How to Knit and Purl

How to Knit and Purl

When learning how to knit, the first step is mastering the type of stitches you’ll use to make your knitting pattern unique. All you need is this detailed guide to help you make the stitches step by step without losing track of your pattern.

The knit stitch is the most common and basic stitch of all time, and it’s done on the front of your work. The Purl stitch is simply the opposite of a knit stitch, as shown in this video tutorial.

Below is a guide on how to knit and purl for beginners.

How to Knit and Purl for Beginners

Step 1: Cast on Stitches

Cast on 15 stitches or more. When learning how to cast on knitting, the best method is to use a long-tail cast-on. The long tail will help you when practicing how to weaving in ends knitting.

Step 2: The Knit Stitch

This stitch is simple, frequently used, and comes before the purl stitch. When you knit fabric using the knit stitch on the front, the backstitch will be purl. This knitting pattern is known as stockinette stitch.

    • Hold the needle with the cast-on stitches in your LH with your knitting yarn on the right and behind your work. Ensure you hold the needles in a comfortable position to avoid losing tension.
    • Hold the other needle with your RH and insert the first stitch on the LH needle from left to right.
    • While controlling your knitting yarn using your finger, wrap it around the RH needle in a clockwise style.
    • Pull the yarn to keep it in place between the first and the second stitches on the LH needle, then slide the RH needle from the LH stitches to make a complete stitch on the RH needle.
    • Repeat the stitches until you complete the row, then turn the swatch to continue knitting.

Step 3: The Purl Stitch

How to knit and purl
Image Source: Craft Mart

Purl stitch is the opposite of knit stitch, as you can see on the image above and the explanation in this video tutorial.

To purl, ensure the yarn is in front of your work while holding the stitches needle with your left hand.

    • Insert the RH needle on the first stitch on the LH needle if learning how to start knitting or on the next stitch if in the middle of a knitting swatch from right to left.
    • Wrap the yarn around the right needle in anti-clockwise style and slide the tip of the right needle back and through the current stitch to carry it to the RH needle. You have made a purl stitch!
    • Repeat the process to complete as many purl stitches as your pattern may require

How to Do a Purl Stitch in Knitting

Step 1: Use any needle size to cast on any stitches and bring the yarn to the front. Remember when working on knit stitch, the yarn was to the back. Don’t be afraid to try as many times until you get the right pattern.

Step 2: With the working yarn in front, insert the working needle on the first stitch on the LH needle from top to bottom. Your needles will form an X shape, the RH needle being on top of the LH needle.

Step 3: Wrap the yarn from front to back (counterclockwise) around the RH needle only to create a loop while holding the needles in place using your thumb and index finger.

Note: After wrapping, the yarn will come back to the front.

Step 4: Pull the loop down and through the current stitch on the LH needle.

Step 5: Pull the stitch off the LH needle to complete your P (Purl) stitch. And there you got it!

To prevent the yarn from slipping off your needle, maintain the position of your index finger on the first stitch. Pull on the working yarn to secure the purl stitch you have made on the right-hand needle before working.

How Do You Purl When Knitting English Style

How to purl stitch
Image Source: Simple Knitting

The purl stitch looks like a bump or a raised loop, while the knit stitch resembles a half V shape.

When working in the English style, ensure you hold your yarn with the right hand. Below are steps on how to purl when knitting.

Step 1: Place the knitting yarn on the front side such that it’s pointing at you when working on a purl.

Step 2: To work a purl, insert your right needle in the first stitch in your left-hand needle from back to front.

Step 3: Wrap your knitting yarn on your right needle from the back to the front.

Step 4: Snip the loop using the right needle and through the old stitch pulling backward.

Step 5: Pull off the new stitch to the RH needle.




Right Hand


Left Hand


Right Side


Wrong Side

How to Knit and Purl Stitch in Continental Style

How to do a purl stitch in knitting
Image Source: Cyber Seams

The basic thing to remember when knitting in the continental style is holding your working yarn and the needle with cast-on stitches using your left hand. Here are the steps to make a knit stitch continental style.

    1. How to Make Knit Stitch Continental Style

Step 1: Hold the needle with stitches and your knitting yarn using your left hand and the empty needle with your right hand.

Step 2: Ensure the working yarn is on the backside of your work, then insert the right needle in the first stitch on the left needle from left to right.

Step 3: With the tip of the RH needle, pull the yarn from right to left and pull the wrapped yarn through the stitch. Control the wrap with your RH index finger if you feel like the yarn wrap might slip from the right needle.

Step 4: Slip the first original stitch to make one knit stitch on the RH needle.

      2. How to Make Purl Stitch Continental Style

Purl stitch continental
Image Source: Knit Picks

There are different methods of making a purl stitch in continental style but let’s follow the below steps;

Step 1: Hold the working yarn and the knitting needle with stitches on your left hand and the empty needle on your right hand.

Step 2: Place the yarn to the front of your work and insert the right needle into the first stitch on the left-hand needle from right to left to ensure the yarn is on top of the right needle.

Step 3: Hold the tip of your RH needle with your index finger to ensure it does not slip off, then move your finger down to hold the wrap.

Step 4: To pull the wrap through the stitch, move the right needle down and back.

Step5: Slip the first original stitch to make a purl stitch on the left-hand needle

How to Switch Between Knit and Purl to Form Patterns

Rib knitting stitch pattern
Image Source: Knitting Naturally

The important part of learning how to read knitting patterns is identifying knit and purl stitches. 

