Purl Stitch and Stockinette Stitch
The Building Blocks of Knitting
The 'purl stitch' is basically the reverse of the knit stitch, and is very important in knitting.
The knit stitch and the purl stitch are the basic building blocks of knitting and can be combined together to produce a number of attractive patterns and textures.
The first pattern you will learn once you have mastered knit and purl stitches is the stockinette stitch.
Stockinette stitch is an extremely popular pattern, and you will recognise it as being the pattern used for many commercial knitted items that you will see in shops and will have bought yourself.
To create stockinette stitch, all you need to do is alternate between knit stitch rows and purl stitch rows.
So a stockinette stitch pattern would just be:
Row 1: k
Row 2: p
Row 3: k
Row 4: p
Row 5: k
Where k = knit stitches along the whole row
and p = purl stitches along the whole row.
One row of stockinette stitch consists of 2 rows; one of knit stitches and one of purl stitches.
The front/right side of the stockinette stitch (i.e. what you are knitting in rows 1, 3, 5, 7 etc) will have the distinctive chevron-type pattern of the stockinette stitch, whilst the back/wrong side (i.e. what you are knitting in rows 2, 4, 6, 8 etc) will have the appearance of garter stitch.
Because stockinette stitch isn't reversible (i.e. it looks different on the back compared to the front), you'll find that it's used in projects where only the front/right side is displayed, such as in sweaters, stuffed toys and socks.
In comparison to garter stitch, stockinette stitch has a much smoother texture and appearance on the front side, and is a bit thinner in terms of depth.
Here's the video lesson on both the purl stitch and stockinette stitch:
The only problem you need to watch out for with stockinette stitch is that if you only knit stockinette stitch, the edges will start to curl inwards.
You can use this curling as a design feature on the edges of items such as sweaters or hats, but most of the time you won't want it to happen; when it's not intentional, it doesn't look good!
To prevent this curling at the edges, you can add a border around the edges in a different (more stable) stitch pattern, such as garter stitch, rib stitch or seed stitch.
However, as a beginner following patterns, you don't need to worry about this because the person writing the pattern will have accounted for the curling effect anyway; you won't need to add anything yourself. It's only if you're making your own pattern that you would need to consider how to stop the edges curling.
The next lesson in my series is how to bind off, which is vital for finishing a knitted project. I hope you will follow along with me!
Photo showing the texture of stockinette stitch, by Efraimstochter.