The switch to continental is underway, and it’s going . . . okay. My shoulder definitely appreciates it, and I’ve picked up the basic technique a lot faster than I thought I would. The hardest part is resisting the urge to just switch over to English. The second hardest part is something with which I could really use some help.

I have been experimenting with methods for holding the yarn. The first one I tried was simply wrapping it twice around my index finger; the second was wrapping it once around my pinky and then passing it over my index finger. Both of these work fine for a minute or so, but then (for reasons that I have yet to understand) the tension suddenly goes out of the yarn, my gauge goes to hell, and I can’t even pull the stitches snug.

I’ve tried two different modifications to the above techniques:

  1. Wrapping the yarn around my index finger three times
  2. Wrapping it around my pinky (once) and my index finger (once)

These methods all resulted in too much tension. The yarn wouldn’t run smoothly through my fingers, and I ended up with too little yarn between my finger and the needle to do so much as wrap a stitch.

So, continental knitters, how do you handle the working yarn? Any and all advice is more than welcome. I feel like I’m a beginner all over again, and while that’s a good spiritual exercise, it’s pretty much driving me bonkers. My English knitting is even, consistent, and fast; switching to Continental is like going into my house blindfolded after someone rearranged all of the furniture. Help!


  • Laura says:

    I’ll come out of the shadows for this one.

    I had similar issues finding a good wrap, then suddenly I just did.
    I wrap around my index finger once and interlace the rest in front of my middle finger
    behind my ring finger and in front of my pinky. I still occasionally get too tight
    and have to loosen it up, but that’s usually only when I’m tense.

  • beth says:

    I do it the way the video shows. around the pinky, under the ring and middle fingers, and then over the index finger.

  • Jen says:

    I have had the same problems whenever I’ve tried continental, I can’t make the switch because I get frustrated with how to keep my tension consistent. You’ve inspired me… maybe I’ll start again, with an easy project… I hate feeling like a beginner knitter!

  • donab says:

    I also wrap once around my pinky, then under my middle two fingers and over the index finger. I add a little bit more drag to the yarn kinda subconsciously by holding my pinky and ring finger close together to kind of pinch the yarn when it is feeling loose.

  • sue says:

    I learned to chrochet before knitting, and find now I use the same technique of sorts to hold the yarn. Once you find the under over wrapping that you’re comfortable with – you will make the tension adjustment by sqeezing your fingers together to resist the yarn’s movement. You may find it useful to learn to chrochet – make a pot holder or bathmat? That will train your hand to hold and tension the yarn.

  • Erika says:

    I hold it so that, looking at the top of my hand, it goes:

    Skein -> Between pinky and ring finger -> Over ring finger -> Under middle finger ->
    Over index finger -> Needles

  • anne says:

    I let the yarn slide between my index and middle finger, lifting it slightly with the middle finger while I poke the right needle down to catch the stitch. I don’t wrap the yarn anywhere at all — in fact, I like a good amount of slack coming from the ball.

  • Jenna says:

    I have the same problem when I do two-handed fair isle; I’m always adjusting the yarn in my left hand. I’ll have to try out some of these suggestions myself!

  • Alisa says:

    If my tension is off I’ll wrap the yarn twice around my pinky finger and then carry it under my ring and middle fingers, and over the index finger: this can get too tight, sometimes, but it’s better than other ways I’ve tried.

    I know this won’t be terribly helpful advice: it gets a lot better with practice. In the meanwhile, it’ll be kind of infuriating, and you’ll find a way to hold the yarn that will work for you.

    Good luck!

  • kat says:

    As a continental knitter, I’m with anne (comment #7). That wrapping stuff just results in too tight of stitches.

  • alana says:

    I suggest chalking your hands, like gymnasts do.

  • Sharah says:

    I don’t know if you know how to crochet, but I have found that

  • CamoBunny says:

    as mentioned above, the ‘weave’ between the fingers works well. i learned to knit this way, and somehow keep a fairly consistent tension. the nice part about it is that you can just flick your index finger a little bit to get the working yarn over the right-hand needle, instead of having to drop/wrap.

  • Carol M says:

    I wrap the yarn once around my pinkie, let it flow across my palm, then twice around my index finger. After every few stitches I lift my pinkie to ease the lenght of yarn across my palm so the tension doesn’t get too tight. I learned to crochet as a child so holding the yarn the same way when knitting is very natural to me.

  • I wrap it around my pinkie once, but then hold my ring finger against it gently to work the tension. The yarn travels up the first crease of every finger until it goes behind and over my pointer.

    Something else you could try is to wrap once or twice around your ring and middle fingers held together.

  • Melissa says:

    I do the weave as well–through all my fingers, then wrapped around the index. With both my English and German style. Are you right-handed? I had (and have) similar challenges in German, and I think it’s got more to do with my left fingers simply being less dextrous in controlling the yarn, pulling and giving slack when necessary, than my right. My right fingers do it almost automatically. That got better over time and practice, not a new method of wrapping.

  • Sandra says:

    I do it like this: Over Pinky, under ring and middle finger, and then over the index finger plus an extra wrap on the index finger. And no, this does not result in tense stitches – I knit really loosely. In fact, I always have to go down 1/2 to 1 needle size to get gauge.
    It really takes some time and practice to find your perfect way of doing it. Just keep trying.

  • May says:

    I have the same problem. While I’ve trained myself to wrap the yarn a number of different ways depending on the thickness of the yarn, the best tool I have for this (and I used it for when I know English as well) is this:

    The cro-knit tension keeper.
    I’ve been working on a number of projects and just move the tool around, but I’m planning on buying another one or two just so I can have one for each project. Hope you find something that works.

  • col says:

    wow… i guess i’m the only continental knitter that holds the yarn between my middle and my ring finger…?
    but i dont wrap it… i kinda keep my fingers together which gives me the tension… good luck w/the shoulder!!

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