How to Hold Yarn for Continental Knitting

Are you looking to speed up your knitting? One of the best ways to do so is to try continental knitting – holding the yarn in one hand and magically moving the needles with the other.

How to Hold Yarn for Continental Knitting

By switching up your technique, you can quickly add rows of stitches to blankets and cozy scarves! In this blog post, we’ll show you how to hold yarn for continental knitting by breaking down all the steps into easy-to-follow instructions.

Even if you haven’t touched a pair of needles before now, don’t worry – there’s something here for beginners too! With our help, soon enough you’ll be able to create beautiful projects while enjoying a quicker process. Come and join us as we discover everything about continental knitting today!

What Is the Fastest Way to Hold Yarn for Knitting?

The fastest way to hold yarn for knitting is continental, or “picking,” style. The continental style involves holding the working yarn in your left hand and using a “pick” motion with your right hand to pass the stitches onto the needle.

This method results in faster speeds than when using the English/throwing style of knitting, which involves holding the yarn in your right hand. Continental style is particularly beneficial for small and intricate patterns, as it allows knitters to work with more precision.

Additionally, continental knitting can reduce overall fatigue of the hands, wrists, and arms since you do not need to make large wrist motions when throwing the yarn. This type of knitting is also great for projects that require a lot of color changes.

8 Methods How to Hold Yarn for Continental Knitting

1. Yarn in the Left Hand

The most common way to hold yarn for continental knitting is to keep the yarn in the left hand. This method is often referred to as the “English method” of knitting. To do this, simply wrap the yarn around your pinky finger, then around your ring and middle fingers. The tension should be loose enough that you can easily slide the yarn off of your fingers but tight enough that it doesn’t slip off on its own.

Common Way to Hold Yarn

2. Yarn in the Right Hand

Some knitters prefer to keep the yarn in the right hand instead of the left. This is referred to as right-handed Continental knitting. To knit in this way, hold the yarn between your thumb and index finger with your palm facing up.

The yarn should sit on the pinky side of your hand and wrap around your index finger before going over the top of your thumb. This will keep the yarn taut as you knit. Many right-handed knitters find this method faster than using their left hand for Continental knitting, so it’s worth trying if it sounds like it might be more comfortable for you.

3. Yarn Underneath the Left Arm

Another way to hold yarn for continental knitting is to keep it underneath your left arm. To do this, wrap the yarn around your left arm and hold it in place with your left thumb. From here, you can pick up the yarn when needed with your right needle. This technique can be useful if you are continuously working with the same strand of yarn throughout a project.

It also allows for more speed while knitting, as there is no need to unwrap the yarn each time you need to pick it up. It is important to remember that this technique can cause some strain on your left arm, so be sure to take breaks throughout your knitting projects.

4. Yarn Over the Left Shoulder

A variation on holding the yarn under the left arm is to drape it over your left shoulder instead of underneath it. To do this, simply drape the yarn over your left shoulder and allow it to fall down your back. Then, reach behind you and grab the yarn with your right hand. The tension should be loose enough that you can easily slide the yarn off of your fingers but tight enough that it doesn’t slip off on its own.

This method is great if you need to switch between knitting and purl stitches quickly, as you don’t have to reposition the yarn each time you change stitches. However, it can be a bit unwieldy and awkward to maneuver if there are multiple strands of yarn involved with your project.

5. Combination Method

For a combination of both methods, you can hold the yarn under your left arm and over your left shoulder. This is great for projects with multiple strands of yarn, as the tension can be adjusted to suit the project better. To do this, you will put your left arm through the loop created by the yarn coming off of the ball and hold it underneath your armpit.

Combination of Both Methods

Then, take a strand from that loop and drape it over your left shoulder. You will now be able to easily switch between knitting and purl stitches, but with the added benefit of having multiple strands of yarn in play if needed.

6. Yarn Around Neck

Another way to hold yarn for continental knitting is to drape it around your neck like a scarf. This method works great if you’re looking to keep your hands free while knitting.

The yarn is draped around the back of your neck and held in place with your left hand. This method can be especially useful for larger projects, as it helps reduce tension on the arms from holding the yarn tightly in one hand for a long period of time.

It also allows for more movement of the hands. To do this, place the ball of yarn behind your neck and then keep it in place by lightly gripping it with your left hand while you knit with your right hand.

This method is also good if you’re working on a pattern that requires frequent color changes since it keeps both colors easily accessible. Just remember to keep the yarn from slipping off your shoulder as you knit.

7. Yarn in a Bag

If you find that holding onto skeins of yarn is difficult or uncomfortable, you can always put them into a bag before beginning to knit with them. This will help to keep them from tangling as you knit and will also make it easier to pull out just the amount of yarn you need as you go along.

Simply put the skein(s) of yarn into a bag (a pillowcase or mesh laundry bag works well for this), then pull out one end of the yarn through a small hole in the bag so that you can begin knitting with it.

This is also a great way to keep your yarn from getting tangled. As you knit, just pull out the yarn as needed from the bag through the small hole. Once you’re done knitting, put any remaining yarn back in the bag until next time! With this method, you won’t have to worry about holding onto skeins of yarn or having them become tangled as you knit.

Holding Onto Skeins of Yarn

8. Wrapping Yarn Around Your Finger

Another way to hold the yarn in continental knitting is by wrapping it around the index finger of your left hand. To do this, take the end of the yarn and make a single loop over your index finger so that when you look at your hand from the side, you will see two strands of yarn.

The ball end should be on the left, and the strand coming off the ball should be on the right. You can then use your thumb to adjust the tension by pushing or pulling as needed.

This method is good for projects that require multiple strands of yarn and need frequent color changes, as you can easily switch between colors without having to rewrap the yarn. Just remember to keep the tension even and not pull too tightly on the yarn, as this can cause it to break.

Overall, there are many ways to hold your yarn for continental knitting. It all depends on what type of project you’re working on, the size of the project, and how comfortable you are with different methods.

Whether you prefer to hold it in your hands, over your shoulder, or even around your neck, there’s sure to be a technique that works best for you. So take some time to experiment and find what works for you! Good luck!

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Require Multiple Strands of Yarn


There are a few different ways that you can hold your yarn during continental knitting. It may take some time to figure out which method is the most comfortable for you, but it will be worth it in the end. With this new information, you should be able to knit Continental style with ease.

Give it a try and see how your knitting improves! We hope this guide on how to hold yarn for continental knitting was helpful. Please share it with your friends on social media if you find it useful. And be sure to check back here soon for more informative guides like this one.

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Photo of author

Jennifer Branett

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