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.

Practicing 

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!

Advanced Beginner/ Intermediate Lesson – Traveller’s Hat

In this lesson, you’ll learn how to knit the Traveller’s Hat, which is a great first hat that’s gender neutral. The hat is a very easy beginner knit pattern if starting with the long-tail cast on, or is perhaps an advanced beginner or intermediate project if using the circular tubular cast on, which I recommend and assume you will be using.

You’ll need the following supplies:

  • Approximately 200 yards of aran weight yarn, 100 yards in each color if you’d like to knit in stripes;
  • 16” circular needles in sizes 3 and 6 (or correct sizes to obtain gauge);
  • Size 6 needles (or the same size as your larger needle if different to obtain gauge) for knitting magic loop (either one long circular needle or two, depending on whether you use the traditional magic loop method or magic loop using 2 sets of circular needles; you could also choose to use DPNS);
  • One knitting needle several sizes larger than you need for your project (I used a size 10 straight needle);
  • A small amount of smooth scrap yarn in a contrasting color;
  • A crochet hook (any size will work; if you don’t have one, I suggest size G);
  • One stitch marker; 
  • Scissors; and
  • A yarn needle. 

Start by downloading or printing the Traveller’s Hat pattern, and then review each of the following:

Note you can block the hat over an inflated balloon if you want, although I did not block this hat. Learn more about blocking in general.  

Feel free to post a question in the comment section or drop me an email. Happy knitting!

Ready for more practice?

Want to try another hat?  The Jaye Hat is another slouchy option that’s similar to the Traveller’s Hat.  Or you might like the Tivoli Slouch Hat. You can also knit the matching Traveller’s Cowl. Or check out all the available beginner knitting lessons.

Traveller’s Hat Pattern and Video

The Traveller’s Hat is a very easy beginner knit pattern if starting with the long-tail cast on, or is perhaps an advanced beginner or intermediate project if using the circular tubular cast on, which I recommend. It’s a slouchy hat that works well for both men and women. The hat is knit in wide stripes alternating between colors, although would also be nice in a single yarn; either a solid color or variegated yarn would work well. I used the Miss Babs Madison, which is an aran weight yarn (as suggested in the pattern), in the Pacifica colorway and Dunk. The yarn is very soft and the finished hat has a satisfying weight and warmth. You could probably use any medium weight yarn.  

The pattern starts with a section of one by one (1×1) rib stitch with size 3 knitting needles, then switches to size 6 needles for the pattern stitch. I used a 16” circular needle to start and finished the last two rows with magic loop. My gauge was 18.5 stitches per 4”. The fit was a little loose for me, although it certainly fit; my head measured at the widest part is 22”.  It was a perfect fit for my husband, whose head measures 23”.  If I were to knit this hat again for me, I might subtract 4 stitches.  

For the length, I did the section of 1×1 rib, then knit 6 color bands after that. You can try on the hat before the first decrease row to see if you want to add another section, or maybe you want to subtract a section.  The final decision is whether or not to add a pom pom.  

This Lesson provides videos for how to do all of the steps and learn about how to make sure your hat will fit before you start, and the following video gives an overview of the entire project, picking up after the cast on; I suggest starting with the Circular Tubular Cast On video:

You Might Also Like . . .

To knit the matching cowl!

How to Knit the Circular Tubular Cast On for 1×1 Rib

The circular tubular cast on used when knitting in the round (also called the tubular cast on or invisible cast on) is a very beautiful and extremely stretchy cast on. It almost looks like your knitting starts from thin air as the stitches roll seamlessness from the outside to the inside of your project. This cast on is great for starting a glove or hat. The particular variation in this post sets you up to do 1×1 rib. It’s possible to knit a tubular cast on that prepares the knitter for 2×2 rib, but that’s in a separate post.

Admittedly, there are a lot of steps to this cast on; you essentially knit six rows in order to end up with two rows of 1×1 rib, although I think it’s absolutely worth it.  For me, about halfway through I’m sometimes unsure if it’s going to come together, but it always does and turns out beautifully.

