
2. Experiment with different needles: Some knitters find that using circular needles or shorter straight needles makes continental knitting easier due to less weight being held in their left hand.
3. Use larger needles: When first learning continental knitting, using larger needles can make it easier to see your stitches and adjust your tension.
4. Relax: As mentioned, keeping your left hand relaxed is crucial for efficient continental knitting. If you find yourself tensing up, take a break and stretch your hands.
5. Watch videos or take a class: While written instructions can be helpful, watching someone else knit continental style can be even more beneficial. Look for online tutorials or consider taking a class to improve your technique.

Continental knitting is an excellent technique to have in your knitting repertoire. It offers several benefits such as improved speed and efficiency, reduced hand strain, and better tension control. While it may take some practice to get the hang of, the results are well worth it. So grab some yarn and needles, follow our tips, and start mastering continental knitting today!

Q: What is continental knitting?
A: Continental knitting is a technique of holding and tensioning yarn in the left hand while using the right hand to control the needles, as opposed to the traditional English or throwing method where the yarn is held in the right hand.

Q: What are the advantages of continental knitting?
A: Continental knitting can be faster and more efficient as it requires less movement of your hands and wrists. It also creates a more even tension, resulting in a neater and denser fabric.

Q: How do I hold yarn for continental knitting?
A: Hold the working yarn between your index finger and middle finger, with your palm facing up. The yarn should run over or under your pinky depending on your preferred style. Keep the tension by lightly wrapping the yarn around your pinky.

Q: How do I create a stitch using continental knitting?
A: Insert your needle into the first stitch on your left needle from front to back. Use your right index finger to wrap the working yarn around the right needle counter-clockwise. Pull this loop through to form a new stitch.

Q: Is there a specific way to hold my needles when practicing continental knitting?
A: There is no right or wrong way to hold your needles, as long as it feels comfortable and allows you to move them easily. Some people prefer to hold their needles like chopsticks while others may use a pencil grip.

Q: Can I switch between continental and English style knitting?
A: Yes, it is possible to switch between different knitting styles if you’re comfortable with both methods. You can even combine techniques like holding one color in each hand for stranded colorwork projects. Experiment and find what works best for you!

In conclusion, learning how to hold yarn while practicing continental knitting can greatly enhance the speed, efficiency, and comfort of the knitting process. The key factors to consider are holding the yarn in the left hand with a loose tension, maintaining a consistent wrapping motion, and finding a grip that feels natural and comfortable for individual preferences. By mastering this technique, knitters can achieve smooth and even stitches while also preventing hand fatigue.

Additionally, properly holding the yarn in continental knitting allows for easier switching between knit and purl stitches, making more complex patterns and techniques easier to execute. This method also lends itself to creating finer gauge projects due to the tighter tension it allows for.

It is important to note that there is no one correct way to hold yarn in continental knitting – what works for one person may not work for another. Experimenting with different grips and finding what feels most comfortable is crucial. With practice and patience, knitters can find their own unique style of holding yarn that enhances their knitting experience.

Moreover, learning how to hold yarn while practicing continental knitting opens up a whole new world of knitting possibilities. It allows for faster work on larger projects as well as greater control over tension and stitch consistency. With dedication and perseverance, beginners can become skilled at this technique in no time.


Author Profile

Jill Nammar
My name is Jill but everyone calls me Jilly. I design original cross stitch patterns inspired by vintage French and flowers. Roses are my muse.
I hope you have a cozy time stitching my patterns. Put the kettle on, relax and create a heartwarming piece of hand-embroidered art. Personalize your home and turn up the soulful charm with soulful stitchery.

My goal is to provide you with pretty patterns that promote peaceful stitching. My wish is for you to discover the gentle beauty of hand-embroidery.My patterns have been featured around the web and in Homespun Magazine and Boston Magazine. I find my bliss in cross stitch.

From 2024, I have embarked on a new venture—writing an informative blog on the “Embroidery and Cross-Stitch” niche. This blog is an extension of my passion, where I share detailed posts and respond to queries related to embroidery and cross-stitching.

The blog covers a wide range of topics from beginner tips, pattern creation, historical insights, and the therapeutic benefits of stitching. My goal is to build a community where enthusiasts can learn, share, and grow in their embroidery skills, ensuring everyone can find their own bliss in cross-stitch just as I did.

Thank you to all my customers and readers who have supported Sew French. Your kind emails, photos of completed patterns, and continual encouragement fuel my dedication to this beautiful craft. Join me in stitching a world of beauty and peace, one pattern at a time.