How to Make a Purl Stitch

There are two main stitches in knitting: the knit stitch and the purl stitch. When looking at fabric knit in stockinette, the purl side is the one with the “bumps,” which are sometimes described as “smiles and frowns.” The side with the “v” shaped columns is the side that was knit. Note that the back side of the purl stitch creates a knit “v”.

Purl Stitch

Here is how to make a purl stitch; there are photos and a video tutorial below. The method used is Continental knitting, which means the yarn is held in the left hand. Continental knitting is often easier for beginning knitters to learn, and many believe it’s faster to knit than the English method (which holds the yarn in the right hand.)

  • The yarn goes in front of your work – move it under the needle to bring it to the front.  (Note you’ll have to change how you hold the yarn – I just sort of pinch it gently between my thumb and index finger of my left hand as shown in Figure 1 below.)
  • With the tips of the needles pointing toward each other, insert the right hand needle into the first stitch on the left hand needle.  The right needle goes IN FRONT OF the left needle as..
  • Wrap the yarn counter-clockwise around the right needle, as shown in Figure 2 below.
  • Pull the wrapped yarn through the loop on the left needle, then move your right hand needle to the right to slide the stitch off the left hand needle. That’s one purl stitch.
Figure 1
Figure 2

The following video shows you how to make a purl stitch step-by-step. The instructions are repeated several times so you can knit along.

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