Learn How to Purl Knit Like a Pro

Learn How to Purl Knit Like a Pro

Knitting is a popular craft that allows you to create beautiful and unique fabric. If you’re a beginner just starting out, it can be overwhelming to learn all the different stitches and techniques. One of the most essential stitches to master is the purl stitch.

The purl stitch is the reverse of the knit stitch and creates a bumpy texture on the right side of your fabric. It is commonly used in various knitting patterns, including ribbing, cables, and seed stitch. Once you learn how to purl, you’ll be able to add more depth and complexity to your knitting projects.

In this step-by-step guide, we’ll walk you through the process of purling. We’ll cover everything from how to hold your knitting needles to creating the purl stitch. Whether you’re knitting a scarf, a hat, or a sweater, learning how to purl will open up a world of possibilities in your knitting journey.

Getting Started with Purl Knitting

If you’re new to knitting, purl stitching is an essential skill to learn. Purl stitching creates a textured effect and is often used in combination with knit stitching to create various patterns and designs. This guide will walk you through the steps of purl knitting, from holding the needles to completing your first purl stitch.

Materials Needed

Before you begin purl knitting, gather the following materials:

  • A pair of knitting needles
  • Yarn in your desired color and weight
  • A pair of scissors
  • A yarn needle

Step 1: Holding the Needles

Hold one knitting needle in your right hand, with the point facing to the right. Hold the other knitting needle in your left hand, with the point facing to the left. Make sure to grip the needles firmly but comfortably.

Step 2: Casting On

To start your purl knitting project, you’ll need to cast on stitches. There are various methods for casting on, but a common one is the long tail cast on. Leave a long tail of yarn, then make a slipknot and place it on the right-hand needle. Use the cast-on method of your choice to add the desired number of stitches.

Step 3: Starting the Purl Stitch

Hold the needle with the stitches in your left hand and the empty needle in your right hand. Insert the right-hand needle into the first stitch from front to back.

Step 4: Wrapping the Yarn

Bring the yarn to the front of your work, crossing it over the right-hand needle from right to left. The yarn should now be positioned between the two needles.

Step 5: Creating the Purl Stitch

Using your right-hand needle, push it through the front of the stitch on the left-hand needle, going from right to left. Bring the right-hand needle over the left-hand needle, hooking the yarn from left to right and pulling it through the stitch. Slide the new stitch onto the right-hand needle, and you have completed your first purl stitch.

Step 6: Continuing the Purl Stitch

Repeat steps 3 to 5 for each stitch on the left-hand needle, until you have completed all the stitches. Keep working in this manner, making sure to maintain consistent tension and yarn placement between each stitch.

Step 7: Finishing and Binding Off

Once you have completed your purl knitting project, you’ll need to bind off to secure the stitches. There are various bind-off methods to choose from, but a common one is the basic bind off. Follow the instructions for your chosen bind-off method, then cut the yarn, leaving a long tail. Thread the tail through the yarn needle, and weave it through the remaining stitches to secure them.

Now that you’ve learned the basics of purl knitting, you can continue practicing and exploring different stitches and patterns. Remember to be patient with yourself as you develop your skills, and enjoy the process of creating beautiful knitted projects!

Choosing the Right Yarn and Needles

When it comes to purl knitting, choosing the right yarn and needles is essential to the success of your project. Here are some factors to consider when selecting yarn and needles:

Yarn Weight

The weight of the yarn refers to its thickness, which can range from super fine to super bulky. The pattern you are following will usually indicate the recommended yarn weight for the project. Be sure to choose a yarn that matches the recommended weight to ensure the correct gauge and desired drape for your finished piece.

Yarn Fiber

Yarns can be made from a variety of fibers, such as wool, cotton, acrylic, or blends of different fibers. Each fiber has its own characteristics, so consider the look, feel, and care instructions of the finished project when choosing the yarn fiber. For example, if you want a warm and cozy scarf, a wool yarn would be a good choice, while a cotton yarn might be better for a lightweight summer top.

Needle Size

The needle size you choose will depend on the yarn weight and the desired fabric density. Thicker yarns generally require larger needles, while thinner yarns require smaller needles. The pattern you are following will provide a recommended needle size, but you can also use a needle gauge to determine the size of your needles. Remember, the needle size affects the tightness or looseness of your stitches and the overall size of your project.

Needle Material

Needle Material

Knitting needles can be made from various materials, such as metal, wood, or plastic. The material you choose can affect your knitting experience. Metal needles are smooth and slippery, which can be great for faster knitting, while wooden needles have more grip and can be better for beginners or yarns that are more slippery. Plastic needles are lightweight and affordable, but may not be as durable as other materials. Consider your personal preference and the characteristics of the yarn you are working with when choosing needle material.

Additional Tools

In addition to yarn and needles, there are a few other tools you may need for your purl knitting projects. These can include stitch markers, tapestry needles for weaving in ends, scissors, and a measuring tape or ruler to check your gauge. Make sure you have all the necessary tools before starting your project to ensure a smooth knitting experience.

