Continental Knitting Tutorial. The Most Stylish Way of Knitting

continental knitting

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Continental knitting is an easy-to-learn technique that will help you knit faster and more comfortably than ever before. 

If you are looking for a new knitting style, this is the one to try.

With less hand motions and a faster experience, there are many benefits of learning continental knitting.

It’s also easier on your hands than English-style knitting which means that even if you have arthritis or carpal tunnel syndrome, this style might work better for you!

You’ll be able to start your project in no time!

Continental Knitting YouTube Tutorial

Watch the video  and get started with your new skill today! 

In the video I show all styles, but particularly, Norwegian. Also, sharing tips for perfect stockinette.

There are two major methods of knitting from yarn with knitting needles–English and Continental (European or German) methods.

Third is the combined method, where you use both ways of knitting, for example, in two-strand color work.

Some people find it easier to learn English knitting, while others think continental is simpler.

In English-style knitting, the action is throwing the yarn, while in Continental-style knitting, the action is picking the yarn.

If you know how to crochet, Continental method is easier for you because you have practice holding working yarn in left hand. It is all down to a practice!

Being able to knit both ways is also really handy when you’re working with two colors of yarn in the same row.

Could be an interesting read: learn to read knit charts guide. 


Knitting Methods vs. Styles

First, let’s get clear about knitting methods and styles. They are not the same.

Knitting method is a way of holding yarn and knitting needles.

Knitting style is how you hold the yarn, knitting needles, and how you work the stitches in THAT METHOD of knitting.

Continental Knitting Tension

How you maintain yarn tension also comes down to knitting style. There are many ways to tension the yarn. Just to name a few:

  • pinch grip (how I knit – showing in the YouTube video, see above);
  • wrapping working yarn around index finger;
  • Placing the yarn between your left ring and little finger.

There is no right or wrong style – you have to choose what works best for you!

In the picture below, you can see major knitting methods and styles.

Knitting Methods

In this post, I will discuss only Continental method of knitting.  

All knitting methods create same knit and purl stitches. Left leg is is behind the needle and right leg in the front.

Knit and purl stitch
Knit and Purl Stitch Alignment on the Knitting Needle

There are exception when you mix stitch facing in Russian style – I will show you that as well.

In Continental method, there are three knitting styles:

  • Classic;
  • Norwegian;
  • Russian (Eastern).

Every style work purl stitches differently.

Working knit stitches are pretty straightforward in all styles. All have its pros and cons.

Cast on Stitches

Cast on is the same in all continental knitting styles.

I have written separate tutorial on how to cast on stitches. There are five different ways to serve different purpose.  Have a look at them, I will not show them in this tutorial. 

Continental Knitting Styles


The knit stitch is straight forward. 

Working yarn is behind, place knitting needle between left and right leg, grab working yarn (as to pick) and get it through the loop. Release previous stitch from the left-hand needle. You made your first knit stitch!

continental knitting knit stitch

Purl stitch. Working yarn is in FRONT the work. Put the knitting needle purl-wise in the stitch with working yarn in front. Grab working yarn, turning needle clock-wise, pick working yarn. 

Go back through the loop and pull out a new stitch. Release previous stitch from the left-hand needle.

Pros. Stitches facing same direction. If you master Continental style, you use less hand motion and you will knit faster. 

Cons. Purl stitches seem difficult to learn. Move working yarn back and forth between knit and purl stitches. Not really handy when working ribbing.


Knit stitch is same as in classic Continental style.

Purl stitch. Working yarn is BEHIND the work. Put the knitting needle purl-wise in the stitch with working yarn in front, but the index finger holding yarn still is behind. Grab working yarn, turning needle clock-wise. 

Adjust needle down when getting through the loop. Otherwise you will lose it easily. 

Go back through the loop and pull out a new stitch. Release previous stitch from the left-hand needle.

Pros. Great for ribbing or other knit-purl patterns, because working yarn stays at the back all the time. Stitches facing same direction. 

Purl stitch looks cumbersome at first glance. Might be tension problems for beginners because of purl stitches. You will see it in stockinette.

norwegian purl

Russian Style Knitting Method

Knit stitch. There are two knit stitch positions. Right leg in front or back (left leg on the back or front accordingly) It is all due to how you work the purl stitch. Where you did a purl, there will be a knit stitch with right leg behind the needle.

Usually Russian style knitters call it a “grandmother” style, because mother or grandmother taught them this style – an easier way to work purls.

Purl stitch. Initial position as in classic style – working yarn in front of the needle.

Place needle purl-wise. With index finger, move working yarn behind right-hand needle, grab it from left-to-right counter clockwise and get through the loop. Release the new stitch.

If you look at the picture below, you will notice opposite stitch leg alignment. On the right side knit stitch will be facing right leg behind the needle.

russian style purl

Pros. Purl stitch is easier to manage, and it is faster purling.  Fewer tension problems, because purl stitch uses less movement. 

Cons. Knit and purl stitches are facing different. Pay attention by changing stitch facing to a classic position doing increases, decreases and other cable and lace patterns. Moving yarn back and forth for knit and purl stitches – slowing down the work.

Also, many knitters complain about ugly ribbing (specially 1×1) using this method, because of stitch alignment you alternate knitting right and left leg. Those knitters, who know classic purling, usually switch to it when knitting ribbing.

Binding off (Cast off)

Plenty of bind off methods. Easiest of them is simple bind off.

  • Slip the first stitch knit-wise, knit the second stitch, pass slipped stitch over. Continue until you get to the end of the row.
  • Needle bind off – great alternative because finish looks the same as Long tail cast on. 
  • Cast off for sturdy edge. Not widespread, but handy to know.


There is no consensus on which of the methods of knitting yarn is more effective, but most experts still believe that the continental method is more convenient (and, therefore, more effective) – unless, of course, you are left-handed.

The British-born Elizabeth Zimmermann (1910-1999), a world-famous knitter who is an ardent follower of this style, played an important role in popularizing the continental style of knitting (especially in the United States).

Why I call it the most stylish way of knitting? Hand movements resemble dancing. Dancing is fun and healthy. Let’s combine knitting and dancing health benefits.

Continental Knitting Guide

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