Updated: Apr 27
I knitted English style for a really long time before switching to continental. I have another blog post about that where I go into all the details about how to hold the yarn that you can check out, but today we are focusing on PURLING.
It was awkward at first.
For a while after I switched to knitting continental, I still struggled to find a comfortable and efficient way to purl. I devised a method where I would kind of pinch the yarn for each stitch, but I didn’t really love it. It wore my hand out faster and I didn’t feel like my stitches were even.
New and Improved Method
I kept trying and once again had to slow down to try some new things. Finally I found a method that I like! It’s easier on my hands, gives me more even stitches, and works a lot better when I’m switching back and forth between knit and purl, like for seed stitch and ribbing.
I hold the needle same way as I do for knitting continental, with my hand kind of closed. Some people, use an open hand. I don't like; it if you like, it cool. For each purl stitch, my right needle is coming out under the working yarn. As my right needle comes back up around, my left index finger is kind of pulling it down gently to guide it into place.
My whole hand is controlling the tension and my pinky is letting in more slack as needed.
Purls looser than knits?
It's really common for your purling to be a little looser. Mine is, actually, but if you think it's a too big of a difference, you can try to push down a little more on the yarn as you're purling. If it stays a pretty big problem, there’s an easy solution, at least for when you’re working flat in stockinette stitch.
You can just use a size smaller needle for your purl rows. An example would be using a size 9 needle for the knit rows and size 8 for the purl rows. I don’t find that it’s a problem for stitch patterns that use a combination of knits and purls within each row.
Find what works best for you.
Like I always say, experiment with a few different ways of holding the yarn. I hope that this gives you a few more options. Play around with it; try not to collapse through your wrists too much; don't hold your hands too tight. When you find that sweet spot, you'll know!