Previously, you learned how to knit stitch and garter stitch in our Knitting 101 Tutorial. Next up in your knitting basics? The purl stitch.
The purl stitch is a favorite of mine as it really opens the door to so many knitting patterns. I love to knit hats, fingerless gloves, and pretty knit cowls using the purl stitch. I’m sure you will too.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
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I get so excited about purl stitch knitting and what you can knit with it that I jump ahead. Let's first learn about it before we get too ahead of ourselves.
In today's knitting blog post you'll learn:
- About the purl stitch.
- How to purl stitch.
- How to start knitting the purl stitch.
- What is stockinette stitch.
- How to start knitting stockinette stitch.
I know you’re excited to get started. Me too. Let’s begin.
What is the Purl Stitch?
First of all, there’s really only one basic knitting stitch: the knit stitch.
The difference, when it comes to knit vs. purl, is creating stitches on the opposite side of your knit fabric. This occurs by reversing your knitting technique to create the purl stitch.
I know many of you are visual learners so it may be hard to imagine. Stick with me though. I promise I’ll explain AND show you in greater detail when we get to the photo tutorial portion of this knitting blog post.
For now, let’s talk about the construction of a purl stitch.
What Does a Purl Stitch Look Like?
When you’re knitting a purl stitch, you are creating bumps that sit at the base of the knitting needle.
Take a look at the image above. Imagine these stitches are on your needle and you are about to work this row.
As you purl, in this example, you are creating all of these little textured bumps across the row.
The image below shows what the opposite side would look like if you were knitting in stockinette stitch. Let's talk about that now.
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What is Stockinette Stitch?
Remember in the Knitting 101 tutorial on the knit stitch when we talked about garter stitch? If you knit every stitch across a row, you create a garter stitch pattern.
When it comes to the purl stitch, if you knit one row, then purl one row, then you are creating the stockinette stitch pattern.
As I’ve said before, the knit and purl stitch are both knitting techniques. Combined, they create the stockinette stitch pattern.
What is Stocking Stitch?
Ever wondered what stocking stitch is? Actually, there’s no physical difference.
Depending on the region or origin of the knitter, stocking stitch is just another name for stockinette stitch. Just so you know.
Here you can see an example of a lovey baby blanket. It has a simple garter stitch border and edges, while the center of this lovey is knit in stockinette stitch.
Notice how nice and flat it lays. This is due to the balancing effect of the garter stitch edges, which brings me to my next discussion.
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Does Stockinette Stitch Curl?
Long story short, yes.
Earlier, I shared pictures of a cotton knit washcloth in stockinette stitch. You could visibly see how all four sides curled in opposite directions. Very unflattering, in my opinion, not to mention frustrating.
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When it comes to stockinette stitch, this is just its natural tendency. It has nothing to do with the yarn, your knitting needles, or how you knit.
Instead, it has everything to do with the length of each stitch as it is created. Here's why.
Purl stitches tend to be wider and shorter than knit stitches, which is what causes the rolling.
So if you want to keep stockinette from curling, you might try adding edge stitches to your knitting. For example, garter stitches or seed stitches work well.
Also, depending on the knitting yarn and its fiber content, your knitting project can be heavily blocked out to lay flat, but not always. So that’s just my two cents on the matter.
On the flip side, you can always use the rolled stockinette stitch edge to your advantage, like in this fingerless glove knitting pattern. The image shows the knit glove before it is seamed together.
Now, here are some other details you should know about purling before I teach you how to purl.
What You Should Know About Purling:
- The working yarn must be in front of the needle to purl.
- The purl side is often considered the wrong side of your knitting.
- The right side of your knitting produces rows and columns of 'V's.
- Stockinette creates a flat knit fabric that is less stretchy than garter stitch.
- If you purl every row when knitting flat, you create garter stitch.
- Be prepared for stockinette edge stitches to curl, as discussed.
Ok, we're getting closer to the knitting tutorial. Before we launch into that, I want to take a minute to mention the knitting style I use for the tutorial.
American Style Knitting (or English Knitting)
The style of knitting used in this photo tutorial is American style knitting, also known as throwing.
It's also known as English Knitting because of its origins. In this method, your right hand controls yarn tension and manipulates the yarn.
Now, we will finally learn how to purl.
How to Purl
The following photo tutorial will show you how to purl. Let’s work through each step.
Make sure your working yarn is in front before you insert your needle to purl.
Insert your right needle into the front of the stitch.
Carry (or throw) the working yarn counterclockwise. Wrap yarn around the right needle.
While maintaining tension on the working yarn, slide your right needle down.
Move your right needle down and through the loop.
Now slide the stitch up and off the left needle. Your purled stitch should now be on your right needle.
Congratulations! You just learned how to purl. You're on your way to learning more knitting stitches. Remember, the more you practice the better you will knit.
How to Knit Stockinette Stitch
In flat knitting, you will first work one row in knit stitch. When you turn your work, you will then work one row in purl stitch. This sequence is repeated to create the stockinette stitch pattern.
You could also purl all rounds. Either one will achieve the same results.
Stockinette Stitch in the Round
When it comes to stockinette stitch in the round, the instructions are a little different though.
To knit stockinette stitch in the round, you would use your circular needles to knit all rounds.
That's it. Easy, right?
Now that you've learned how to knit and purl, you can practice your stockinette stitch.
Here are some easy knitting projects to try:
- More knit and purl stitch patterns.
- Knit and purl baby blanket patterns,
- Easy scarf knitting patterns.
Finished your first stockinette stitch project? You’re so awesome. Don’t forget to share a pic with us on Instagram, #Knitfarious. We look forward to hearing from you!
I am a self taught knitter and have been knitting for 6 years. My daughter has asked me to teach her to knit. After looking at websites to help her out, I have just realized that I have been purling wrong this whole time! Going clockwise instead of counter clockwise with the yarn. My knitted items look good so my question is do I start purling the correct way and does it make a difference?
Christina Garza-Brown says
That's a great question! I'm also self-taught so I understand your dilemma.
On the one hand, the OCD knitter in me would say, yes, yes it does make a difference and there are common knitting standards. The way you set up a stitch may affect how others are created and their outcome.
On the other hand, I've seen other knitters knit in a way that's original, they still come to the same conclusions, and they're happy and satisfied.
Knitting is supposed to be enjoyable so I say do what makes YOU happy. There's no harm in teaching your daughter the way you learned.Who knows? It may become a generational story carried down the line.
I hope this helps. Thank you so much for reaching out and best of luck! Cheers!
P.S. I'd kind of like to see HOW you knit. 🙂
Victoria liza says
Try knit stitch or crochet miss teresa