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 The Purl Hates Me

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T O P I C    R E V I E W
MizzKodak Posted - 03/22/2009 : 11:12:59 PM
I haven't been knitting long (since January) and I have made a few scarves so I decided to learn the purl stitch because I wanted to challenge myself and knit other items I can wear during the spring.
I looked for a couple of videos the web on how to do the Purl stitch and I thought to myself "hey self this is easier than you thought", So I started Purling but one problem kept happening; The stitches kept sliding off the needle so I thought I should uses a bigger size needles (i was using size 8 needles) I jumped to size 13 needles and the problem kept happening. Maybe its me or the crappy yarn I was using (Red is hate you so) or maybe its because I haven't found a comfortable way to hold the yarn in my hand while I'm knitting.

Is there an easier way to do this ever so essential Purl Stitch?
How can I hold my yarn in a easy-not-to-tight fashion?

I am the Shoreline, But you are the Sea
19   L A T E S T    R E P L I E S    (Newest First)
fmarrs Posted - 03/30/2009 : 04:18:25 AM
Try another web site. I suggest On that web site you will find videos and also photographs. Sometimes videos help and sometimes you need something you can study. It also includes knitting both continental and English or American style.

Incidentally, the knit stitches on video jug are not regular knit stitches but twisted knit stitches. Not a good thing to do if you are teaching basics.

MizzKodak Posted - 03/29/2009 : 9:55:58 PM
I apologize if I sound like a 14 year old but OMG OMG OMG!!!!,
I did not think I would gt so much help, it almost (in that I'm so happy way) makes me a little teary eyed.

I am still trying the PURL but I still cant get it. I am using Caron Simple Soft Eco Yarn which is super cheap ($1.97 at my local Walmart).
I can' answer your question as to what technique I'm using I did not know there were different methods of Knitting, what I did was I went to and searched for the Purl stitch video from this English Lady (see link below)

I thought she was really good because I learned how to bind off from the same lady.
My LYS is AC MOORE and the people there are very beachy, I asked this one lady to help me with the Purl Stitch and her response was
"I'm not getting paid to help you"

I decided I'm not giving up, but in the mean time I'm going to see if I can find a local groups of gals to help me out.


I am the Shoreline, But you are the Sea
Siegrid Posted - 03/27/2009 : 07:37:28 AM
I use the Continental technique. Since I don't have to let go of neither needle or yarn, my fingers keep the stitches in place. I never had a problem dropping purl stitches.
I don't know how to do the portuguese style but will try and find information on it.
Lady_Morana Posted - 03/26/2009 : 10:07:27 AM
One thing - are you knitting Continental Style or American Style?

The purl stitch is really no different that the knit stitch - just the opposite action.
Depending on what style you are using, there are different variations of the hand positions that may or may not help you. I teach American, Continental and left handed knitting. But without knowing what style, it is hard to point you in the right direction.

Some hints in the meantime...

Try Bamboo Needles that are fairly short and a reasonable size - Size 8 to 9 needles are good for worsted and 10.5 or Bulky. Also, I start knitters with Brownsheep Bulky. A nice cheaper forgiving yarn that unravels easily, doesn't look old when unraveled and is most importantly, not slick enough that it jumps off the needles. Red Heart is fine, but can be real slick on metal needles and is not too forgiving. It doesn't unravel and still look nice afterwards and being acrylic, it is very unforgiving on the hands. A nice natural yarn that has "give" to the fibers allow the hands and shoulders to relax and help you learn to "not knit too tight"

Metal needles are very slick and enable the stitches to slip off easier. Clover Bamboo is fairly rough with blunter ends. Most new knitters IMO knit too tight - not too loose. But if you knit too tight, the stitches do not move easily on the needles. But when the stitches get to the smaller part at the tip, the stretched yarn contracts and seems to jump off the tip. The blunt end on the Clover will let you know you are knitting to tight. If the blunt end cannot get into the center of the stitch - them chances are you are too tight. Also, stay away new needles that are too shiny. The shiny is more than likely a commercial coating to make the needles slicker. A new knitter does not need slick needles. Also, buying a circular needles such as the 24 inch length will give you more bang for the buck. Soak the needle is very warm water first to soften the cable and you should be fine. Soaking the cable allows the "curl" to loosen and the cable to more more naturally.

The shorter needles (around 9 or 10 inches for a straigt needle) or cable needles allow you to sit in a more natural position. Long needles that are longer than the forearm will cause new knitters to lean forward to knit or to hold the elbows away from their body. Very non-ergonomic. This causes upper body tension and makes you want to knit tighter.

Correct stitch tension will come with experience. Concentrate on the action of knitting and getting the stitches to sit correctly on the needles - and too stay on the needles.

The purl stitch is really no different from the knit stitch. Just different.

Morana Revel
Flit Posted - 03/26/2009 : 09:57:38 AM
I learned with the English/American technique, taught myself Continental technique, but truly began to enjoy knitting when I learned the Modified Portuguese Technique taught by Andrea Wong. With this technique the purl stitch nearly purls itself and tensions are very easy to control. I have no affiliation with Andrea Wong, I just happened to find her DVD, was willing to spend a few hours learning the new technique and that is the one I use for all my knitting now. If you are open to trying yet another technique, you might give this one a try and see which you prefer.
lacylaine Posted - 03/26/2009 : 09:45:24 AM
I second the notion of going to your lys. Believe it or not, I actually bought all my supplies at the lys, taught myself to cast on and knit but couldn't figure out how to purl. The amazing thing is that it took me a few weeks to think of going back and asking for help!

