How To Knit or Purl Backwards And When To Do It


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 knit 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.

To knit 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 enjoyed this video tutorial, you might also like

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

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About Liat Gat - Founder

Liat is the founder and video knitting expert at KNITFreedom. If you liked this article, you'll love the tips you learn from her FREE video newsletter. Get it now by subscribing here.
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12 Responses to How To Knit or Purl Backwards And When To Do It

  1. Ann says:

    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!

  2. nona says:

    Wonderful teaching on various knitting techniques. You are a boon to knitters everywhere. thanks, nona

  3. Kate says:

    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.

  4. Lessie Gallette says:

    Thank you. Never heard of this before but will have to try it! Looks so easy but—we’ll see.

  5. Sarah says:

    Thank you! This is brilliant! I really despise purling and this help me so much. :)

  6. Joan Trautwein says:

    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.)

    • Liat Gat says:

      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!

  7. Peggy Marcus says:

    Love the video on ‘knitting backwards’. Should make my knitting go much faster.
    Thanks so much.

  8. Karin Holubesko says:

    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.

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