Loose Purls

Anyone got any advice for tightening up my purl stitches and stopping me 'rowing out' my st stitch?. I knit continental style.

albert's picture

You won't want to hear this, but switch to English style. Purling is much easier to do and control. Continental is much overblown.

chipsir's picture

That is the sanest thing I have heard lol, I knit continental and purl English style, my purl tension is just so munbelievably sloppy when trying to do it continental. I really do admire those who have mastered the technique though.

Thomasknits's picture

It's something to try, but I knit continentally (unless I'm doing hard core cabling) and I've worked hard to get my purls the same tension as my knits.
I use my index finger to pull the yarn down and it works for me. It takes practice, but the speed is worth it when you get good at it.
Also, you might think about loosening up your knit rows. Or trying combined knitting.


rvicarus's picture

Thomas... that's exactly how I purl too... I love knitting socks, so I'm usually using fingering-weight on size 2's, but I've had no tension issues... I'm a tight knitter anyway. But yeah... instead of just to the front, I actually pull the yarn below the needle.

Well said Albert. I was surprised at how many Spanish ladies knit (and purl) English style.

canie's picture

I to knit continental but i wrap the yarn around my Little Finger twice it realy helps with the tension or at times i weave the yarn between all my fingers from the little finger up that also helps

MMario's picture

Google for "norwegian purl" and see if that helps you - no moving the yarn back and forth.

MMario - I'm not divorced from reality - we're having a trial separation

bkeith's picture

That's what solved it for me. Great video on the technique at knittinghelp.com. At first the motion feels a tad awkward, but given that I was practically tying myself in knots trying to get decent yarn tension when I did a standard continental purl, Norwegian got to feeling normal pretty quickly.

Joe-in Wyoming's picture

I knit Continental and English interchangeably. (Often in the same project.) A lot of it just boils down to the old adage..."Practice. Practice. Practice." Still, even in Continental style, there are several ways of doing a purl stitch. Norwegian is one that helps tighten up the purl stitch but I found a Swiss version in an old children's knitting book that works best for me. One of the videos on Continental Purl at knittinghelp.com shows it: You bring the yarn forward then swoop your needle tip up from beneath (going behind the yarn) and over to snag the yarn and pull it through. Hard to describe in writing but easy to see in an illustration or video. Simple to do, actually, and I've found that I get into a rhythm for ribbing and only have to flick the yarn from front to back to make my stitches. Lots of luck finding what works for you. BTW, you could also just do a bunch of Garter stitch in just purling. Lots of practice in making the stitch and working on evening out your tension. -- Books, knitting, cats, fountain pens...Life is Good.

Books, knitting, cats, fountain pens...Life is Good.

scottly's picture

I knit continental and have no problem with purling. I use to be a bit loose but all I had to do was use needles a couple of sizes smaller then suggested for guage. Like someone suggested, pracitce is usually the cure to any knitting problem. Personally I think that the secret to continental is to make the active needle do all the work and make the movements as miniscule and smoothly as possible. None of this clacking away that you hear from English knitters - God, they can be noisy. ;-)

albert's picture

It's called "The Music of the Needles".

Ain't that the truth.

Thomasknits's picture

Agreed...english knitting is so loud. But that is my favorite thing about continental...the needles do all the work. Makes for a much more smooth and enjoyable experience when the hands aren't aching.


mrossnyc's picture

There's also a technique called combination knitting that might help. It's detailed in Priscilla Gibson Robert's "Knitting in the Old Way". When I first started knitting I always rowed out on my purls and this helped me resolve the problem. If you google 'combined knitting' there are some videos out there. It's easier to see this technique than describe it but briefly:

It's called combination because Western knitting wraps the yarn around the needle from front to back and in Eastern knitting it is wrapped from back to front. On a purl row, wrap the yarn from back to front and purl the stitch. Doing this will make the stitches for the knit row sit on the needle so that the leading loop is behind the needle instead of in front. For a knit row, insert the needle into the left stitch in front of the right side of the loop and wrap the yarn from front to back like you usually do.

It sounds complicated, but pics make it easier to understand and it can be a faster way to purl. The challenge comes in when doing increases and decreases but that can be dealt with.

Gregory Patrick's picture

Continental here, too. And honestly? All I do is a simple tug when the stitch is complete....and don't forget to have a beer on hand, a beer is good for loose stitches... :)

AKQGuy's picture

Here Here!

gadamson's picture

Thx Guys for all the advice. Seems to me like the best thing is to do lots of practice. Will check out a few of the techniques. Happy knitting!