Can't knit - can only purl... help?

I’ve tried to knit on and off for years now, but I can only purl. Seriously, doesn’t matter if I try different methonds (continental vs others, left handed, right handed, etc.) it always comes out as a purl stitch. Any ideas as to what I am doing wrong? I’ve looked at books, youtube videos, everything… I just cannot figure it out. Am I just wired to only purl?

Any assistance you can provide would be very, very appreciated. I have a new eight week old son and many things I want to make for him!

Thanks so much!

I think you must be inserting the needle incorrectly. For knitting it goes from left to right through the stitch for purls it goes from right to left through the front of the stitch. Did you watch the videos? You can also see them with still photos at this site which can help a lot.

Another thought is that maybe you aren’t aware that each stitch has two sides and that is confusing you when you look at your work…One side has the classic V and the other side looks like a purl with the bump near the needle. Here’s a sample of ribbing, but it shows what the stitches look like. On this sample you see 4 knits, 4 purls, 4 knits. If you flip it over you’ll see 4 purls, 4 knits, 4 purls.

Ahhhh, are you following the knit st instructions for every stitch on every row? That makes garter stitch where you get purl bumps on both sides, but if you pull the work down you can see a ‘valley’ or dip, which is the knit stitch. The back of a knit is a purl, the back of a purl is a knit. If you purled every stitch on every row, you’d get the same thing. To get stockinette stitch which is what you see on sweaters with the V knits on one side and the purl bumps on another, you have to knit one row, then purl the next row and alternate the rows like that. The tips page has videos for garter, stockinette and ribbing, so you can see how the differerent sts in combination produce different results.

Jan forgot to link her picture, it can be foundhere, which is another good thread discussing knits and purls.

Oh! Good point, Sue! That hadn’t crossed my mind, but could very well be the problem!:thumbsup:

Jan forgot to link her picture, it can be foundhere, which is another good thread discussing knits and purls.
It’s showing for me.:??

I think it must be the needle issue Jan raised. I’ve definitely just been purling (and have many scarves to prove it). Once the baby is down I will try and let you know. Thanks to both of you for your help!

Must have been a broken link, didn’t show when I first saw your post… Oh well, the other thread has lots of useful information too.

If you knit every stitch of every row, then your stitches will come out looking like the purl stitches in those pictures. Doing every stitch and every row as a knit stitch looks just like purl stitches.

Maybe that’s what’s got you thinking you are purling every stitch. I would recommend finding a real live knitter and show her/him exactly what you’re doing and ask for their help!!!


There are Basic Stitch videos shown on the Tips page that could help you out. They show what happens when you work your stitches in different combinations.

I have 2 thoughts on this, both of which have already been mentioned, but just to reiterate:

  1. You’re not purling, but actually knitting every stitch. This will make purl bumps on both sides. Knitting all of the stitches on 1 side and purling all of the stitches on the other side is what makes it look like the Vs on one side.
  2. Try watching the videos, here. If that doesn’t help, there are also videos on youtube. Watch and see if your motions look the motions in the videos.

This is how the knit stitch works: you take the right needle and put it through the first stitch on the left needle, coming from the front, towards the back. You then catch/wrap/grab/however you think of it, the yarn, which is held in BACK of your work, with the needle and pull it through the stitch TOWARDS you. Then pull the old stitch off of the left needle.
When you purl: You come from the back to the front, then catch/wrap/grab the yarn, which is held in FRONT of your work, with the needle and pull it through the stick AWAY from you.
Does that makes sense with what you’re doing?

Is it possible for you to post photos of some of the scarves you’ve made? Close ups? We might be able to tell if it’s all purl, or garter stitch (knitting every stitch, every row) by seeing it.