8 Designs for Knitting: Free Patterns for Beginners and Easy Knitting Stashbusters
Roses are red, purling is outdated. I tried knitting backwards and I didn't hate it.
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Imagine hating purling so much that you feel the need to learn how to knit backwards just to avoid it. Now, nobody likes purling, and if you do, you're like a knitting unicorn, but very few will go out of their way to learn how to actively avoid it. Sure, you could work mainly in garter stitch or just knit in the round and steek anything that's supposed to be flat (eek!), but there's another way that people tell the purling demon "not today:" knitting backwards. That's right: people entirely upend the knitting style they've perfected over years, knitting from left to right like absolute heathens, because purling is moderately annoying.
I decided to learn how to knit backwards to see what all the fuss is about, and I fear that I may actually like it. Does that mean I'm never going to purl again? No, it doesn't seem worth all the flipping to knit, say, ribbing in the round, but it's changed my stockinette stitch game and I'm not mad about it. If you're interested in learning how to knit backwards, too, well, take a seat, grab some needles and spare yarn, take a good, long look at your life choices, and let's begin.
Not what you imagined when you searched "knitting backwards?" Learn how to tink, or unknit, to fix knitting mistakes here: Knitting Class: Fixing Knitting Mistakes (Part 6)
How to Knit Backwards
Let's try a stockinette stitch swatch. Cast on and knit one row as normal. I cast on only 10 stitches so I could flip between knitting forwards and backwards relatively frequently and get used to it.
Don't flip your work over. Your working yarn will be on the left of your swatch, and your empty needle is now your working needle. Surprise! Being ambidextrous really helps in the knitting backwards department. Stick that sucker in through the back loop of your most recently finished stitch.
Wrap your yarn counterclockwise around your working needle. That's right, just like you always knit. Now, I'm using the continental method in this example, but the same rules go for English knitting, where you hold your yarn in your right hand. In the gif below, I'm holding the yarn the English way. It doesn't matter, as long as you wrap your yarn counterclockwise.
Pull the yarn through from the back to the front, and slip the old stitch off of your needle. Just like regular knitting... but with the needle in your non-dominant hand doing all the work.
Finish up your row, and yes, it is honest-to-goodness stockinette stitch and you didn't have to purl once, you crafty fox. Knit the next row as usual, and every alternate row, knit backwards for practice.
Check out this gif to see knitting backwards in real-time.
How to Purl Backwards
I'm going to go ahead and give you the benefit of the doubt that you're just working a mostly purl row with a couple of random knit stitches, because if you genuinely hate the knit stitch enough to learn purling backwards, I'm not sure you're human.
Well, you little maniac, here's how you purl backwards to create a knit stitch without knitting.
Let's use the stockinette swatch we've been working on in the previous section. Finish up your row of knitting forwards so, once again, the needle in your non-dominant hand is empty and is your working needle, and don't turn your work. This time, before you begin, bring your yarn to the front of your work.
Insert your working needle through the front loop of the first stitch of your other needle.
Once again, wrap your yarn counterclockwise around your working needle.
Pull the loop through, and your new stitch is on your working needle.
Slip the remaining stitch off of your other needle. For some reason, you just learned how to purl backwards. Practice that for a while, if you're a glutton for punishment.
See purling backwards in real-time with the gif below.
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