What is your style?

I was privileged to attend a class at my local yarn store (The Sheep Shop) on Saturday. I say privileged because without Joanne it would totally have passed me by. The class was run by the lovely Gillian and was all about different styles of knitting. It was really interesting. Also quite intense. 3 hours of concentrated knitting. You know the sort….learning something new for the first time concentrated.

To set the scene – I knit in the traditional English or cottage style where you hold the yarn in your right hand and ‘throw’ the yarn over the needle. Having thought about it I suppose it is quite a clumsy style but it was the one I was taught and, until recently I haven’t thought anymore about it. Then I met Joanne who is very interested about finding the most efficient way to knit (well it is her job!).

Image result for cottage style of knitting

Throwing the yarn with the right hand .Source

We started off with looking at the continental style of knitting (Swedish if you live in France!). This is different to my style because you hold the yarn in the left hand. As I do this for crochet this was not too hard a step for me. It also wasn’t too hard because I had actually done this, with my left hand, when doing stranded knitting:


This is what I made – my first ever piece of stranded knitting. When I made this I had the grey in my right hand as I always do and the coloured yarn in my left.

This time I only had one strand of yarn and it was in my left.

Image result for continental style of knittingSource

With this style of knitting you sort of manipulate the needle around the yarn rather than the other way around.


I really like this style and found the knit stitch to be really fast. Then came the pearl. This seemed a lot harder and took a bit to get my head around it. I did get there in the end but so far it is not as quick as the knit version.

We then moved onto a stitch called Norwegian Pearl. Again the yarn is held in the left hand. It is a way of doing a pearl stitch keeping the yarn at the back of the work. For anyone who has done 1by1 rib you will know how amazingly useful this will be. No more switching forward and back between each stitch! I liked this,  as again it meant more manipulating of the needle rather than the yarn around the needle.

Next came a style of knitting that (I think) originates from Shetland. It involves a special pouch that you put one of your (long) needles into. This keeps it still and  means that you don’t really have to hold this needle as such.

Image result for Shetland knitting beltSource

The idea behind this is that you work really close to the end  of the needles and simply flick the yarn over the end of the needle. It is meant to be really, really quick. Not for me however. There was one lady on the course who had back problems and she thought that this style of knitting would really help her.

Finally we were introduced to Portuguese style knitting. Joanne thought that this style of knitting might come across as a bit pretentious as you loop the yarn around your neck (or attach it to a pin).


You hold the tensionin the right hand and the use your thumb to flick the yarn around the needle. Rib is also easy as you change the position of the yarn with a flick of the thumb. I did find that my knitting ended up getting closer and closer to my face as I forgot to pull the yarn around but I am sure that is just a beginner’s mistake.

Which style will I adopt? Probably a mixture. As I have been playing around a bit more I got quicker at the continental pearl but the Portuguese style was one where I could do without looking quite quickly. A good test as I like to be able to knit without looking as it means I can do it during car journeys. I have the yarn for a cardigan so will let you know which I choose to make this. It will be one of the new versions as it seems like the perfect opportunity.

Which style were you taught to knit in?


27 thoughts on “What is your style?

  1. salpal1

    the Shetland one had me laughing. My mother learned to knit when very pregnant. She poked the needle into her stomach to secure it. No wonder I came out knitting! She still prefers to not hold onto her right needle, but poke it into anything that will hold it. I’ll have to see about getting her one of those contraptions!

  2. travellinghopefully

    I think I’m nearest to Shetland – I’m a bit wonky and have never held a pen properly (my toddler has a better pen grip than me I’m ashamed to say) so am a bit of a ‘pit knitter’. Took me a while to get the hang of dpn’s and circulars where there’s nothing to tuck in!

  3. Gallivanta

    When I knit, which is rarely, I use the English Cottage style. I always thought the continental style would be quicker but I haven’t tried it. Haven’t really had a need to be quick. 😦

    1. knitnrun4sanity Post author

      Gillian also said that we knit for enjoyment which is true but there are so many awesome things to make out there. Also some patterns are gorgeous but have long bits of repetitive bits. I never have enough time for anything!

  4. helen

    I can only knit ‘English’ style. I have only recently heard of the continental style when I was looking on youtube recently trying to learn a stitch. I like the idea of the continental being quicker but will probably stick with my tried and tested way.

    1. knitnrun4sanity Post author

      I was the same until I had a try. I am coming to realise that with crafts I am always wanting to challenge myself…..not sure why because my life is busy enough! 😉

  5. jodiebodie

    Thanks for this explanation. The Shetland style is new to me. I have been searching for the style of knitting that my mother originally taught me when I was a girl and lost in the dim corners of the memory banks. My first a-ha moment was when I learned that her way of doing things was ‘continental’ but on closer inspection, noticed the stitch style was not quite the same…but you have mentioned ‘Norwegian purl’. Maybe that is the point of difference between all the ‘continental’ instructions I have seen so far and my mother’s method. I know that when I find the right instructions, my fingers’ muscle memory from long ago will sing ‘Yes!’ Thanks for helping me on my quest!

  6. *Wisher*

    OMG.. i didn’t realized that there were so many styles in kniting. thank you for sharing with us this valuable knowledge Alice.. and looking at the picture I think i’ve been doing the “English” style. Will check out the continental style of knitting. 😉

  7. tgonzales

    I learned to knit English style. I have tried to knit continental since I am such a crocheter, but I find that my stitches twist. I really need to take a class on how to knit continental because it is so much like crochet. Thanks for the inspiration.

    1. knitnrun4sanity Post author

      I had this. You need to make sure you move the needle in an anti clockwise way (I think! Hard to think when you haven’t to it in front of you.) Taking a class is always fun anyway!

  8. feelgoodknitting

    I started out in the traditional English style – it’s what I was taught as a kid. Somewhere along the way I’ve switched to primarily Continental knitting though, except when I’m knitting two handed.

      1. feelgoodknitting

        Marginally, if you’ve done it enough for the motions to become natural. Unless you’re doing some serious production deadline knitting though, I don’t think it’s faster enough (now there’s a weird sounding phrase) to be worth forcing if you’re already quick with another style.

  9. Pingback: So what about the tension? | knitnrun4sanity

  10. garnharmoni

    Really interesting to compare the styles! I do the continental as I was taught to knit by my Swedish mum and now living here in Sweden and at knitting school I seem to blend in with the majority. 😉 We have just started “Tvåändsstickning” which literally means “two-ended (double sided) knitting.” It is a whole new technique that I am just trying to get the hang of and the yarn stays in the right hand (and I am used to the left!) and yarn is wrapped around the needle a bit like the throwing technique perhaps. I will try to do an update on my blog with pictures some day!
    Happy New Year to you! Good luck with the training! /Christina

    1. knitnrun4sanity Post author

      OOO I like the sound of your double sided knitting. I have tried the sort where you hold 2 different colours in different hands and I really liked this method. Do please post piccies when you have the time.


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