I also second the notion of buying some good yarn. Even a basic yarn like Plymouth Encore is a few steps ahead of Red Heart (which I also use on occasion). Also, the lys may permit you to try different kinds of needles. If you are using 14" aluminum needles (which is almost always what is sold alongside of Red Heart) then you've got a pleasant surprise waiting for you.

I highly recommend Brittany Birch needles. KnitPick's Harmony needles are also nice but you can get the Brittany's at the lys.

Good luck and don't give up! It will all be worth the effort once you catch on and I know you can.


"Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might." Ecclesiastes 9:10

FO 2009: small market/shower bag; gray watch cap

ellen_luckydog Posted - 03/26/2009 : 08:04:38 AM
Dear MizzKodak - I suggest finding someone who will sit with you and show you purling, and then leave you alone to practice!
When I started knitting a few years ago I remembered the knit stitch, but couldn't remember how to purl. I couldn't grasp it from pictures or videos. Finally, I learned from another knitter who took the time to show me. (Thank you, Elizabeth!)
It still took me weeks to feel comfortable purling - I had to concentrate on every purl stitch. So, don't give up! Try to find someone who will show you.
One more thing - if you start to hate the yarn, consider buying a small amount of something you really, really love. When I started knitting I bought inexpensive yarn because I thought it was wasteful to spend more money. I was just a beginning knitter, and maybe I would never finish the project! But my "Knitting Advisor" convinced me to use yarn I really liked. At the yarn store I was shocked at how much one skein could cost (I think it was $18.00) but I bought it, and it really made a difference when I started knitting with it. It was a pleasure just handling that yarn, and it made me happy every time I looked at it. I like Red Heart, I use it a lot - but I recommend trying one skein of something you think is gorgeous.
socks4all Posted - 03/26/2009 : 06:26:03 AM
aviva has the right idea but the wrong technique. Putting your finger over the needle tip will eventually cause a blister on your finger tip especially when using fine or lace tipped needles. Is the yarn falling off while you are trying to bring the right tip through the loop on the left needle? If you are an English style knitter or a thrower, after you have wrapped the yarn around you right needle tip and while you are regrasping the right needle, hold the free end of the yarn against the right needle so that the wrap is tight. Now pull the tip of the right needle through the loop. The wrap should stay with the tip and become the purl st. If you are a continental knitter, keep the tension tight on your yarn until the wrap is pulled through.
mwhite Posted - 03/26/2009 : 05:45:00 AM
Bamboo needles help hold the stitches as well.
aviva Posted - 03/26/2009 : 04:50:41 AM
it took me forever to get it right. i thought purl was just so awkward! but now, a year later i prefer purl to knit!
perhaps try placing your finger on the tip of the needle that the yarn slides off, thereby blocking it's path?
hoekh20 Posted - 03/26/2009 : 04:36:59 AM
Being a concrete visual person, I would go to my nearest yarn shop and ask them to show and explain. Knitters are always willing to share!!!!! Chris
hoekh20 Posted - 03/26/2009 : 04:34:13 AM
see note below
Sticks and String Posted - 03/25/2009 : 09:15:44 AM
Above all, don't give up yet. You can learn this. It takes practice like anything else that's worthwhile. None of us are born knowing how to do this, we all mess up and don't quite understand it and have "ah-ha!" moments and we all practice and practice more.

fmarrs Posted - 03/25/2009 : 04:43:18 AM
I wrote this on my blog several years ago and it may help. Just a couple of additions to it. Fast knitters make very short movements, holding their needles close together. And controlling yarn tension with the method described keeps your hand and fingers relaxed and allows you to knit for longer stretches of time without tiring.

GFTC Posted - 03/24/2009 : 10:07:07 PM
Is it possible you are pointing the needle UP instead of DOWN when it goes into the purl stitch? When you knit the needle tip goes up but when you purl the needle tip goes down. Study the videos closely to see how the purl stitch is made.

It sounds like you might be putting the needle in the wrong direction and that's why you are having trouble getting the needle in and then having the stitches go off the end.

my knitting photos on Flickr or Ravelry
MizzKodak Posted - 03/24/2009 : 7:48:51 PM
Thank You guys so much for helping me out with my Purling problem. While I was trying once again today I noticed that it was difficult for me to put the right hand needle through the loops on the left hand needle, so i moved the stitch closer to the point of the needle to see if I could slide the right hand needle and instead what happened was the stitches fell again.
I'm not frustrated but saddened that something so simple is making me want to not learn the stitch. I'll try a few more video and see how it goes.
Thank you guys so much.

I am the Shoreline, But you are the Sea
MindyO Posted - 03/23/2009 : 09:27:06 AM
These are good videos tha tmight help you
I use the English method, I also knit English as well. I can do it the other way but for me it's so slow and I have a hard time getting my stitches even and not super tight.

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GFTC Posted - 03/23/2009 : 08:18:38 AM
In addition to what KS said make sure you are holding the needles in the correct position. Check a few videos to get the idea.

When I first tried Kitchener stitch I was holding the needles in a vertical position instead of horizontal and I couldn't figure out why it wasn't working.

You need to work on purling since all knitting is based on knit and purl. On the other hand if you only do garter stitch and garter stitch lace you will always be able to find wonderful projects to keep you busy. If you are on Ravelry check out the group FLOGS (for the love of garter stitch) and you will find 117 pages of garter stitch FOs.

my knitting photos on Flickr or Ravelry
KS Posted - 03/23/2009 : 07:22:45 AM
The stitches are sliding off the needles because they are too loose. Each person has a different way of wrapping the yarn around their fingers to get the right tension. Practice is part of it too.

Experiment with different ways of tensioning the yarn, & for the moment, if you need too, give the yarn a little tug after you make each purl stitch. Wrapping the yarn between more finges gives more tension.


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