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How To Purl Backwards And When To Do It

Liat Gat - Founder

September 19, 2010

Knowing how to purl backwards is optional, but take a look and see if you feel comfortable trying it on your next sock heel. It will save you a lot of time because if you know how to do it, you don't have to turn your work back and forth every row.

Want a faster way to turn a heel? KnitFreedom is all about better, faster and easier, and this technique is one of my favorites. This video comes as a bonus in my sock knitting classes, and I wanted to share it with you here.

Knowing how to purl backwards is optional, but take a look and see if you feel comfortable trying it on your next sock heel. It will save you a lot of time because if you know how to do it, you don’t have to turn your work back and forth every row.

[KnitFreedom] Knit Backwards: Save Time By Knitting Backwards
[KnitFreedom] Knit Backwards: Save Time By Knitting Backwards

To purl backwards, insert the left-hand needle from front to back through the first stitch on your right-hand needle.

Wrap the yarn around the left-hand needle counter-clockwise (towards you), and then pull the stitch on the right-hand needle over the wrap and off the needle.

This technique is very useful in Entrelac knitting, where you constantly have to turn your work after only a few stitches, and, of course, in turning any sock heels or doing any kind of short-rows.

Yay! In only five minutes, you’ve learned to purl backwards and added another skill to your bag of tricks!

If you like this video tutorial on how to purl backwards, let me know by leaving a comment!

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25 thoughts on “How To Purl Backwards And When To Do It”

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  1. Donna Woytovich

    Got it! Thank you!
    Love your pics. Nothing better than a little one in your life❣️ He’s adorable ❤️

  2. Hey Liat!
    The purling backwards video is really cool! My question is if it is always purling backwards, or is there a time where you would knit backwards too?

  3. I’m so glad you are back because I’ve missed you. Love your classes and videos. Going to learn how to knit backwards. Thank you all your help and encouragement

  4. Do you have a video for Garter stitch fabric and knitting backwards? Would be great if you made one as no one else has one available.

  5. Another way to wrap the yarn around, without having to use a helping finger from the right hand, is to pivot the left needle to scoop the yarn.

  6. Thanks Liat for your clear teaching. I have been knitting backwards on short rows for awhile, and recently just reprogrammed my brain and hands to do fancy lace shawls without turning! Two good things came out of this: I can keep track of all the yarn-overs that seem to get entangled when purling back, and it’s a lot more interesting to see the pretty side of the knitting all the time.

  7. Joan Trautwein

    What a wonderful idea. This way there is no need to wrap and turn, is that right? I just watched that video and after having knitted umpteen socks, (that I wasn’t totally satisfied with,) it will make my socks look better. Since signing up for your newsletter and watching your videos, I am amazed at all of the techniques for knitting that I never even heard of after knitting for over 65 years. My mother taught me at age 5. I searched for a better way to cast on instead of knitting on, especially for my socks needing more stretch and found it in your video. Thank you for making me a better knitter. (All of my socks are wearable but I wasn’t totally happy with them.)

    1. Hooray! Exactly, no more turning! I’m delighted that my videos have helped expose you to the new techniques that have been invented recently. They really make knitting much easier. Thank you for finding me and commenting here!

  8. Excellent video, very clear, many thanks for this! I’ve just finished a project with long stocking stitch strips where this would’ve shortened my knitting time considerably… next time :) I always appreciate that you give instructions for both continental and American style knitting.

  9. Thank you for this tip! In junior high, at the end of the 50’s, we had to take home ec where we were supposed to learn to knit. I got bored with garter stitch, and started to knit one row forward, one row backwards so it would look like my sweaters – which garter stitch didn’t! Sadly, I can still say the alphabet backwards, but not knit backwards. This looks useful to re-learn!

    1. Honestly, you are one of the best instructors out there! This and everything looks so easy when you explain and do it! And your dulcet tones also make for such a pleasant learning experience. I really value your course!

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