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So You Want to Try a New Knitting Style…

All of us — even those of us who knit the same style — have our own way of knitting. And guess what? As long as that way isn’t causing you a lot of pain, then it’s the right way to knit.

But sometimes it can be fun to experiment with a new knitting style!

Knitting With Gray Yarn

Maybe you’re experiencing some wrist pain and can’t knit for long periods of time like you used to, or maybe you’re just in the mood to try something new. You might want to knit faster, or you might want to change your style to try and get gauge on a project.

No matter your reason for trying a new style, let’s talk about how you can approach it. Grab your needles and a skein of your favorite swatching yarn.

We’ll be comparing the knit stitch in three styles: English, Continental and Portuguese.

Note, too, that each style has slight variations that you can try, like how you hold the yarn in your hand for tension. There’s a lot to experiment with!

The main thing to keep in mind with all the styles is that you’ll need to practice a bit for it to feel natural. Don’t give up right away just because it feels awkward.

If you want to try Continental-style knitting…

If you’re an English-style knitter, your right hand does most of the work. For Continental, the left hand is going to take over.

Don’t worry if your dominant hand is your right hand; you’ll still be able to stitch using this style. Portuguese-style knitters will be a little more familiar with the left hand pitching in!

Continental style knitting

The way you hold your needles for Continental style is pretty similar to English style, except that you use your left hand to hold the yarn. When you’re ready to wrap the yarn around the needle, guide your right needle so that it “picks” the yarn you’re holding in the left hand. 

Some knitters find that this swift “pick” of the right needle makes knitting go a lot faster. Try it out and see if that’s the case for you!

Continental Knitting class

Give Continental a Try!

Join Lorilee Beltman in one of our most popular classes and learn the ins and outs of continental knitting.Learn More

If you want to try English-style knitting…

Continental knitters let the left hand do the work of wrapping the yarn around the needle to form each stitch, and Portuguese-style knitters use the left hand to help get that flicking motion. English-style knitters, however, use the right hand to wrap the yarn around the needle.

English-style knitting

Hold the needles the same as you would for Continental knitting, except you’ll hold the yarn in your right hand. Place your left thumb just below the stitch you’re going to knit so that you can get a grip on the needle. (Just be sure you don’t place your fingers right on top of the stitch you’re getting ready to knit. Just below it is ideal.)

English-style knitting

When you’re ready to make a knit stitch, use the right hand to “throw” the yarn over the needle.

Continental knitters might not find this to be as fast as their usual style, but notice that the right yarn never leaves the right hand. Keep that in mind and you might just find that this style is more efficient than you thought.

Startup LIbrary Knitting

Try Your Hand at English Style

Learn English-style knitting basics from Susan B. Anderson in our beginner’s knitting class.Learn More

If you want to try Portuguese-style knitting…

Portuguese style is very different from Continental and English style. That’s because you’re not only holding your yarn differently, but you’re also forming the stitches differently.

The first thing you’ll need to do is decide whether you want to use a pin or wrap the yarn around your neck. Both are totally acceptable for this style.

Portuguese knitting style

The unique step in Portuguese-style knitting — aside from the way the yarn wraps around your neck or through the pin — is the way you insert the needle into the stitch. Instead of inserting the needle from front to back, insert it just into the front so that the right needle rests on top of the left needle, as shown above.

Portuguese knitting style

Then, with a small flick of the left thumb, wrap the yarn so that it comes between the two needles.

Portuguese knitting style

Pivot the needle to pull the loop through, using your thumb to keep the tension in the working yarn.

Totally different than the two other styles, right? At first this style feels odd, but thanks to those small movements like the flick of the thumb, you might find that it’s easier than your usual style.

Portugese Knitting Class

Give Portuguese Knitting a Go

Try this unusual knitting style with guidance from expert Andrea Wong.Learn More

If you try different styles and they’re just not for you, that’s OK! Sometimes it’s just fun to experiment and change things up. If you do like one of the styles, though, you might even considering switching or rotating it with your go-to style.

Which style do you knit? Have you ever tried any other styles? Did you like them?

3 Comments

Jean M. Peterson

Hello! For years I knitted English style. I was REQUIRED to learn to knit Continental in order to take a Michael’s in person class. What a hoot. I gave it a try and I love it. Much faster and more comfortable. My fingers even found a way to modify it even better for comfort.

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Krista

I switched from English to Continental style, and I’m so much happier with it! I learned to crochet first, and the style I learned for that feels similar to Continental.

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