Did you make a knit stitch or a purl stitch? Learning to tell the difference between knits and purls will help you spot mistakes in your knitting. Then, you can go back and fix your mistakes before you bind off your project.
To help you “read” your knitting and make sure you are following patterns correctly, you can start to see the knit stitches as “V” shapes and the purl stitches as upside down “U” shapes.
It also helps to remember that a purl is basically a backwards knit stitch. This means that the back side of a knit stitch looks just like a purl stitch and that the back side of a purl stitch looks just like a knit stitch.
Below are both video and written tutorials to help you learn how to tell knit and purl stitches apart.
Video Guide: How to Identify Knits and Purls
Written Guide: How to Identify Knits And Purls
To me, knit stitches look like the letter “V,” while purl stitches look like the letter “U” turned upside-down.
You can see the difference between knits and purls when you examine a swatch made by alternating the two stitches.
The sample I knit in the video and photos is made with a knit, purl rib stitch pattern. This is just a swatch I made for the purpose of this lesson. If you would like to make it as well, you can follow this pattern:
Use US No. 7 (4.5mm) knitting needles and worsted weight cotton yarn.
Row 1: Cast on 14 stitches. Turn.
Rows 2 – 10: *knit, purl* x 7. (14 stitches)
Row 11: Bind off in pattern. Cut yarn leaving an 8-inch tail and pull through.
Knit stitches are smooth, flat, and resemble the letter “V.”
After knitting a few rows in the knit, purl pattern, the column of knit stitches will be more prominent. You’ll see the “V” shapes stack on one another as you work.
Purl stitches appear bumpy and look a bit like the letter “U” turned upside down.
In a column of purl stitches, the bumps will stack. The line of upside-down “U” stiches will sink backward in the work, so stretching your knitting just a bit can help you see your purls more clearly.
Practice With My Knitting Patterns
Now that you have learned to knit and purl, you can make all of the washcloths and face scrubbies in my Simple Washcloth Collection.
Learn to bind off in a pattern of knits and purls next.