Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Virtual Knitting Lesson #2: Purling (Steph's Quick Version)

{This post is part of kick-off week for our month-long Knit-for-Good Knit-a-Long. If you're just jumping in, you might want to check out the post that explains it all. }

Do you have a work in progress yet? (practice swatches count for beginners) Don't forget to upload pics to the Flickr Group and share your work!

Have you been practicing what you learned during yesterday's lesson?


Keep at it. Don't move on from the knit stitch until you've got it down rock solid.

Our next lesson will be right here waiting for you when you're confident in your knit stitch and ready to try out purling.

Virtual Knitting Lesson #2: Purl Stitch

Now that you've got the knit stitch under your belt, we're going to move on to the purl stitch. In essence, the purl stitch is a backwards version of knitting. You'll be holding your working yarn in front of your knitting, and pulling the new loop through the old one toward the back of the work.

You'll see what I mean in a minute.

A lot of knitters hate purling, so much so that they avoid it if at all possible. The basic continental purling technique is painfully awkward and slow, no matter how adept you get at it. But never fear, my intrepid knitters, I'll be showing you my quick purling technique. It's almost as fast as the knit stitch.

I mentioned yesterday that if you use the knit stitch on every row of your knitting, you'll end up with garter stitch fabric. You'll also get garter stitch fabric if you use the purl stitch on every row of your knitting. If you think back to the fact that the purl stitch is a backwards knit stitch, you also might realize that just the reverse is true: a knit stitch is a backwards purl stitch. So while you're knitting one row, that same row will show up as a purl row on the other side of the fabric.

Still with me?

This is where knitting starts to get interesting: by simply alternating knit stitches and purl stitches, you can create a wide variety of knitted patterns.

For example: Stockinette. Like I mentioned in the Purl video, this is what you'll find if you look closely at most sweaters or t-shirts. There will be interlocking v's on one side and interlocking bars on the other. You get this when you knit one row and purl the next, alternating that all the way through your knitted piece. And after a while, you won't even have to keep track of which row you're on. You'll just know to knit when the side with the v's is facing you, and purl when the side wit
h the bars is facing you.

One problem with stockinette is that it tends to roll in on itself, so it's usually bordered by ribbing or garter stitch when it's used in a piece of flat knitting like washcloths or scarves or blankets. It's most commonly used in seamed pieces or pieces knit in the round.

Another common pattern created by alternating knit and purl is ribbing. This time though, the knits and purls are alternated within the same row of knitting. The most common rib pattern is probably 2 x 2, or knit two stitches and purl two stitches, repeated over and over. The next row would be just the opposite: purl 2 stitches and then knit 2 stitches.

My favorite simple knit/purl pattern is probably seed stitch. It seems sweet and delicate to me and I love to use it in borders on baby cardigans. Like this one (I'll get the pattern written up one of these days):

That's seed stitch down the center and on the bottom hem and the cuffs. The body of the sweater was worked in stockinette.

A written pattern for a seed stitch pattern sample would look like this:

Cast on 15 stitches:
Row 1: *k1, p1*; repeat to end
Row 2: *p1, k1*; repeat to end
Repeat rows 1 and 2

(k1=knit one stitch and p1= purl one stitch)

Okay folks, that's all for now. Keep on practicing that purl stitch, and come back tomorrow for knitting lesson #3.

I'll tell you why you should only buy circular needles, and we'll go over knitting in the round, magic loop (it'll blow your mind!!!), and increasing and decreasing.

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