How Do You Knit?

Since picking up my needles recently and entering the blogging world I have discovered many new things about knitting. Now I am not talking about patterns such as new stitches, cables or lace work. I am just talking about basic technique and tools.

It appears that when I learnt to knit as a child my teacher (yes Mum that’s you) didn’t teach me many techniques. I asked her about it recently. Yes, she knew all about them but never shared them with me.

I thought knitting involved using two straight knitting needles and keeping the working yarn in your right hand.

How I Knit: two single pointed needles...

It didn’t help that all the things I have ever made and all the pattern books I have ever used only referred to 2 knitting needles.

So when I started reading other people’s blogs and learning more about knitting here are some things I thought:

  • what the hell is knitting in the round. How is that possible with two knitting needles?
  • oh my goodness, is that person knitting with 4 needles at once?
  • why is the working yarn in her left hand?
  • cool, when I am ready to start trying cables, I need another weird shaped needle with a hook in the middle!
  • circular needles with a connecting tube? hey, that could work really well if you don’t want a seam. Oh, that is exactly what they are for and it appears that this is not new
  • sometimes you need a crotchet needle to knit. Lucky I have a few at home, passed down from my mum. Wait she doesn’t crotchet. I guess she isn’t telling me something


So I thought I would share a few of the things I have learnt and take some polls from the seasoned knitters. I am really curious to see how others out there knit.



So far I have discovered the following techniques. Please feel free to share any others with me.


Knitting with 2 Single Point Needles – this is what I am used to knitting with


Single Pointed Knitting Needles

  • slender, straight stick tapered to a point at one end, with a knob at the other end to prevent stitches from slipping off
  • always used in pairs
  • come in varying widths and lengths


Knitting with Circular Needles

Circular Knitting Needles

  • a long, flexible double-pointed needle
  • can be used for straight or circular knitting
  • two tapered ends are rigid and straight and are connected by a flexible strand that allows the two ends to be brought together
  • two ends are used exactly like two needles, in the sense that the knitter holds one in each hand and knits as if having two
  • advantages of using circular needles are that the weight of the fabric is more evenly distributed and therefore less taxing on the arms and wrists of the knitter
  • also that there is more maneuverability of the fabric and needles without fear of the stitches falling off the needles


Knitting with 4 Double Pointed Needles

Double Pointed Knitting Needles

  • tapered at both ends, which allows them to be knit from either end
  • typically used (and sold) in sets of four and five
  • generally used for circular knitting


Cable Knitting Needles

Cable Needles

  • special type of double-pointed needle that is
  • typically very short
  • only used to hold stitches temporarily while knitting a cable pattern
  • Often have a U-shape or bend in order to stop the stitches from falling off the needle


Needles also come in varying materials such as metal, bamboo or nickel. I use metal but desperately want the fancy nickel ones. I have recently discovered these fancy Signature needles. What a dream.

So many needles...


There are generally two ways of knitting (videos courtesy of Cotton and Cloud). I prefer the English Method.

Continental Knitting Method

  • working yarn held in left hand
  • great for speed knitting
  • the motion of the right wrist is used to slip the right needle into the loop of the stitch being knitted and ‘scoop’ or ‘hook’ the yarn onto the right needle

I tried this out. It felt a little awkward at first, but I could appreciate the potential speed. It was a little uncomfortable for me though

English Knitting Method

  • working yarn held in right hand
  • the yarn is wrapped around the right hand for tension and the right hand will hold the needle with the most recently knit stitches.Β  The left hand holds the other needle.

This is the way I knit. I love using both hands and find I can work this way fast enough…

Thanks for taking the polls and I hope you had a bit of fun with them. Can’t wait to see the results and try out all the techniques for myself, especially knitting in the round! What are you keen on trying out?

29 thoughts on “How Do You Knit?

  1. What a great post! I guess we forget sometimes just how many tools and options are available to us…and isn’t it fun discovering that there is a method and a cool tool for everything and that new ones are being invented all the time! Knitting is love πŸ™‚

  2. Pingback: How Do You Knit? | The Modern Home Economist | Knitting Instructions

  3. Maybe I’m a terrible knitter, I also didn’t know much about different techniques before starting my blog, but I could manage to make my own knitted clothes for about two decades anyway. (and I must confess I always knit the same way …)

  4. I was taught to knit by my nana and she also never mentioned knitting in the round or DPN’s. She passed away 10 years ago and I got her knitting bag full of needles. Most of them were straight but there were some DPN’s in there and one circular needle so she must have known these secrets.
    I only learnt to knit in the round a year ago when I decided to take up knitting as a career. It was so daunting at first but circular needles make my life super easy and I rarely use a straight needle now.
    DPN’s…well I like them for the crown of a hat, but I find it hard to start a project on them. I usually use two circular needles for that.

    Don’t be put off by any of it. Learning to knit in the round, no matter which method you decide to use, will open up so any beautiful pattern doors for you. You’ll be spoilt for choice πŸ˜€

    • I think our teachers were keeping things from us. It is so special you inherited her tools and bag of knitting secrets.
      I will definitely try knitting in the round. Once I have finished my scarf I will start a project using circulars. Do you recommend any good beginner projects?

