How to Knit Backwards

Example of Knitting Backwards

About this technique

Knitting backwards is knitting from the left to right (right to left for left handers) and can be substituted for a purl row in stockinette, allowing you to never turn your work. It’s also commonly used in entrelac knitting, where it would be difficult to continuing flipping your work to knit each side. If you don’t like turning your work or just want to try something different, this is the technique for you.

[VIDEO] How to do this technique

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Technique Instructions

  • Step 1:At the end of your right side row, take main needle in your non-dominate hand (now it will become the working needle), insert working needle into first stitch on main needle into back of loop.
  • Step 2: Wrap yarn over the top and back around the working needle.
  • Step 3: Pull stitch toward you and through the stitch.
  • Step 4: Let stitch drop off the needle.

Repeat steps 1-4 until you have completed the row.

Example Photos

24 thoughts on “How to Knit Backwards

  1. Alla Malikoff says:

    In my humble opinion, it seems to me that knitting a row of pearl stitches would be quicker than knitting a row backward! Just can’t see the point of the exercise.

    • Johnny Vasquez says:

      It’s just another way to do things. Some people don’t like to purl. It’s also used in entrelac where there’s a lot of turning on very short rows, so this eliminates that.

    • Marny CA says:

      When doing entrelac I’m ok about turning but it sure would be easier and fun to learn to knit backwards. Purling isn’t a fav of mine but for people who really don’t like purling, knitting backwards is a good thing.

      Johnny knows best.

  2. Barbara Lowell says:

    Bravo, you are the most interesting teacher yet … I can’t imagine using this but now that I know of it, it may come in handy. Does it have any special merit, like does st st curl less or are the selvages different or what?

    • Johnny Vasquez says:

      It does not affect the fabric in any special way that I could see. It’s often used when knitting entrelac.

  3. Kathleen Mitchell says:

    Am totally intrigued…is this technique adaptable to continental knitting as well? Thanks!

  4. Terri -TN says:

    Hi Johnny! I’ve heard about knitting backwards but have never seen it demonstrated, so thank you very much for giving us a lesson on how to do it. One thing I wanted to ask though, it looked like you were using dpns for the demo. Does backwards knitting have to be done on dpns or can it be done with straights or circs? Thanks!

    • Johnny Vasquez says:

      I knit with DPN’s or circulars because they don’t hit the table when I’m filming. You can use any type of needles for this technique. Thanks for asking!

  5. Peggy says:

    I have used this technique before and always had to “reteach” myself. It does come in handy. Your video is excellent.

  6. Jeanie says:

    Thanks for this video Johnny, i am kind of new to knitting and i really don’t like purling so this stitch will really come in handy for knitting dishcloths/washcloths.

    • Marny CA says:

      Jeanie, being a new knitter is a good thing! You’re a clean slate – which usually makes learning new things much easier. Backward knitting will be a powerful tool.

    • Marny CA says:

      Johnny *does* make it look simple! I know, too, that everything is difficult to impossible UNTIL I learn how to do the task – then it is so easy that I can’t believe I thought it difficult.

      Entrelac was that way for me.

      Now that Johnny has made the backward knitting easier, even entrelac will mean no turning! Yea!

      Thank you, Johnny! A good teacher is everything!!

  7. says:

    Johnny is a good teacher. I’m enjoying taking his ‘free’ classes several times a month. If you have not checked it out, you should, because the lives classes also feature him answering questions as he goes in real time. Check out New Stitch A Day’s website to learn more about the free classes.

  8. Alicia Sutherly says:

    Hi! Johnny,
    Thank-You for this video.Your gooooooodddddd
    I am finely using the backwards stitch.
    for I was showed how to do it at Parrysburg,Ohio
    in a class I went to.Thank-You for the
    refresher course on this stitch.

  9. TamalaT says:

    Great video!

    I have a question. What’s the difference between this and left handed continental knitting? Could you come through the front of the stitch and pick the yarn?


    • Johnny Vasquez says:

      I guess there isn’t really a difference other than if you were a left handed continental knitter then it wouldn’t be knitting backwards.

  10. Cheryl says:

    I have recently started a “potato chip scarf” which has many short rows and constant turning. I am going to try this backwards knitting and hopefully will eliminate the turning. I really enjoy your short lessons as well as the longer ones you have from time to time. Thanks for all the hard work that you and your team do.

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