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Learn Continental Knitting!

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What is continental knitting and why should you learn it?

Continental knitting is a form of knitting which is widely practiced in continental Europe, Russia, parts of the USA and many other countries around the world. The main difference to English knitting is that the yarn is held in the left hand, not the right hand, and that the knitting movement resembles crochet.

So why should you learn to knit continental style? As it turns out, there are actually a number of very good reasons why continental knitting deserves more attention in English-speaking countries:

  • Speed: Continental knitting is a lot faster than traditional English knitting. The movements made in continental knitting are more efficient and there are fewer movements to make. As a result, continental knitters tend to be about 3 times as fast as English knitters, notwithstanding the fact that very seasoned English knitters can be very fast, too!
  • Ease of learning: If you know how to crochet but have never learnt how to knit, you will find learning continental knitting a lot easier to learn.
  • Less risk of pain and strain: Because the overall movements in continental knitting are more efficient than in English knitting and both hands move together, there is far less risk of repetitive strain on your wrists or elbows than with English style knitting. 
  • And if you know both styles of knitting, you can combine them when knitting fair isle by running one yarn over the right hand and the other over the left hand. 

The history of continental knitting and why it is less well known in Australia and other English speaking countries goes back to World War II. Continental knitting, sometimes also referred to as "German Knitting" or "Speed Knitting", was first developed in central Europe, most likely in Germany. In the early 19th century, it spread from Germany to other continental European countries. However, in the wake of World War II and the rejection of all things German as a reaction to Germany's aggression during the 1930s and 1940s, continental style knitting lost favour in English-speaking countries. 

Elizabeth Zimmermann, whose wonderful book "Knitting without tears" I reviewed in an earlier blog post, is credited with re-introducing continental knitting to the United States in the 1970s.

In Japan, the continental style tends to be more popular, in China, the English style is more dominant. In other countries around the world, including Portugal, Greece, Turkey, Bolivia and Peru, continental knitting is the dominant practice. 

In the UK and in Australia, English knitting is the traditional way to knit, although interest in continental knitting is starting to pick up. In fact, I have spoken to many people who have asked me about it and are keen to learn it!

I looked for good online resources that would teach continental knitting. There are plenty of free youtube videos available and it is always worth having a look at those. Unfortunately, as youtube videos can be made and uploaded by just about anybody, the instructions are sometimes a bit haphazard and maybe also not entirely reliable. 

Learn Continental Knitting with Craftsy

If you are serious about learning continental knitting or find out why it's worth learning, you may consider the following Craftsy class:

Knit Faster With Continental Knitting

Good luck with learning continental knitting! I promise the effort is worth your while.

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