      • Yeah it is nice that I got her knitting bag. It is so dirty though and is full of glitter in the bottom and loose buttons but I can’t bring myself to clean it out. It’s my nanas mess and it will probably stay there forever. πŸ˜€

        A beginners project for in the round should probably be a hat I think. You don’t want something too large to start with but you don’t want something too small and fiddly like gloves or socks. A hat is what I started on (and pretty much never stopped since it’s practically all I design haha!). You need to start simple like Woolly’s Wide ribbed Beanie: or her Rainbowret:
        Woolly is the queen of hats after all πŸ˜€

        Good luck and let us all know how you get along.

  5. I enjoyed reading this! My mum knits left handed. She was taught to knit when she was very young at school but did everything in reverse. Her teacher refused to check her work, because “it looks right”. I’ve never met anyone else who does this πŸ™‚

  6. I knit Continental. I’ve tried English a few times, but it was so awkward, and actually a little painful on my right wrist, so I quit trying and decided I’d just use Continental style.

    Did you know you can work cables without cable needles? I don’t own any cable needles! For small crosses, like 2 over 2 or 3 over 3, you can easily work them without a cable needle. You could easily Google it and read all about it. For larger cables that can’t be done without a cable needle, I use a stitch holder for larger work or a toothpick for smaller stitches.

    • It is so funny, but I find continental akward. I think it is all about how your learn. I think you are using the faster knit, so not to worry!

      I did not know that about cables. I will have to look into it. I am so keen to try cabling, and soon. Tooth pick sounds like a nifty tool.

      • I don’t own a cable needle either. I usually use a dpn. Does the same job. Sometime there is no need to add all these extra tool when others do the same πŸ™‚

  7. Good review!

    Most people tend to knit the way they first learned. As I learned as a child in Norway, I knit the Continental method. I use the UK method only when I’m doing color work and have more than 3 colors. (I find I can control 3 strands in my left hand – any more than that and I shift strand 4 and over to my right hand for “throwing.”)

    I’ve seen many variants that fall under the Continental method. As I learned as a child in Norway, I knit what, after we moved to the U.S., I thought of as the Norwegian way. Only as an adult did I learn that was called Continental. πŸ™‚ Of course, the Continental method has many variations, the Norwegian way being one of them.

    • Thanks!

      Yes, I definitly agree. I learnt English and now that just feels right.
      Yes I have heard English method is better for multiple colours so it is good for something.

      There sre so many variations of methods and styles. It is interesting that they take on regional names…

  8. I’m a continental (picker) knitter. I started to learn the throwing method from books then my husband’s grandmother, who lived to be 100, showed me how to knit continental and I’ve never turned back!

  9. I love that there are so many knitting methods (not to mention patterns!). Something for everyone!

    I guess I’m, erhm, a knitter of questionable virtue, because I love to experiment with different styles/methods/whatever. πŸ™‚

    I generally knit continental, mostly because that’s just what “felt right” when I picked up yarn for the first time (a little over 3 years ago). The nice lady at the yarn store who taught me to knit observed that I held my yarn in the left hand. (She held it in her right.) I tried the other way and it felt awkward, so I went back to my left hand and kept going. (I have heard stories of knitters trying to “correct” people, so I suppose I was very lucky that she said my way was fine too!) But I’m working on learning to hold the yarn in my right hand for color work.

    I prefer circular needles to straights and usually cable without a needle, but I’ll use either magic loop or double-pointed needles for socks.

    My aluminum needles are much lighter than my nickel-plated needles, but the nickel is slicker, so I find them a bit faster. I do love my Signatures, though. Those stiletto tips make even tough stitches like p3tog tbl quick and easy to execute! (We all have our guilty pleasures!)

    Great post!

    • Thanks so much for stopping by and your lovely comment! Glad you enjoyed the post…

      Its great that you like to experiment with various methods and tools. Its funny how some people are comfortable knitting left and others knitting right. Everyone is unique I suppose. But yes you do need it for that colour work πŸ™‚
      So glad you treated yourself to the Signatures. Those stiletto tips look amazing. I think they are just fantastic!

  10. I learned the English way and am very uncomfortable with Continental. I think I could learn it but I always get frustrated and go back to what I know. There are many things I haven’t tried. I have branched out into different cast-ons. Yes, it’s a small branch but still! Loved the polls!

    • Yes I keep trying out the continental too, but it frustrates me. Just doesn’t feel like knitting! Ahh yes, the various cast ons. I didn’t even try to tackle that labrynth! Thanks so much for visiting and commenting. So glad you enjoyed the polls!

  11. When I worked at a knitting store, I constantly had people asking me to teach them continental because they thought it would make them faster and more efficient in some way. My brand of continental in particular is kind of screwy because I taught myself how to knit and just put my hands where it seemed like you were supposed to put them, therefore it is a weird thing to teach to someone else. The only other person who knits the same way as I do is my boyfriend, and that’s only because I taught him.

    I’d always give them a bit of a disclaimer first telling them that, and then letting them know that comfort and sense memory is really what makes you learn to go fast, but few people ever believed me and would somehow prefer to struggle. The only reason I ever learned to try English style at all was in order to try Fair Isle, and it’ll just never feel right to me.

    Bravo to you for branching out and finding where you feel comfortable. I can’t wait to see your scarf when it’s all done!

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