“Backwards” (or “Mirror”) Knitting

Information on things you’ll see in this video:

The sweater I’m wearing is my Ombre Dyed Sweater, pattern + video tutorial.

The sweater on the mannequin is my Zasio Sweater Coat, pattern + video tutorial.

The patterned project bag on the table is by dellaQ Knitting Bags and Cases.

My nail color is by OPI, called “Every Month is Oktoberfest”.

The needles I’m using are Addi Turbos. I don’t remember the name of the yarn I’m using, but it is a bulky wool/alpaca blend.

35 comments on ““Backwards” (or “Mirror”) Knitting

  1. when you very trying the continental version, did you try moving the yarn to your right hand, so that you could “pick” it instead of “throw” it?

  2. Yes – I demonstrate both “right hand” (English/American knitting) and “left hand” (Continental knitting) in the video. When I’m mirror-knitting Continental, I’m forced to “throw”, because I’m not as coordinated with my left hand. When I’m mirror-knitting with my dominant hand (right), I’m able to “flick”, which is my normal knitting style.

    I hope that answers your question – I may not have fully understood what you were asking.
    S t a c i

  3. Hey Staci,

    Great video. I have done the mirror knitting a couple of times. But i find that the Mirror row is a tad looser than the “regular” knit row… has this happened to you? if it has not, what do you think can cause it?

    Thank you for your amazing work!

  4. Amanda – When I first started practicing this technique, yes. I had? tension issues in that my mirror knit rows were tighter than my regular knit rows. But after a few more inches of practicing, my tension is even. Just takes practice. 🙂

  5. Hi Staci,

    I love the concept of not having to purl, but I have to say, I am a continental knitter and it was very awkward for me. I will keep practicing

    I always look forward to your videos. You have tought me so much.

    I’m glad I found you on youtube.



  6. Fantastic video. Learned this technique from written work a while ago, but your tutorial made it clear for me. I kept getting “tangled up” in which way to wrap the yarn, and if I hadn’t used the technique in a while, had to turn my work around and LOOK….counter-clockwise, always….now I will remember. I knit English, VERY similar to your “flicking”, I just angle the right hand needle a little differently, so your tutorials are a blessing for me, as so many are Continental. (I force myself to practice both styles, for use in Fair Isle, but I’d rather have a root canal than purl Continental. You’re right, just in what is most comfortable for you) Wish you’d come to South Carolina and do some classes! 🙂

  7. Fantastic! This will be very useful for entrelac and ive been hoping for a video as im a very visual learner. Thanks so much 🙂

  8. Another great tut, Staci.
    I’m going to start a swatch to give it a try
    and will leave it in plain sight so I can pick it up to practice in every spare moment.
    Thanks for the intro to this cool technique.


  9. Hi Staci,

    I must be in the minority, because I actually enjoy purling as a break from a pattern row. However, this is a wonderfully useful technique to know when you are working bobbles to avoid the endless turning of the work for each bobble, which can get especially annoying when working a large piece, like an afghan. Thanks so much for posting this.


  10. Staci,
    I have been enjoying your tutorials for several months. Your clear presentations of oftentimes complicated topics are a Godsend. Thank you so much for what you share with us.
    One question…what was your opinion of the Master Classes you took as I am considering jumping into that stream. I just don’t want to loose my joy of knitting admidst all of the “assignments.”
    I would value your perspective.
    Thank you.

  11. Hi Staci,
    I’m Anamika & I’m watching and learning from ur videos. Thanx for those. My question to u is bit different – in one of ur videos u told abt time and patience. I’m a mother of 2 little kids but also i luv to knit and crochet, begin a busy mom i start a project which takes a long time complete so i lose patience is there anyway by which i can knit without getting impatient a complete all my project. please help.

  12. Hi Staci, you mentioned during your tutorial that you didn’t know how often someone would want to knit backwards on a purl row, and I thought you would be interested in the afghan that I am knitting at the monment which is the Lizard Ridge on Ravelry. This pattern involves short rows, which are done on a purl row, which means that to do the short row you have to knit backwards, then purl forward then knit backwards again, and so on. Most people I know who have made this afghan just keep turning the project so they can knit and purl normally, but I managed to teach myself how to do the knit stitches backwards and it saves so much time and energy in turning a huge project every 20 stitches across a row.
    Hope this information helps in showing why you would do a knit backwards on a purl row.
    BTW – love your tutorials, have learnt heaps from you.

  13. I’ve been watching your videos and learning so much! Thank you for making such a great resource available to the public.

    Some time ago taught myself to mirror or backwards knit, as I really disliked purling. This method is so relaxing and enjoyable for me. I use the knit and the purl often; for every stretch of ribbing I can, as it goes much faster for me than English for ribbing. I am trying to learn to translate simple stitches like the k2tog and ssk and so forth over to the backwards style, but as my spatial perception needs some work, lol, that has been a bit more difficult. I’d love to see any videos you make of those techniques.

