How to knit P3tog – purl three together

A step-by-step tutorial on the P3tog knitting stitch – A left-slanting purl decrease.

So, you are wondering how to P3tog, right? Well, then you came to the right place. In this tutorial, I’m going to show you exactly how to knit this left-slanting decrease for the purl side.

close-up of a knited swatch with the p3tog purl three together knitting decrease for the wrong side
A swatch decreased with p3tog in every second row

It’s a bit harder to knit than the corresponding P2tog and is used in beautiful patterns like the Star Stitch. You have to be careful when using this decrease, as it will shorten your fabric quite fast and this often leads to a little bump or a ridge – especially when you decrease multiple times across different rows.

Advanced knitters can use this effect for some stunning textures, though. My traditional bavarian half-socks are just one wonderful example.

a knitted swatch decreased with p3tog as seen from the right side where it looks like k3tog
P3tog as seen from the knit/right side

ⓘ P3tog stands for “purl 3 together”. Sometimes it is also capitalized “P3TOG”. It will appear like a standard k3tog on the right side and that’s why you might find “conflicting” information on the slant of this decrease. Some patterns decrease with purl three together on the wrong side to achieve a certain effect on the right side, and that’s why they see it as right-leaning.

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p3tog instructions

the wrong side of a swatch decreased with p3tog and various knitting tools in the background

If you know how to purl two together then this decrease is only a slight variation. Basically, it's the same technique - the only difference is that you insert you needle into three stitches at the same time

Active Time 1 minute
Total Time 1 minute

Instructions

  1. Insert the right needle into the first three stitches on your left needle from left to right just like for a regular purl stitch.

    Insert the right needle into two stitches to purl three together

  2. Wrap the yarn around the needle counter-clockwise. Push the working yarn towards the front with your index finger to increase the tension.

    wrap the yarn around counter clockwise to purl three together
  3. Now, pull the working yarn through the three loops.

    Pull the yarn through to purl three stitches together
  4. Slip the three stitches off the left needle. And there is your p3tog.

    P3tog on the right needle

Notes

The final P3tog decrease should have three loops around its base. If it doesn't you might have inserted your needle only in 2 stitches and dropped one. So, be careful there.

If you find it a bit too hard to knit this increase, you also slip two stitches to the right needle. Purl one stitch, and then pass the two stitches you just slipped over. This will result in the exact same decrease.

Variations with a different slant

Of course, you can also create a centered or a right-leaning version for the purl side. Those are quite a bit more difficult to knit and probably nothing for a beginner. They can be useful (or the only alternative) when you are knitting garter stitch in the round or very complicated lace patterns where you need to decrease on the wrong side.

P3tog tbl

a knitted swatch decrease with p3tog tbl - purl three together through back loop as seen from the wrong side

If you want a right-leaning double decrease, you need to follow the exact same steps but insert the needle through the back loop. This is probably the most difficult knitting stitch of them all, and I’d avoid it at all costs.

Here’s my p3tog tbl tutorial + an easier alternative

Centered double decrease purl (CCDP)

a knitted swatch decreased with p3tog centered - the centered purl double decrease as seen from the wrong side

The centered version of the purl double decrease involves slipping the stitches back and forth two times as a preparation. First, you need to slip two stitches knitwise, and then you need to slip these two stitches back to the left needle purlwise but as a unit, before you can purl all three stitches together. Here’s my full tutorial on knitting the centered double decrease purl.

Anyways, That’s how to knit p3tog. Feel free to ask your questions in the comments below!

How to purl three together for beginners - p3tog

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