Continental Purling

Looking at different ways to purl as a continental style knitter

Holiday crafting is finally finished.  I finished all but one piece in plenty of time, but that last piece proved to be far more time consuming than I expected!

With the “must complete” list done, I’ve started my 3rd knitting project today, a stockinette stitch washcloth from Chicks with Sticks Guide to Knitting.  And now that I’m having to purl, I’ve discovered that purling as a continental knitter is really hard.  So, I thought I’d do a quick post with some resources for continental style knitting.

I did my first knitting project holding my needles in the English method (i.e. the way that pretty much everyone here in the U.S. does): yarn and working needle in your right hand.  I found it very difficult to hold my yarn in my ‘working’ hand.  While I was working on this project I came across the Continental Method.

In the Continental Method, the yarn is held in the left hand and the working needle in the right hand.  This positioning is exactly the same as I use in crochet.  So, for my second knitting project (the garter stitch washcloth from Chicks with Sticks Guide to Knitting), I did it in continental style.  I was amazed at how much easier this was for me.

However, when I started work on the stockinette stitch, I discovered that purling was more difficult; it felt very awkward and I couldn’t figure out how to purl as smoothly as I could knit.  Thankfully, youtube came to my rescue!

Here is my personal favorite continental purling method so far:

It has relatively low left hand movement, which is what made continental knitting seem to go so fast.

My second favorite variation involved using your middle finger to help push the yarn around the working needle.

The final variation I’ll highlight is the Norwegian Purl: (This video by RoxMpls explains why it works, but I thought the previous video was a little bit better for learning the stitch itself.)

I think for me that the first method above might work best for long series of purling, but the Norwegian method may be better when you’re alternating knit & purl stitches in the same row.  In testing these a little, I found that my stitches in Norwegian purl tend to be a bit loose, whereas using the first method my purl stitches have a tension similar to my knit stitches.

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