I Need Your HELP! Are You a Thrower or a Picker?

Do you pick or throw?Lately there’s been some discussion in my office lately about knitting styles and which one is the most common.

When I first learned how to knit, I was taught Continental, which means I tension my working yarn in my left hand. This is also known as “picking.” There are those that knit English, which means you are a “thrower.”


1. Do you knit Continental or English? 

2. Do you use a combination of both methods?

3. Is this the first time you ever heard of the differences in knitting styles, and you knit the way you knit because that’s just how you were taught?

Please leave your comments because I MUST get answers to these burning questions!

100 Responses to I Need Your HELP! Are You a Thrower or a Picker?

  1. Ellen Polmateer says:

    I guess I’m a thrower. Learned to knit at 8 from a wonderful English woman

    • Donna says:

      I learned as a thrower from my 4th grade teacher who was a wonderful woman. As I got older and arthritis set in my hands I learned to be a picker from videos on youtube. Now I can’t see knitting any other way. I also bought the square needles. Love picking, its fast and easy on the hands. Pearling as you pick is easy to learn too. Just as you learned to throw, picking is easy too. Just takes practice.

  2. Savannagal says:

    I knit continental. My grandmother and mother knit continental – though my mom doesn’t knit very much. She’s more of a crocheter. I did not learn from either of them, but did watch them knit throughout my childhood. I learned from a local Knit In Public event, hosted by Carol Cassidy-Fayer of Midwest Fiber & Folk Art fame. A week later I went to a “Knit Out” at my local library that was hosted by The Cultured Purls knitting guild. Women at both events taught me continental knitting, though there are pickers in those groups as well. If I had to knit English I could certainly do it, but I prefer continental.

  3. Nancy says:

    I throw my yarn because that is the way I was first taught. I know it looks awkward, but it is the only way I can keep my tension consistent. I’ve tried picking and found it terribly awkward and my tension was pathetic. Yes, I could probably learn how to pick more efficiently by practicing, but I would be wasting productive knitting time.

  4. Beth says:

    I’m a thrower, it’s the way my mom taught me. I can do knit the continental way, but I haven’t been able to master the purl that way.

  5. Vickie says:


    I love knitting and I am a thrower. Although I must say I am a left handed person in every other way. Ha

    My mother was right-handed and it was the only way she knew how to knit. When I was ten years old I wanted to learn knitting so much so she showed me her way – the right handed way.

    I guess it just goes to show you that it doesn’t matter if you’re left or right handed.You can learn to knit whichever way you like.

    I have tried many, many times to learn the Continental method and while I understand how to knit left handed, my left hand just won’t work – it’s really funny to watch since I am an experienced knitter.

    I love the idea though because it looks easier and less stressful on the wrist joints and so on.

    Unfortunately because my left hand is pretty useless in knitting I am unable to work a combination of both styles so for color work and things it does taker longer to do but that’s OK, I love knitting!

    Have a nice day everyone
    Vickie D.

  6. Tara K says:

    I’m a picker … BUT .. I learned how to “knit backwards” for an entrelac project, and so I throw when knitting left to right. 🙂 I also twist my stitches, so have to compensate for that when knitting right to left, but when knitting left to right, I do not twist. So it sounds complicated, but basically it just means that I do stockinette flat without turning 🙂 Probably more information than you really wanted!

  7. délia says:

    I’m a thrower. Learned to knit at a very young age from my mom a wonderful Portuguese lady.

  8. Debbie says:

    I guess I’m a picker…I watched a YouTube video a few weeks ago and it was my first exposure to the throwing method and was completely baffled. Now I have information to fill in those missing blanks. 🙂

  9. Helen L says:

    I’m a thrower since an elderly English friend taught me. I want to try switching to Continental but haven’t managed to get the hang of it yet. I have a lot of trouble with my right hand and am hoping that “picking” might turn out to be easier on my hands; that is, if I ever manage to retrain myself!

  10. ac pool says:

    I am a continental, picker, combination knitter. By that I mean that I hold the working yarn in my left hand and reach with the right needle to pull the yarn through the loops. When I knit, I generally knit through the back loop and the yarn goes clockwise round the needle, When I purl the yarn goes counter-clockwise around the needle.

