Knitting Decreases: How to Purl Two Stitches Together (P2TOG)

Knitting Decreases: How to Purl Two Stitches Together (P2TOG)

Purl two together is a common knitting decrease technique used for various projects. You may encounter this instruction when you have socks, a hat, or a garment on your knitting needles. The method works similarly to knit two together (k2tog), where you make two knit stitches into one, while in purl two together (p2tog), you purl two stitches. In knitting, all stitches work with knit and purl stitches and combinations. Purl is a mirror version of the knit stitch, or for a better explanation, two sides of the same coin. While the knit stitch works with yarn over from back to front of the needle, the purl stitch requires bringing the yarn from front to back of the needle. Our previous guide on knit and purl stitches for beginners will clarify your concerns. So, let’s get started with exploring the p2tog technique.

Understanding P2Tog

P2tog basically means purl two stitches together. It is a neat right-leaning decrease. This method decreases the stitch count from the previous row or round, giving a tapered shape, generally for projects that require shape and fit, such as socks, hats, and garments. The decrease technique works in lace knitting and asymmetrical shawls and scarves, even as a design factor. To understand the concept clearly, refer to our guide on how to knit two together (k2tog).

For knitting decreases including p2tog, you can work with single-pointed or circular needles for knitting back and forth or double-pointed or circular needles for knitting in the round. Many knitters, especially beginners, find purl stitches a little challenging. It affects the tension as you need to bring the yarn over the needle differently. While working with a pattern you have to follow instructions. But when planning your own designs, you can try to skip making decreases on the purl row or round and stick to knit rows for your ease. The good news is that working a stockinette pattern with double-pointed needles (DPNs) or circular needles in the round does not require purl stitches, hence no p2tog. But, the garter pattern, which is usually all knit stitches, becomes a pattern of alternate rounds of knit and purl stitches when you are going in rounds. However, for ribbing and textured stitch patterns, you need to master p2tog.

To learn to purl two together, gather your favorite knitting needles and yarn. For knitting projects make sure to carry stitch markers, finishing needles, a pair of scissors, and other knitting accessories that assist you with crafting sessions.

Step-by-step instruction on how to P2tog

Working a p2tog is almost the same as working a regular purl stitch, but you work on two stitches to make one. If you are working on a pattern, follow the instructions until you get to p2tog. For a practice of the stitch technique make a gauge swatch first before starting a project. 

1St Step - Begin the stitch by inserting the knitting needle left to right (purlwise) through the stitches of the previous row or round, as if you would purl them both.

2nd Step - Wrap the yarn counter-clockwise around the tip of the working knitting needle. Draw the yarn through both stitches on the left-hand needle. Slip the two purl stitches off the needle tip and have a single stitch in its place. That’s all there is to it – you have made a p2tog. 

You will have a decrease and the stitch count is lesser than the previous row or round.

Place a stitch marker here if you have to decrease again in the next row or round.

When to Use P2tog

In any knitting pattern, you come across a row or round of purl stitches and need to decrease stitches, you can work a p2tog. So, if you are working on a stockinette pattern mixed with lace motifs, for the row/round of purl stitches you automatically make a p2tog.

If a knitting pattern mentions to decrease stitches without specifying anything else, try and include p2tog in the middle avoiding the first and last stitches. If multiple decreases are mention between your p2tog make sure to include some purl stitches.  

Alternatives to P2Tog

Though the most popular knitting decreases, there are other techniques too. If you need to decrease two stitches at a time work a p3tog.

Purl Two Together through Back Loop (P2TOG TBL) – This technique of purl two together through the back loop is an alternate method to decrease stitches in a row or round of purl stitches. This stitch has a neat finish.

Slip, Slip, Purl (SSP) – A left-leaning knitting decrease, this method works by slipping two stitches from your left needle to the right and then back to the original and then purl two together.

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