How to Knit


Learning the Purl Stitch

The purl stitch (p) is the reverse of the knit stitch. The yarn is always held in front of the work when making the purl stitch. As you work this stitch, the bumpy side faces you and the side behind the needle is now the smooth side.

When working flat, back and forth knitting, purling every row creates garter stitch, just the same as knitting every row. Alternating rows of knit and purl makes stockinette stitch, in which the knit side is the right side and the purl side is the wrong side. The purl side of stockinette stitch is called reverse stockinette stitch, which uses the purl side as the right side and the knit side as the wrong side.

Purl Stitch, American-English Method

Step 1: Hold the working yarn and the empty needle in your right hand and the needle with the cast-on stitches in your left hand. With the working yarn held in front of your work, insert the empty needle from right to left through the front loop of the first stitch (fig. 7a). The right needle is in front of the left needle.

Purl Stitch, American-English Method 1
Purl Stitch, American-English Method: Figure 7a

Step 2: Bring the yarn in your right hand toward the tip of the right needle. Carry the yarn between the needles, and wrap it around the right needle from front to back, ending in front (fig. 7b). Be careful not to wrap it around the left needle.

Purl Stitch, American-English Method 2
Purl Stitch, American-English Method: Figure 7b

Step 3: Keeping the working yarn firmly in your right hand, use the right needle to pull up a loop, moving backward and away from you through the stitch on the left needle (fig. 7c). With the new stitch on the right needle, slip the old stitch off the left needle.

Purl Stitch, American-English Method 3
Purl Stitch, American-English Method: Figure 7c

Repeat for each new stitch.

Purl Stitch, Continental Method

Step 1: Hold the working yarn and the cast-on stitches in your left hand and the empty needle in your right hand. With the yarn held in front of your work, insert the empty needle from right to left through the front loop of the first stitch on the left needle (fig. 8a). The right needle is in front of the left needle.

Purl Stitch, Continental Method 1
Purl Stitch, Continental Method: Figure 8a

Step 2: Wrap the yarn around the right needle from front to back, ending in the front (fig. 8b).

Purl Stitch, Continental Method 2
Purl Stitch, Continental Method: Figure 8b

Step 3: Keeping the yarn firmly in your left hand, use the right needle to pull a loop through the old stitch on the left needle, moving backward and away from you (fig. 8c). With the new stitch on the right needle, slip the old stitch off the left needle.

Purl Stitch, Continental Method 3
Purl Stitch, Continental Method: Figure 8c

Repeat for each new stitch.

Purling the Next Row

The second and subsequent purl rows are worked the same as the first. Purl each stitch on the needle in the left hand.

Step 1: When you have purled all the stitches from the left needle, turn the work, switching the needle with all the stitches from right hand to left.

Step 2: The working yarn is attached to the stitch closest to the needle tip and held in front of the work. Insert the right needle into the first stitch with the yarn held in front of the stitches, and repeat the steps of the first row, working into each of the stitches in the previous row instead of the cast-on stitches.

Now that you've mastered knitting and purling, it's time to learn how to bind off stitches. Find tips on the next page.

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