When switching between the knit and purl stitches, you create different patterns depending on combining them. These patterns include seed stitch, ribbing, and stockinette stitch.

When you switch between knit and purl within the same knitting row, you create a rib stitch while working between knit or purl when starting, every row creates the stockinette stitch. This pattern is popular and resembles half ‘v’s’ on one side of your knitted fabric.

When switching between purl and knit, ensure you do it correctly to avoid creating holes in your fabric. This is how you do it to create a seamless texture in your ribbing pattern.

Step 1: Cast on enough stitches on the left-hand needle.

Step 2: Row 1: *k1 p1; repeat from *

             Row 2: *k1 p1 to the end of your knitting.

The above pattern is for 1×1 ribbing, although you can do 2×2 rib by k2, p2 across the rows. You will have a pattern like the one below.









What Does Knit and Purl Look Like In Knitting

Knit and purl stitch pattern
Image Source: Pinterest 

Knit and purl are the basic knitting stitches, even if you’re learning how to finger knit.

The purl stitch is simply the wrong side of the knit stitch, and it looks like a ‘’bump’’. Then what does knit purl look like? Knit purl is the same as a purl stitch! The knit stitch is on the right side when knitting a stockinette pattern and looks like a ‘’v” shape.

When knitting both purl and knit stitch, it’s like you’re creating a mirror. In purl stitch, the bump is made on the front and the back when making a knit stitch.

To understand how to purl knit stitch, first focus on the way you wrap the yarn around the knitting needle. If you’re wondering how to purl knit stitch, here are the steps.

    • Hold the needle with stitches on your left hand and the empty needle on your right hand together with your working yarn.
    • Insert the working needle on the first stitch on the left needle from top to bottom and with your yarn in front.
    • Wrap the yarn on the right-hand needle from back to front
    • Use the right needle to pull the yarn back through the first stitch
    • Pull the loop off the left-hand needle to make a purl stitch

What is a Purl Stitch in Knitting?

What is a purl stitch in knitting
Image Source: Lion Brand

A purl stitch in knitting is a stitch made with the yarn placed in front of the work. Then insert the right needle into the front of a stitch on the left-hand needle from right to left. Again pull your knitting yarn with the right needle and bringing it through backward to form a new stitch.

This stitch forms the basic knitting skills for beginners when combined with a knit stitch.

It looks like a small “bump” on the knitted fabric and forms a garter stitch pattern if it’s not combined with a knit stitch or stockinette stitch when combined with a knit stitch.

How to Knit Purl Knit Purl Pattern

How to knit and purl stitch
Image Source: Noble Knits

The k1 p1, k1 p1, is used to create a knitting pattern called ribbing. There are two ways of creating a rib that include 1×1 (single) rib and 2×2 (double) rib.

In this case, we are interested in creating a single rib or k1 p1 stitch. It is an excellent stitch for cuffs and hems and when learning how to weave in ends knitting.

Here are the steps to k1p1 when making a single rib. You can also watch this video tutorial.

Note: When you make knit stitches, the yarn is always at the back of your work, but when making purl stitches, the yarn is always in front of the work.

To maintain consistency, remember to change the yarn position after every purl or knit turn.

Step 1: Cast on an even number of stitches

Step 2: While maintaining the yarn at the back, make a knit stitch

Step 3: Bring the yarn to the front and between the knitting needles to make a purl stitch

Step 4: To make the next step take the yarn behind the work and make a knit stitch

Repeat the process until you finish knitting your fabric. The results will be as shown above

Tips on How to Knit and Purl

Apply these tips to make your purl or knit stitches easily

    1. Start with a Gauge Swatch

When following a pattern and you have a certain size for your knits, you will need a gauge swatch as it helps you have an idea of how your project will be like.

This step is also important because it allows you to try out the yarn gauge and needle sizes.

      2. Get the Right Needles

Knitting needles have different textures, sizes, shapes, and materials. You need to sample a few needles to ensure you get the one comfortable to your hands and matches your knitting pattern. You can also check sewing room ideas for more insights on the right needle.

      3. Invest in Good Yarn

Beyond quality yarn, investing in a recommended yarn for your pattern would help achieve the same results. You can choose from various yarns, although you need to consider different factors when settling for your choice. These factors include; function, color, texture, thickness, and fiber content.

      4. Make Uniform Stitches

Right from the start, when casting on stitches, maintain uniform knitting tension your stitches. As you proceed with knitting, ensure you use the broader part of your knitting needles when wrapping yarn for the next stitch.

To achieve an even knit fabric, ensure the stitches are the same size and the yarn tension and needle size combination are good. Again, avoid stretching yarn too tight after making it to prevent too tight loops.

     5. Try to Read your Knitting

Before you start your knitting project, familiarize yourself with the knitting pattern. Read the pattern to give you a rough idea of what you will encounter as you proceed.

When knitting a k1 p1 stitch, ensure you master when and how to turn the yarn to make the next stitch. Reading your knitting pattern helps you notice mistakes as soon as they appear.


Learning how to knit and purl is the first step in knitting. These stitches are the simplest and form the knitting base that a knitter masters before proceeding to complicated steps like how to join knitting in the round or how to change colors in knitting.

Although they mirror each other, they differ in the way they are created. When making a purl stitch, the yarn position is to the front while placed at the back when making a knit stitch.

If you get confused after knitting, the purl looks like a “bump,” and the knit stitch looks like a “v.”

When used in the same fabric, they form different patterns, depending on how the knit and purl stitches are combined. Are you for knit, purl, or combination?