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Pick a Little, Knit a Little

Mar 14, 2014

Are you a picker or a thrower?

    
Seed stitch. To knit seed stitch, simply knit one, purl one across your row. Then knit the purls and purl the knits as you come to them. If you start with an odd number of stitches, you will always start each row with a knit stitch. Seed stitch is reversible and it lays flat.
Pickers hold their yarn in their left hand, using the right-hand needle to pick it through the loop to make a stitch, a technique known as continental knitting. Throwers hold their yarn in their right hands and wrap it (or throw it) around the right-hand needle, also known as English knitting.

I was a thrower when I started knitting, and I was perfectly happy with my technique, until I tried knitting a seed stitch scarf. Moving the yarn from front to back for every other stitch was such a pain! (The same went for ribbing, but I didn't usually have to do that for more than a couple of inches.)

For seed stitch, you do a row of K1, P1, and then you knit the purls and purl the knits from the previous row throughout the entire project. (This stitch lays flat—no stockinette curling on the edges—so it's really great for scarves, too.)

So I decided that I would try the picking technique, which most of my knitting friends used. They said that seed stitch and ribbing was no big deal.

I went to my LYS and asked the ladies there to teach me how to pick. They did, and at first I felt all-thumbs, it was so awkward! But I kept at it, knitting swatches just using the picking technique and the knit stitch.

When I got comfortable with the knit stitch, I practiced the purl stitch. And practiced, and practiced. When I was comfortable knitting and purling, I tackled that seed stitch scarf. No problem. It's really much more efficient to pick when you're knitting seed stitch or ribbing (or anything else!) I'm a convert.

Here's a video tutorial I made for you to show you my picking technique and how I move the yarn back and forth to do seed stitch. I'll admit that this isn't the best quality video, but you'll see how easy it is to manipulate the yarn when you knit continental style.



For much more instruction on continental knitting, check out our video workshop, Continental Knitting with Biggan Ryd-Dups.

     Practice Your Knitting Style With the Dot Stitch
Download our FREE eBook, Techniques for Knitting Stitch Patterns! You'll get the Dot Stitch, plus 12 more free stitch patterns!
Biggan is a Swedish designer and teacher who specializes in dramatic colorwork designs. Every time I've seen Biggan, she's wearing a fabulous colorful design of her own. Just amazing!

Cheers,

P.S. Roll call! Are you a picker or a thrower? Leave a comment and let us know which technique you prefer, and why.


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Comments

BellaG wrote
on Mar 25, 2014 11:44 PM

Here's a hint for seed stitch in the round.  Don't wrap the purl stitch, just swipe it through.  When it comes around again, the stitch will be turned so the higher "leg" is in back.  In my mind I call this "open to the front."  This time you knit it through the back loop and that turns it back around so it's ready for your purl stich.  It's fast as greased lightening.  I actually never wrap the purl stitch for much of any kind of pattern  unless I'm setting up a lace row for knitting stitches together.  The tension is much more equal and it is fast, fast.  I promise, you don't end up with any twisted stitches.  

leafygal wrote
on Mar 18, 2014 7:54 PM

I'm a thrower but do it the really traditional way where my hand never leaves the needle and the yarn is thrown with the index (mainly) and second fingers. This is very fast and you can knit without looking as your left hand fingers can feel the stitches as you push the needle through them

I know that picking looks fast but I get tension problems so stick with what works for me

pcox wrote
on Mar 18, 2014 5:33 PM

Maybe it's because I have been knitting so long, but I am a very quick knitter using the English method.  I, however, always hated moss stitch and was pleased to learn from the video, for that stitch and possibly ribbing I think this method could be more efficient.  It is fiddly, but then, so was learning to knit in general, so with a little practice I think this is a good addition to my skill set.  I will probably always knit primarily the way I always have, but it is silly to close your mind to something just because it is not what you are used to, particularly when it can make something tiresome less so!  So I will practice some more, I do not find tensioning to be an issue, but it maybe because of how I hold the yarn which is over my pointer finger laying along the palm at the base of my fingers and using my pinky as a control.  

Lace8849 wrote
on Mar 18, 2014 1:53 PM

I also learned to knit as a thrower, at around age 12. A few years ago in my 50s, I was fed up with how slowly I knit, tired of all the wasted time throwing, and taught myself to hold the yarn in my left hand and pick. I agree that purling is harder to learn than knitting, and that it feels awkward at first. But I figured that if one of my good friends was just struggling to learn to knit, then surely I could struggle a bit to learn to knit better! I'm SO happy I did. Since then I've also taught myself to hold the yarn over my left hand which gives me more control. I think it's good to reevaluate the way we work and be willing to learn something new. Be flexible. Be creative.

sharonburgin wrote
on Mar 17, 2014 10:26 PM

I have used Continental knitting for 64 years for myself, but I have found when teaching others to knit, they seem to visualize the process better when the yarn is thrown around the right hand needle.  Once they understand the process, I introduce the Continental method.  I was once in a "knitting contest" and I knit almost twice as much in the allotted time with my Continental style, while all the other knitters were throwers.

Canada Sue wrote
on Mar 17, 2014 5:26 PM

I am a "thrower" mainly but have never called it that.I havenot spent much time time trying the "picker " unless I am doing colour work.Maybe it is time to try a full project as a picker & make up my own mind.Stared 60+ yrs ago & there are only some tricks you cannot teach an old dog

BarbaraPacc wrote
on Mar 17, 2014 11:48 AM

I never did 'throw' - that's a new term to me.  My mother taught me continental knitting and i thought there was nothing else - I was amazed to see people "throwing"!  It is so very slow by comparison to"picking"

I can fly with seed stitch or ribbing - I heartily recommend taking the time to learn to 'pick'.  Once you are used to it you too can fly!

Babs

on Mar 17, 2014 11:45 AM

I come down on the thrower side - that's the way I learned. Sure can see the advantages of continental knitting, but haven't worked through it long enough to not feel awkward and sloppy knitting that way. AAP

on Mar 17, 2014 11:16 AM

I am a picker, though when I learned to knit, I was taught to throw. Having crocheted for many years, and after reviewing a video that taught continental knitting, I reverted to holding my yarn in my left hand. It felt very natural as that is how I held my yarn when crocheting.

Debbie@8 wrote
on Mar 17, 2014 10:10 AM

I would say...Learn Them All!  Sometimes one way is better and sometimes the other is better.  I have found that knitting in the dark, works best with the yarn in the English style so that I can feel the stitch with the tip of my left index finger and guide it off the needle.  And of course you need to know how to have yarn in both hands when doing Fair Isle.  The one technique which always gets stares is when on a flat piece of work in stockinette, I hold the yarn in my left hand and knit like a normal picker but then on the way back (what would be purl), I don't turn the work, but go from left to right as if I was left handed.  This works really well for when you are creating a picture type pattern (like the puppy dogs on a sweater for my son).  You always have the "picture" side facing you and can see what you are doing.  Saves stopping to look at the chart/directions several times a row also.  I just love that there are so many ways of doing this.  I just hope that my fingers hold out long enough so that I can try them all!  

on Mar 17, 2014 8:02 AM

I basically pick, but with my right hand. I hold the yarn the same, move my finger the same, but it's with my right hand instead of my left. Works for me.

choosejoy wrote
on Mar 16, 2014 7:30 PM

I'm a thrower. My left ulnar nerve is damaged and I find it difficult to  tension the yarn in  my left hand.  If I am knitting something that is purl intensive I sometimes use the Portuguese Style of knitting.

on Mar 16, 2014 6:30 PM

The people who insist that "picking is always faster" need to know that the record for fastest knitting is held by a thrower: it's all practice, like everything fibre. Very disheartening that some find it necessary to judge others by how fast they knit.