  11. Christine says:

    I knit English style but hold the needle resting between my right thumb and forefinger and just slide my hand up the needle to put the yarn around the needle. so I never let go of the needle as most people who throw do.

  12. Evelyn Orem says:

    I guess I am a “thrower” that’s the way I was taught and I haven’t been able to change in the 44 years I have been knitting. I guess whatever is comfortable for you is the best way to do it..

  13. Peg OGrady says:

    I knit continental. I was taught how to knit the ‘new fast way’ by a nun in about 1957. I still find the English method to be slow and cumbersome.
    The only difficulty I have with the two methods is when I attend a class and the instructor is a thrower and cannot do a demonstration for a picker. Other than that, it’s live and let live!

  14. Joyce Mitchell says:

    I’m a thrower because that’s how I learned to knit. Back (a long time ago) when I was in college someone taught me how to pick, but I never became comfortable with it & have forgotten how.

  15. Jean J says:

    I use both. I’m faster ‘throwing’ since that’s the way I learned. Just teaching myself how to do the Continental so only use it for knit stitches. Still working on using it for purl stitches. I think I’ll really like Continental when I become more use to using it.

  16. Knitting Kitty says:

    I was a thrower and am now learning to be a picker — what I’d really like to do is learn to be faster!

  17. Joan Archer says:

    I knit English, I learnt at school when young. I don’t throw but keep the yarn held around my first finger and just move it forward, I don’t let go of the yarn and can knit quite quickly this way.

  18. Marie says:

    I knit both Continental and English it all depends on what I am knitting!

  19. Jane Grabenstein says:

    I am a thrower, and I think I’m too old to be re-trained (I was told once that I HAD to tension the yarn in my left hand or I wasn’t really knitting….). I get the results I want, so all is good!

  20. Jennifer R. says:

    I am a picker. My mother only crochets, is left-handed, and taught me to crochet @ a young age. When I learned to knit (about 7 years ago), a sweet lady that I worked with (who was a thrower) was my teacher. I could barely get past trying to figure out how the hold both needles and the yarn correctly. I am certain my “instructor” was becoming irritated with my incompetence. Then, something “just clicked” & I began holding yarn the way I would if I were crocheting…The rest is history!

  21. Doris says:

    I learned to knit continental at age 7 and have used it ever since (age 75 now).My mom was a lefty, so showed me the basics, but couldn’t model for my right-handedness. I figured it out on my own, so I use what is youtubed Eastern European method. When I taught my two young nephews how to knit recently, I showed them the ‘throw’ method, because most people where they live probably use the throw method and can help them with problems they run into. My sisters learned to knit at school just a few years after I learned and used the throw method, so I’ve known about both forever—much prefer continental!!!!!

  22. Rena Sue Rosenbalm says:

    I am a thrower, but would so like to be a picker. I taught myself to knit via a book and “throwing” was what was depicted.

    Upon watching videos with knitters knitting Continental style, it seems so much faster, easier, and you have less movement. I have tried to convert by my “brain” won’t work with my hands…

  23. Martha Barnett says:

    I’m a thrower. My mother taught me many years ago. I’ve tried to master continental style, but find trying to purl that way very awkward.

  24. Thrower! I learned to pick to do 2 handed fair isle, and Anna Zilboorg told me I could just carry both colors in my right hand and throw, so that’s what I do.

  25. Cindy Moore says:

    I do both. For most knitting I knit English because it’s easier on my arms. For stockinette, I knit English and Purl Middle Easter Combination. It is fast but twists the stitch.

  26. Twila Murfin says:

    Continental. My sister learned to knit while in Sweden and came home and taught me. Since I was already a crocheter this style was a natural for me.

  27. jeanniebee says:

    I first learned English when my mother taught me to knit and can still do it if I’m helping a beginner with a stitch. I was fascinated by a college housemother from Australia who used the Continental method and was determined to teach myself to do it because it looked so much faster and smoother. It was awkward at first, but I like it so much better and have been doing it for forty years or so.

