Knit Vs. Purl Stitch – Did I Finish Knit or Purl?

Last Updated on December 23, 2023

If you started knitting, you have probably come across the knit and purl stitches. As you progress in your knitting skills, it becomes crucial to distinguish between these two fundamental stitches for creating intricate patterns.

Here in this guide, we’ll explore how to visually tell the difference between a knit vs. purl stitch, ensuring your knitting endeavors are as delightful as they are accurate.

Knit vs. Purl Stitch


  • Begin your project with the knit stitch for a smoother beginning.
  • Transition to purl stitches on the second row, keeping the working yarn in front.
  • Recognize V-shaped stitches for knit and U-shaped stitches for purl in your pattern.
  • Regularly inspect your work to ensure the knit and purl rows align correctly.
  • Embrace the unique language of knitting, creating beautiful textures with each stitch.

What is purl knitting used for?

Purl knitting is commonly used for creating fabrics that look the same on both sides. This stitch allows for the formation of various attractive patterns and designs. Purl knit is often employed in crafting bulky sweaters, cardigans, pullovers, and children’s clothing, providing versatility and aesthetic appeal to the finished garments.

Additional Resources – How to Purl Stitch Knitting

Can you just knit and not purl?

Yes, you can choose to knit without purling by exploring alternative techniques. Knitting in the round, opting for garter stitch projects, or learning to knit backward are all viable options to avoid all-purl rows and maintain a knit-centric approach in your projects.

Do you knit or purl first?

Yes, when starting a knitting project, you knit first in the initial row. On the second row, you switch to purling, ensuring that the working yarn is positioned in front of your needles.

Analyzing Knit-Purl Pattern

Let’s look at a small knitted patch with a knit-purl pattern to figure out the meaning of knit and purl stitches. As you gaze upon this fabric, notice the alternating columns of V-shaped stitches and upside-down U-shaped stitches. This pattern is the result of a sequence of knit and purl stitches worked consecutively, creating a visually appealing texture.

Identifying Knit Stitches

The first row of our pattern showcases the classic knit stitch. Take a closer look at the column of neatly aligned V-shaped stitches. These V’s are the telltale signs of knit stitches. While the initial row might appear slightly wobbly, pay attention to the distinct V formations – these signify successful knit stitches.

Knit vs. Purl Stitch – What is the Difference?

Distinguishing between knit and purl stitches is key in knitting. You’ll see a little V in a knit stitch, while a purl stitch forms a little U, creating the foundation for various textured patterns in your knitting projects.

Spotting Purl Stitches

Spotting Purl Stitches
Spotting Purl Stitches

Adjacent to the column of knit stitches, you’ll observe a series of upside-down U-shaped stitches. These charming little U’s are the result of the purl stitch. As you follow this column, you’ll notice the rhythm of knit and purl stitches, creating a harmonious blend of textures in your work.

Reading Your Knitting

Reading Your Knitting
Reading Your Knitting

It’s crucial to go back and “read” your knitting to ensure your stitches are on the right track. As you work through rows of a knit-purl ribbing pattern or any other pattern involving these stitches, double-check that your knit rows showcase the distinct V-shaped stitches and your purl rows feature the characteristic U-shaped stitches.

When you knit, envision creating a little V for a knit stitch. Conversely, picture forming a little U for a purl stitch when you purl. This mental image can be a handy reference as you navigate your knitting projects.


Can I start a knitting project with a purl stitch instead of a knit stitch?

While it’s technically possible, beginning with a knit stitch for the first row is generally recommended as it’s simpler and helps set a solid foundation. On the second row, you can then start purling.

Why is the first row of knitting sometimes challenging?

A: The first row can be tricky due to tension and getting used to handling the needles and yarn. Practice and patience usually make the process smoother.

What is the working yarn, and why is its position important when purling?

The working yarn is the yarn attached to the ball that you actively use for stitching. In purling, having the working yarn in front of the needles is crucial to creating the correct stitch and texture.

 Can I switch between knit and purl stitches within the same row?

Switching between knit and purl stitches in the same row creates interesting patterns and textures. Just be sure to follow the pattern instructions to maintain consistency.

How can I tell if I’ve knitted or purled incorrectly in my project?

Check the stitches in each row – knit stitches typically form a V shape, while purl stitches resemble a little U. If your pattern requires a specific sequence, make sure your stitches align accordingly.

What is a knit-purl ribbing pattern, and how do I recognize it?

A knit-purl ribbing pattern involves alternating rows of knit and purl stitches, creating a textured fabric. You can identify it by the visible columns of V’s and U’s running vertically in the knitted piece.

Do I need special needles or yarn for purling?

No, the same knitting needles and yarn used for knitting can be used for purling. However, different stitch patterns may require specific needle sizes or yarn types, so always check your pattern instructions.


In knit vs. purl stitch, mastering the art of distinguishing between them visually is a valuable skill. By examining your work closely and identifying the unmistakable V’s and U’s, you can ensure your knitting patterns come to life with precision and beauty. 

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