Conti-purling nightmare!

Okay, so I’ve been working on a sweater in ribbing, so I’ve been doing a whole lot of k,k,p,p,k,k,p,p,etc., which has made me really pay attention to my purling. Soon into this project, I realized that the way I was purling was what Amy refers to in her videos as the “combined knitting method.” Well no wonder it was so danged hard to knit rows in stockinette stitch in straight knitting! I had been twisting my stitches! So I revised my method, only to relaize that my new “improved” method was actually purling through the back stitch. Well, since I’m working in the round, I am having no problems, but if I were knitting straight, I suppose that this cause a sproblem as it’s twisting the stitch as well. Help!!! Purling in continental the way that Amy shows in the video is akin to a contortionist’s nightmare to me. Is there any other way? Please? :smiley:

I’m not experienced enough to truly answer your question, but have you seen the book “Knitting for Anarchists”? The author explains how stitches work, so that you can figure out a way of knitting that works for you, no matter how you do it. Really interesting.

(Edited to clarify that she does discuss stitching through the back and how to work with it)

Sorry I can’t offer more than that at this point…

In her videos, Elizabeth Zimmerman does Continental purling this way, if I recall correctly:

She comes down into the stitch with the right needle, then manipulates the right needle to point up and grab the working yarn, and then down again to pull it through the stitch. The left hand which holds the yarn barely moves.

Also, I think it’s common (maybe even more common?) to use the index finger, not the middle finger as I do, to push the yarn down. I found this trickier, because the yarn is on the index finger, and it can loosen or change tension to move it. But apparently a lot of people do it this way.

There’s also Norwegian Purling (video in Purling section), which also has the yarn in the left hand.

I think any method is awkward until you’ve practiced and modified it to feel natural for you.

Hope that helps!
Good luck!

The other day, a Finnish lady on another forum gave a link to a Finnish website which has knitting videos. The video for purling is here:

You have to go to the bottom of the page and click on “Katso video!” in order to play the clip. The lady who does the video is speaking in Finnish, but it doesn’t matter if you don’t understand her. Just watch her video and watch what she does.

I knit continentally, and this is the way that I was was taught to purl (as in the Finnish video). You use the “pointer” finger of your right hand to direct the right needle and wind the yarn around the right needle tip before drawing the yarn back through the loop on the left needle.

Your left pointer finger stays stable and acts only as a guide for the yarn feed.

That webpage also has diagrams.

I hope it helps.

Great link Salsa! That’s pretty much how EZ did it, I think.
I think I’ll include that link on my Purling page, for people to refer to! Maybe I’ll practice it and try to shoot a video that way myself at some point.


I’ve been grabbing the yarn between my index finger and thumb to pull it over and under the right needle. I tried for a while with my middle finger and just couldn’t do it, and also was doing combined for a while before I realized what I was doing! But it helps to just practice with other fingers, to see which one is more comfortable for you. I thought that after 15 years of contorting my hands to play the viola and piano, my fingers would able to handle anything knitting threw at me, but no. :?

Wow, thanks for all the great recommendations! The book “Knitting for Anarchists” sounds like just my thing–I’ll have to check it out. I’m off to check out all the great links! Thanks again!

I knit continental style… but when I am purling, I hold the yarn in my left hand as usual, but I “throw” it around the needle. I also hold my needles differently when i purl… my “left” needle is vertical, and my right needle comes through the stitch from the TOP down (still right to left, if i was holding the needles both horizontally).

So I’ve done my trials, and it appears that I’m more of an EZ conti-purler. I don’t even involve my left hand at all. It just wants to hold the yarn taught, which is fine with me. I love you, left hand. I just manipulate the right needle into the position that will bring it through the right way, and voila! I can’y believe I’ve been doing it wrong all this time :oops: …
Thanks again for all your advice!