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What is Continental Knitting?

When I’m teaching new knitters, I notice that a lot of them get caught up in the terms for the different styles of knitting. What is continental knitting? What is throwing? And which one is better?

Do what’s most comfortable

When I teach beginning knitters, I don’t tell them anything about how to hold the yarn. I let them do what’s most comfortable. Most folks intuitively grab the needles and yarn in the way that works best for them!

What is Continental Knitting?

‘Continental Knitting’ refers to holding your yarn in your non-dominant hand. For right-handers, that means holding (and tensioning) the yarn with your left hand.

Continental knitting from FreshStitches

It’s called this because it’s thought to be the style of knitting most popular on ‘the continent’ of Europe (as opposed to England), but I’ve spoken to a number of international knitters that reveal this generalization isn’t completely accurate. The finer-grained truth is that there are a variety of knitting cultures (with their preferred yarn-holding styles) within Europe… but that’s a whole ‘nother blog post!

I made you a video so that you can see me knitting ‘Continental’:

Most crocheters knit this way, as they are used to tensioning their yarn in their non-dominant hand.

What is Throwing?

Throwing refers to the action of moving the hand holding the yarn around your dominant knitting needle. It is most commonly used with ‘English’ knitting (where you hold your yarn in your dominant hand), but not necessarily.

Throwing in knitting
Throwing in knitting

Most people consider this to be a slower method of knitting… but let me tell you, I know some throwers who make my continental knitting look like it’s happening at a snail’s pace!

I made a little video of me throwing. I’m a bit slower at it because it’s not my usual style!

And more…

There are all kinds of styles of knitting that describe how you hold your hands and where you hold your yarn. We’ve only scratched the surface!

And there is no ‘best’ technique! Each style takes practice and suits different knitters!

However, if you want to do stranded knitting (colorwork), then you’ll probably want to learn both of these techniques for faster two-handed knitting.


  1. Luna SAYS...

    It’s funny you talk about this, the other weekend, while I was standing at my market stall a lady watched the way I crocheted. I was just chaining to use later in a necklace, something easy that didn’t require concentration and that I could put down and pick up without any fuss. She was intrigued at my method and said she crocheted completely differently. I do feel like a clumsy crocheter but love love love making stuff.

  2. I’ve always been a thrower, but my mother in law who taught me to knit does it continental. She’s always been a big advocate of doing what works for you and I agree. It’s easy to get so worked up on doing things the “right way” that you just get frustrated and give up.

    • So true, Rebecca! And hobbies shouldn’t be stressful!

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