Knitting Basics

Knitting Basics: How to Hold Your Yarn and Knitting Needles

knitting basics

First things first learning how to hold your yarn is the first thing to learn when learning how to knit. Do you hold your yarn in the right hand or the left hand? How do I hold my yarn is a question we all have asked when learning to knit. So here we go, get comfortable first. Find a comfy chair that supports your back and allows your arms to move freely. Now relax, knitting should be fun!

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Always give yourself plenty of time to get used to the basics of knitting. Everyone learns at a different rate. So don’t get frustrated if you don’t get the hang of it right away. Take your time. You are learning to manipulate a piece of yarn while holding a couple of sticks it might take a minute for it to become second nature to you.


It’s a good idea to start out with a medium weight yarn. This way you will be able to make some progress without having to use too big of needles and have some success.

Your yarn needs to be held well but there are a many ways to do this. The best way is the one that feels the most comfortable allowing you to have the most control without giving you a cramp. Your yarn should be pulled tightly as it passes through your hands, leaving your fingers to freely control the needles.

Knitting Basics: How to Hold Your Yarn In Your Left Hand

Knitting Basics: left hand holding yarn

Left Hand

In the photo above we have the left hand holding the yarn this is the fastest way to hold your yarn because the yarn doesn’t have as far to travel to work each stitch. Wrapping the yarn around the little finger and then around the other fingers in a way that feels the most comfortable. I have trouble wrapping mine around my pinky more than once. Others may like this but it drives me crazy so remember to do what feels the most comfortable for you.

Knitting Basics: Holding your yarn in your right hand

right hand holding yarn

Right Hand

When holding the yarn in your right hand wrap the yarn around your little finger then over your ring finger and under your middle finger and over your index finger as shown in the picture above.

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Now that we have our yarn wrapped around our fingers pick up your needles. There are 2 ways you can hold your needles. Hold your needles from above sorta like holding a knife or from underneath the needles as if you were holding a pencil.

The left needles are always held from above but the right needle can be held either way from above or beneath.

Knitting Basics: How to hold your Needles

There are basically 3 methods you can use when knitting. The French method, German method or the Scottish method.

German method of holding knitting needles

The German method is the one I use, it is also called the continental or left handed method. It is the most comfortable way for me I think it’s because I learned to crochet first and trying to knit felt difficult. This is the fastest method of knitting because both the needles are held from above as if you were holding a knife. This is also the way I hold my crochet needle.

The left-hand controls the yarn and moves the stitches on the left needle. The right-hand moves the right needle into and out of the stitches on the left needle.

Scottish method of holding yarn and needles

The Scottish method or the fixed needle method holds both needles from above like a knife. The left-hand controls the needles, moving the stitches towards the tip of the left needle to be worked, and guiding the right needle into and out of the stitches. The right-hand controls the feed of the yarn. This is also known as the English method.

French Method of holding yarn and needles

The last method I want to discuss is the French method or the free needle method. It is considered to be more elegant than the German way and similar to the Scottish. However, French method is more time-consuming. The right needle is held from beneath in the pencil hold. Hold your needle between the thumb and index finger. The right index finger is used to guide the yarn over the needles.

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I suggest that if this is your first time or even if it’s not for you to sit down and try each style out. I think you will find very quickly which way feels most natural to you. If you are a knitter and you only know one way of holding your needles try the other ways. You may discover that your way is not as comfortable or easy as you thought. You might decide to change or that you have your method down and changing is just too hard.

Remember, whichever way you hold your yarn or needles it really is about having a good time and learning to do something new while making some beautifully knit items. Good luck!

Happy Knitting!



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