on Mar 16, 2014 11:12 AM

I knitted and crocheted from 2nd grade on. Lost the knitting until my 20's where I was retaught as a "Thrower". Then again in my 30's retaught by a lovely woman who spoke no English and learned as a "Picker". I use both depending on what I'm doing...and I now have been teaching my 2nd grade students as "Throwers" and only a few as "Pickers". As they improve I give them the option....and have a wonderful blend of both in my students! When I do  Fair Isle  I am both! :)

on Mar 16, 2014 4:29 AM

I started knitting in the 60's in the US...of course I was a thrower.  Then  I lived in Northern Germany a few years and meet with crafty friends.  I watched how fast they could knit!!!  I converted and haven't looked back since.

on Mar 16, 2014 4:29 AM

I started knitting in the 60's in the US...of course I was a thrower.  Then  I lived in Northern Germany a few years and meet with crafty friends.  I watched how fast they could knit!!!  I converted and haven't looked back since.

on Mar 16, 2014 4:29 AM

I started knitting in the 60's in the US...of course I was a thrower.  Then  I lived in Northern Germany a few years and meet with crafty friends.  I watched how fast they could knit!!!  I converted and haven't looked back since.

on Mar 16, 2014 4:29 AM

I started knitting in the 60's in the US...of course I was a thrower.  Then  I lived in Northern Germany a few years and meet with crafty friends.  I watched how fast they could knit!!!  I converted and haven't looked back since.

shells75 wrote
on Mar 16, 2014 12:15 AM

this why I have so much trouble crocheting.....I can't get that left hand tension thing going with the yarn in and out between fingers.......i'm just going to to continue throwing

on Mar 15, 2014 9:30 PM

My mother taught me to knit in 1963 and I was taught the Continental stitch.  Love it.

lucyr2 wrote
on Mar 15, 2014 8:59 PM

I'm a thrower. I've tried and tried and tried and tried to convert to continental picking style, but I don't have the patience to practice because I'm so slow at it! I'm a fairly fast thrower. I can't seem to teach my left hand that my index finger doesn't need to be supporting the needle. I'll keep trying, because I KNOW it's faster and more efficient, and it bugs me to not be efficient in all things. So maybe one of these days...

damuddah wrote
on Mar 15, 2014 6:48 PM

I have always been a picker & the problem I have is my tension.  No matter what I have tried, my purl rows are always looser than my knit rows.  I've tried using 2 different size needles without success as well as many other suggestions.  I've never used the thrower method, so I dont know if that would work.  Thrower just seems inconvenient and awkward.   So, I'll just keep pickin along!

neeshasmom wrote
on Mar 15, 2014 4:55 PM

Picker!  I used to be a thrower until someone kindly showed me picking.

It took a little while to master, but WOW!  No more hands leaving the needles, no more dropping needles on the floor--and I could knit at least 4 times faster!

And when I shattered my left wrist and was in a cast up to my knuckles for 10 weeks after surgery, picking allowed me to keep my fingers active and supple (although I did have to compromise hand position a little bit) and allowed me to use the cast as resistance while I knit  to help wrist muscles from atrophying.

gamegirljill wrote
on Mar 15, 2014 4:52 PM

I learned to throw as a child from my grandma, and later from a book, but did try picking while attending a knitting 101 class with a friend.  I found it to be too awkward for my liking.  I am a long time crocheter which is probably why I find trying to knit with yarn in my left hand to be uncomfortable.  I love the term someone else on here used, I am actually a flicker, move the yarn to the tip of my index finger and away I go without issues, problems or discomfort.

Judy123 wrote
on Mar 15, 2014 3:42 PM

Not only am I a 'picker' but I also prefer knitting Eastern Uncrossed when doing most of my flat knitting.  Purling Western style is awkward.  That said, I find the seed stitch pattern best done Western.  I want to learn Eastern style for knitting in the round (Did I mention I don't like Western style purling? LOL) and I would like to learn to 'throw' for color work.

My sister, who is left-handed, does a weird 'throw'.  I haven't studied her method enough to help her when she gets stuck.  

By the way anybody with tendon-n-nerve damage in your hands-n-wrists might want to try Eastern Uncrossed as it puts less stress on your hands-n-wrists.

on Mar 15, 2014 3:23 PM

I was a thrower but now I knit continental and purl Portuguese

If I have to rib or seed stitch, I would do Portuguese

Barb Mak wrote
on Mar 15, 2014 2:32 PM

I as a thrower until I taught myself to crochet.  Because of the way I held the yarn with crochet, I started to hold it that way while knitting. I just more or less held the yarn and the left needle in my left hand and did the maneuvering with my right needle.

A friend of mine told me I was using the continental technique.

Barb Mak

Joan Franco wrote
on Mar 15, 2014 1:47 PM

Video still doesn't open. Please red pair. Thanks

Joensey wrote
on Mar 15, 2014 1:39 PM

I was a picker before I knew there was another way.  Try holding the yarn even closer to the work and see how fast it goes!

Joensey wrote
on Mar 15, 2014 1:39 PM

I was a picker before I knew there was another way.  Try holding the yarn even closer to the work and see how fast it goes!

on Mar 15, 2014 1:00 PM

I appreciate you explaining it with a video. I've tried this a few times but where I have the most difficulty is keeping the tension in my left hand with the yarn. It wants to come loose (go long) and then I can't simply move the finger to bring the yarn forward or back. I try holding the yarn right tight with my left little finger (further down) but then it wants to bind and still lets loose. I can get the finger movement if I don't have yarn but there must be a trick for keeping the tension on the yarn in that left hand??

on Mar 15, 2014 1:00 PM

I appreciate you explaining it with a video. I've tried this a few times but where I have the most difficulty is keeping the tension in my left hand with the yarn. It wants to come loose (go long) and then I can't simply move the finger to bring the yarn forward or back. I try holding the yarn right tight with my left little finger (further down) but then it wants to bind and still lets loose. I can get the finger movement if I don't have yarn but there must be a trick for keeping the tension on the yarn in that left hand??

on Mar 15, 2014 1:00 PM

I appreciate you explaining it with a video. I've tried this a few times but where I have the most difficulty is keeping the tension in my left hand with the yarn. It wants to come loose (go long) and then I can't simply move the finger to bring the yarn forward or back. I try holding the yarn right tight with my left little finger (further down) but then it wants to bind and still lets loose. I can get the finger movement if I don't have yarn but there must be a trick for keeping the tension on the yarn in that left hand??

Eszecsy wrote
on Mar 15, 2014 12:10 PM

Wow, I've done continental for 50+ years and am now doing tube socks that are just k2p2.  This is a much easier way.  Thanks.

Ellen

Eszecsy wrote
on Mar 15, 2014 12:10 PM

Wow, I've done continental for 50+ years and am now doing tube socks that are just k2p2.  This is a much easier way.  Thanks.

Ellen

Eszecsy wrote
on Mar 15, 2014 12:10 PM

Wow, I've done continental for 50+ years and am now doing tube socks that are just k2p2.  This is a much easier way.  Thanks.

Ellen

Gramma Phyl wrote
on Mar 15, 2014 11:42 AM

I learned to knit both ways. I generally work continental unless doing color work or making nups.Nups seem to require me to come to a full stop and switch hands for that final move!

Christy AnnF wrote
on Mar 15, 2014 11:34 AM

My mother taught me to knit like a picker when I was 8.  Years later, when I wanted to make a fair isle sweater, I taught myself to throw as well.  That way, I could hold one color in each hand.  Much faster for color work.

