Knit and Purl confusion!

Hi everyone :slight_smile: I’m new here, my name’s Chloe. I have knitted for a while now but have progressed very slowly with my knitting. The last week I have decided to really spend time on improving, I am doing lots of practice squares from my knitting book, have bought a range of needles and yarns and am really enjoying it. I can now add colours and simple things like that.

I haven’t really contributed much to the forum yet because well, being an extreme beginner I don’t really have much advice to give, haha. But I will give my two cents and encouragement where I can :slight_smile:

Anyway. I feel there is one main problem in my knitting technique that holds me back from progressing, and it is the confusion over knit and purl stitches in patterns. I came here searching for answers and found a sticky thread about mysterious stitch increases. This response by “foldedbird” literally sums up my problem:

"Another thing that might be happening: if you’re switching from Knit to Purl within a row make sure you always have the yarn in the back to knit and in the front to purl. Don’t forget to put that yarn back where it goes each time…if you don’t, you will add stitches…eeek!

And the most important thing of all…THIS HAPPENS TO EVERYONE in the beginning! I increased stitches for weeks before I knew people actually did it on purpose, LOL! "

This is exactly what’s happening to me. I’m sure it’s such a simple thing but I can’t get my head around alternating between knit and purl in a pattern. For example, I have decided to knit a scarf and I casted on 35 stitches. There are now way over 40, and it’s making it difficult to continue because the stitches barely fit on my needles! What I just don’t understand is what does it mean with putting the yarn to the front and back? Is this a case of physically moving it to the front when you purl and the back when you knit? If so, could someone please explain why this makes a difference and why, if not done correctly, will add stitches?

I feel if I grasp this a lightbulb will go off in my head and I’ll finally have the knitting breakthrough I’ve been waiting for haha.

The last few times working on my scarf I have been making sure the yarn is at the back when I knit and at the front when I purl, but is this right? How should it look? What exactly does this mean?!

If anyone can help an extremely confused beginner I would be so grateful :slight_smile:

Many thanks,


Welcome! The above video may help. There are few ways stitches get increased by accident when you’re learning. –

  1. When you knit the yarn is in the back of your work. When you switch to purling you bring the yarn forward [B]between the needles[/B] and purl. To go back to knitting move the yarn back between the needles. The mistake that is sometimes made is when the yarn isn’t moved between the needles and is put over the top of the needle. This creates and inadvertent YO (yarn over).

  2. Another mistake happens when the left needle accidentally picks up the thread between the needles and you knit it creating an increase.

I just wanted to add: if there’s a knitting mistake that can be made, I’ve made it. Nothing you can possibly mess up is original :slight_smile:

Some mistakes are just so easy to make that it’s hard to find somebody who hasn’t done whatever it is. Not knowing how to move the yarn back and forth is one of those. You’ll get it.