Knit Stitch – Right-Handed and Left-Handed

Learn to knit the knit stitch! This basic stitch is the foundation of knitting. See two different styles, called English (throwing) and continental (picking), for both left-handed and right-handed knitting.

Knit Stitch Tutorial - English and Continental, Right Handed and Left Handed

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Casting On

Before you can knit, you need to get some stitches onto your needle. Creating this starting row is called casting on. When you’re first learning, I recommend using either the long tail cast on or knitted cast on method.

Knitted cast on

When I’m teaching in person, this is the cast on method I usually use. It uses a slight variation of the knit stitch to add more stitches to your needle. Since it’s so similar, it’s a great introduction to the knit stitch itself. But some students find it confusing to switch from the cast on to the regular knit stitch without mixing up the steps.

Learn the knit cast on in this tutorial.

Knitted Cast On Tutorial on Stitches n Scraps

Long tail cast on

This is the cast on I tend to use myself for most projects. It takes a little practice, but once you get the hang of it, it’s super fast. The difficult part for new knitters is learning how to hold and manage the yarn. But once you have that in place, it’s fairly easy.

Learn the long tail cast-on in the demo portion of this Lunchtime Live video. The demo begins at 5:22 on the video.

Lunchtime Live - Episode 61 - Long Tail Cast on

Scroll Down for Video

All the pictures here show right-handed knitting. The video includes both English and continental style for both right and left-handed knitting. Please see the video to see each variation separately.

Tensioning the yarn

In order to knit, you need to hold and control your working yarn with some tension on it, and at the same time hold your two needles. There are lots of different ways to do this.

With whichever hand I’m using, I like to place my yarn over my index finger, under the next 2 fingers, and then over my pinky.

Tensioning the yarn

When I close my hand, I can stick my index finger out to create a tensioned workspace. The rest of my fingers are free to hold one of the needles. Sometimes, I wrap the yarn around my index finger a 2nd time for more control.

Tensioning the yarn for right handed, English style knitting
English Style – Right-handed

The key is to find a grip that gives you control, while also being comfortable over long periods of time. If you start to feel any strain in your hand at all, you may want to adjust your grip to avoid repetitive strain injuries.

English vs. continental knitting

There are many styles and variations of knitting but these two are by far the most common. English style is sometimes referred to as throwing, and continental style is referred to as picking. The difference lies largely in which hand is holding the yarn.

Working needle

Your working needle is the needle that starts off empty. This is the one you will be using to create new stitches, and the new stitches will go onto this needle. For both English and continental styles, your working needle goes in your dominant hand. The other needle goes in your other hand.

Holding the yarn

For English style knitting, tension your yarn with your dominant hand. This is the same hand that is holding your working needle, as in the picture above.

Tensioning the yarn for right handed continental knitting.
Continental style – Right-handed

For continental style knitting, tension your yarn with your other hand. This is the same hand that is holding your other needle.

Insert needle and yarn over

To start the knit stitch, insert your working needle from front to back into the first stitch. The working needle goes under the other needle, and your needles should touch as they cross. There should not be any yarn between the two.

Insert needle for knit stitch - right handed English style

Then, wrap the yarn around the needle to create a new stitch. Regardless of which method or hand you use, the yarn comes up between the two needles, then over the working needle, and down to the other side.

Yarn over for right handed English style knitting

For right-handed knitting, this means up from the left, over the top, and down to the right. For left-handed knitting, it’s up from the right, over the top, and down to the left. In continental knitting, this step can be combined with the next step in one smooth motion.

Scoop the new stitch through

Use the tip of your needle to pull the new stitch you just created through the old one.

Scoop the new stitch through - Right handed English style

For continental knitting, you can wrap the yarn around the needle and scoop it through all in one scooping motion. Basically, create the new stitch by moving the needle instead of by moving the yarn.

Scoop up new stitch - right handed Continental style

Remove the old stitch

Finally, carefully drop the old stitch from your other needle.

Finished knit stitch - right handed English style

Now you have a new knit stitch on your working needle and are ready to knit the next stitch.

Try it out!

Now that you know the knit stitch, you can make all sorts of easy knitting projects! Try out your new skills on this beginner Garter Stitch Headband pattern.

Super Simple Garter Stitch Headband - Learn to Knit!

Knit Stitch video tutorial

Includes English and Continental styles for both left-handed and right-handed knitting.

Watch this video on YouTube

Share this tutorial on Pinterest! Here’s an image perfect for pinning:

Knit Stitch Tutorial - English and Continental, Right Handed and Left Handed

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  • Larryn Griffith

    Thank you for sharing this! I’m a crocheter, but I’m considering learning to knit. This is all very appreciated!

    • Pia Thadani

      Yay! That’s exciting 🙂 you’ll be happy you did, and as a crocheter already it’s easier to pick up. You’re already used to yarn and tension management.

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