Tkclinton wrote
on Mar 15, 2014 11:25 AM

I tried for years to knit without success. The only method I knew of at the time was the English method. I could never get the hang of what to me is a complicated dance of "throwing" the yarn around the needle. Way too many movements. Years later I found a local yarn store and took a class. The woman was German and taught we she told me was the "Continental" method. Almost immediately I became a "knitter", and I have never looked back. I love the efficiency of the this method, and to me it comes naturally. My great grandmother taught me to crochet as a child, and I believe those early lessons helped me later when I tried the Continental method. Today experts tell me that I knit "like a crocheter". Regardless - it works for me.

KateC wrote
on Mar 15, 2014 11:11 AM

Age 7 to 17 I was a thrower.  Grandma taught me that way.  Age 17-50 I didn't knit.  Age 50 I walked into LYS and the very bossy owner insisted I would be happier if I learned to pick.  Struggled for a couple weeks to combat the ancient but solid neuronal pathways that wanted to throw, but I have never looked back.  A decade of continental knitting and I always feel sorry for people who still throw.  Picking is much easier on the hands.

MaxineS@7 wrote
on Mar 15, 2014 10:58 AM

Just a little heads up on seed stitch, as you said, it's knit 1, purl one, but the next row you will do exactly the same, not as you described. That is if you have 5 stitches, you K1, P1, ending with a K1. On the next row you will do the same K1, P1, ending with a K1. Unless you are knitting backwards, which is a whole other ball of yarn. What you've described is double seed stitch.

FeatherWing wrote
on Mar 15, 2014 10:55 AM

I'm a picker!  I've crocheted for years and it just made sense to me to hold the yarn in my left hand. I tried knitting several times as a kid but was always shown English style and I could never get the hang of it.

on Mar 15, 2014 10:36 AM

I learned to knit from my English mother over 55 years ago so needless to say, I'm a thrower.  I have been tempted a couple of times to learn to pick, but I always knit to gauge and have been asked to knit samples for 3 different yarn shops so why mess with a good thing?  I also realized that, for me, speed was really not an objective - knitting for me has been a time to relax and let the world go by.

on Mar 15, 2014 10:36 AM

I learned to knit from my English mother over 55 years ago so needless to say, I'm a thrower.  I have been tempted a couple of times to learn to pick, but I always knit to gauge and have been asked to knit samples for 3 different yarn shops so why mess with a good thing?  I also realized that, for me, speed was really not an objective - knitting for me has been a time to relax and let the world go by.

Joan Franco wrote
on Mar 15, 2014 10:31 AM

Knitter picker video only has sound, no picture

on Mar 15, 2014 10:28 AM

I  was a thrower.  All my life I was a thrower.  Then I taught myself how to pick. It always looked so much faster, and the movement appeared almost elegant-even magical somehow.  

A little old Chinese lady on the downtown D train saw me throwing, gestured to me to give her my needles, and very slowly showed me "the pick".  She got off the train 3 stops later and my mind was blown

It took a bit of time to create the mind/muscle memory, but I'm a picker now and my projects finish faster, and are marvels of uniformity.

sherryleigh wrote
on Mar 15, 2014 10:28 AM

I am a thrower

That's how my mom taught me. I was three, and I always thought there was only one way to cast on stitches and bind off!

sherryleigh wrote
on Mar 15, 2014 10:28 AM

I am a thrower

That's how my mom taught me. I was three, and I always thought there was only one way to cast on stitches and bind off!

on Mar 15, 2014 10:27 AM

I've been practicing the picking technique, but haven't learned how to purl that way yet.  Thanks for the great video!

Jill033 wrote
on Mar 15, 2014 10:18 AM

Hi, I am English & my mum taught me to knit in my early teens " English style" but I could never get an even tension, nor could I cast on! My Mum always had to cast on for me and I started many projects but never finished any. I taught myself to crochet and found it much easier, so I stuck with that for over 30 years. Several years ago I saw a knitting show on the TV craft channel & the demonstrator knit continental style and I decide to learn how as it looked so easy. I bought a $5 computer course & then had to learn how to cast on as my Mum had passed on by then. I went on youtube & learned long tail in 20 minutes after trying for years to cast on Mums way (the thumb method) then I went over the course for half an hour. Yeah! I could knit with even tension!!!

I started with small projects (toys for my nephews) & progressed to top down sweaters for myself & the boys. I have now completed lace, cable & seed stitch sweaters, & I am now trying an aran style cardigan. So I am definitely a picker now, although I tension & hold my circulars differently to those shown in the video. I have much less movement especially in seed stitch (or moss stitch as it is know here in the UK) the end result & comfort of the knitter I find each to their own. I have carpel tunnel in both hands, but can still knit using the pick method.

Jill033 wrote
on Mar 15, 2014 10:17 AM

Hi, I am English & my mum taught me to knit in my early teens " English style" but I could never get an even tension, nor could I cast on! My Mum always had to cast on for me and I started many projects but never finished any. I taught myself to crochet and found it much easier, so I stuck with that for over 30 years. Several years ago I saw a knitting show on the TV craft channel & the demonstrator knit continental style and I decide to learn how as it looked so easy. I bought a $5 computer course & then had to learn how to cast on as my Mum had passed on by then. I went on youtube & learned long tail in 20 minutes after trying for years to cast on Mums way (the thumb method) then I went over the course for half an hour. Yeah! I could knit with even tension!!!

I started with small projects (toys for my nephews) & progressed to top down sweaters for myself & the boys. I have now completed lace, cable & seed stitch sweaters, & I am now trying an aran style cardigan. So I am definitely a picker now, although I tension & hold my circulars differently to those shown in the video. I have much less movement especially in seed stitch (or moss stitch as it is know here in the UK) the end result & comfort of the knitter I find each to their own. I have carpel tunnel in both hands, but can still knit using the pick method.

WendyB@6 wrote
on Mar 15, 2014 9:38 AM

As a New Englander of English ancestry, it is no surprise that I have been knitting English style for over 40 years.  I have tried to learn Continental style knitting, with some success, but not enough to knit that way regularly.  Not even ribbing or seed stitch, or moss stitch.

I recently made a baby sacque and bootees in a stitch similar to seed stitch.  (Blogged here:  wendysbees.blogspot.com/.../finally-finished.html.  I don’t know if the stitch has a name, but it is very pretty.  Row 1:  K1P1 across  Row 2:  Purl across.  Row 3:  P1K1 across.  Row 4:  Purl across.  Repeat Rows 1-4.)  I used English style for the whole project after making two swatches for gauge, one in English, and one in Continental.  The Continental swatch is much larger, looser and quite uneven.

In reading the comments of other knitters, I have concluded 2 things:

1) As some lifelong English knitters have noted, it will take a lot of practice for me to master a natural efficiency and consistency in Continental knitting.  (What with making new neural pathways in an old brain and all.  Perhaps a good exercise in maintaining brain health.)

2) I should make a study of Continental style knitters knitting in real time.  I think that in videos demonstrating knitting in either style, there is an inherent distortion of natural position and movement which is necessary to illustrate all the necessary steps in performing a stitch.  But when actually knitting, all the movements revert to their true subtlety and efficiency.  If you try to mimic the exaggerated movements of the demonstration, you will be awkward, inefficient, and result in tension and pain in the fingers, hands and forearms.

