How To Knit Purl Stitch for Beginners

Here is a bit about the purl stitch in knitting and how to knit purl stitch for beginners.

For more knitting for beginner videos, you can click here.

What is Purl Stitch?

how to knit purl stitch for beginners

If you do any knitting, purl is one of the most common stitches used in knitting patterns next to garter stitch.

Purl stitch is done almost the same as garter stitch, but backwards.

In other words, instead of feeding the knitting needle in through the back of the stitch to start, you feed it through the front of the stitch and work the opposite way than you would for garter stitch.

If you had to knit a few rows in purl stitch, the garment you knit would look like you were doing garter stitch. In order for your knitting to get that characteristic smooth look, you would need to knit one row of garter stitch and then every alternate row in purl stitch. This knitting stitch is called stocking stitch or stockinette stitch.

If you are used to knitting garter stitch, you will find purl stitch a little awkward in the beginning, but with a little practise, you will get used to it.

There are various different styles of doing purl stitch including continental or German method, English method, combined purling method, Norwegian purling method and knitting back.

Here is a video tutorial for you to follow, as written words don’t explain half as well as a video does.

How To Knit Purl Stitch for Beginners

how to knit purl stitch for beginnersHere are some great purl knitting products that can be ordered online.

The Knitting Experience Book 2: The Purl Stitch, Becoming Intuitive

Here is a great book by knitting expert Sally Melville, with some great patterns that use mainly the Purl Stitch for you to practice on. Sally Melville has written other books on knitting and knitting patterns. To find out more click on the book or the link above.

This book will teach you all sorts of other knitting techniques, including information about materials, equipment, stitches, increasing and decreasing, and preventing and fixing mistakes, and includes patterns for dozens of projects.

Knitting: Knit and Purl Texture in Knitting A Beginners Guide to Texture with Knit and Purl Stitches

Violet Henderson teaches all the basics of knitting and how to use simple knit and purl stitches to create lovely textures for your knitted projects.

She also guides you on what sort of yarn to use and how to understand yarn labels which can be confusing at the best of times.

In this book you will learn how to do:

  • knit stitch
  • purl stitch
  • cast on
  • bind off
  • yarn over
  • knit 2 together
  • how to weave in tails
  • how to pick up dropped stitches
  • how to change colours

What I love about this book is each section has large images and easy to understand instructions. It is like having Violet sitting right next to you teaching you.

The book also has four lovely patterns which are not too difficult and you can test your skills. These patterns are for a basket weave dishcloth, a seed stitch square, a drop stitch scarf and an eyelet scarf.

This is a great book for beginners in knitting.

Knitting Projects You’ll Purl Over (Crafty Creations)

This collection of how-to projects will take a crafty kid’s imagination to the next level. Building on a base interest of knitting, this book will show kids the basics and beyond!

Encouraging your kids to try this great skill is well worthwhile. My Mom taught me to knit when I was five, and I have always enjoyed this pass time.

Too few children nowadays can do much more than play with their phones unfortunately, so it is always good to encourage other creative skills.

Please feel free to comment below if you have anything to add on how to knit purl stitch for beginners.


10 thoughts on “How To Knit Purl Stitch for Beginners”

  1. Hi there,

    What a great article for beginners. Really easy to follow and quite informative. I have a dog rescue from home. So sometimes it can get kind of tight budget wise for my dogs, but I really want to make sure they have different accessories, particularly scarfs for our colder seasons. Would you happen to know where i could get instructions on how to do this.

    Would save me money knitting their stuff and be fun at the same time. Plus will look awesome 🙂



  2. Glad I came across this site and enjoyed reading your content. I have just started to learn to knit at the moment and still trying to get a hang of the needles! Find it so tricky.
    Am going to bookmark this site and follow along with the video tutorial. It’s great for beginners like me.

  3. Great post on how to do the purl stitch. I taught myself to knit about six months ago. I used videos online very similar to the one you have on this post. Some were easy to follow and some were not. I found your video went at a very good pace and was very easy to follow. Wish I saw this 6 months ago!

    • Yes I agree that it is far easier to follow a video that moves at a slow pace, especially with knitting so that you can knit along with the video.

      Thanks for leaving your thoughts Jessica.

  4. Thank you for highlighting these beginner stitches and wonderful resource book. My oldest daughter is 6 months pregnant so I will be a grandmother for the 1st time in a few short months. 

    I have been wanting to learn how to knit blankets and little clothes etc. like I remember my grandmother doing for me when I was expecting my children years ago. It’s what a grandma does, isn’t it lol? Every time I have tried to learn to knit or crochet, I end up confused and frustrated and give up. 

    With a good beginner book with large photos and some videos to help me along the way, I think I might just be able to manage to learn finally. So glad I found your site! Thanks so much!

    • Thanks for the comment Shannon and hope your knitting goes well. Remember to start slowly and be patient with yourself, and the rest will come.

  5. So I’ve just been cast back over forty years. I can clearly remember being told to ‘Knit one, purl one’ and yet not until today would I have actually known what is was that I was actually doing. 

    My mother took the advice you are giving today and showed her child how to knit. So, the list that is part of your description of the Violet Henderson book, has four skills that I would have been able to do. Knit stitch, Purl stitch, cast on and cast off. 

    As a child, I think the most I would have been able to make was a scarf, although I do remember the edges curling up so it turned into more of a tube. All of our children have learnt some knitting skills through school, one of the techniques was in using a ‘doll’ where the end result would come through the body, I can’t remember the name of the style. G’ma also passed on her skills during ‘quiet’ away days. Maybe more of an overlooked skill but certainly not forgotten.

    • Thank you for the interesting story Twack. The style you are referring to is called french knitting, and it is how most children learn to knit.


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