Casting On and Creating the Foundation

Before you can start purl knitting, you need to cast on and create a foundation row of stitches. This is what will form the base of your project and allow you to begin working the purl stitch.

To cast on, you will need your knitting needles and yarn. Here is a step-by-step guide:

  1. Hold one knitting needle in your right hand and the other needle in your left hand.
  2. Make a slipknot by creating a loop with the yarn, threading the end of the yarn through the loop, and pulling it tight.
  3. Insert the needle with the slipknot on it into your left hand, holding it with your thumb and index finger.
  4. Hold the other needle with your right hand and insert it under the loop of yarn connected to your slipknot.
  5. Wrap the yarn around your right needle counterclockwise, starting from the back and bringing it to the front.
  6. With your right needle, pull the wrapped yarn through the loop on your left needle, creating a new loop.
  7. Slip the old loop off your left needle, leaving the new loop on your right needle.
  8. Repeat steps 4 to 7 until you have cast on the desired number of stitches for your project.

Once you have cast on all your stitches, you have created the foundation row for your purl knitting. Now you can start working the purl stitch to create your pattern or design.

Understanding the Purl Stitch

The purl stitch is one of the basic stitches in knitting and has a slightly different appearance compared to the knit stitch. It creates a textured fabric with raised bumps or loops on the right side. Understanding how to purl is essential for a beginner knitter, as it allows for a variety of patterns and designs.

1. Positioning:

To begin purling, hold the working needle with the stitches in your left hand and the empty needle in your right hand. Make sure the yarn is at the front of your work, ready to be wrapped.

2. Inserting the Needle:

Insert the right needle from the front to the back into the first stitch on the left needle, going from the right side to the left side of the stitch.

3. Wrapping the Yarn:

With the yarn at the front of your work, bring it over the right needle from right to left to create a loop around the right needle.

4. Pulling Through:

Keeping tension on the yarn, pull the right needle and the looped yarn back through the stitch on the left needle. The new stitch will now be on the right needle, and the old stitch will be on the left needle.

5. Sliding Off:

Slide the old stitch off the left needle, leaving the new purl stitch on the right needle. Repeat steps 2 to 5 for each stitch until you have completed the row.

6. Finishing the Row:

When you reach the end of the row, turn your work and continue purling on the next row, repeating steps 1 to 5.

7. Practice and Experiment:

The best way to become comfortable with the purl stitch is to practice it regularly. Experiment with different yarns and needle sizes to see how they affect the look of the purl stitch and the overall fabric.

By understanding and mastering the purl stitch, you will be able to create a variety of knitted items, including textured scarves, sweaters, and blankets. With practice, you’ll become more confident in your knitting abilities and be able to tackle more complex patterns.

Practicing the Purl Stitch

Once you have learned the basic purl stitch, it’s important to practice and become comfortable with it. Here are some tips to help you practice the purl stitch:

  1. Start with scrap yarn: It’s always a good idea to practice a new stitch on scrap yarn before using it in a project. This way, you can make mistakes and learn without worrying about ruining your work.
  2. Use a smooth yarn: Working with a smooth yarn, such as cotton or acrylic, can make it easier to see your stitches and identify any mistakes.
  3. Take it slow: The purl stitch can feel a bit awkward at first, especially if you’re used to knitting. Take your time and focus on each stitch, making sure to bring the yarn over the needle correctly.
  4. Practice tension: Just like with knitting, it’s important to maintain an even tension when purling. Experiment with different ways of holding your yarn to find what works best for you.
  5. Try different projects: To get more practice, try incorporating the purl stitch into different projects. You can make scarves, dishcloths, or even simple sweaters.

Common mistakes to watch out for:

  • Accidentally creating a knit stitch instead of a purl stitch. Pay attention to how you insert your needle.
  • Losing track of your stitches. Counting your stitches regularly can help you avoid mistakes.
  • Uneven tension. Keep an eye on how tightly you’re pulling the yarn to ensure consistent stitches.

Remember, practice makes perfect! The more you practice the purl stitch, the more comfortable and confident you will become. Keep at it, and soon you’ll be able to incorporate this versatile stitch into your knitting projects.

Purling in Different Patterns

Once you have mastered the basic purl stitch, you can begin to experiment with different patterns to create more complex and interesting designs in your knitting. Here are a few purling patterns to try:

  1. Ribbing: Ribbing is a common pattern used for cuffs, waistbands, and hems. It is created by alternating knit and purl stitches in a regular pattern, such as k1, p1 or k2, p2.
  2. Moss Stitch: Moss stitch is a textured pattern that creates a bumpy, moss-like effect. To create moss stitch, you alternate between knitting and purling one stitch, then purling and knitting the next stitch. Repeat this pattern across the row.
  3. Seed Stitch: Seed stitch is another textured pattern that creates a grainy, seed-like effect. It is similar to moss stitch, but you knit the purl stitches and purl the knit stitches. To create seed stitch, alternate between knitting and purling one stitch, then purling and knitting the next stitch. Repeat this pattern across the row.
  4. Basketweave Stitch: Basketweave stitch is a pattern that creates a basket-like texture. It is achieved by alternating blocks of knitted and purl stitches. For example, you might knit 4 stitches, then purl 4 stitches, and repeat this pattern across the row.

