English or continental knitting style? Which is the best?

English or continental knitting style? Which is the best?

Christelle ABC's knitting, Resources Leave a Comment

If you’re a fan of Ravelry, social networks, Youtube tutorial videos, you’ve probably already seen the English knitting vs. continental knitting debate.

Is it really faster to knit continental style? Do you need to revise your knitting style? Will you get any benefit from it?

In this article, I present the different ways of knitting and their benefits. And I’ll end by telling you what I think about them.

English or continental knitting style? Which is the best?

English or continental knitting style? Which is the best?
1. English or Continental knitting, flicking, lifting, throwing etc. but not only

In this article, I will present you different ways of knitting but it will not be exhaustive because there are a multitude of ways to knit even if the two most classic are English style knitting and Continental style knitting. And these methods are mainly distinguished by the way they hold the yarn. This is what I will detail in this article.

But of course, it is not only the way of holding the yarn that can change the way of knitting. Here are some less known examples:

1.1. The was you mount your stitches

Surprisingly, it is not only the way the yarn is held that has an impact on the knitting method and this I discovered as I was giving classes or asking questions.

I discovered that some people were knitting their stitches as if they were knitting them through the back loop. So instead of having one stitch oriented front to back and right to left – Western Stitches Mount in English, this stitch was oriented front to back and left to right or Eastern Stitches Mount.
You’d think that would have an impact on the explanations given to make, for example, a decrease or a twisted stitch.

Western Mount
Eastern Mount

If this is the case, you will have to adapt the patterns because the majority of the patterns are written for and by people who use the Western Mount method.

1.2. Right to left or left to right knitting

In the video on the history of knitting (in French), I told you about the history of knitting and why most people knit from right to left.

But there are some people who knit from left to right. Besides this can be used to avoid turning your work that is pretty useful if you make interlac knitting for example – it’s called backwards or reverse knitting.

This makes it very difficult to read the patterns since everything is reversed! For example, a Make One Left (M1L) will become a Make One Right (M1R).

2. English or Continental knitting, flicking, lever, throwing … the heart of the matter
2.1. English Style Knitting

English knitting is probably the more classic way to knit here in Belgium and France.

The yarn is held in the right hand and you “throw” the thread (“throwing”).

In fact, it is often said that you make a Toad Jump when you let go of the yarn to pass it between the two needles.

2.2. Continental Style Knitting

Continental knitting often refers to holding the yarn in the left hand (i.e. the hand opposite the needle that picks up the stitches). We can say that you “pick” the thread or picking.

This style of knitting is also known as German style knitting. This style originated in Continental Europe, specifically recognized in Germany and began to spread to the surrounding countries in the early 19th century. It was revived in the United States and England by Elizabeth Zimmerman.

This style of knitting is particularly fashionable at the time because it is considered to be faster, which is not necessarily the case.

2.3. Portuguese Knitting Style

This method is particularly common in Portugal but also in the Balkans.

And its great peculiarity lies in the fact that you manage the tension of the thread by placing the thread around your neck and securing it with a safety pin.

2.4. Irish Cottage Knitting Style

This style is very similar to the English Style with some differences: the needle is held between the thumb and the index finger which serve as a pivot to move the needle.

The needle is held like a pen, which is not the case in other knitting methods. Irish Cottage Knitting is considered one of the fastest methods for knitting.

There are also other styles of knitting specific to certain regions such as the Shetland Islands style, Russian style knitting, Norwegian style knitting.

3. Conclusion

There are a multitude of ways to knit, whether you are left-handed or right-handed, whether you have acquired small coping strategies over time, whether you come from a particular region, etc.

In conclusion, I cannot say that there is ONE method of knitting that is better than another. The best method is the one that suits you and it is the one that will allow you to improve your skills, speed, fluidity and tension. The fastest knitters in the world all use different methods.

So don’t force yourself to change your method if you don’t feel like it or don’t feel the need! The way you approach knitting is something very personal; whether it is slow, medium or fast, whether it is English or Russian, the way you knit is up to you and most important is that YOU enjoy it.

I hope this article has given you some information about some of the ways of knitting in the World.

If you would like to share comments and feedback, please feel free to do so below.

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See you soon,


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