For the time being, I am taking a little break from knitting and working on a couple of crochet projects (holding the yarn in my left hand!), but I have no doubt that my quest to perfect my Continental technique is merely on sabbatical for a time!

moreplease wrote
on Mar 15, 2014 8:36 AM

I taught myself to crochet from a Woman's Day magazine, yes I hold the yarn in my left hand but have used the hook to pick up yarn, not my finger to wrap the yarn. Always wanted to knit but it looked SO complicated and I could not get the hang of casting on - my friend finally taught me and my first project was a garter stitch cardigan for my mom. I've tried to learn picking multiple times, even purchased Biggan's video. I haven't given up but  I can't keep tension, cannot wrap the yarn as she does nor hold the needles her way. I knit as much as I can on one or two circulars to keep from having to purl! Recently I've gone back to crochet more than knitting as I am much faster and complete more projects in less time. The difference in how much yarn is required is the only down side I can see

NancyJakiela wrote
on Mar 15, 2014 8:21 AM

I'm a picker for 3 different reasons - my German grandmother taught me, I learned to crochet first and I'm left handed.

I don't hold my yarn as attractively as the video (I have to work on that!) and I have had throwers look at me and say "what are you doing?!" but to me throwing looks like alot of wasted motion!

KarenG@4 wrote
on Mar 15, 2014 7:06 AM

I am a thrower. I have tried to be a picker but cannot control my tension as well that way. I bet this is because I don't practice picking but just knit whatever I am knitting!  Much like when I took piano lessons and I know, I know practice will make perfect but Mom I hate practicing!

AliPegasus wrote
on Mar 15, 2014 5:10 AM

I am a thrower, although I don't really "throw" my yarn.  However, I viewed this tutorial because I love seed stitch but hate to knit it.....all that moving makes my tension get wonky.  I plan on practicing this.  I'm hoping it's not too hard to get used to, since I crochet with my yarn in my left hand....we'll see!

LindaH@55 wrote
on Mar 15, 2014 2:17 AM

I learned English-style knitting from my aunt, a war bride from England, when I was 5 years old. Every time I knit, I think about her patience teaching me to do this wonderful craft. Germany was my home for a year right after high school and even though I was exposed to the continental style of knitting, I didn't "pick" it up. In the intervening years, I've heard that the English stubbornly stuck to their "throwing" method, rejecting the continental version due to World Wars I and II, showing that they were not in league with the enemy. Interesting that politics plays a role even in something as seemingly innocent as knitting. I appreciate the wonderful information provided by Knitting Daily and all the talented people in the knitting world. Thank you for this video!

LindaH@55 wrote
on Mar 15, 2014 2:17 AM

I learned English-style knitting from my aunt, a war bride from England, when I was 5 years old. Every time I knit, I think about her patience teaching me to do this wonderful craft. Germany was my home for a year right after high school and even though I was exposed to the continental style of knitting, I didn't "pick" it up. In the intervening years, I've heard that the English stubbornly stuck to their "throwing" method, rejecting the continental version due to World Wars I and II, showing that they were not in league with the enemy. Interesting that politics plays a role even in something as seemingly innocent as knitting. I appreciate the wonderful information provided by Knitting Daily and all the talented people in the knitting world. Thank you for this video!

Daniela Ito wrote
on Mar 15, 2014 1:10 AM

Like  "DeLoraMaxine"  below, I also knit continental differently - I pick the yarn from behind the needle for the knit stitch and for the purl stitch, while the yarn is in the front, I do come from behind the needle to get it - hard to explain. I learned to knit this way from my Bulgarian grandmother. I have never met anyone that knits like me.  It creates problems for some patterns that require knit through the back loop for instance - that is how I always knit ... So i have to adapt a lot and sometimes i just cant get the pattern to look right - Oh well ....

Kaye@3 wrote
on Mar 15, 2014 12:06 AM

I learned to knit when I was in the fifth grade from a little German lady.

That was almost 50 years ago! I am a picker. I have been told that picking

is the German style of knitting. This would make sense! I still love knitting.

I took crocheting lessons when I was a senior in high school. But, crocheting

never stuck with me. I guess that I just love knitting too much!!

lookma wrote
on Mar 14, 2014 11:55 PM

I'm a Continental knitter.  I purl backwards (wrap the yarn opposite from the standard direction) because it is so quick and efficient.  That means that to knit a purl I either have to knit-through-the-back-loop (ktbl), or else live with a twisted stitch.  I imagine for some complex patterns that would cause problems, but so far, at beginner to intermediate level, it hasn't been an issue.

ssswolfe wrote
on Mar 14, 2014 11:47 PM

I have always been a thrower but recently learned Continental from a UTube video.  I wanted to be able to do 2-handed fair isle.  While I find Continental easier and faster, I decided to stay with throwing for my current Icelandic sweater project.  I discovered my left-hand was quite a bit tighter than my right.  I think that's just because we always tighten up when we're doing something new.  I'll just do a little seed stitch practice after this & get the tension looser.  Then . . . I'm never going back to throwing except when I need two hands!  I can hardly wait for the fun of moving on to new projects faster!

Lee@2 wrote
on Mar 14, 2014 11:41 PM

Pick left handed, throw right handed. I wish I could pick right handed but can't seem to get a handle on it

Mearla wrote
on Mar 14, 2014 11:13 PM

I learned knitting using the Continental method from my Home Economics teacher in 8th grade.   She taught us both methods.  However, once I learned Continental, I never wanted to use the other method.  I have never met anyone else who knits Continental and have never heard it called "picking".

vitamind wrote
on Mar 14, 2014 9:58 PM

I'm a thrower, but I don't want to be!! I'm going to try again to FORCE myself to pick.

Laura wrote
on Mar 14, 2014 8:15 PM

Because I learned to crochet first, it's always been natural to hold my yarn in my left hand with knitting.  I even hold both yarns in my left hand when doing colorwork.

Laura wrote
on Mar 14, 2014 8:15 PM

Because I learned to crochet first, it's always been natural to hold my yarn in my left hand with knitting.  I even hold both yarns in my left hand when doing colorwork.

Gail Will wrote
on Mar 14, 2014 7:59 PM

thank you for showing HOW to hold the yarn.  Tensioning the yarn is my problem.  I'll persevere.

Gail Will wrote
on Mar 14, 2014 7:59 PM

thank you for showing HOW to hold the yarn.  Tensioning the yarn is my problem.  I'll persevere.

Dhfrank wrote
on Mar 14, 2014 7:34 PM

thank you for this great video!  you make it so easy to understand. Now I have to try it.

jnholzhauer wrote
on Mar 14, 2014 6:46 PM

I am a thrower, mostly because I am self-taught. Trying to learn continental via pictures is nearly impossible!

jnholzhauer wrote
on Mar 14, 2014 6:46 PM

I am a thrower, mostly because I am self-taught. Trying to learn continental via pictures is nearly impossible!

jnholzhauer wrote
on Mar 14, 2014 6:46 PM

I am a thrower, mostly because I am self-taught. Trying to learn continental via pictures is nearly impossible!

on Mar 14, 2014 6:35 PM

Definitely a picker - I learned in my teens, and that is how I learned.  I started holding my yarn the same way I did when I crocheted, and it just seemed to be the easiest for me - and I never looked back!  I have watched some throwers knit as fast as pickers, but it seems like a lot of extra movements.  I never knew what the method was called until I met a knitter from Finland - and I felt so exotic at the time - knitting with the continental method...LOL!

maggie664 wrote
on Mar 14, 2014 6:32 PM

I am a thrower too. I first became aware of the "pick" method when watching my Latvian High School friend knit. I have tried this method knitting the plain row and find it more comfortable but always seem to revert to the "throw" method (especially if the TV has been turned on). With your encouragement I've decided to persevere.

