A step by step tutorial showing you everything you need to know about the left lifted purl increase (also known as PLL)
Your pattern calls for a left lifted purl increase and you have no clue how to knit it? Admittedly, it’s a very rare increase for the wrong side. But that doesn’t mean it’s hard to knit. In fact, it’s super simple and this tutorial is all about it.
In knitting patterns you will find this increase under a couple of different names and abbreviations:
- LLPI – Left lifted purl increase
- PLL – Purl left loop
- PLLI – Purled left lifted increase
They all mean the exact same thing. Knitting is a hobby enjoyed all over the world. Only in recent years and with the advent of the internet, stitch names have been canonized. But rare increases, especially lifted increases are still a bit behind because most beginner-friendly patterns will use M1L & M1R instead. Personally, I call it PLL in my patterns.
This is a mistake, though, as this left-leaning purl increase has some very spectacular applications AND creates a very neat increase line. It’s one of 4 lifted increases.
Let’s take a look!
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- Insert your right knitting needle into the left leg of the stitch two rows below the first stitch on your right needle coming in from below.
- Lift that loop back to your left needle.
- Bring the working yarn to the front and insert your right knitting needle into the stitch from right to left (so purlwise).
- Wrap the yarn around the needle counter-clockwise.
- Pull the yarn through and drop the lifted loop.
So basically, you are performing a standard purl stitch through that lifted loop.
It might be important to note that you should not purl it through back loop. Experienced knitters might be familiar with KLL, where you knit the left-lifted loop through back loop. However, the corresponding increase for the right side is actually KRL. And if you think about it, that's quite easy to understand, as the left loop of a stitch on the wrong side, will be the right loop of the same stitch on the right side.
If it's easier for you, you can also lift the loop with your left needle. It doesn't really matter. In this case, you have to go in coming from above, though.
Which side does the left lifted purl increase lean towards?
Advanced knitters will know that in knitting, most increases (and decreases) lean towards one side. While you can use the LLPI anywhere, there are certain places where it will look a bit better according to most textbooks. But is that true?
I personally learned that it’s very important to come to your own conclusions, and not all old books/or youtube videos tell you the whole story. So, I knitted a swatch and increased with the left lifted purl increase on both sides – each 4 stitches removed from the edge.
I looked long and hard at my swatch trying to decide which version I like more. And to tell you the truth, I came to no conclusion. Sure, the left side might be a bit more invisible, but invisible is not always what you want. Sometimes you also want pretty, and here the right side is a strong contender.
The picture doesn’t really get any clearer if you look at the wrong side. I am not sure either side looks truly better, although I can see how some might prefer the traditional placement on the right side.
Note: The corresponding right-leaning purl increase is PRL.
If you look around my blog, you will quickly notice that I am a huge fan of lifted increases. In fact, I rarely use different increases. And one of my personal favorite applications of purling the left loop is using it to increase a twisted rib stitch in the round in a super invisible and neat way (I am using this method in my fly agaric knitting pattern).
So, here’s what I do:
- Round 1: Knit a KLL into a twisted stitch (so lift the left loop and ktbl)
- Round 2: Knit a PLL into the same twisted stitch (so lift the left loop of the twisted stitch on the ride and purl it)
Sadly, it doesn’t work like that when knitting flat. Here, you have to KRL into the left loop of the twisted stitch (which will appear like a ptbl) on the left. It’s a bit more awkward, but works just as well!
And speaking of it, how does LLP compare to KRL? What’s the difference? Technically speaking, there is none. You are lifting the exact same loop, and since a purl and a knit stitch form a mirrored pair, the resulting increase should look exactly the same.
I say should, as most knitters will knit and purl with a slightly different tension. And that with that being said, you can check which version to knit it produced better results. For me, KRL is often a tiny bit neater, but maybe things are different for you.
And of course, don’t forget that sometimes (especially when you are knitting in the round) you are forced to do certain things from the wrong side, and in these cases, you have no other option.