How to Knit English Style

Knitting English style (sometimes called throwing) is when you hold the yarn in the right hand. Many people knit this way as their primary knitting style. It’s generally believed that knitting Continental (yarn held in your left hand, or picking) is faster, although almost everyone who wins speed knitting contests knits with the yarn in the right hand, so who knows? I think it’s helpful to know both methods to give your muscles a break; I always have at least two projects going and I try to knit them with different hands. It’s particularly helpful to know how to knit with both hands if you want to do stranded color work (such as this cute sheep hat😉 that way you can hold the two colors of yarn with one in each hand. The information and videos below show you how to get started with English knitting; there are videos demonstrating how to knit, purl, and knit 1×1 rib.  

Holding the Yarn

I find I need a little more tension on my yarn when knitting English compared to Continental. The following picture shows how I wrap my yarn around my hand.  At the beginning of the first video below showing how to do the knit stitch I show a few different ways to wrap your yarn.

How I hold my yarn

Knit Stitch 

The mechanics of the stitch are the same regardless of whether you’re knitting Continental or English.  Remember to always wrap the yarn counter-clockwise around the right needle (as if you’re looking down at the tip like it’s a clock.) Watch how to do it in the following video.

Purl Stitch

The following video shows how to purl, including how to get started on the purl row, which I found to be tricky when I first started knitting English. 

Rib Stitch

I find knitting rib stitch to be much more intuitive in the English style compared to Continental. See a demonstration in the video below.


To get started, I suggest knitting a stockinette swatch.  After you’re comfortable with both your knit and purl rows, then do a section of 1×1 rib.  After that, you can try a whole project knit English. One option is the Traveller’s Cowl. While learning a whole new method of knitting can feel uncomfortable and uncoordinated, as with anything, it will get easier with practice. And you can look forward to complicated color work knits that are a breeze when you can hold you yarn in both hands!

Happy knitting!

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