Now that you’ve learned how to cast on your stitches, how about learn how to knit and purl those stitches, eh?
Knitting is made up of knit stitches and purl stitches, and just like with crochet, you can hold the yarn in your left hand or you can hold the yarn in your right hand. The difference with knitting is that the stitches themselves and the direction in which you knit do not change with how you hold your yarn.
I’ve come across several conversation threads where crocheters are learning to knit and were searching for left-handed knitting vs. right-handed knitting…nope, knitting is funny that way…the stitches are the same no matter what.
Choosing how to hold your yarn is a matter of comfort or preference. I’m teaching you about this one first, because it’s the trickiest and takes longest to master. I will say this: those speed demon knitters use this style of knitting. So you’ll be a fast knitter once you master this technique!
What is Continental Knitting?
Continental knitting, also known as German or European Knitting, is a style of knitting in which the yarn is held in the left hand and the right hand uses the knitting needle to work the stitches. You can be left- or right-handed to knit this way, so it’s kinda misleading to call it left-handed knitting (read: just don’t call it that…LOL).
What you’ll need:
- Yarn (of course) – In the video below, I used Vanna’s Choice yarn. It’s 100% acrylic and one of the softer wallet-friendly yarns that I like to use for projects.
- Knitting Needles – Choose the needles suggested by the label on your yarn. For this demonstration, I used US 9 circular needles (beginners, use straight needles – they come in a package of two with nothing connecting the two needles). You will need both of your knitting needles.
- Patience – It’ll take some time to learn how to knit and usually I took an entire 2-hour class period for teaching my students how to master the stitches. Don’t get frustrated, every one takes quite a few tries before they get it.
Before you start…
Cast on a good 24 stitches or so using the long-tail cast on method I taught you.
Watch the video (and subscribe to my YouTube Channel)
In the video I started out with some stitches already worked, so that it was easier for you to see what I’m doing. The long-tail cast on actually knits on some stitches for you anyway, so it’s like a bonus row already done for you.
You will need to hold the needle with all your cast on stitches in your left hand. The tension on the working yarn is kept by using your left finger as demonstrated in the video.
- Hold your yarn in back (behind the needle).
- Insert right needle from front to back.
- Grab the working yarn with your right needle. Remember, the working yarn is the yarn that is connected to the yarn ball. Make sure you are not grabbing the tail from where you cast on your stitches.
- Use the needle in you right hand to pull that working yarn through the stitch to the front.
- Complete the stitch by using the right hand needle to pull the loop you started with off the left needle. The working yarn loop that you pulled to the front is now on your right needle.
Congratulations! You’ve knit your first stitch. Keep practicing that knit stitch for a couple of rows until you get the hang of it.
When you get to the end of a row, all your loops are on your right needle. Take that needle and move it to your left hand with the tip facing toward the right, like how you started the row.
Once you feel like you are ready, try the purl stitch (in the same video).
- Your yarn is held in front for a purl stitch (in front of the needle). Uh oh! What the bleep does that mean?! At the beginning of a row, it’s easy, just swing your yarn to the front. If you’re in the middle of a row, bring the yarn to the front in between your two needles NOT over the top of either needle (that will create yarn over, which means extra loops, and your project will start to grow…you don’t want that).
- Insert your right needle from right to left. Check out the different angles of my video in order to see what that looks like.
- Use the right needle to wrap the working yarn around. This is the tricky part. Watch this section of the video many times. Yes, it’s that important. To be honest, I have a hard time describing this part in a written fashion. You may think to yourself, “but if I just grab the yarn with the needle and pull it through the back, that’s easier!” Unfortunately, if you do it that way, your stitch is twisted and it is not a proper purl stitch. Use your left finger to help wrap the yarn and stabilize it.
- Once your working yarn is wrapped properly, pull that loop out through the back (as shown in the video). Like with the knit stitch, use the right hand needle to pull the loop you started with off the left needle. The working yarn loop that you pulled to the front is now on your right needle.
You did it! You can knit!
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