Knit the Knits and Purl the Purls

When I was a new knitter, I would get SO CONFUSED when a knitting pattern said to “Knit the knits and Purl the purls”. It just didn’t make sense to me. I thought that they meant that I should knit the stitches that I had knit on the row before, and purl the stitches I had purled on the row before. So, my knitting never came out right.

But, with experience, I learned what they really meant. You should knit the stitches that LOOK like they were just knit. And you should purl the stitches that LOOK like they were just purled.

In this photo, I knit a little sample that has 3 knits, then 3 purls on the right end. You would knit the first 3 stitches, then purl the next 3 stitches, then continue knitting the knits and purling the purls.

I also made a little video. Hopefully, it will help someone.
Good luck with your knitting! :hug:


It seems like it should be so easy to see without a video, but that was GREAT!!! Honestly I just started to recognize my stitches, so this is wonderful help!

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lol, I’m confusing myself here!

so what you’re saying is, if it’s flat, and you’re doing a purl row, then all the ‘knits’ from the right (knit) side of the knitting will look like purls, and should be purled, and all the purls will look like knits, and should be knitted.

Right…? :yay:

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Yes, the back of a knit st is a purl, the back of a purl is a knit. But when you get to the next row, forget what you did to them on the previous row, and just work the sts however they appear on the row you’re doing now.


I learnt without any terminology whatsoever, so chances are, I know what this is but didn’t know the technical term.

I’ll have to brush up on my knowledge! thanks for posting the little video too, and I love the sample colour!

I always share this sample so knitters can learn what the stitches look like.

Glad to help! :slight_smile:

Exactly! :thumbsup:

I love your sample, Jan! I’ve seen it before, and think it’s wonderful. :hug:

I made the video, because a new member in the “Welcome” thread asked about the statement “knit the knits and purl the purls”. I tried to find a video online that explained it, but was unsuccessful, so I decided to make one myself. :wink:

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Great photo, Jan!!! I saved it on my 'puter for future use in helping others!

It’s nice to have this as a sticky because it comes up all the time and is so important for new knitters to learn as quickly as they can. Thanks!

i still dont understand, so say if like i was knitting 3 then purling 2, when i go back would i be knitting 2 first then purling 3? or would i be knitting 2 and purling 3?

Yes, probably. If you end a row with purl sts, you knit them when you turn the row. But it’s good to learn to read your knitting so when you do ribbing, you knit those sts that look like knits and purl the purls on the row that you’re doing.

If the last five stitches on the row were K3, P2 the next row would begin K2, P3. But what everyone is trying to help you learn is that it is way better not to think about it that way at all. When you turn back to work the next row you should work the stitches as they appear to you ready to be knit. If the stitch ready to be worked has the little “vee” right below the needle you knit it. If the stitch you are ready to work has the bump right below the needle you purl it. I remember it by thinking that pearls are round like the purl bumps.


just knit when you do not see that little bump, and purl it if you do see a bump around that stitch. it is so confusing at first but when you get the hang of it its easy.

I taught myself how to knit, so until recently I had no idea there was such a thing as purling. I have been all over this site and learned a ton, but especially this! Thank you SOOO much for that example picture, it makes so much more sense now! You guys were all really helpful!!

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Thank you so much for showing this image!! I’m a very new knitter and now I understand why my ribbing never turned out right! I was doing it backward! So helpful!! :thumbsup:

You’re welcome! :yay:

This just clicked for me last night!

The only problem is, the yarn I’m currently working with is dark dark dark purple and so it’s still hard to distinguish one stitch from another unless I go slow and have a really bright light shining directly on it. I now know what the stitches are supposed to look like, I just can’t [I]see[/I] them, heh. So until I’m on another project with easier-to-see yarn, I’m stuck with keeping count in my head, “knit, purl. Knit, purl.” lol!

But this tutorial really helped me get it. I still can’t distinguish end stitches, but the ones in the middle of the row I can tell apart.

I think that I get it now…my first experience was looking pretty funky but I was not moving my thread to the back then to the front. You can imagine what a mess it was!!! I now have to go try. I would love to know better how to “read” my stitches…I guess it comes with time. I got no sound on your video. but thank you…it helped! beckie

So glad it is clicking for you now! :slight_smile:

The video I made has no sound. I think I had a cold when I taped it, and my voice was awful. :teehee: I’m glad my “silent movie” still got the message across.

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it is ALL the thing about knitting to read your knitting.
once you know that, all becomes easier.

ribbing is only the beginning… in patterns and lace it really becomes practical to identify a knit, a purl, a yarn over, a k2tog a ssk and so on. Learning as a little child this “reading my knitting” came to me naturally. But I do think that adult new knitters have a much harder time at it sometimes. They THINK too much!

btw: great advantage: if you can read knitting, you can often “steal ideas” by just looking at knitware. on the bus, in the shop, on the net. it is all there right infront of your eyes. just learn to read it!