You’ll need the followings supplies:

  • Your project yarn;
  • Your project knitting needles (in the example in this video, I’m making a hat and using 16” circular needles; rib stitch is typically knit with needles 2-3 sizes smaller than you will use for your main pattern, and I’m using size 3 needles in the video);
  • One knitting needle several sizes larger than you need for your project (I used a size 10 straight needle);
  • Scissors;
  • A small amount of smooth scrap yarn in a contrasting color;
  • A crochet hook (any size will work; if you don’t have one, I suggest size G); and
  • One stitch marker. 

These are the steps, which are demonstrated in the video below:

  • Provisional Cast On: Tie a knot at the end of your scrap yarn, then an inch or so above that tie a slip knot and place it over the crochet hook. Chain a few stitches. Using the knitting needle that’s several sizes larger than your project needle and the provisional cast on method, cast on half as many stitches as your pattern calls for, chain a few stitches, cut the yarn and loosely pull through the last loop.  My pattern calls for 88 cast on stitches, so I started with 44 provisional cast on stitches.  
  • Set Up Row: Using your project yarn and needle, K1, yarn over, repeat all the way across. As you transition from the set up row to row 1, you’ll need to join the project into a loop. Remember to make sure your stitches aren’t twisted, do the final yarn over, add the stitch marker, then knit the first stitch of row 1.
  • Row 1: K1, move the yarn to the front and slip one (insert the right needle into the first stitch on the left needle as if to purl and slide over to the right needle.) In other words, you’ll knit every stitch you knit in the previous row and slip every yarn over (remembering to hold the yarn in the front.) Repeat all the way across.
  • Row 2: Move the yarn to the back and slip one (insert the right needle into the first stitch on the left needle as if to purl and slide over to the right needle), then move the yarn to the front and purl the next stitch. Repeat all the way across. You will be slipping the stitches you knit in Row 1 and purling the stitches you had previously slipped.
  • Row 3: Repeat Row 1.
  • Row 4: Repeat Row 2.  
  • Remove the Scrap Yarn: Start with the tail end that does not have a knot at the very end. Untie the knot at the first chain and pull gently until you can remove all the scrap yarn.  At the other end, you may need to untie the first slip knot and then pull the yarn completely from your work.  
  • Continue with 1×1 Rib: You’ve now completed two rows of 1×1 rib stitch and are ready to K1, P1 across.  

The following video shows how to do every step of the tubular cast on in the round for 1×1 rib:

Want to Give it a Try?

The following projects would work well with this cast on:

How to Make Sure Your Hat Will Fit

When you decide to knit a hat, ideally you want it to fit when you’re finished. Knitting a gauge swatch and then adjusting either your yarn, needles, or something about the pattern will help ensure it fits as intended when you’re finished. The other option is to dive in, knit as directed, and if it doesn’t fit at the end you’ll need to either give it away or frog the whole thing and make it again. I’m more of a planner and am willing to invest time at the beginning to make sure it will fit in the end.  

Determine Your Gauge

If your pattern gives you a gauge measurement, then simply knit a swatch, adjust your needle size until you can obtain the correct gauge, and off you go. If your pattern doesn’t provide a gauge, or if you want to adjust something about the pattern (such as the size of yarn or to make it for a different sized head than intended), or if you want to make up your own pattern, the information here can get you started.  

It all begins with a gauge swatch, so start by reading this post and knitting your swatch. If you want to design a hat from scratch, start with the needle size recommended for the yarn you want to use. Remember to knit in the pattern for the main part of your hat, and remember to knit your swatch in the round (see gauge swatch post for how to do that.)  

Measure Your Head

After you know how many stitches you get per inch, the next step is to figure out how many stitches will fit your head (or the head of the person for whom you’re knitting the hat.) Measure your head with a flexible measuring tape. You want to measure the widest part of your head, over your forehead, over your hair, just above your ears, and around the widest part at the back. Keep the measuring tape comfortably snug. 