  28. Grace Craven says:

    Yes, I knew the difference. I first learned to knit in 7th grade. Then it was years before I picked it up again. In fact I was married and had children. I wanted to knit mittens, hats and such. When some of my friends told me I knitted backwards I was worried as I wanted to knit my husband a sweater and didn’t want to make it wrong. So I went to someone that gave lessons. She told me I did fine I just did the Continental way. She told me she never saw anyone purl as I do, but not to change. I use my thumb to put yarn over needle. I have made some beautiful things so I don’t worry anymore.

  29. Ursula Brown says:

    I knit continental because I learned this in fourth grade in Germany. I am aware of the throw method. I was taught to crochet in third grade and was used to holding the yarn on my left hand.

  30. Anca says:

    I learned to knit from my mother and grandmother, and I knit continental, so that makes me a picker. I do know how to knit “English” but I find it more time-consuming and awkward. Also, I have to watch what I’m doing all the time, whereas when knitting something simple, like stockinette, I can do it Continental style while watching the news on TV.

    I do use the English style for some finishing techniques. I am not as familiar with this style (basically learned it from YouTube) but I will use it whenever it is the easiest way to go about what I need to accomplish.

  31. Kathy Rech says:

    I would be a thrower but never heard of this about style!

  32. Kris Beicher says:

    I knit continental style although I live in England, I just find it easier, besides, this was the way I learned to knit more than 20 years ago.

  33. Diane says:

    I can pick and I can throw. I prefer throwing because I have better tension control, and because I do (what I’ve found out is) a Turkish style purl that keeps my purl and knit rows very even, and that’s much easier to do when thrown. I mostly only pick when I’m doing two-color work, so I can carry one color in each hand. One time years ago, I knit a whole sweater in continental, just to show I could do it. Then I went right back to throwing.

  34. Ellisen says:

    Learned to knit from my Nana at age 5. A thrower I am.

  35. Ronda says:

    I was taught by a lady from Norway and didn’t know until just recently that I apparently knitted “Continental.” Guess that makes me a “picker”?

  36. Carmen says:

    I learned Continental because I was a crocheter first and heard from lots of people that this method would be easier for me to learn.

  37. Anne says:

    I knit picking. I learned to knit throwing and still cast on that way, but the woman running a yarn shop near me taught me to knit “yarn left” instead of “yarn right”. I find yarn left faster than yarn right, however one of the other knitting crazys knits yarn right and tucks the left needle between her body and her arm, and she knits yarn right faster than I can knit yarn left.

  38. NapaNonnie says:

    I learned English style many years ago from my mother when I was 6 years old and very sick with the Asian flu. 10 years ago I taught myself continental because picking is much easier on my wrists. I still use English style sometimes depending on the stitch combination.

  39. Dottie says:

    I can do both but due to a car wreck that required surgery to my left hand, I usually reserve picking for fair isle knitting. Still I can only knit the fair isle with my left hand for short periods of time.

  40. Sue says:

    I’m a picker. I finally did also teach myself to throw – but 99% I’m a picker.

  41. Staci says:

    I’m a thrower–the English method. That’s how I was taught. I’ve tried Continental, and can’t quite seem to get the grasp of it, and my tension isn’t the same.

  42. Beth says:

    Neither. I guess I’m a “Flicker”. I am a Portuguese Knitter (yarn around the neck).

    I could not learn to hold the yarn comfortably for English or Continental and it frustrated me. I found a link to a Portuguese knitting video and purchased the DVD’s from the teacher and have been knitting wonderfully and comfortably ever since.

  43. Aase says:

    1) Continental (I am Norwegian. I always use 5 needles in a set also, to make the work more flexible
    2) I have wathced the “throwers” with awe, it looks so difficult, and I cannot do it.
    3) I have heard about the English way, but as I said, never mastered it.

  44. Wendy says:

    Continental is my preferred method. I’ve tried both, but picking seems to be much more ergonomic and efficient.

  45. Bonnie says:

    I learned as a thrower but in recent years I learned to be a picker. I use both depending on my project.

  46. Ximena says:

    From Chile. I knit Continental, in this country it is the most popular.

  47. Susan Bates says:

    I was taught English (thrower) by my Scottish grandmother and her sister. I’ve tried to “pick” because I use my left hand to control yarn while crocheting but just can’t get my tension right.