Incidentally we call ' seed stitch' actually 'moss stitch' over here in NZ!.

curtiselaine wrote
on Mar 14, 2014 6:30 PM

I'm an Englisher because I can maintain an even tension over knit and purl stitches. My attempts at continental has various tension and a poor appearance.

on Mar 14, 2014 6:19 PM

I'm a thrower because that was how I was taught a multitude of years ago.  I would be interested in trying to test my brain but we do not have a LYS so would need a book or online instruction.  You've tempted me!

camille@17 wrote
on Mar 14, 2014 6:08 PM

I began knitting as a thrower, but then on a visit to Brazil a woman taught me to knit "Portuguese style" (with the yarn around my neck and using my left thumb to wrap it).  It's very efficient and easy to switch back and forth between knitting an purling.

Melissa@2 wrote
on Mar 14, 2014 6:01 PM

For knitting, the yarn hangs out wrapped around my left middle finger making it easy for me to throw it around the RH needle once the latter is poked through a st on the LH needle.  But when I purl, or do ribbing or moss or work on short circulars or small circumferences (happy pi day!) on DPNs, I hold the yarn as if I will be purling: between my left thumb and index finger tips.  That allows me to whip it from front to back (of the work) as needed to work a k or p st.  Bizarre, but I find I move surprisingly fast through the vast majority of whatever projects are OTN ATM, which is generally 3-4.

DeniseH@12 wrote
on Mar 14, 2014 4:49 PM

I am a thrower. I was somewhat self taught to knit, so I picked up that habit.

on Mar 14, 2014 4:45 PM

I started out crocheting when I was 7 or 8 and my grandmother taught me to hold my yarn in my left hand. When I started knitting it seemed perfectly natural to hold my yarn in my left hand and finger pick. When I took a class I had no idea I was going it "weird" for America until my instructor pointed it out. 3/4 were holding there yarn in the right hand and were throwing. Continental is sooo much faster than throwing. I only throw when doing color work.

KElittle wrote
on Mar 14, 2014 3:29 PM

I'm a picker.  I have rheumatoid arthritis and learned that I could continue knitting using the picking method.  I was a thrower for the first 15 years or so of my knitting career.  Picking is much faster and far less stressful on the wrists.

Karen

PennySeymour wrote
on Mar 14, 2014 3:26 PM

I am a "thrower", but anyone who knits entrelac has discovered that the constant turning of the work is a pain. I taught myself to "knit backwards" from Rosemary Drysdale's book and entrelac is so much easier and, just as important, it is so much smoother. I think continental knitting is the same idea.

on Mar 14, 2014 3:24 PM

I have been a thrower almost forever.  I began knitting as a teen.  At college knitting was done during free time.  There were no computers.  

Over the years I experimented with picking, but did not feel my knitting was as even as I wanted,

Now, after knitting for well over 55 years, I am going to try again.

Wish me luck.

reelin wrote
on Mar 14, 2014 2:52 PM

You are correct that Continental is efficient and easy, however, the way you were taught is the least efficient way of doing this efficient style. It is also not an ergonomically healthy way to do it. Let me explain: It is unnecessary and inadvisable to stretch out your left index finger away from your work. If you keep it snug up against the needle you will not have to make as many movements nor as large movements as you have been taught. When first learning Continental, most people lose their tension and thus move the index finger further and further away from their work. Then they just learned to deal with that by continuing to hold the fingers out in the air and to teach the next person to start out far from their work. I think if you try to adjust to keeping all the fingers of your left hand on your work you will see a big difference in economy of movement and comfort (especially on the purl stitch)--two things Continental is known for.

on Mar 14, 2014 2:51 PM

I pick. I tried for a long time to learn to knit. My teachers were all throwers and in a paid class was told it was the correct way and there was no excuse for knitting any other way. I just couldn't get it, then i saw a picker on you tube and everything started clicking. I learned to knit in one afternoon. granted it took longer to get really comfortable with it but I was producing knitted fabric that day….Yeah!!!!  I watched an episode where Eunny was knitting with both hands one color on each and it looked so interesting….so I have started trying again to throw….not there yet but working on it :-)

243xnhrd82 wrote
on Mar 14, 2014 2:47 PM

I was a thrower for years.  I don't remember what made me learn picking but it might have been seed stitch.  I use both hands and techniques when I do color work which works great.  I also use throwing when I have a big block of purl to do as it is more comfortable and efficient.  I like having options.  I use circular needles for everything and particularly like using two circulars to do a pair of socks or mittens...everything comes out even and when it's done I have a pair, not another project.  I use circulars on sweaters too and do the front and back together then the sleeves together.  So much more efficient and you never have to worry whether your gauge changes in the middle or if they'll be the same length.

zeditor wrote
on Mar 14, 2014 2:26 PM

I learned to knit English (throwing) and knitted that way almost exclusively for many years. Then a year or so ago, I took a class in stranded colorwork, and working with both hands caused my continental technique to blossom. Now I seldom knit English anymore, unless I need to work on a picky section, or whole rows of purling (I am still working on the purl, although it's getting a lot better). I wrap the yarn twice for tension; wrapping once just doesn't seem to be enough.

So: learn stranded knitting! It will change your life! :-)

on Mar 14, 2014 2:23 PM

I started crocheting as a young child.  I tried to learn to knit as a young adult but was unable to get the concept.  Several years ago I saw someone knitting using the continental method so I purchased a learn to knit book and in no time was able to knit using the continental method and have enjoyed knitting ever since.  I still can't knit using the English method.  I am 67, never too old to learn!!

hanco wrote
on Mar 14, 2014 2:09 PM

I am a thrower only because that is the way I was taught to knit and never have tried any other way.  Picking looks pretty complicated, but since I have arthritis in my hands, I may have to try it.

PianoJanet wrote
on Mar 14, 2014 1:54 PM

I had "learned" to knit in high school on one project only, then never did anything else.  I had learned to crochet in Junior High and continued that until I was in my 30's.  I wanted to knit, but when I began again, I hated the throw method, so did not pursue knitting.  Then, in my 50's,  I was watching "The Carol Duvall Show" one morning and she had a Swedish lady on who knit continental style.  Thankfully, I had recorded the show, because I played that segment several times to grasp the concept.  Well, I haven't stopped knitting since.  Having the crochet background made continental knitting so much easier.  I switch back and forth from picking to throw, and also to the English style of holding the needle between the thumb and forefinger (knit ONLY!), but mostly its pick.  One thing I find odd, though, is wrapping the yarn twice around the forefinger.  If I did that, the tension would be too tight.  I just have the yarn over the top of my forefinger.

on Mar 14, 2014 1:48 PM

I'm a "picker" convert. It was the seed stitch sweater I knitted for my 6'6" husband that did it for me!   Curly

davisi wrote
on Mar 14, 2014 1:29 PM

Throwing was how I learned but it seemed too much work.  I taught myself to pick.  I prefer continental for most of my knitting, but change it up and go english for reverse stockinette.  

on Mar 14, 2014 1:27 PM

I learned to knit continental style so many years ago. Yes, it was awkward for a few rows, but I could immediately see how much better it was to knit this way so I stuck with it and am so glad I did.

FutureKitty wrote
on Mar 14, 2014 1:22 PM

Hi, I started out learning the throwing technique when 10 years old.  After getting serious about knitting about 3-4 years ago, I realized I was not wrapping the yarn correctly for the purl stitch.  I had done it for so long that I simply couldn't relearn the correct way.

My solution was to teach myself to knit the pick style, or continental.  (Thank goodness for YouTube!!)    I'm naturally left handed, but pretty much ambidextrous so it wasn't too awkward.  It took me a while to come up with a consistent way to hold the yarn for purling, but I persevered.  I even taught my granddaughter how to knit continental.  

