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How to Knit the Purl Stitch

The purl stitch isn't as fancy as it sounds—nothing bejeweled or bedazzled. It's just the reverse of the knit stitch, plain and simple.


  • Step 1: Position needle Hold your started project in your left hand, and the empty needle in your right. Position the left needle so the cast-on stitches run along its right side, and the yarn trails away to your right.
  • Step 2: Insert right needle From above, insert the right needle into the first stitch at the top of the left needle. The right needle should be pointing toward you and passing over, not under, the left needle.
  • TIP: Always keep the yarn facing you on the top side of the needles.
  • Step 3: Make loop With your right hand, wrap the yarn counterclockwise around the tip of the right needle, creating a loop. The yarn should be crossing over the right needle and pulled back to the right.
  • Step 4: Purl Keeping the yarn taut with your right hand, dip the tip of the right needle down to catch the bottom edge of the loop you just formed. In one fluid motion, push the edge of yarn back through the stitch on the left needle while pulling the left needle free of the stitch. Guess what? You've just purled.
  • Step 5: Repeat process Now repeat the process on the remaining row of cast-on stitches, always remembering to insert your right needle into the stitch from above and to keep your yarn in front of the needles. When you get to the end of the row, switch hands and repeat.
  • FACT: The earliest known examples of knitting, found in Egypt and dating from as far back as the 11th century, were made only from knit stitches—no purl stitches.

You Will Need

  • Your knitting project
  • with the appropriate number of "cast on" stitches

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