  48. Debra Williams says:

    I was taught English, but I took a class and learned to knit Continental a few years later. I can still knit English, but rarely use it. (Demonstrating a new stitch to someone who knits English is about all I can think of.)

  49. Karen Dew says:

    I am a thrower and think that was the way I was taught when I was 12. I took a class plus I think my aunt helped me some, too. That was over 40 years ago.

  50. CSmith says:

    I was taught English as a child, but when I took knitting up again as an adult, I taught myself Continental because it looked faster. I like Continental better.

  51. Anne says:

    Continental, I’ve never been able to knit english. I taught my self using a how to knit book. I tried to learn watching my mother in law but she was an english style knitter. She always laughed and said I was knitting backwards. It’s good to know I was just fine knitting the way I did.

  52. Randi says:

    I’ve heard of this before.

    I grew up in Denmark and learned the ‘picker’ style over 60 years ago. After retiring I’ve had time to really knit again…addicted I think :-)!!!
    Happy Knitting everyone.

  53. Nancy J. Gill says:

    I learned to crochet first – from my mother-in-law – so when I taught myself to knit (from books – no Internet/Youtube help available back then!) it was most natural to me to hold the yarn in my left hand and ‘picking’ followed as day follows night. I guess I’ve known about the different styles for as long as I’ve been knitting, and I’v stuck with Continental because it has always seemed more expedient – quicker and with less wasted effort.

  54. Jessica N says:

    I am a picker. I learned to Crochet when I was 8 and did not learn to knit until I was 40. The person who taught me was a thrower, but she said it is easier to pick if I crochet. Now that I have been doing it for 3 years, I fine that throwing during Fair Isle or when doing entrelac or multi colored Interlock is not a big deal. Learning continental first seems to make these stitches easier

  55. Marcia Hestand says:

    I am 68, from Illinois. I have been a crocheter my entire life, and have taken up knitting as well. Because of the years of crocheting, I pick AND throw. Whatever works best on the design I attempt! Picking is more natural for a crocheter.

  56. Berit Johnsen says:

    I`m from Norway, and I learned to knit when I was 6. At first I used only one working yarn and I held it in my right hand and put it between the needles. Then, I was a thrower. When I was 8, I learned to keep the working yarn over my left hand finger, and I still do, because It works faster. But when I have yarns in different colors, I keep one on my left hand finger and use my right hand to to put the second color between the needles. In this way I keep the yarns separated. So I probably use both methods.

  57. adriene says:

    I learned to knit by throwing as a girl scout but I was inspired to learn again about 5 years ago. After my first scarf or two, I decided to learn how to knit Continental. It took a scarf or two to get comfortable, but I did. It seems faster and easier in the hands. I decided to change because I didn’t have years of English-style habits to break.

    At VKL I took a two color knitting class and picked it up quickly, since I knit left handed, Continental style and it was easy to add a second color as I’m right handed.

    I always thought Continental knitting is quicker, but I recently saw articles on speed knitting, and a number of comments related to the fact there are a lot of very fast English knitters as well. So, I’m not sure one is better than the other, but I do feel Continental is a bit quicker and easier on the hands.

  58. Denise McKnight says:

    Definitely knit continental — my mother is Swiss and taught me the way she learned. I soon realised that all my friends knit differently to me (I’m English and have lived in England all my life). Both my daughters knit the same way as me and we don’t find it too much of a problem, unless a friend is trying to show us a new technique! Much appreciate that Kara’s tutorials feel right to me

  59. Jannette says:

    I learned to knit at the age of 4 – my mother taught me – but I have no idea if she was a picker or a thrower. I am a thrower, but I can be a picker if needed!

  60. Betty says:

    I am entirely self taught. One day in my teens I bought a book on knitting and some yarn and needles and taught myself how to knit. I knit English, I throw my yarn, but I have seen Continental in books and tried it. However, I couldn’t get comfortable with it, although I wish I could. I feel as a thrower I knit slower but I have gained a reputation as a person who makes beautiful things and have helped others who wanted to knit.

