How to Purl Stitch Knitting – (Step by Step)

Last Updated on December 21, 2023

The purl stitch often evokes a sense of apprehension among knitters, but fear not! In reality, it’s nothing more than the mirror image of its counterpart, the knit stitch. If you’ve mastered the knit stitch, you’re already well on your way to conquering the purl stitch.

In today’s guide, we’ll break down the process into simple steps, making the purl stitch as easy as knitting a cozy scarf.

How to Purl Stitch Knitting


  • Understand that the purl stitch is the mirror image of the knit stitch, making it accessible for those who’ve already mastered knitting.
  • Note the crucial difference in yarn placement – for purling, keep the yarn in front of the knitting, unlike the knit stitch where it’s at the back.
  • Master the four essential steps of the purl stitch – in, around, up, and off – for a smooth and efficient process.
  • Pay attention to using your fingertips for precise control, especially when loading stitches closer to the needle tip.

What is a purl stitch?

The purl stitch is a fundamental knitting technique that creates a textured pattern in the fabric. It is the reverse of the knit stitch and is often used with knit stitches to create various stitch patterns in knitted projects.

In the purl stitch, the yarn is brought to the front of the work, and the needle is inserted from right to left through the front loop of the stitch, moving towards the knitter. The yarn is then wrapped around the front needle from right to left, and a new loop is scooped up towards the back before releasing the old stitch from the needle.

Read More – Knitting vs. Crochet – Is Knitting or Crocheting Easier?

How to purl stitch knitting?

To purl stitch in knitting, bring the yarn to the front, insert the needle (e.g., ChiaoGoo Knitting Needle) from right to left, wrap the yarn around, scoop up a loop towards the back, and release the old stitch from the needle. This creates a textured pattern on the fabric’s front side.

Purl Stitch Knitting

Step by Step how to purl knit

This process creates a bumpy and textured surface on the side of the fabric facing the knitter, adding depth and interest to the overall knitted piece.

Step 1: Set Up Your Yarn

Set Up Your Yarn
Set Up Your Yarn

Unlike the knit stitch, where the yarn is at the back of the work, the purl stitch requires the yarn to be in front of the knitting. Ensure your working yarn is correctly positioned before diving into the purl stitch adventure.

Step 2: Understand the Basics

Insert the Needle
Insert the Needle

Just like the knit stitch, the purl stitch involves four key steps. The difference lies in the direction and the placement of the yarn.

  • Insert the Needle (In): Enter from the right side of the stitch, moving towards you.
  • Wrap the Yarn Around the Front Needle (Around): Unlike the knit stitch, wrap the yarn around the front needle, from right to left.
  • Scoop Up a Loop Towards the Back (Up): Scoop up a new loop towards the back of the work using the needle.
  • Release the Old Stitch (Off): Finally, release the old stitch from the knitting needle.

Step 3: Practice Makes Perfect

Repeated practice
Repeated practice

As you begin, focus on the sequence: in, around, up, and off. Repeated practice will help you gain confidence and refine your technique. Pay attention to how your fingertips control the stitches, ensuring a smooth transition from old to new.

Step 4: Load Your Stitches

load the stitches
Load the stitches

With improved skills, load your stitches closer to the needle tip for greater control. The mantra remains the same: in, around, up, and off. As you load the stitches, you’ll notice the fluidity and efficiency of your purl stitch improve.

Step 5: Fine-Tune Your Technique

To enhance your purl stitch, pay attention to the subtle details. Use your fingertips to delicately control the stitches, ensuring precision in scooping up a new loop and releasing the old stitch. The more you finesse your technique, the more seamless and enjoyable the purling process becomes.

Did I just knit or purl?

If you observe a ‘V’ at the base of the stitch, you have just knitted. On the other hand, if there is a bump at the base of the stitch, you have just purled. A ‘V’ or a bump is a visual indicator to distinguish between knitted and purled stitches.

Why is purling so hard?

Purling can be challenging for beginners because, when purling a stitch on the side facing you, you’re simultaneously knitting a stitch from the opposite side, presenting a complex concept for new knitters.

Why is my purl stitch twisted?

If your purl stitch is twisted, it’s likely due to wrapping the yarn clockwise around the needle instead of counterclockwise. Ensure you consistently wrap counterclockwise to prevent twisted stitches, creating a smoother and correctly executed purl stitch.

How do you fix a loose purl stitch?

You can employ two methods to tighten up a loose purl stitch after a knit stitch in ribbing. 

  1. The first method involves giving the purl bump a little tug before purling, holding tension on the stitch. 
  2. The second method suggests wrapping the yarn clockwise instead of counterclockwise while purling, but it may require knitting into the back of the twisted stitch on the next row. 

The first method is preferred for its simplicity and effectiveness, especially when working ribbing or cables. Just give the purl stitch a little tug, watch for a knot, and maintain tension for a snug result.

Video: Loose purl stitch

What stitch is purl every row?

If you purl every row in knitting, you’ll end up with a stitch pattern known as garter stitch. Garter stitch is traditionally achieved by knitting every row, but purling every row produces the same result.

FAQs on purl stitch

Is the purl stitch difficult for beginners?

While it may seem intimidating initially, the purl stitch becomes easier with practice. You’re already on the right track if you’ve mastered the knit stitch.

How does the yarn placement differ from the purl stitch to the knit stitch?

In the purl stitch, the yarn is in front of the knitting, as opposed to the knit stitch, where the yarn is at the back.

Can you quickly recap the four steps involved in the purl stitch?

The steps are: “in” (insert the needle from the right), “around” (wrap the yarn around the front needle), “up” (scoop up a loop towards the back), and “off” (release the old stitch from the needle).

 How can I improve my control while purling?

Use your fingertips to delicately control the stitches, especially when loading them closer to the needle tip. This enhances precision and makes the process smoother.


So, you’ve successfully demystified the purl stitch. With practice and patience, you’ll find yourself seamlessly transitioning between knit and purl stitches, opening up a world of creative possibilities in your knitting projects. Embrace the rhythm, trust your fingertips, and enjoy the satisfying art of purling!

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