I have found that I occasionally fall back into throwing when knitting, especially with bulky yarns and big needles.  

cbatzner wrote
on Mar 14, 2014 1:06 PM

I am a picker...always have been.  This is the method that my mother taught me when I was a young girl.  She called it the "Norwegian style" of knitting because a little-old Norwegian lady had taught her.  I always thought the "throwing" style was a method that novice knitters used.

Kjaree wrote
on Mar 14, 2014 12:50 PM

I was a thrower for many many years, but resolved to learn the pick up method this year. Using great on line tutorials and much practice I am now a picker. It is natural to me now and more efficient but not yet faster for me.  I now have been a picker about two months. An old dog can learn new tricks!

lbkeeling wrote
on Mar 14, 2014 12:44 PM

I am left-handed and taught myself to knit English style then taught myself continental when I got tired of throwing.  I usually knit continental now because it's easier and faster.  A couple of years ago, I taught myself to knit socks but kept getting mixed up doing the short rows, so I started combining English and continental for the heels and tows.  I knit the sock continental [picking] and I short row back and forth on the knit side switching knitting styles.  Socks are easy and fast this way and I don't have to think about short rowing on the purl side!

on Mar 14, 2014 12:38 PM

I've been knitting for several years. I adopted the continental method after I watched Lily Chin on The Tonight Show. She knitted so fast and I wanted to do the same. Your method is so much better than what I've done in the past. I will like your method of wrapping the yarn for tension on the left. I was literally picking up the yarn to do a pearl stitch. Thank you so very much for your video.

Linda Martin

Roanoke, VA

jeveenglish wrote
on Mar 14, 2014 12:24 PM

Thank you for the detailed video, very helpful.  I do both picking and throwing especially with color work and double knitting.  It took awhile to become consistent with my tension when I started picking, but now my stitches match nicely.  I switch off to the different hands when one gets too tired.  It really helps to relieve any tension in my fingers on a large project.  I began my trials by switching styles when knitting stockinette stitch.  First row knit with picking then turn, back with my right hand throwing my purl stitches, because it seemed easier with my right.  As I got better I use both hands for both kinds of stitches.  Ribbing and seed stitch is much more fun. I still use throwing for lace, practicing yarn overs and nubs with my left hand as I go.

Thanks again, love your website.

Janet English , Bremerton , WA

LuanneR@2 wrote
on Mar 14, 2014 12:15 PM

I must try this, because even with the throwing motion I use (I do not lift my right hand from the needle, so no elbow or shoulder movement is involved - I've seen it called lever knitting), seed stitch requires a lot of extra motions.  I love the way it looks and drapes so it would be great to work it a bit faster.

lostinayarn wrote
on Mar 14, 2014 12:02 PM

I'm a picker. I learned to crochet about ten years ago, but always knew I wanted to learn to knit too eventually. I tried off and on for two years, but I could never keep my stitches on my needles and dropped the right one many times. I even saw my right needle fly across the room one time! No, not on purpose, though I felt like throwing it again after retrieving it. Finally I learned about Continental knitting and it made so much sense to my crochet adept fingers. I finally knit as well as crochet! Now to improve my drafting while keeping my drop spindle turning when spinning yarn.

MelanieFiore wrote
on Mar 14, 2014 11:51 AM

Right now I'm neither. I'm trying to find a technique where I don't use my left thumb (ligament issue). Any suggestions?

DeLoraMaxine wrote
on Mar 14, 2014 11:46 AM

This is interesting because I have been knitting for 60plus years and have used a slightly different continental style.  I go from the back side of the needle for the knit stitch to pick the yarn and then do the opposite for the purl stitch.  The front being away from me and the purl on the side by me.  It goes very fast when I get going.  This is the way my mother knitted and I would suppose her mother did the same.  I have not seen anyone else who knits like I do.

jpteach777 wrote
on Mar 14, 2014 11:39 AM

Like you, I was a thrower and decided to take a class at my LYS.  The teacher was fantastic, and I was the only student that evening.  She gave me the history of continental knitting as she drew a line and a dot on my left hand for where the yarn is placed and where the tension works.  She taught me the knit and purl, then demonstrated a few other stitches.  I went home and spent one week doing nothing but practice.  I now have difficulty throwing yarn.  It is so much easier and faster to be a picker.  I will be forever grateful.  I knit every day at least a little.

on Mar 14, 2014 11:26 AM

I was an thrower for twenty plus years until I saw somebody do continental knitting and knew I had to learn how to knit that way.  Now I only do continental and find it is faster and easier on my hands.

TeresaS wrote
on Mar 14, 2014 10:59 AM

I am a Picker. I feel that it is much faster and  less movement of the arms. I use circular needles for every project, socks, scarves, to sweaters. It causes less stress on the arms and hands .  My purl stitch is different from others but it works for me.

Teresa

CWS4322 wrote
on Mar 14, 2014 10:57 AM

Lefty, picker, sometimes Norwegian purler, twined knitting novice. No offense intended, but the person in the video exerts way more energy to purl than is necessary. Ironically, the area where I have pain when I spend too much time knitting (if there is such a thing),  it is not in my left hand or index fingers, but my right thumb--tendonitis.

sarahr4888 wrote
on Mar 14, 2014 10:53 AM

I'm a picker. I learned to knit in Europe. The only difference is that when I pearl I hold the string around my thumb to create the tension, which is even faster for pearling and I don't find any problems going between the two stiches. I guess it has just become natural after 30+ years of knitting. I always find it weird to watch 'throwers". It seems like a lot of wasted movement and makes knitting take longer. But then, they find it weird to see how I knit.

trishracz wrote
on Mar 14, 2014 10:45 AM

When I first went back to knitting, I was a thrower but it felt really awkward, because as a long time crocheter I had always held my yarn in my left hand.  When I found the videos on Knittinghelp.com that showed how to pick, I started doing that and feel much more comfortable.  I do use both picking and throwing for double knitting, because I cannot learn to manage holding both colors in one hand.

on Mar 14, 2014 10:30 AM

Like you, I started out throwing. I was fascinated watching my teacher pick and it seemed so efficient looking, that I started picking and never looked back. I don't do the pivot to purl, mainly because it's an extra movement I find unnecessary, but also because it sits the loop on the needle facing the same direction as the knit stitches and I like having them sit differently, so I can feel the difference without looking (like watching TV while knitting) .

ledbythelamb wrote
on Mar 14, 2014 10:29 AM

Also.. I don't wrap my yarn like you do in the video. I just hold the working yarn in my left hand with my last three fingers, and I use my pointer finger to touch the tip of the needle to make sure the stitch doesn't slide off until after I've knit it, then I gently push the stitch off.

ledbythelamb wrote
on Mar 14, 2014 10:26 AM

I taught myself to knit about 5 years ago from Youtube videos and I've knit everything from hooded scarves, mitts, socks, blankets and hats to sweaters.  I have always been a picker, although I didn't know it was common. I tried it the "English way" because all the videos I watched were throwers, but my working yarn naturally gravitated to my left hand and throwing was awkward and (to me) clumsy. I could not for the life of me keep a good grasp on my knitting and my right needle would slip :D

I think picking is faster, my stitches are more even in gauge and I am less likely to drop my work.

Picker for life I guess! It would be agony to me to use the throw method on seed stitch!  Maybe I'm a picker because I grew up crocheting.

porquinha wrote
on Mar 14, 2014 10:17 AM

In Brasil, we throw. I've learned picking online. My mom stil does not understand it when she sees me knitting: it is so much faster and more efficient and my stich is more constant. I just need to learn a trick: purl and knit are not evenly loose: should I hold the yarn differently?

SharonL@9 wrote
on Mar 14, 2014 10:17 AM

I taught myself the English method from a book when I was young, but after seeing the Continental method and trying it, that's what I use because of the economy of motion.  I don't know where the term "picker" and "thrower" came

from but they sound like one more instance of the degradation of language in favor of slang for everything.

