I’ve gotten quite a few questions about some of the basics of knitting, so I’m going to dedicate the next couple of blog posts to some great tips for beginners, and today’s post is all about telling the difference between knits and purls.

If you’re still in the practicing stage, where you just make a row of knits followed by a row of purls (or however you choose to practice), and you’re not really making anything in particular, this might not be entirely relevant to you.

But it’s a necessary skill when you start to advance and knit from patterns for one main reason: you want to be able to read your work.

This is what I mean when I say reading your work:

Say you just knit Row 9 of a knitting pattern, and Row 9 of this fictional pattern is K2, P4, K2. And then, say, you became distracted and forgot what row you were on. Should you knit Row 9? Did you just finish Row 9?  Or was it Row 7 that you were on?

Once you’re able to tell the difference between knits and purls, you can just look down at project, see what you knit, and be able to figure out that, yes, you did just finish Row 9.

So let’s take a look at the knit stitch first.

Here is a giant wall of knit stitches. I made black marks on various stitches, and I highlighted what you’re looking for when it comes to live stitches on your needle.

Knit stitches look like arrows or Vs, and there are two parts to a knit stitch to form these shapes.

Knit stitches.

Knit stitches.


Now let’s look at purl stitches.

Here’s a giant block purl stitches. Purl stitches on the needle have little bumps that distinguish them from one another, and multiple purls make waves or half moons.

Purl stitches.

Purl stitches.

Can you see the difference? Let me know if you have any questions in the comments below.

Next week, I’ll show you another way to determine your place if you get lost, and that involves counting rows.

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One thought on “Reading Your Work: Knits v Purls

  1. Pingback: Knitting: Let's Count Rows!We All Knit Here

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