Knitting Pattern Projects

Basic Knitting Stitches: KNIT and PURL demystified

Knitting is really easy! If you think about it, it’s just forming symmetric loops with a knitting yarn, using a knitting needle to determine the size of the loop. There are only two basic knitting stitches: KNIT and PURL.

All other knitting stitches or knitting techniques are developed from these two basic stitches. I think it’s important to be able to differentiate between these two stitches if you want to become an accomplished knitter. To identify the difference between a knit and purl stitch, I will explain first what a single stitch is made up of.

A single stitch consists of three parts:

Single Stitch
1. the top or “head” of the stitch
2. the sides or “legs”, that connect the “head” and the “feet”
3. the lower part or “feet” of the stitch
A row of loops:

The stitches of the second row of knitting connects to the first row in the following way:

the lower part or “feet” of the new stitches interlock with the top or “head” of the stitches in the previous row. The top part of the stitch is always the part that is lying on the knitting needle. In a knit stitch, the “feet” and “head” of the stitch lie on the
back side of the knitted fabric and the front side shows the “legs” of the stitches, which create the distinct V-shapes.

The reverse side of a knit stitch shows always a purl stitch.

Knitting a purl stitch creates the exact opposite. In a purl stitch the “feet” and “head” of the stitch appear on the front side of the knitted fabric and the “legs” lie on the back side (see above diagram). The reverse side of a purl stitch shows always a knit stitch.

Although, knitting alternately a knit row and then a purl row and continuing in this fashion creates a fabric image shown below. This knit stitch is known as Stockinette Stitch and therefore the back side is also called revers stockinette. This stitch is used in a lot of knitting projects: scarves, jumpers, socks, blankets and many more. One characteristic of this knitted fabric is that it curls on the sides. The vertical edges roll towards the back side.


Knitting only knit stitches in each row creates a knitted fabric that only shows the rounded “heads” and “feet” of the stitch. The “heads” and “feet” lie interlocked next to each other and therefore create ridges along the knitted row. This stitch is called Garter stitch and is probably the easiest stitch to do. When learning to knit, it’s a good idea to start with this stitch. Both sides of the Garter Stitch fabric look the same and the knitted fabric doesn’t roll around the edges. Because of this, the Garter Stitch is ideal to use for numerous projects: blankets, hats, scarves, bags and many more. The garter stitch can also be achieved, when knitting purl stitches in each row.

When counting rows in a garter stitch fabric, you only count the ridges and then multiply that number by two. You do this because in-between the ridges lies a knit row. If you pull the rows of the knitted fabric a bit apart, you can see the V-shapes of the knit stitches.