Ann@154 wrote
on Mar 14, 2014 10:04 AM

Mom taught me what her mother taught her - continental picking!  Have learned other methods but have to search them out if I need them on occasions.  Loved learning Portuguese for purling but alas, the flicking hurts my thumb joint and pain shoots into my wrist.  Once learned twined knitting and had to throw with right hand.  Sometimes when knitting backwards I'll find myself throwing for a rest.....

When trying to follow a brioche video - the teacher was throwing and I had to search the internet to understand how to do in one step that which she demonstrated in 3 or 4 steps.  

Marny wrote
on Mar 14, 2014 10:00 AM

I learned to knit by throwing ... and even in watching the pick method, I see more movements that way than I am doing by throwing.

However, I would still like to practice picking so that when doing entrelac I don't have to turn ... might not happen, since I don't mind turning.

SharonF wrote
on Mar 14, 2014 9:57 AM

My Mother is Dutch and learned to knit in school.  They taught thethrow" method, so you ould think that would be considered continental! HAHAHA. I knit faster with the throw method.

pink angel wrote
on Mar 14, 2014 9:56 AM

I am a picker and a thrower, but for something with only 20 or less stitches I just work back and forward without turning the work. Knit or purl rows or a mixture of both

rangapeach wrote
on Mar 14, 2014 9:53 AM

I've been a "picker" all my knitting life (German grandmothers and all that) but I've tried throwing and I can see how combination knitting would be useful for colourwork. I haven't taken up throwing because I have small hands and short fingers and though the "parlour style"  with the right hand needle cradled in the thumb joint looks rather elegant I find it extremely fatiguing.

I love the Andean/Portuguese/ Mediterranean way of purling with the yarn tensioned around the neck/through a blouse pin and with the yarn flicked by the left thumb. It is great for working two colour patterns from the reverse side and ensures that your yarn floats are not too tight or too loose.

I think each person's hand  mechanics/ergonomics are individual, so you need to find what works for you.

on Mar 14, 2014 9:53 AM

I was taught to knit by my Welsh mother who was a thrower and I it just seems natural to me.  When I have watched the ladies who own the local yarn store knit continental style it always looks to me like they are attacking their knitting.  I might give it a try to see if I can do it but I doubt I will change permanently.

on Mar 14, 2014 9:45 AM

As a lefty, i learned how to knit continental style by default - it made the most sense to me and I had no idea there were any advantages to it. It may  be one of the only places where being a lefty is beneficial!! :)

on Mar 14, 2014 9:30 AM

I use both depending on what I am knitting.  I have recently been using the Portuguese style as it is even easier.  Donna

on Mar 14, 2014 9:30 AM

I definitely pick. I think my grandmother originally taught me to knit throw-style. No wonder I almost gave up on knitting. I don't remember how I came to start picking, but that's why I still knit.

on Mar 14, 2014 9:28 AM

I am a Picker.  That is the method my grandmother taught me over 65 years ago, and it has served me well.  I tried throwing, but it seems too fiddly for me.

cryannayon wrote
on Mar 14, 2014 9:26 AM

Good morning:  I'm a thrower because that's the way I was taught as a child.  I have to tell you that since finishing a patterned-seed-stitch channel sweater  in 2012, I had to have surgery on my wrist for tendonitis and a cyst that developed.  I blamed it on that "killer sweater" as I call it now.

At 63 yrs. old, I need to learn to be a "picker" but I wasn't sure about how to control the tension.  Thank you for this nudge and will give it a try again.  FYI:  I do wear the sweater but have learned to knit slower and in shorter time blocks.  

Carolyn

judyknitter2 wrote
on Mar 14, 2014 9:26 AM

I am a thrower, who can also pick.  My mother, who was a picker, would not teach me that way.  She claimed, that MOST people who pick have a different tension on their purl stitches than knit stitches.  If you look at their reverse stockinette, you see a space every two rows.  I have checked this out for the last 50 or 60 years, and I do agree.  There are some people who can pick and get the even tension that throwing produces, but many cannot.  I think this accounts for those who claim they never have reverse stockinette be the public side of their garments.  This is not a problem in textured patterns like seed stitch.

Bluemom wrote
on Mar 14, 2014 9:10 AM

I'm a flicker, and it's so fast and easy!  I taught myself to knit, so I didn't know better (it was before videos online).  Hold the yarn in right hand and flick it back and forth over the needle with my first finger.  Hardly move my hand.  And I have no problems with the muscles/tendons in my hand.

vsheehan wrote
on Mar 14, 2014 9:03 AM

I learned to crochet first and did that into my early 40's. When I learned to knit, I was taught by a thrower.  I didn't notice that I was doing it different.  I naturally gravitated to picking.  The one who taught me to knit always said my knitting had a twist to it.  I still don't know why that would be.

Anne-LiseH wrote
on Mar 14, 2014 8:52 AM

I have read of your change from being a thrower to being a picker. As I am a Dane I am, and will forever be a picker. But the way you show the picking you use far to much energy and loose speed with your index finger high in the air and all the tightening the thread around your fingers. I learnt from my grandmother and she did from hers ...etc. We, and I, place the yarn over my index finger, and then under, over and under the little'st finger, and - then I hold my left index close to the left knitting needle, and save a lot of energy by little movements og my left index finger. Also by placing the yarn the way I do I have a very flexible hold of my yarn and thus producing a very even piece of knitting whether it be knit or purl. I have been doing a lot of translating Danish knitting instructions into English/American and I hope the knitters will find it much easier and faster to knit our (Continental) way - and have fun doing it. /anne-lise H.

Grandy@2 wrote
on Mar 14, 2014 8:51 AM

I am primarily a thrower, but I do like to pick as well, especially when I am doing stockinette and when I knit with two colors.  Grandy 2

Kjaree wrote
on Mar 14, 2014 8:51 AM

I learned to knit as a thrower so long ago I don't even remember who taught me but this year, one of my resolutions was to learn the pick up method. Using great online tutorials and lots of practice, I did learn and now it's so natural to me and more efficient use of movement.

merrilyIsew wrote
on Mar 14, 2014 8:51 AM

I started out knitting as a "thrower" .  Then I saw someone kitting the Continental style and they were so fast!  I decided on my next project I would learn to knit that way.  It took a whole sweater before I felt comfortable with it.  Now I knit either way.  Mostly I "pick".  But if I have two colors, I use both hands for holding thread.  Or if my left hand gets tired because I have been at it too long, I change to my right hand for a couple of rows.

Fiberlicious wrote
on Mar 14, 2014 8:50 AM

I was a thrower for 40 years. Until I made an oversized, long-sleeved, turtleneck tunic in seed stitch. With all the yf-ing and yb-ing it was essentially like knitting it twice!

So, I forced myself to learn continental, but the purl was egregious (I pretty much have no dexterity).

Then I discovered combination knitting and never looked back.

LadyLatte wrote
on Mar 14, 2014 8:48 AM

I knit continental style - my mother learned to knit this way from her German aunt and  taught me the same.  I love seed stitch !!!

A few years ago, I was volunteering at a school library and the librarian had started a knitting club for 4th and 5th graders.  She asked if I would help and I gladly agreed. Trouble was, she'd taught all the kids to "throw" - so I spent many an afternoon just untangling their yarn or helping cast on !!

ndivozzo wrote
on Mar 14, 2014 8:47 AM

I was taught to knit continental style as a child by my grandmother. I wasn't aware there was any other way until I was in my twenties. I've tried to teach friends to be pickers but I've met a lot of resistance. Continental knitting is much easier and I find keeping an even tension to be easier with picking. The previous poster is correct about wrapping the working yarn around the finger. It is unnecessary. Just drape it across your left finger and hold the rest of the yarn in your left hand against the left needle as you knit. It's a MUCH faster way to knit and I could never figure out why anyone would knit any other way! However, in my circle of knitting friends, I am the only one who knits this way. The local yarn shop treats me as an oddball.