    This is a video of a couple of knit and a few purl stitches, and then the “no turn” to transfer back to regular English knitting:

    Also, thanks for including the nailcolor in your notes, lol!

  14. Having read this I thought it was really informative. I appreciate you taking the time and effort to put this informative article
    together. I once again find myself spending a lot of
    time both reading and leaving comments. But so what, it was still worthwhile!

  15. Hi Staci! I’m a portuguese knitter here we knit in a very different way: the yarn goes around the neck! Yes, thats right! You’ll find on the web some vides about the portuguese way on knitting. Here is an example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xswHlgb1i_E
    For us, the ‘good’ stitch is purl, knit is the ‘bad’ guy. So your video about backwards knitting is very helpful, thank you so much!
    I’ve been following your work for quite a time and I want to say I’ve learned a lot with you. So, thank you for sharing all these beautiful patterns and technics.

    • Hi Rosa, I’m interested in learning Portuguese knitting but I currently only knit projects like entrelac or 10 stitch blankets so working backwards or mirror is important so I don’t get tangled by turning the work. Do you know of any videos on how to do Portuguese backwards?

      I’m also lazy and don’t want to deconstruct and figure it out myself…. although I will if I have to. 🙂


  16. I am just to thrilled to watch this video and see for myself just how easy it is to do the mirror knit on the stocking stitch. Thanks for making it so direct and easy to understand. Keep up the great work!

  17. Thank you for this demonstration. I will try it, however, I am a continental knitter and love purling as its as fast and often faster than plain knitting.

  18. Staci
    Love this idea! Had taught myself to mirror knit several years ago, but (as some have said here) often had to turn the work to make sure I was wrapping correctly. Simple, though when I realized it was “always counterclockwise”.

    I found this to be a very useful technique when knitting scarves (they get long and cumbersome to turn) and afghans/blankets (many stitches per row and several rows) – especially when using thicker yarns that make your project heavy as well as long.

    Thanks for your tutorials.

  19. Use this outstanding video to work entrelac projects. It makes the knitting go so much faster with no more turning the project back and forth. Backwards or mirror knitting makes entrelac work so easy to do in crowded situations since you are just working back and forth on your few stitches at a time, without constantly flipping back and forth. Mirror knitting allows you to indulge your knitting compulsions in public without annoying others. Hurrah.Can’t wit to start my next entrelac project using backwards or mirror knitting.

  20. Purling doesn’t seem to be as slow or awkward for Continental knitters (which I am) as for English style knitters, but I can see how this could be useful for shortrows — at least shorter shortrows. Cool!
    As a Continental knitter, I’m used to “fetching” the yarn rather than “throwing” it, so to me the English style mirror knitting you show here seems more Continental to me, or rather, more like what I’m accustomed to, because then I can do the fetching I’m used to instead of the throwing. (You look like you are throwing it, but maybe that’s because of how you are used to knitting?) It’s more of a true mirror, holding the yarn in the opposite hand. Am I making any sense? I think maybe that is what the first commenter (“ac”) meant. 🙂
    Anyway, thank you for your very clear, easy-to-follow and informative videos!

  21. Thank you for this video! It’s very exciting, and I have been practicing. I just want to confirm, though, because everyone talks about entrelac–this is feasible (efficient) for long rows, too, right, like the acres of knit across purl back that make up a cardigan’s body? I really could give up those purl rows?

  22. Andrea Wong produced some lovely videos on Portuguese knitting, in which yarn is tensioned around the neck.

    Portuguese *Purling* is sheer joy — you simply ‘flick’ the yarn. Portuguese *Knitting,* otoh, is complex, fiddly and unpleasant.

    So I occasionally knit in the English method (with yarn in my right hand) and purl in the Portuguese method, with the yarn around my neck or held by a yarn pin.

    Variety is emphatically the spice of Life!

    Thanks as always for your luminous and insightful videos & patterns.

  23. Very excited to find this technique! Currently involved in an Intarsia afghan using 13 cakes and bobbins. Spend so much time untangling yarns. Have practiced on a swatch to get good tension. Question: Do you think it would show if I switched from knit/purl to backwards knitting in middle of project?

  24. I can see so many uses for this. I don’t like to turn big pieces like blankets or scarves, and can see how I could actually make this work on a plane, where you try to keep your elbows to yourself while knitting. Was the whole green sample made with the mirror knitting method? Were you creating stockinet stitch by knitting the first row the usual way and actually purling back with the mirror method? How could I use this method to do the second row of a garter stitch project? I am making a Baby Surprise Jacket, which is all garter stitch and am trying to wrap my head around what I just saw and see if I can use it for more BSJs on the plane.

  25. Hi Staci – is the mirror knitting the same as the way lefties would knit? Also, when doing a regular right handed knit row, I find I have to go through the back loop to avoid twisted stitches. Is that a wrap issue? I’m ambidextrous in everything else in my life, thought knitting should follow. 🙂

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