Ask Patty: Purl Power

May 13, 2022

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  • This explanation is extremely interesting , especially for those of us who like detailed explanations with good illustrative photos. Thank you.

  • Great explanation! Although i have found that the garter border works fine for a stockinette scarf or swatch. I just add a 5 or 6 stitch garter strip per side and all is well. Try keeping your wrong side purl stitches near the needle tips as you stitch, to minimize the looseness compared to the knit side.

  • I knew there was no shortcut to the stockinette stitch in the round but had never really thought about why. Thank you, as always, for a clear and very smart explanation.

  • Patty – Once again, thank you for your interesting and clear explanation. It even got my physics professor husband interested!

  • Patty “is a nationally recognized knitting teacher and technique expert”, and a very funny lady. I always learn something new, and you always make me lol. Thanks.

  • You always make me laugh! Great explanation.

  • i love that you nerd out on the WHY.

  • I love how you used an I cord to make the single stitch demo pieces.
    Whenever possible, knit!

  • I am very intrigued by this gauge difference in stockinette when knitting flat and in the round. I have a consistent gauge regardless of whether I knit back and forth (knits and purls) or in in the round (just knits). It could be because other than angling the needle in another direction, my movements are all exactly the same whether I knit or purl. I pick for stranded colorwork but otherwise decided to leave continental knitting alone – don’t fix what ain’t broken.

    I’m a thrower, and hold my left needle knife style and my right needle pencil style (I noticed that Carol Feller knits like this). I can’t possibly be unique in having this consistent gauge! Anyway, it is certainly convenient. Of course, I don’t swatch (see consistent, predictable gauge above) either. HA! Maybe I should run a class. 🙂

    • This intrigues me as well. I was a thrower exclusively for many years and had virtually no difference in my round vs flat gauge. I’m now ambidextrous, having learned to pick about 10 years ago … and, when I pick, my round gauge is not the same as my flat gauge.

      Is this just random? Or might it be a real thing?

      • Laura, it’s a real thing, since the knitting and purling movements in Continental knitting differ quite a bit. I believe the purl stitches use more yarn. The way around is to use the combination method popularized by the late, great, Annie Modesitt. You knit the stitches through the back loop in the following row to correct the mount of the purl stitches in the previous row.

  • Thank you Patty!!!
    I really appreciate the informative post with a healthy dose of humor to boot!!
    Such helpful explanations.

  • Love the profile pics!! I’ve never, ever seen that in my many, many years of knitting. Definitely worth a thousand words.

  • Brilliant! That is an explanation I can wrap my brain around. I have embraced the swatch, I no longer resist.

  • Has anyone tried doing a garter swatch and an all-purl garter swatch? I found it quite fun to see the difference in tension between my knits and purls. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be, but it was measurable. I think about a 1/20 difference. All purl felt strange!

  • Gauge swatching makes my heart sink, but alas, it must be done and done right or misery ensues. I was finishing the Masters Hand Knitting certification Level 1 and had to do a mitten knitted in the round. It was rejected twice due to inaccurate gauge despite my having done blocked gauge swatches three ways from Monday! After scrutinizing and analyzing and hurting my brain, I discovered that my “faux” round gauge swatch had a different gauge than my real circular knitted gauge because…. I was overcompensating in the transitions from one dp needle to the next by giving the first stitch on the next needle a little tug! So that was at least 3 stitches in each round that had a slightly smaller gauge than in the flat/round swatch and enough to make the mitten circumference too small. So an important lesson in swatching exactly how you’re going to knit!