  61. Sue Horlander says:

    I knit continental. My sister in law and I learned together and neither of us could master the English method. She does a lot of things left handed so it was understandable for her, but I am strictly right handed. Maybe it’s because I’m German. Also I am a crocheter and it feels more natural to do the continental.

  62. ruby says:

    I knit Continental-style from learning it in a book.

  63. Luci Lewisohn says:

    I hadn’t really thought about it because I’ve been an English knitter {thrower) for so long. Can’t imagine doing it as a “picker” but I guess I’m not too old to learn something new.

    I just worry about all the hours I’d need to devote to really becoming competent, i.e. tension, etc. So much time when I could have been “throwing” myself into creating beautiful things. Hmmm, it’s a dilemma I’ll have to think about.

  64. Eileen Thompson says:

    No No No! English knitters do not throw things! We wrap the yarn around our needle.

  65. Bobbie says:

    I am a thrower or knit with the English method. I was taught about 60 years ago by my grandmother from the Shetland Islands.

  66. Grace Kloock says:

    I’m a picker now. First learned to be a thrower, but picking is so much faster.

  67. sharon harris says:

    I don’t know what I am a picker or thrower. Bought a book 60 years ago and followed the directions. What is the difference?

  68. Debbie says:

    I crocheted for many years before I learned to knit. The young lady that taught me threw, but I found picking easier because that is what I do with crochet. I found out later what it was called.

  69. Lisa-Marie says:

    I knit Norwegian style continental. I was taught by my great-great-great aunt
    Karin who was 96 at the time.

  70. Doris says:

    I learned to knit Continental at age 7…the actual variation of it is called Eastern European. I’m now 76 and it is my only and preferred method. I’ve tweaked how I tension my yarn over the years, but still love Continental.

  71. Bonnie says:

    My mother is Swedish, so she taught me continental knitting when I was very young. As a girl I remember watching someone knit English style and thinking how complicated it was. I purl differently than anyone I know. I scoop the yarn and push it through with my thumb–a technique I figured out for myself because I couldn’t do it like my mother did it.

  72. Sanna Titus says:

    I learned English, but also crocheted. I was later shown Continental by a friend who was from Austria. I am a mixed-up creature today, as I do both depending on the situation. I favor Continental, so I use it the most. LOVE to knit, either way! I’ve taught my daughter and grandchildren English, though, because more people around here do it that way.

  73. Helen says:

    I am a picker – have been for about 70 years, I sometimes think the other way would be faster, but it definitely does not come naturally, even if I could do it that way

  74. MaryC says:

    Learned from a booklet in junior high school how to ‘throw’. Would *like* to pick, but, it just ‘feels all wrong’ and it’s like beginning all over again. :-/

  75. jeanne says:

    I am both a picker and a thrower. While I mainly knit “English” I find that it depends on the pattern, the yarn and how I am feeling. There are times where I even backward knit so that my hand doesn’t hurt as much. Arthritis and carpal tunnel can make the decision very easy but given that I have been knitting for over 40 yrs, am not about to stop now.

  76. Linda says:

    I knit continental. I only heard the term picker from an instructor for beginning fair isle last Saturday. I thought she was insulting me, lol. I’m glad to hear that wasn’t the case. I learned from my sister in 2005 and I was a thrower for a few years.

    I thought I would be a faster knitter if I could learn the picking method. I watched the videos on knittinghelp.com until I could knit continental.

  77. Robin says:

    I am primarily a picker. I tried to learn to knit as a thrower, but never got comfortable with it. Perhaps being left-handed has something to do with it. When someone showed me the continental (picking) method, it felt much more natural to me.

  78. nancy in IN says:

    I am a thrower having learned that way from Mother and Aunt. I have no idea how to be a picker.

  79. Leanne Burger says:

    I learned to crochet as a child by my Grandmother. Then, shortly after, about age 10, I was a self-taught knitter. I knit Continental Style. The names of the styles, “Continental” (picker) and “English” (thrower) were brand new terms to me, as I had never heard them until reading & joining online Knitting groups. Thanks!

  80. Sue says:

    I am a self taught thrower. I would love to learn continental as it looks like it goes much faster. I have a problem with tension/holding the yarn correctly/figuring out if the yarn goes over or under when “picking”.