RMSKHood wrote
on Mar 14, 2014 8:42 AM

I've always picked. Was shown how to knit by a thrower and started picking on my own. It is so much easyer to do my stitches.

IreneL@6 wrote
on Mar 14, 2014 8:41 AM

I'm a continental UNCROSSED picker for 67 years - it's a much easier, faster way to do the purl stitch because I don't have to wrap the yarn around the needle.  I've taught so many pickers to do it this way and they love how simple and fast the technique is - www.youtube.com/watch  Try it - you'll like it.

rachmouse wrote
on Mar 14, 2014 8:38 AM

I think this a somewhat narrow definition of how people can knit.  There are plenty of people who do a version of "picking"  with the yarn in their right hand, and people who "throw" with the yarn in their left hand remove it and throw/wrap the yarn around the needle.  People who remove their hand from the needle and wrap the yarn.  This being people who knit in the "right" handed way of moving stitches from the left to the right needle.  People who choose to knit from the right needle onto the left one generally do things differently than addressed in the article, but not necessarily.  

I prefer to separate left hand/pick and right hand/throw from each other when teaching since people can do any combination and still get great results.   And I think it is a valuable skill for a knitter to know how to knit in several different ways since we all get slightly different results when we change the way we hold the yarn.

grammy627 wrote
on Mar 14, 2014 8:38 AM

I'm a thrower but I've tried to learn picking because of hand issues.. I need a lot of practice!!

CheriMo wrote
on Mar 14, 2014 8:37 AM

I learned to knit when I was very young. My first project was clothes for my Barbie doll! My German grandmother taught me how to knit so I knit Continential. I've learned how to knit English so I can do color work, but I find it to be a slower process (to many moves required to make a stitch) and more difficult to control the tension.

drumpointer2 wrote
on Mar 14, 2014 8:36 AM

From looking at this video my take is that the knitter is "picking" when knitting, but not picking when purling.

The knitter is actually wrapping or throwing with the left hand when purling.

I knit a continental style. I think people do it differently. I wrap every stitch, both  knit and purl, I do not pick. What I mean is the yarn is held by the index finger of my left hand but the middle finder guides the yarn around the needle (wrapping? throwing?) rather than "fishing" for the yarn (picking). In my experience with continental knitters many of them who pick take the yarn under the needle when purling rather than over (it's easier)  thereby creating a backward stitch on the needle that is easily correcting by knitting through the back on the next row in flat knitting.

A problem when that stitch is not knitted on the next row or if you are knitting in the round.

Anyway, I am a great supporter of continental knitting as a better way to knit, however it is only better if you think so. But if one is just learning, I'd say definitely try to learn continental.

GigiMV22 wrote
on Mar 14, 2014 8:36 AM

I've never really had a desire to learn picking but perhaps I'll try it, I'm very,very fast with throwing and combine two movements into one.  Throwing happens simultaneously with inserting the needle and I pull it off while helping it with the left. You would have to see it.  It's is fast but I do see how seed stitch would be helpful in continental. I combine the throwing with each needle movement here too  for purling or switching yarn from front to back, but I just made a 60 inch seed stitch scarf ( not something I would normally do) and perhaps this would have been helpful last week when I did that! ;)

Dreamfli wrote
on Mar 14, 2014 8:23 AM

I am a picker with a twist! I do a lot of lace knitting and found its easier to knit backwards to read my knitting as I go across. I cannot train my right hand to hold the yarn so I have to throw when I work my way back across.

jeanie@27 wrote
on Mar 14, 2014 8:16 AM

I started as a thrower, converted to continental because of my sweet German sister-in-law. faster, less wrist pain, and most important it made her happy.

liudadovy wrote
on Mar 14, 2014 8:09 AM

I am Lithuanian and I learned to knit  "picker" way (I haven't heard that word- must be new).

You don't need to wrap the yarn around the finger, just drape it and hold the yarn down with the rest of the fingers. Her technique seems excessive.

brylstwrt wrote
on Mar 14, 2014 8:03 AM

certainly going to give a go.. thanks for the instructions.. I often watched people knit this way.. and wondered !!

dhansler wrote
on Mar 14, 2014 7:50 AM

I am a picker!! I learned to knit from my mom who learned from hers. I am so glad that there is more online about continental knitting. I had given up knitting as a teenager but really wanted to get back to it but couldn't find anyone that could help me. They used to say I don't know what you are doing! My mom and grandma were to far away to help. I was a young mom with a 3 and 1 year old and really wanted to try to get going.Then my husband found and bought me a book that had both methods of knitting and I was away. Over the years, I have been able to 'convert' a few of my friends. Now I have the pleasure of knitting for 5 grandchildren, all 5 and under. Look forward to doing more in a few years when I retire. I tried English, but I am definitely a Continental knitter!

BettyB@3 wrote
on Mar 14, 2014 7:46 AM

I am a picker all the time.  My grandmother learned to knit in school in Czechoslovakia many years ago.  She taught me to knit so that is the only way I have done it.  I've never had hand pain or problems.

on Mar 14, 2014 7:32 AM

I learned to knit at twelve yrs. old for a part in a play. The librarian taught me to pick.  I did picking until maybe ten yrs. ago.(?). I read something about continental knitting, and was curious about it. Read about it, tried it, and because of curiosity , I continue until today to use picking. I taught my friend to pick.  She had had problems with her wrist and hand when she would knit. With picking, she said that it was much more comfortable knitting. So my conversion was from couriosity, and my friend from necessity.

Sally Sea wrote
on Mar 14, 2014 7:27 AM

hi, during the past two weeks I have taught myself to pick as I was worried by some pain in my right hand. I am at the top of the back of a simple vest pattern as a try out and I'm getting the hang of it although for some reason I am knitting into the back of the knit stitches but the front of the purls. Not sure what difference it will make its just easier!

I love the daily emails, thank you.

Sally in Norfolk UK

trinity2014 wrote
on Mar 14, 2014 7:25 AM

I'm a thrower, plus I do not wrap my yarn around my fingers. I've been working on learning to be a picker, plus I've also been practicing my backwards knitting (no turn knitting) so I can become more efficient when doing entrelac! :)

on Mar 14, 2014 7:19 AM

As a child, I was taught to knit as a thrower by my grandmother and mother. After knitting sporadically for about 50 years, I stepped up my projects and noticed it was taking me too long to knit that way when some of my friends were breezing through theirs when they "picked" their knitting. It took me a good two years of persistent practice but now I knit predominantly by picking stitches. Occasionally I will revert to throwing for a few stitches when I want them to be tight, like for an I-cord.

on Mar 14, 2014 7:19 AM

As a child, I was taught to knit as a thrower by my grandmother and mother. After knitting sporadically for about 50 years, I stepped up my projects and noticed it was taking me too long to knit that way when some of my friends were breezing through theirs when they "picked" their knitting. It took me a good two years of persistent practice but now I knit predominantly by picking stitches. Occasionally I will revert to throwing for a few stitches when I want them to be tight, like for an I-cord.

on Mar 14, 2014 7:15 AM

I pick when I am knitting, but my purling is strange. For seed stitch or when I have just a few purl stitches, I use the Norwegian style of purling. If I'm doing more than a few success of ourling, then I'm a thrower.  Never could pick up on continental ourlung.