Adjust for Negative Ease

Next you need to adjust for negative ease.  You want the finished hat to be a little smaller than your head so it’s snug enough to stay on comfortably.  Subtract 2” for negative ease if you want the hat to fit snugly, or 1” if you want it to fit loosely. You might want a little more negative ease for a very stretchy pattern (such as ribbing), perhaps subtracting one more inch from the total circumference; if the pattern has very little give (such as cables) you might want to reduce the amount of negative ease by an inch. 

Determine Your Target Number of Stitches

Here’s the math to determine your target number of stitches:

  • The gauge for my swatch knit in my hat pattern is 18.5 stitches across 4”; after dividing 18.5 by 4 I get 4.625 stitches per inch.  
  • The circumference of my head is 22”.
  • I’m knitting a hat that’s a little slouchy but the pattern is very stretchy so I’m going to subtract 3” for negative ease, which brings my target to 19”.
  • 4.625 stitches per inch (my gauge) times 19 inches (my target) equals 87.875 stitches, which I’m going to round to 88.  That means I would ideally cast on 88 stitches to end up with a hat in that specific yarn with those specific needles that will fit my head.  

Adjust the Pattern

The next step is to adjust the pattern, if necessary.  Let’s say my pattern says to cast on 84 stitches, and there’s a 12 stitch repeat in the pattern.  That means I could either cast on 84 or or 96.  I don’t want my hat to be too loose so I would likely round my 88 stitches down to 84.  

Final Tips

When you do ribbing, you’ll want to go down between 1 and 3 needles sizes, otherwise the ribbing will look like it’s a bigger stitch than your pattern (and your hat will likely be too loose.)  

As for the length, I typically follow the pattern and then try on the hat as I go, particularly before beginning the decreases.  If the circular needle you’re using to knit is too small for you to try on the hat, you can add a cable extender and a second cable just to try it on, then remove the extra cable to continue knitting. Check out this post for a video on how to do that.

With that information, you can knit any hat pattern to fit or design your own!  Happy knitting!

Want to Give it a Try?

Here are some hat patterns you might like:

How to Change Colors and Knit a Jogless Join

It’s very easy to change colors of yarn to knit in stripes. When knitting in the round, one tip is to create a jogless join so the place you change colors isn’t as noticeable. In the photo above, the red and gold scarf was not knit with a jogless join and you can clearly see where the color change happened. The green project was knit with a jogless join and the stripe is more even.  It’s still a little noticeable, but much less than without that technique.  

To Change Colors

To change colors, insert your needle into the first stitch where the new color will be, fold the new yarn in half and place the loop around the right hand needle, pull it through the stitch to knit, then continue knitting in the new color. 

To Knit a Jogless Join

To create a jogless join, when you get to the end of the first round with the new color, slip the first stitch, then continue as usual in your pattern.  You only have to do that on the first row of the new color. Note that technique won’t work if your stripe is only one row wide.  

The following video shows how to attach the new color and slip the stitch to create a jogless join:

Want to Give it a Try?

The following patterns allow you to practice changing colors in the round and knitting a jogless join:

Introduction to Knitting in the Round

Knitting in the round creates a tube shape, such as with gloves, a hat, or a sweater.  Essentially you’re knitting in a spiral. This has the added benefit of eliminating any kind of seam, which you would have if you instead knit the piece flat and then stitched it into a tube shape.  

Joining in the Round after Casting On

One easy way to connect stitches into the round is to cast on one more stitch than necessary.  Then slip the first stitch from your left needle to the right, and pull the stitch with your working yarn attached (the second stitch on the right hand needle) over and off the stitch you just slipped. This isn’t as easy if using the traditional magic loop method.

