Knitting According to Lisa- Continental Knitting: Knitting Stockinette
Continental, or German knitting where the knitting yarn is held in the left hand was introduced to Germany from Norway during the 19th century according to historian Richard Rutt. It is a fast way to knit without a lot of excess movement of the needles. The "English" style of knitting where the yarn is held in the right hand had been in use for a long time, however the method of holding the needles as we see now and throwing the yarn developed at the beginning of the Victorian era for use by ladies in the drawing room to distinguish their craft from "peasant" knitting. When knitting this way, a lady was encouraged to hold the needles "like a pen" and keep her pinkies up in a delicate and genteel manner. Interestingly, one of the fastest ways to knit is to use a knitting sheath, holding the working yarn in the right hand and inserting the bottom of the right-hand needle into a pad of straw or leather at the hip virtually immobilizing it, thus only the left hand moves to build the stitches onto the right hand needle, "putting the loop of yarn over the needle" rather than "inserting the [right hand] needle through the loop."
- A History of Hand Knitting, by Richard Rutt