well i think i can answer the after purling question. maybe.
i found out recently that i was wrapping my yarn around the needle the wrong way when i purled. i knew i was doing it different but my work didn't look any different when i was done so i decided it didn't matter. one day i saw someone say that it was creating a twisted stitch and that was why it was so hard to get the needle in. i have consciously switched the way i purl and it is way easier to get that needle in! it takes me longer because i am relearning how to purl but knitting after a purl row is much more pleasant!