Loose purl stitches

As noted in many posts purl stitches may be looser than knit stitches. I knit continental and have looked at many youtube videos to see if my technique is in error. I also have tried wooden needles, knitting only from the tips, different needle angles, relaxation to keep a uniform tension, all to no avail.

Anything else I can try? Or is it just practice, practice, practice?

You might try tensioning your yarn a little differently when you purl. Instead of once around a finger, maybe try weaving over another finger too. Anything that you feel might slightly increase the tension as you purl. And of course, as you mentioned, practice works wonders on tension and eveness of sts. This will get better!

Usually its the first purl after a knit stitch that seems to be the loosest for me. is this what is happening? Are you knitting flat or in the round? If you’re knitting something that is one sided (not reversible) like ribbing on a hat you can twist the first purl stitch. I twist by wrapping the first purl the wrong way on the hats I’ve been making. I continue this till I’m done with the ribbing. The back of the ribbing looks different though.

I too knit Continental and it took a long time to get the purl stitches to be tensioned more like the knit stitches. What made the difference for me was wrapping the yarn once around my pinkie and then bringing it over the back of the rest of my fingers. This way of holding the yarn may or may not work for you. For me it allows me to tighten the yarn slightly or let it flow more loosely by holding my pinkie a little differently. Sometimes with fingering yarn I have to wrap 2x round my pinkie. As mentioned above, try different ways of holding the yarn and you can twist stitches if you need to. Most of all, what I hate to hear most, practice, practice, practice, and then get serious about practicing. Where the yarn is held on my pinkie makes a difference too and where it comes over my index finger. Try different parts of your fingers whichever way you’re holding the yarn. HTH

I also had this problem after I switched to continental style. But this video by Cat Bordhi really helped me a lot. She’s so comprehensive in her deconstruction of exactly why the tension is off and how you can fix it. The technique she is using is called Norwegian purl by some people. This is a video that demonstrates very clearly how to do this by someone who was taught by a Danish knitter. That’s the video that finally helped me nail it, but I still think the Cat Bordhi is necessary to watch first because of her great explanation.
Also, Norwegian purl has the added benefit of greatly speeding up your ribbing and anything like seed stitch that requires a lot of switching between knit and purl because you keep the yarn at the back of the needle for both! It’s very efficient in those cases.
Here is a small seed stitch project you could try in order to test it out. Happy knitting! :x:

This is exactly how I hold my yarn. I double wrap sometimes when I knit with slippery yarns.
And you are right about that practice bit. I have lots of wash clothes from when I switched over to continental style. For me, they were the best, because I didn’t mind as much when the tension was bad. I still had a usable object at the end.

I’d been holding the yarn as I did when I crocheted, threading it through all my fingers. Made sense to me, I couldn’t get English style knitting and I was trying to do Continental before I knew there was a ‘real’ way to knit like that. I finally tried holding the yarn the way I do now and it wasn’t long before I noticed I wasn’t rowing out and now sometimes I think my purls are actually tighter than my knits so I have to watch out for that! I’ve tried that Norwegian purl and so far it’s a nonstarter for me. For now I’m going with, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. I can finally knit and purl English, so I’ll try the NP again, I like having more than one way to do things. I like washcloths for practicing pattern stitches too.

ETA: I find that keeping the working yarn closer to the needles and the distance between the needles and my finger holding the yarn minimized helps too, there is less yarn to tension, ergo it’s easier. In fact, sometimes I rock my left hand to the front of the work and my index finger moves very little or not at all in wrapping the yarn. I can’t do videos and don’t know how to explain it better than that. I find the less I have to move my left index finger, the better. What I do might be called picking, I’m not sure.

NP is good if your purls are loose or you dread the back and forth or ribbing, so you may not really need it. If you do a lot of st st however, it can actually slow you down. That’s when Cat Bordhi’s method is useful, because it’s really fast. I’m not sure it’s the best for beginners because they will need to be able to reseat the stitch on the knit side. That definitely would have thrown me for at least the first five years of my knitting career. :teehee:

I wish I could do the English just a bit, because it would help me a lot with my stranded knitting. Right now, I tension every yarn over my left index finger, no matter how many colors I’m knitting with. It’s a little frustrating sometimes, because it’s really slow and the yarns tangle. :pout:

I know what you mean. I do something similar. The matching Norwegian knit is essentially just working much closer to the tip of the needle. I find blunt tip needles are better for this method because of this. The hands move very little except to tension the purl by rocking back with the left hand if needed.

I wish I could do the English just a bit, because it would help me a lot with my stranded knitting. Right now, I tension every yarn over my left index finger, no matter how many colors I’m knitting with. It’s a little frustrating sometimes, because it’s really slow and the yarns tangle.

I’ve not done color work yet because I couldn’t manage the yarns. Now, after much trial and error, I can finally do English (I feel so proud!) and will try color work. All I can say is, try it every now and then and hopefully it will finally come together and you’ll be able to knit English. I don’t think I would ever prefer it over Continental but it’s good that I can finally do it.

This was my first stranded pattern and I might go back to it in order to practice knitting with yarns held both English and continental. I think it’s a great pattern and there are so many projects, that there are lots of helpful notes and forum posts and such.
Fingerless mittens are good for early stranded projects because they’re over fast! Here’s another one that has even less colorwork. And one last cute one!

I really like the Foxy Mittlets for Mama Foxes. I have yarn for doing the double knit heart hot pad pattern here. Now I just have to get motivated to learn something new. Thanks for the links!

You’re welcome!
I like them too, but I might add a thumb which will also give me the extra space for another row of cute foxes. :think:

Here’s a link to my ancient blog where I wrote down what I did. I just updated the info so it should be correct.

Cool blog!!

Thanks all!

I tried the Norwegian Purl and it seems to have tightened my stitches.

My tenstion is still inconsistent but hopefully that will come with practice.

Good! I’m glad it helped you. Yes, practice is an essential part of consistent tension. It really will get easier.

No!!! Not the dreaded “Knitter’s Shame”. I had to laugh when I heard this; thank you for sharing these links. Along with many others, I learned to knit continental, and also had trouble with my purls. I developed a technique for tightening up my purls, and until viewing these videos, especially the second, I was unaware that I was doing the NP. It’s good to know.

Isn’t it nice to know what we’re doing is a “real” or “right” way to knit? I was trying to knit Continental before I knew it was a “real, legitimate” way to knit. LOL