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How to Purl

June 14, 2013

Before you can begin to purl, you must cast on.

If you are following on from our how to knit tutorial, you will have learned the knit stitch first, and knit at least one row, and your work will look something like this:

Purling is the BACKWARD version of knitting.  If that breaks your brain, just forget that I said it (it’s not important right now).  You make loops, like when you are knitting, but you insert the needle differently, and hold the yarn in front of the work rather than in the back of the work as you did when you were knitting.


1. insert the RH needle into the first stitch on the LH needle, from back to front.  (it needs to go in between the front and back ‘legs’ of a single stitch, not in between two stitches)
2. with the yarn IN FRONT of the needle, wrap the working yarn around the RH needle tip at the front of the work. *you must wrap it around in the direction shown*
3. Use the RH needle to push this loop of working yarn out the back of the work, creating a new loop (one purl stitch).
4. to complete the motion, you must allow the old stitch (the one you just purled into) to slide off the end of the LH needle.

Continue to repeat steps 1-4 until all of the stitches have been purled, and thus transferred to the RH needle.  You should have the same number of stitches on the needles.  And when you get to the end of the row, simply turn the work 180 degrees, place the RH needle into your left hand, and then begin again to work the next row.

Congratulations!  With knit and purl, you can work all three of the stitch patterns required for all the designs in the Simple Collection: garter stitch (knitting all stitches of every row), stockinette stitch (knit right side rows, purl wrong side rows), and ribbing (alternating knits and purls in the same row).  For more about these stitch patterns, see this tutorial.

Practice your newly learned cast on and knit skills by starting the Wheat Scarf or the Malt Blanket – the first two free designs in The Simple Collection!  Pick a yarn that you love and get started with a simple knit right now.

Simple Collection Designs by Tin Can Knits:

Malt Blanket

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