Helpful Tips

The following are some helpful tips when knitting in the round:

  • Before joining, make sure none of your stitches are twisted. 
  • Always make sure you’re knitting on the outside of the circle; this is particularly important when picking up your work after taking a break. 
  • It’s helpful to use a stitch marker to mark the end of each round. 

Knitting Flat vs. Knitting in the Round

When knitting flat, to create stockinette you knit a row and then purl a row; to create garter stitch, you knit every row. Knitting in the round is exactly the opposite: to create stockinette you knit every round; to create garter stitch you knit a row and then purl a row. 

Different Methods of Knitting in the Round

There are four ways (I know of) to knit in the round:

The following video gives an introduction to all four methods, along with pros and cons and examples of when I typically use each:

Jaye Hat Pattern

The Jaye Hat is an easy pattern for a very popular, gender neutral slouchy hat. A unique feature is a double thick brim that’s very warm for cold climates. Here are some modifications you may want to consider:

  • If you live somewhere with a mild climate, you may want a single layer brim instead. To do that, I suggest starting with a stretchy cast on (such as the circular tubular cast on) and then knit a total of 15 rounds of 1×1 rib.  After that, pick up where the pattern switches to the larger needle size.  
  • If you want the double thick, folded brim, I suggest starting with a provisional cast on, then knit one row, K1P1 for 14 rounds, purl one round, K1P1 for 15 rounds.  Use a second circular needle (the same or any size smaller than you’re using for your 1×1 rib) to pick up the stitches from the provisional cast on, removing the scrap yarn as shown at the beginning of the three needle bind off video. Fold up the first 15 rows as suggested in the pattern but pick up the stitches from the second needle and knit together as directed. 

Lesson 6 – Weekend Scarf

The Weekend Scarf is a great beginner project that’s quick, easy, and beautiful. A drop stitch creates an open fabric with a lovely drape. Knitting with a lighter yarn (such as a light worsted) will create a more lightweight scarf, or knit with a chunky or bulky yarn to create a warmer scarf. Either way, the knitting needles should be larger than usual for the yarn you choose; I knit mine with a light worsted weight yarn and size 11 needles. For a bulky yarn I would use size 15. After knitting 6-10 inches, if it isn’t flowing like you want, go to a larger needle size and start again.  

Knitting the pattern as an infinity scarf also allows you to learn the provisional cast on and three needle bind off, which create a beautifully invisible seam where the two ends come together, as shown in Figure 1.  

Figure 1

You’ll need the following supplies:

  • Approximately 200 – 350 yards of yarn;
  • Straight knitting needles (I used size 11 with light worsted, or would use size 15 with chunky/bulky yarn); 
  • A small amount of smooth scrap yarn in a contrasting color;
  • A crochet hook (any size will work; if you don’t have one, I suggest size G);
  • An extra knitting needle for the bind off (it can be the same size or smaller as what you’re using for your pattern, ideally a double pointed needle); and
  • Scissors.

To get started, download or print the Weekend Scarf Pattern, then watch the following videos:

Feel free to post a question in the comment section or drop me an email. Happy knitting!

Ready for more practice?

With the skills you have now, you can make this Loose Infinity Scarf. Or check out all the available beginner knitting lessons.

How to Knit Traditional Magic Loop

The magic loop knitting method allows you to knit projects in the round even if you don’t have exactly the right length of cable needle and/or don’t want to use double pointed needles. The traditional magic loop method uses one very long circular needle. An alternative magic loop method uses two sets of circular needles. I prefer that one on larger projects like sweaters and this traditional method on smaller projects like hats.

Magic loop is particularly helpful if the size of the project (number of stitches that make up the round) changes as it goes along, like with a hat that gets narrower near the top. Using traditional magic loop allows you to own the fewest sets of needles, because you can substitute circular needles for straight needles, and the traditional magic loop means you don’t need multiple sets of circular needles or double pointed needles; with one set of interchangeable circular needles, you can knit pretty much anything. 

The following video shows you how to knit with traditional magic loop: