A Plug and Some Random Knitting Thoughts

First and foremost, I need to share this with you: if you are not familiar with GG of GGmadeit.com then please, take a moment and go check her site out. She’s a knitter/crocheter, blogger and etsy shop owner who has just launched her own comprehensive site. I SHOULD wait until after her swag bag giveaway so I don’t decrease my own chances of winning, but I won’t do that (I like you guys too much). I think her blog speaks to me because she talks about how yarn and knitting have changed her life and helped her get through some hard stuff, and that’s pretty much what I’m all about. So yes, go look and give her some love if you feel so inclined. I promise I won’t delete this post while you’re gone*.

Okay, on to the random knitting thoughts. While sitting at a coffee shop this morning, having a coffee and doing some knitting, the person at the table next to me commented and we started chatting a little bit. She did some casual knitting for a while and, being European, first learned continental knitting. We talked a little about the differences and I remembered how in college I switched to continental for a while. I got pretty quick with it but then went through a little knitting hiatus. When I picked the needles back up, I went back to my old throwing ways. Since then I’ve become more of a flicker than a thrower, mostly because I tend to work with smaller needles and yarn these days and it’s just easier. 

I looked at the project on my lap, my Sunshine Shawl, and realized it would be an easy, forgiving project to try switching on. Fogknits, I read on your blog the other day that you successfully made the switch so I know it’s possible. I just don’t know if it’s practical, especially now when I have a holiday knitting list a mile long. I’ll probably be going back to work soonish and my knitting time will be limited. Would it make sense to slow myself down so much while getting used to a new style?

Also, I read a post a while ago (sorry, have forgotten the blogger) about someone who switched from continental to cottage style (search that and “yarn harlot” on YouTube for some fascinating videos) due to pain from repetitive stress injury. If I switched to continental would I later have to switch to something else? How many people develop strain from continental style? More importantly, how exactly do you consistently tension the yarn with your left hand? Need to know, knitters…need to know. 

I tried a few knit stitches. My left hand flopped around awkwardly and my right needle stabbed at the working yarn like a budding serial killer. I could get better at it but it would probably be a long path. 

So what do you all think? Switch, or don’t mess with a decent thing? Switch now or after gift knitting is done (if it’s ever done)?

*Disclaimer about this and all plugs on my blog: my opinion has not been solicited or coerced in any way, and I’m not receiving any compensation unless I happen to be lucky enough to win the giveaway!



  1. bonnyknits · October 7, 2015

    I say, if your current style is working for you, don’t mess with it! Especially with lots of holiday knitting coming up. I learned to knit continental and can’t imagine switching. I don’t think I could explain how I tension my yarn: it goes around my pinkie, over and under and then over my index finger. It’s the same way I learned to tension the yarn for crochet. The only strain I notice is in my elbows when I knit for long periods of time, but that’s more about a tendency to develop tendonitis than knitting. Now, I have to go see about winning a swag bag…

    Liked by 1 person

    • alexand knits · October 7, 2015

      Split it with me if you win??? Just kidding (sort of…who doesn’t “need” more yarn?)!

      Even during the time I knit continental, I never really could get comfortable with the yarn tensioning. Everyone seems to have a complicated wrapping pattern and it just made my fingers cramp! When I hold the yarn in my right hand, I tension it between my thumb and forefinger. Much easier than keeping my left pinkie crimped in just the right way for long periods of time! Maybe it’s because I was never a crocheter and never learned to hold yarn that way.

      I’m inclined to think you’re right though. I’m reasonably quick with my current method and, until my back heals a good bit more, I will continue to be off work and have some time for gift knitting.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Paula @ Spin a Yarn · October 7, 2015

    Thanks so much for the blog! I’ve subscribed and can’t wait to check it out πŸ™‚ I am also a thrower / flicker and tried continental. I thought it would be easier for me as I am also a crocheter; however it never worked for me. I say go with what you know for the holidays and then try to pick it up at a later time…if you still feel like it πŸ™‚ It’s hard enough learning something new when you are in the mode of holiday knitting!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. polwygle · October 7, 2015

    I would recommend, based on my own experience, not learning a new style of knitting mid-project or else you may end up with an unsightly row or two of twisted stitches. 😯 I still mostly knit continental but it’s surprising how useful my arsenal of knitting knowledge is becoming. Have fun figuring it out your own way.

    Liked by 2 people

    • alexand knits · October 7, 2015

      Yeah, that’s a good thought. I’d probably be best off knitting a bunch of swatches to learn instead of potentially wrecking a perfectly good project, but it kinda galls me to knit something I know I’m just going to pull out. We’ll see!


  4. Andrea @ This Knitted Life · October 7, 2015

    I knit continental and can’t help but think this is superior over all my non-continental knitting girlfriends in some sort of snooty way. Bad me. Oh how I snub my nose.
    I have never heard of cottage style…will have to investigate. Sounds intriguing.

    I saw switch for sure.

    Liked by 1 person

    • alexand knits · October 7, 2015

      I will admit to a degree of “continental envy” so I think you’re justified up there on your high horse! Do check out cottage knitting, though. It’s ridiculous and might just blow your snootiness out of the water!


  5. Midnight Knitter · October 7, 2015

    I knit continental and I think it is really easier on my hands. I tension by wrapping the yarn around my index finger once or twice. It will be slow at first, but the speed later on will make it pay off. Here’s the best part: you can knit fair isle with a color in each hand once you know both ways! This explains why I can knit (but not purl) with my right hand. πŸ™‚ Lately I learned how to knit backwards for bobble knitting through the magic of youtube. Maybe one of the continental knitting videos there will speak to you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • alexand knits · October 7, 2015

      I have heard that fair isle is great that way. I haven’t delved into it yet but it’s on my list of things to do. I’ve done a smidge of intarsia but not much colorwork otherwise.

      Backwards knitting sounds awesome but I’m afraid if forget how to purl…I might never do it again!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. wolfberryknits · October 7, 2015

    I’m a British style knitter too although I can do both, I much prefer throwing as I personally find it easier on my hands which have inflammatory arthritis, I find the motion puts less pressure on the individual finger joints? But obviously given the other comments, everyone has a different experience πŸ™‚ …I think the speed is much the same and it’s handy to know both, but stick with the one you love πŸ™‚ ❀

    Liked by 2 people

    • Maggienesium · October 9, 2015

      Excellent point! It might just be best to stick with what’s comfortable if there’s anlotnof knitting going on πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Stefanie · October 8, 2015

    I learned continental first. Sometimes my hand does get tired b/c of constant knitting. I did switch to throwing for some project and it was relaxing, yes slower, but it helped to give me a break

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Maggienesium · October 9, 2015

    I weirdly think that continental is faster. I started knitting in a weird self taught by rid way but have since made the switch, which wasn’t a huge jump since I started with crochet and was used to my left hand dealing with the yarn and the tension. My wrists feel a lot better now, even after long knitting sessions bit my ultimate goal is to switch to Portuguese knitting which I’ve kind of tried and absolutely loved. That won’t happen until next year.
    This is all a really long way of saying: doooo eeeeet! Especially if you’ve got a lot of knitting going on. And now back to my blog, I think you inspired a whole other post πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  9. afthead · October 9, 2015

    I do both and will switch mid project. However, I can only do a knit stitch continental. My brain shuts off if I try to purl. I think this is because I fair isle knit with two hands, throwing one color and picking the other. But if I don’t want a woogy garment with whacked out tension I need to throw and pick with similar tension, so I practice on plain stuff from time to time.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. the desert knitter · October 14, 2015

    Late to the party, but I learned English style as a kid (from my English mom), but I don’t think I ever learned how to tension the yarn properly – I didn’t wind it around my fingers, I just held it between my index finger and thumb. When I got back into knitting I taught myself continental, I can’t really remember why, except that I think I have seen people describe it as both 1) faster and 2) less strain on your hands (though obviously it’s going to vary by the person). I actually found it easier to teach myself to knit continental holding the yarn properly than to change the way I held the yarn English-style (and it’s not meant to say there’s anything wrong with holding the yarn between your thumb/index finger in English style, I’m just much faster and have more even tension when I hold the yarn through my fingers).

    It was actually pretty quick to learn – I think I was making Martina Behm’s 22.5 Degrees, which is lots of garter stitch, so it was easy to practice. But it is probably best not to switch mid-project (unless you just want to see how it works!).

    I am always entranced by the Yarn Harlot’s cottage knitting style, and how fast she is with it (also Hazel Tindall, who is the fastest knitter in the world, who uses a traditional knitting belt). But I feel quick enough with continental that I don’t want to go back and start over again, and it also seems to require straight needles, and I much prefer circulars. (I think you can use circs, but it seems harder to learn that way.)

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Pingback: Tools of the Trade: On Figuring Out Needles, Knitting Style and Yarn Hauls | Project(s) in Progress

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