This tutorial explains the technique of Purl When You Can technique and the accompanying pattern gives the opportunity to practice and perfect it.
Purl When You Can (PWYC) is a technique to work stranded colourwork from the cast on edge without having to make a cuff. When working in stocking stitch, a cuff is normally added to the top and bottom edges to ensure the edges do not curl when finished.
Meg Swansen introduced this technique and it is very useful for when you want the colourwork pattern to reach the edges of the knitting. I have used it in my Caffeic pattern and in the Neck and Neck! MKAL pattern.
The basic technique involves when working into as stitch of the same colour, purl it instead of knitting. If working into a contrasting colour stitch then knit it as usual. This only needs to be done in the first (or last) four or five rounds. The purl stitches act like ribbing does to prevent curling, but in a much less regular pattern than ribbing.
Caffeic is a free coffee cup cozy pattern that uses this technique. It can be downloaded here.
I recommend if using PWYC to use the German Twisted Cast-on technique. I would also work a purl row before starting the colourwork pattern to reduce curling.
The normal colourwork chart for Caffeic (without using PWYC) looks like this:
All stitches are worked in knit. If this was worked as it is, the top and bottom of the cozy would curl up because stocking stitch is slightly longer on the wrong (purl) side than it is on the right (knit) side.
The next chart shows how it would look with 4 rows top and bottom using PWYC.
As you can see, the purl stitches are in the main colour only, and only when the stitch below is also a main colour. I could purl all the contrasting colour stitches when they above another contrasting colour stitch, however only a few purl stitches are needed to stop the curling and so the contrasting colour is all worked in knit.
When working towards a cast off edge without a cuff, I normally work one purl row before casting off. If any of the stitches in the row below are a contrasting colour then I do not purl these but knit them. This stops the purl bump being in the wrong colour. Finally I cast off in knit, except the stitches that are knitted in the row below which are cast off in purl.
I hope you enjoyed learning about Purl When You Can and my free Caffeic pattern.