These are just a few examples of the many different purling patterns you can try. Experiment with different combinations of knitted and purl stitches to create unique designs in your knitting. Remember to read and follow the pattern instructions carefully to ensure you achieve the desired result.

Common Purling Patterns
Pattern Description
Ribbing Alternating knit and purl stitches
Moss Stitch Alternating knit and purl stitches in a specific pattern
Seed Stitch Alternating knit and purl stitches in a specific pattern, reversed from moss stitch
Basketweave Stitch Alternating blocks of knit and purl stitches in a specific pattern

Fixing Common Mistakes

As a beginner, it’s common to make mistakes while learning how to purl knit. Don’t worry! Mistakes are part of the learning process. Here are some common mistakes you might encounter and how to fix them:

Dropped Stitch

A dropped stitch can occur when you accidentally let a stitch slip off the needle. If you notice a stitch has dropped, don’t panic! Here’s how to fix it:

  1. Insert the left needle into the stitch below the dropped stitch.
  2. Use the left needle to pick up the dropped stitch.
  3. Place the picked-up stitch back onto the left needle.
  4. Continue knitting as usual.

Tight Stitches

It’s common for beginners to create tight stitches, making it difficult to work with the knitting needles. Here’s how to fix tight stitches:

  1. Identify the tight stitches on your needle.
  2. Insert the right needle into the first tight stitch as if you were going to knit it.
  3. Instead of knitting the stitch, gently use the right needle to loosen the stitch.
  4. Repeat this process for all the tight stitches on your needle.

Uneven Tension

Tension refers to how tightly or loosely you hold your yarn while knitting. Uneven tension can result in rows with different sizes and appearances. Here’s how to fix uneven tension:

  1. Practice knitting with a consistent tension.
  2. Pay attention to how tightly or loosely you hold the yarn.
  3. Try adjusting your grip or the position of your hands to achieve consistent tension.

Twisted Stitches

If your stitches appear twisted or don’t lay flat, they may be twisted. Here’s how to fix twisted stitches:

  1. Identify the twisted stitch on your needle.
  2. Insert the left needle into the back of the twisted stitch.
  3. Slip the stitch from the right needle to the left.
  4. Knit the stitch as usual.

Remember, practice makes perfect, and fixing mistakes is part of the learning process. Don’t be discouraged if you make mistakes while purl knitting. With time and practice, you’ll become more skilled and confident in your purl knitting abilities!

Finishing and Binding Off

Once you have completed all the necessary rows and stitches for your purl-knit project, it’s time to finish and bind off your work. Follow these steps to achieve a clean and secure edge for your project.

  1. Cut the yarn: Leave a long tail of yarn, around 6-8 inches, before cutting it from the skein. This tail will be used to secure the binding off.
  2. Knit the first two stitches: Insert your right needle into the first stitch on the left needle as if to knit, and knit it. Repeat this step with the second stitch. At this point, you will have two stitches on your right needle.
  3. Pass the first stitch over: Using your left needle, lift the first stitch you knitted over the second stitch and off the right needle. Now you will have one stitch on your right needle.
  4. Knit the next stitch: Insert your right needle into the next stitch on the left needle as if to knit, and knit it. Now you will have two stitches on your right needle again.
  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4: Continue repeating steps 3 and 4 until you have only one stitch left on your right needle.
  6. Secure the stitch: Cut the yarn from the skein, leaving a long tail. Pull the tail through the last stitch, and tighten it to secure the stitch.

Once you have completed the binding off, you can weave in any loose ends using a tapestry needle. Simply thread the tail of the yarn onto the needle and pass it through the stitches on the wrong side of the work. Trim any excess yarn to achieve a neat and finished look.

Congratulations! You have now successfully finished and bound off your purl-knit project. Your newly created item is ready to be used or gifted.


How do I purl knit?

Purl knitting is a technique used in knitting to create a textured pattern. To purl knit, follow these steps:

What is the difference between knitting and purling?

The main difference between knitting and purling is that knitting creates a stitch that sits in front of the needle, while purling creates a stitch that sits behind the needle. This difference in stitch orientation gives knitted and purled stitches different textures.

Can you purl knit with any type of yarn?

Yes, you can purl knit with any type of yarn. However, the type of yarn you choose can affect the final texture and drape of your knitted piece. Thicker yarns will create a more chunky and textured look, while thinner yarns will create a more delicate and smooth look.

What can I make with purl knitting?

You can make a variety of projects with purl knitting, such as scarves, hats, sweaters, blankets, and more. The textured pattern created by purl knitting can add visual interest and depth to your knitted pieces.

Are there any common mistakes to avoid when purl knitting?

Yes, there are a few common mistakes to avoid when purl knitting. One common mistake is accidentally twisting the stitch, which can result in a twisted and uneven fabric. Another mistake is not keeping the tension consistent, which can create uneven stitches. It’s also important to make sure you are using the correct size of needles for your yarn to achieve the desired gauge.


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