At this point, you should have your 54 stitches cast on your needle and be ready to begin knitting. We’ll be learning the two basic stitches in this lesson, knit stitch and purl stitch.
Before we get too far, knitting is purling backwards and purling is knitting backwards. This will hopefully help things make more sense when I tell you to turn your row and purl across what you just knitted. The way to get that beautiful straight knitting look is to make sure you knit the “right side” and purl the “wrong side”(or back side usually).
So, how DO you knit? Well, first pick up the needle with all the stitches in your left hand and the empty needle in your right. Hold your right needle across the front of your work and slide it into the first stitch from left to right.
Then pick up your working yarn (that is the length that leads back to your skein or ball) and wrap the yarn counterclockwise (or anticlockwise for some of my UK friends) around the needle in your right hand. Bring the yarn between the two needles.
Now gently (and carefully!) pull the working yarn through the loop on the left needle and slide the loop off the left needle and you have your first knit stitch!
Make one more knit stitch and then we move on to the purl stitch.
BEFORE YOU PURL: take your working yarn and bring it between your left and right needles. Every time you switch from knitting to purling or back, you will need to bring the yarn between the needles (to the front for purling and to the back for knitting).
As I said before, purling is knitting backward, BUT the first direction stays the same. Hold the needle with all the stitches in your left hand and the needle you’re working (which should now have your two knit stitches on it) in your right hand. Hold your right needle across the front of your work and slide it into the next stitch on the left needle (this should be your third stitch all together) from right to left.
Then pick up your working yarn and wrap the yarn counterclockwise (ALWAYS counterclockwise) around the needle in your right hand.
Bring the yarn between the two needles and gently (and carefully!) pull the working yarn through the loop on the left needle. Now slide the loop off the left needle and you have your first purl stitch!
Make one more purl and you’re on your way to what is known as a 2×2 ribbing.
QUESTION: If purling is knitting backwards, why is it still counterclockwise and not clockwise?
Answer: Grab a mirror so you can watch yourself knit in it. When you make the knit stitch, the yarn wraps counterclockwise as you look at it in the front, but if you can see the back, it’s wrapping counterclockwise back there too (where 12:00 would be your self). If you WERE to purl with a clockwise motion, you would end up with your stitches twisted and lose that straight knitting look that most people are after. It does however create a very interesting look:
Getting back to the pattern we’re working on, for the rest of this row we’re going to make two knit stitches and then two purl stitches until you get to the end of it. Then you will turn the needle and work back the other way.
You will still be holding the work in your left hand and the working needle (currently the empty needle) in your right and you will keep doing the 2×2 rib pattern. This time though, you’ll start on a purl stitch and then go to a knit stitch.
Do six more rows like this and you’ll really have gotten started on your dishcloth! By the time you have finished with four rows, you should able to see the ribbing pattern easily.
The short version of this whole post is:
Row 1, 3, 5, and 7: Knit 2, Purl 2
Row 2, 4, 6, and 8: Purl 2, Knit 2
With eight rows done, you’re ready for Lesson Four.