  81. Emjay says:

    I learned Continental from my mother. I have no idea where she learned it, as her mother was Irish and her father was English. I can knit English style if I absolutely have to, but I’m slow and it takes a lot of thought. When I look at videos and/or read instructions, I find that my stitches don’t always lie like the illustrations. I just knit through the front or back, whichever is needed to get my stitches to lie correctly. I am self taught at crocheting and watching me would probably drive an expert crazy. I just do whatever is easier for me, either knitting or crocheting.

  82. julie says:

    I learned English style as a child. I was so slow, that I grew out of the sweater I was knitting before I had finished. I had to add 2 inches to each piece.
    As an adult, I had a friend who was so efficient in her knitting… she finished things! I watched her knit and taught myself to pick the yarn. Now I cast on in English and work in continental and am finishing things.

  83. Ellisen says:

    A thrower! But I wonder if Continental is easier on arthritic hands.

  84. Veleria says:

    I am a picker, Continental.

  85. Sue says:

    I learned Continental in France when I was 6. When I cam back to the states and started knitting again a few years later, I had forgotten how to knit so I purchased a book – pre internet days. It taught English. It seemed so awkward and inefficient. A couple years ago I relearned Continental. My knitting is much faster now since the movements are more efficient.

  86. Barbara says:

    I originally learned continental (German style), but after 5 hand surgeries (not knitting-related) I learned Eastern Combined Uncrossed from a magazine. Finally realized after watching a youtube video that I was knitting Russian style. This is absolutely the easiest method and easiest on my hands. Go to youtube.com & type “Russian knitting” in the search box if you would like to learn. I only knit English style when I’m doing stranded color knitting and then one hand picks and the other hand throws.

  87. Vanessa says:

    I guess I’ve done both. I first learned to knit at about 10 and held the yarn in my right hand. Not being able to sit still very well, I soon quit knitting. Later, I learned to crochet and when I picked up knitting again, I found myself holding the yarn in my left hand and discovered that it is faster and easier for me. Not to mention less awkward.

  88. Shirley says:

    I’m like the country music makers- I’m pickin’ and grinnin’. I also throw– both in knitting style and in frustration. It depends on the pattern, the yarn, and the day. I just love to knit but my wrist doesn’t always let me. Picking is physically less stressful.

  89. Jenny Watson says:

    I am a ‘thrower’when knitting as I learnt from both my Mother and Grandmother who were fantastic knitters and won many competitions. When crocheting of course I am a ‘picker’. I have only seen one way to knit so would like to try the other method. Jenny

  90. Linda says:

    I learned from my mother who grew up living in British colonies so I’m a thrower. I hear picking is quicker, but I haven’t tried to learn it yet.

  91. Kathy Hart says:

    I don’t know what I am…I can knit in the Continental, English, German, and Portuguese styles…so does that make me a knit wit?

  92. Theresa Bender says:

    I learned to crochet first and held the yarn in my left hand, so it was natural to knit continental. I don’t feel the need to use the tension on my first finger as I see in pictures, I just wrap it around my middle finger or just let it hang down by my left hand and the rest comes naturally. I am a fast knitter in comparison to “throwers.”

  93. Yvonne Loucks says:

    I’m a picker I learned form my mother

  94. Catherine says:

    I am a thrower. My mother taught me to knit although she did not like to knit herself. She was of Scottish descent and I never asked her where she learnt to knit.

  95. Deanna Fowler says:

    I actually took kitting class when I was pregnant with my 2nd child, 1963. I throw, the right needle is stuck in between my thigh and hip. Being left handed my brain lets me do it this way ‘cuz throwing to knit the way the teacher taught me gives me fits. I learned to crochet from my Auntie by mirror method, so as I need I am crocheting the object inside out.My knitting projects don’t care that I am left handed, my projects turn out just like the pattern. Wahoo!!!

  96. Barb says:

    I am a “thrower”, my mother taught me many years ago. I have tried “picking” a couple of times recently, watching u-tube, but it messes my tension all up and is so awkward, I gave it up!!!!!

  97. knitandsewjean says:

    I’m a thrower. I can do picking when necessary, such as when doing fair isle, but I have a terrible time keeping the tension of the yarn in my left hand.

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