All purl garter stitch

OK, so I keep hearing everybody complain about purling. They don't like to do it, some even avoid any project that has a lot of purl stitches in it. But I've never minded purl, and in fact, in certain ways, I find it easier than knit. You just slip nicely into the back of the stitch, wrap, and you're out. With knit, I have to come back around the stitch, poke into the front, wrap and pull back. (NOTE: I knit right-handed English style, if that makes a difference.)

I recently spent a lot of time on a garter stitch scarf, knit every row. Knit, and knit, and knit, and knit. I keep hearing that purl is just the backside of knit, and vice versa. So I kept wondering, what if you purled every row? Would it do the same thing?

So I ran a little experiment. Size 6 bamboo needles, 9 inch, and a hank of cotton yarn I found in the cloth store while my wife and daughter were looking at sewing machines. I cast on 40 stitches and began to purl. First, I discovered forty stitches is too wide for a good dishcloth. Secondly, I discovered that all that knit, knit, knit had become a habit when I unconsciously did one row in knit. Then I cast on 25 stitches and knit every row. Here, I discovered that my knit stitch produces a tighter fabric, with more even stitches. Looks nicer, made a nicer dishcloth.

The "all purl" garter stitch is on the left, the knit one is on the right. You can see the one row where I knit in the left one. The needles are pictured with it. If I practiced all purl a lot, it would probably get more even and make a nicer cloth. Meanwhile, the venerable all knit garter stitch is probably not under threat.

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Tallguy's picture

Yes, this is a very common situation -- most people purl looser than they knit. This is an excellent example of this. True, you CAN purl every row... but I would rather not! If there is an easier way to do it (knit), I would do it. If you happen to LIKE purling, then go ahead.

At one time, I disliked doing seams, and set out to knit a sleeveless pullover in the round instead of flat as indicated in the pattern. The problem was that there were some pattern stitches on the PURL side as well! I learned how to do that stitch in reverse, and it all worked out very well. There is more than one way to get the result you want!

The goal is to learn what YOUR own personal style of knitting is, and to work with it. If you know you knit tighter than you purl, you can always use TWO different sizes of needles, or take some other steps to even out the tension.

The same occurs if you knit English vs. Continental -- there is a difference in tension, and again, it CAN be put to very effective use in some projects.

This is wonderful that you are taking note of how YOU can adjust the way you knit to make it easier for yourself, and in understanding that you have some variances in tension. This is essential to be very aware of how your personal style will affect the final outcome of any project.

michaelpthompson's picture

Thanks Tallguy, you're right, it was a way of exploring my personal style. Just an experiment to see what happens. One of these days I'm going to learn Continental. It looks like it would be easier and faster for ribbing, though I've seen a way of holding the yarn in the right hand that might make it just as easy for English. More experiments, more learning!

"All knitting is just one stitch at a time."