How to Knit Purl: Step-by-Step Knitting Guide

The purl stitch is basically a mirror knit stitch. Take a moment to sit and watch your hands purl the back of your work using a mirror – it will soon make sense. It will look like a knit stitch. Because basically – you are! The difference between a knit stitch and a purl stitch is that it’s just the reverse.

If you’re learning to knit, know that everything you do when knitting any project will be made up of a variation of knit stitches and purl stitches. It’s how you use them that makes the difference. While the knit stitch alone will create a garter stitch, alternating knit and purl stitches will create textured stitches such as garter stitch or seed stitch or rib stitch. Whole rows of purl stitches alternated with knitted rows create a stockinette stitch.

Yes, you’ll need your purl stitches when you get to cable stitch and chances are your color knitting patterns will have a few of those too. So to embark on the best journey, purl stitch is absolutely a skill you’ll need to master – and luckily it’s easy!

What you need to make a point

Not much – just a few needles and thread. Depending on what you’re doing, two straight needles for a piece of flat knit will do just fine when paired with a yarn recommending the size you have on hand, on the label.

Everything you do when knitting any project will consist of a variation of knit stitches and purl stitches.

If you’re knitting something tubular, you might find that circular needles or a set of five double-pointed needles come into play. But if you’re not there yet, don’t worry – learn how to knit first. purl. The rest comes later.

Reverse stitch step by step with pictures

You’d better practice purl stitch with at least 15-20 cast-on stitches. If nothing more, it will give you a better feel of the fabric, while a smaller number of stitches can feel tedious and cumbersome.

The purl stitch does exactly what it says on the box – it’s a stitch. One point, among others. So let’s take one point at a time.

Make sure your work thread is in front of your work

back stitch

It is important. With knit stitches, your yarn is always held back. If you switch from a knit stitch to a purl stitch in the middle of a row, you will need to bring your working yarn between the needles at the front of the work. And vice versa if you go from a purl to a knit.

Insert the right needle from back to front into the first stitch of your left needle

back stitch

So your needle moves from behind your work, pushing under and through the first available unworked stitch and towards you.

At the front of your work, wrap your yarn counterclockwise around the tip of the right needle

back stitch

It’s up and left first, then down and right where you can comfortably hold it in your right hand for now, maintaining a bit of tension for the next bit.

Retract your right needle through the stitch and away from you

back stitch

Making sure you don’t lose that precious loop of yarn, carefully pull it away from you and through the stitch you previously sewed.

Carefully remove the stitch now worked from your left needle

back stitch

And that’s all! You have purled a stitch. Keep your yarn at the front of the project if your next stitch is a purl stitch, and repeat these steps as much as you like.

back stitch

The purl stitch is absolutely a skill you’ll need to master – and luckily it’s easy!

Forward and upward! Now that you’ve mastered the purl stitch, try it out in a stitch pattern with our easy-to-follow garter stitch tutorial.


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