As with knit stitch there are two ways of holding the needles and yarn to work purl stitch. The left-hand index finger controls the yarn which is hooked through on to the right-hand needle.
Continental method (yarn in the left hand)
In purl stitch the yarn is held at the front of the work (the side facing you) and is made up of four steps.
1 Hold the needle with the cast on stitches in your left hand, and insert the right-hand needle into the front of the stitch from right to left, keeping the yarn at the front of the work.
2 Move the right-hand needle from right to left behind the yarn and then from left to right in front of the yarn. Pull your left index finger down in front of the work to keep the yarn taut.
3 Pull the new loop on the right-hand needle through the stitch on the left-hand needle, using the right index finger to hold the new loop if needed.
4 Slip the stitch off the left-hand needle. Return the left index finger to its position above the needle. One stitch is completed.
Repeat these four steps for each stitch on the left-hand needle. All the stitches on the left-hand needle will be transferred to the right-hand needle where the new purl row is formed. At the end of the row, swap the needle with the stitches into your left hand and the empty needle into your right hand, and work the next row in the same way.
If you work one row of knit stitches followed by one row of purl stitches, and repeat these two rows, you will produce stockinette (stocking) stitch (st st), the most widely used fabric in knitting. Work a row of knit stitches. At the end of the row, swap the needle with the stitches into your left hand and the empty needle into your right hand, and then work the next row in purl stitch.
In knitting instructions, stockinette (stocking) stitch is written as follows: Row I (RS) Knit. Row 2 Purl.
or the instructions may be: Work in st st (1 row k, 1 row p), beg with a k row...
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