Picking or Throwing?

This post is part of a series about the basics of the not-exactly-knitting parts of knitting.

Should you hold the yarn with your right hand, or with your left? If you use your right, you’re ‘throwing’, or using the English style. If you use your left, you’re ‘picking’, or using the Continental style.

I’m a picker by choice, but each method has its pros and cons. My recommendation is to learn both, and use whichever you like better.


With the yarn in your left hand, and held tight around your index finger, you make a knit stitch by wrapping the working needle around the yarn and pulling it through the loop (picking the yarn up with the right needle).

Pros: less hand movement. Cons: purling requires you to hold the working yarn down so it can be pulled through, which requires more movement, and is fiddly until you get used to it.


With the yarn in your right hand, index finger generally holding the needle, you use your finger loop the yarn around the right needle and pull it through the loop (throwing the yarn with your fingers).

Pros: purling is much simpler. Cons: more finger movement, which can be slower and tire out your hand.

That said, neither method is inherently better or worse. Try them out and pick which one you like better. I do recommend being able to do both, though, because there are times when it’s useful!


Knitting with two yarns (Fair Isle, double knitting, etc.) is easier if you don’t have to drop the yarn



Happy knitting!

For other posts in this series:



  1. I’m a thrower because I learned that way first, but I agree, it is really useful to know how to do both. I’ve only recently started to learn how to knit continetally, because I wanted to learn. I only can use it when I’m knitting in the round, because purling is too hard. (I think that’s why E Zimmerman did everything in the round.)

    • Purling while picking is definitely a pain! I know people who hold the yarn down with their middle finger or their thumb, which seems maybe less awkward than using the index finger, but I’ve never figured out the trick of either of those.

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