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How to Knit a Purl Stitch

Updated on August 2, 2016
Insert the gold needle through the front of the last stitch on the blue needle.
Insert the gold needle through the front of the last stitch on the blue needle. | Source
After the gold needle was inserted through the stitch on the blue needle, the yarn is pulled over the tip of the gold needle.
After the gold needle was inserted through the stitch on the blue needle, the yarn is pulled over the tip of the gold needle. | Source
The gold needle is pulled free from the last stitch on the blue one, but not from the looped over yarn.
The gold needle is pulled free from the last stitch on the blue one, but not from the looped over yarn. | Source

There are two basic stitches in knitting: the knit stitch and the purl stitch. With these two stitches, you can create all sorts of patterns.

Purling stitches is simple.

Knitting the Purl Stitch

For the sake of simplicity, I’ll work the stitches from the left needle to the right needle. However, you can work rows in either direction. You may notice that though some patterns instruct you to turn the fabric around every time you start a new row.

This makes it easier for some people to keep track of the stitches the pattern requests. When I tried that method, I got more confused than when I simply change directions when I reach the end of a row.

Before you start, make sure the tail of your yarn is hanging down the front of the project, instead of behind it.

  1. Slip the tip of the right needle through the front of the last stitch on the left needle.
  2. Loop the yarn over the tip of the right needle.
  3. Pull the yarn tight, and press the two needles together. Once you start going quickly, the needles will click together when you do this.
  4. Draw the right needle through the loop just enough to come out on the other side of the existing stitch. Don’t let the loop of yarn drop from the needle.
  5. Let the stitch drop from the left needle. You now have another stitch on the right needle.

Congrats! You’ve just knit a purl stitch.

This basic type of stitch is also used in some more advanced techniques.

Your new purl stitch!
Your new purl stitch! | Source

Different Knitting Stitches

Some patterns will call for you to reduce the number of stitches in a row by purling two stitches together.

Purl Two Together
This is just like the simple purl stitch, but instead of slipping the right needle through one stitch, you slip it through two instead.

You’d use this stitch to reduce the number of stitches in a row. It’s commonly used when making hats, socks and gloves.

Knit Front to Back
This type of stitch is used to increase the number of stitches by one. It’s relatively simple to do, but it can take a little bit of practice.

Follow these steps to do this one.

If you were going to only purl this stitch, you would let the green stitch slip from the blue needle.
If you were going to only purl this stitch, you would let the green stitch slip from the blue needle. | Source
When purling two together, insert the gold needle through two stitches instead of one.
When purling two together, insert the gold needle through two stitches instead of one. | Source
Instead of letting the stitch slip from the blue needle, insert the gold needle through the loop of yarn behind the blue needle and knit one stitch.
Instead of letting the stitch slip from the blue needle, insert the gold needle through the loop of yarn behind the blue needle and knit one stitch. | Source

One of the remarkable things about knitting is how much you can do with just two basic stitches. Although using just one stitch is easier, when you combine purling and knitting, a new world of projects, patterns and textures is opened.

The purl stitch is used for quite a few different reasons.

  • To act as a back-drop for cable stitches
  • To help tighten the fit of cuffs, gloves and socks
  • To add depth to a final project
  • To help establish an overall pattern for a garment or project

Although learning how to knit can be a daunting project to undertake, when you start with the basics, you’ll be surprised at how quickly you’ll be able to complete more complicated projects.

  1. Slip the right needle through the last stitch on the left needle as if you were going to purl.
  2. Pull the yarn over the tip of the right needle, and pull the needle through, so you have a new stitch on it.
  3. Leave the old stitch on the left needle for now.
  4. Draw the yarn between the two needles, and let it hang down the back.
  5. Insert the right needle into the stitch on the left, behind that needle.
  6. Knit a regular stitch.
  7. Pull the old stitch from the left needle.

You’ll be left with one stitch that looks purled, and one that looks knit. However, when you continue with the project, only someone who’s looking for it will be able to see it.

© 2013 ESPeck1919

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    • ESPeck1919 profile image
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      ESPeck1919 4 years ago from Minneapolis, MN

      I'm so glad it helped!! I also had a very hard time learning out of books, mostly because so many of them were poorly written and the pictures weren't much good.

    • misslong123 profile image

      Michele Kelsey 4 years ago from Edmond, Oklahoma

      The purl stitch for me was SO difficult to learn. I didn't understand based on the books I was reading off of that you had to put the thread in the front of the needle and poke it down rather than up. You did a great job in explaining this stitch. For beginners who only know how to knit, this is a great outlet for learning a new stitch, the second easiest stitch - the purl stitch. Great job! Keep up the good work! :) Michele

    • ESPeck1919 profile image
      Author

      ESPeck1919 4 years ago from Minneapolis, MN

      Thanks! LOL I hope it helps her out. ;)

    • Alastar Packer profile image

      Alastar Packer 4 years ago from North Carolina

      Cool vid. Know just the niece to recommend it to. She seriously needs some better hobbies lol.

    • ESPeck1919 profile image
      Author

      ESPeck1919 4 years ago from Minneapolis, MN

      Thank you! It was the easiest way I could think of. :) Glad it worked!

    • Natashalh profile image

      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      I love how you use different colors of needles in your photos to make it easier to follow!

    • ESPeck1919 profile image
      Author

      ESPeck1919 4 years ago from Minneapolis, MN

      Thanks!

      And that's exactly how I felt with crochet for quite a while. I'm still struggling to get some of the more complicated patterns down with both knitting and crocheting.

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Glimmer Twin Fan 4 years ago

      Great pics and video! The purl stitch is about all I can do.