Knitting Backwards

Has anybody experimented with knitting backwards?  Apparantly it's a technique that eliminates having to purl by keeping the right (knit ) side facing throughout and working backwards when at the end of the row by working off the right-hand needle onto the left.

 Apparently it's great when working patterns as the right side is always facing you.  I tried it once but it seemed very cumbersome and I've now forgotten how to do it.

I'd value any advice or instruction.



Several books and patterns refer to knitting backwards. The newest Knitting Handbook has a three-page section or so. Sorry, can't remember the exact author and title.

 Most articles on Entrelac stitch give some information on knitting backwards. Because entrelac builds triangles and knits back-and-forth on the sides, knitting a few stitches backwards is more convenient than turning, purling a few, and then turning again.

An English lady gave me the most amusing description. She said, "Just change the yarn in your hands and knit. But do everything with your left hand that you did with your right and vice versa." I still haven't quite figured that one out. However, the lady could do a back-and-forth sweater without turning once in the whole sweater. And was as fast at knitting as anyone I have ever seen.
I just got this from googling knitting backwards. Looks like entrelac to me. Which is great because I got stuck doing mine & put it bottom of list of projects to finish! Perhaps I'll upgrade my entrelac now!

"They say best men are moulded out of faults; and, for the most, become much more the better for being a little bad." William Shakespeare, Measure for Measure

Bill's picture

my entrelac instructions suggest knitting a stitch and turning it backward to see what it looks like...then copying that!

kiwiknitter's picture


Simon sent to me this webpage with the directions for backwards knitting:

I had a look and then gave it a go.  It works!  The first stitch was the most difficult but after that, it went along quite nicely.  I did an entire row in the jersey I'm currently knitting to see how it would work.  The only problem I have with it right now is that did the stitch tighter than my other rows so I'll have to go back to purling and use this new technique on a new project.

The jury is still out as to whether this is easier/faster/more convenient/more user-friendly than traditional purling.  I'd be interested to hear what others think once they've tried this technique.

Never trust a man who, when left alone in a room with a tea cozy, doesn't try it on.  ~Billy Connolly

trucker945's picture

I also found this for you... download and save it for future off-line reference, I did.

Lots more to be found here on the Southern Cross Knitting site;

did I mention I'm a cheap S.O.B.

did I mention I'm a cheap S.O.B.

This information is soooooo useful!  I've wanted to use this technique for a while as, love knitting as I do, I hate purling (which is one of the reasons I like knitting socks - little purling).  When one thinks about it, turning the work to knit back is rather cumbersome!  I'm suprised it isn't a mainstream technique. I've got instructions but seeing someone demontrate it is perfect!  Thanks so much!

Very many thanks


Randy Bear's picture

I've used this technique for quite a while (taught it to myself).  I found that if you hold the yarn "continental" (yarn in the left hand, throw using left index finger), it works best.  The only problem I have is that the purl rows tend to be looser than the knit rows.  The only way I've gotten around this problem is to purl in the back of the stitch going backward, then knitting the stich to untwist it.

 I've even used it on complex patterns for large afghans (when they get big, they are so hard to turn).  My mom taught me to knit, and I had to teach her the technique.  She hasn't quite gotten it, but she will, someday, maybe.  It takes incredible patience to teach the one who taught you.

Thanks.  I still haven't mastered it but will add it to my armoury of useful techniques.  When I tried it out I too found the tension uneven but thought that it was my lack of skill.

MMario's picture

I use backward knitting a lot - though I tend to think of it as backward purling - after all - it's what I do instead of turning the work and purling. And though I am a 'Thrower" and cannot use a norwegian purl when I am knitting "forwards" - when I am 'knitting backwards' I keep the yarn in my right hand - and can use a norwegian purl to do any knit stitches that are in the "purl row" *WITHOUT HAVING TO MOVE THE YARN FORWARD!!!!!!!!!!*

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