How To Purl Stitch

This is the other basic stitch used in knitting and, combined with knit stitch, can form innumerable patterns and textures, the most common being stocking stitch.

1 With needle holding stitches in your left hand, insert right-hand needle from right to left into the first stitch on LH needle so that RH needle and yarn are at the front of it.

2 Take yarn over needle and wind around clockwise. Pull yarn through stitch on LH needle to form a new stitch on the RH needle.

3 Keeping the new stitch on the RH needle, drop the one worked from the LH needle. Repeat to make successive purl stitches.


This secures the stitches at the end of a piece of knitting and forms a firm edge. To ensure the edge does not become too tight, use a larger needle in the right hand.

1 Knit the first two stitches on the LH needle as if beginning a new row.

2 Insert the point of the LH needle into the first stitch knitted and lift it over the second one and then off the RH needle.

3 Withdraw the LH needle, leaving the second stitch on the RH needle. Knit the next stitch from the LH needle in the usual way and repeat the process.

4 When all the stitches are off the LH needle and only one stitch remains on the RH needle, break the yarn leaving a 10 cm (4 inch) end. Thread the end through the last stitch, withdraw the needle and pull the end tight.


Knitting patterns always give instructions for checking ‘tension’, which describes how many stitches and rows there should be to a specific measurement, in order to knit the design to the required size.

Although it may be tempting to ignore the check and to start knitting the design immediately, you then risk the finished item being too large or too small. This is because some individuals knit more tightly or loosely than others; by working a small sample first you can compare your own tension with that of the designer of the pattern.

Even if you find your knitting usually corresponds to the pattern tension, it is always worth checking because tensions can vary with different yarns or in different stitch patterns. It is even more important to check if you are not using the recommended yarn.

If the tension check gives 20 stitches and 35 rows to measure 10 x 10 cm (4 x 4 inches), cast on the required stitches plus a few extra. Knit at least 10 cm (4 inches) in the stitch pattern of the design.

Count the 20 stitches in the middle of your sample, marking them with pins. Lay a tape measure between the pins. If the stitches measure less than 10 cm (4 inches), the tension is too tight and you should make another sample with one size larger needles. If the stitches measure more than 10 cm (4 inches), you should try needles one size smaller. If these samples are not right, try again with needles of the next size up or down.

With simple-stitch patterns, the width measurement is more important than the length, because you are usually instructed to work to a specific length measurement and it should not matter how many rows this involves. However, with more complicated patterns, length is just as important.

Lay your sample on a flat surface and count out twenty stitches. Mark them with pins. Is the distance between them 10 cm (4 in.).

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