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How to Knit the Garter Stitch

Garter stitch is one of the easiest and most common stitch patterns in knitted fabrics. You create garter stitch by knitting every row. (You can create garter stitch by purling every row, too. Neat, huh?) You can recognize garter stitch by the horizontal ridges formed by the tops of the knitted loops on every other row.

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To knit the garter stitch, hold the yarn in your right hand, and hold the knitting needle with the cast-on stitches in your left hand (with the tip pointing to the right). Make sure that the first stitch is no more than 1 inch from the tip of the needle.

  1. Insert the tip of the empty (RH) needle into the first stitch on the LH needle from left to right and front to back, forming a T with the tips of the needles.

    The RH needle will be behind the LH needle.

    image1.jpg
  2. With your right hand, bring the yarn to the front from the left side of the RH needle, and then over the RH needle to the right and down between the needles.

    image2.jpg

    You can try to maneuver the yarn with your right forefinger or just hold it between your thumb and forefinger for now.

  3. Keeping a slight tension on the wrapped yarn, bring the tip of the RH needle with its wrap of yarn through the loop on the LH needle to the front.

    image3.jpg

    The RH needle is now in front of the LH needle. Keep the tip of the left forefinger on the point of the RH needle to help guide the needle through the old stitch and prevent losing the wrap of yarn.

  4. Slide the RH needle to the right until the old loop on the LH needle drops off.

    image4.jpg

    You now have a new stitch/loop on the RH needle — the old stitch hangs below it. Congratulations! You’ve just made your first knitted stitch!

  5. Repeat steps 1 though 4 until you’ve knitted all the stitches from your LH needle.

    Your LH needle is now empty, and your RH needle is full of beautiful, new stitches.

  6. Turn your work (that is, switch hands so that the needle with stitches is in your left hand) and knit the new row.

    image5.jpg

    When you turn your work, the yarn strand coming out of the first stitch to knit is hanging down in the front.

    The stitch just below the first stitch (big loop) on your LH needle is larger than the rest and can obscure your view of where your needle should go. To better see the opening of the first stitch, keep the strand in front and gently pull down on it, and the big loop if necessary. Be sure to insert the point of the RH needle into the loop on the LH needle and not into the stitch below.

  7. Repeat these steps for several more rows (or all afternoon) until you’re comfortable with the movements.

    Aim to make these steps one continuous movement, to make even stitches, and to stay relaxed!

Garter stitch has a lot going for it, in addition to being easy to create. It’s reversible, lies flat, and has a pleasant rustic look. This is a great stitch for scarves, bags of all sizes (from eyeglass cases to tote bags), washcloths, and blankets.

Unlike most knitted fabrics, garter stitch has a square gauge, meaning that there are usually twice as many rows as stitches in 1 inch. To count rows in garter stitch, count the ridges and multiply by 2, or count the ridges by twos.

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