How To Knit Garter Stitch

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In this post, you will learn how to knit garter stitch.

Garter stitch is usually the first knitting stitch that any beginner new knitters learn.

It’s the basic knitting stitch pattern, it is reversible and it can be used for many projects including scarves, hats, sweaters, and blankets.

The tutorial below will show you step-by-step how to knit garter stitch.

How to knit garter stitch

Knitting Garter Stitch

Every beginner knitter will learn how to knit garter stitch, as it is a staple in many projects, from sweaters to shawls, and cardigans.

It is a very easy stitch pattern to learn and can be used in so many projects.

What is Garter Stitch?

The short answer is – Garter stitch is created by knitting every row.

When you knit every row you create a knitted fabric that looks like it has small bumps (as you can see in the photo below).

  • It is also used to make borders and edging because it does not curl.
  • The fabric that it creates is thick, strong, and a little stretchy.
  • Knitting garter stitch is really easy and all you have to do is knit every stitch for every row.
  • Before you begin this stitch, you will need to know how to cast on knitting.
  • If you are a total knitting beginner you might want to read through these knitting lessons first before you get started – Knitting Lessons.
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garter stitch knitting

Use it with other basic knitting stitches

Once you have practiced this stitch, you will be able to work row after row of garter stitch and use this stitch with other simple knitting stitches for beginners.

For example, used with the purl stitch, you will be able to create stockinette stitch. Learn how to knit the stocking stitch here – How to knit stockinette stitch (for beginners)

Garter stitch is perfect to use when you need to make a border, so is often seen in patterns at the start and end of rows.

Related Posts: How To Knit A Hat For Complete Beginners (+ Video Tutorial) 12 Simple Knitting Stitches For Beginners

example of purl stitches in knitting

What Does Work In Garter Stitch Mean?

The Knit Stitch – To learn the basics of knitting most people start with the knit stitch, which is also known as garter stitch.

If you are working from a pattern and it asks you to work in garter stitch, this means that you will knit every row.

In most patterns, you will see this abbreviated as g st.

When the pattern asks you to knit a stitch you will see a K for knit.

garter stitch in super bulky yarn

What Is The Difference Between Garter Stitch And Knit Stitch?

Garter stitch is the fabric pattern that you make by knitting every stitch for every row.

The knit stitch is a technique and garter stitch is a pattern.

Garter stitch looks like lots of little bumps in the knitted fabric, and it is the same on the front (right side) and back (wrong side) of the work.

garter stitch example in pink yarn

Garter Stitch Knitting Tutorial

Take a look at the knitting tutorial below and see step-by-step how to do garter stitch.

  • This pattern can be worked on any number of stitches.
  • On two needles: Knit or purl all stitches.
  • The wrong side of the work looks the same as the right side.
  • Note – Take care when counting the rows.
  • On either side, you need to count the rows that seem to be ‘inside’ as well as the alternate rows that seem to stand out.

Video Tutorial

You can see the step-by-step photo tutorial below and the video tutorial.

You can view the video tutorial on my YouTube channel here.

Pattern Notes

For this tutorial, I used 9 mm/US 13 knitting needles and super bulky yarn (check the yarn weight you have by looking at the yarn label/ball band).

You will also need some scissors and a darning needle/yarn needle for weaving in any ends.

You can cast on around 10 or 12 stitches for this sample swatch/square gauge.

Please note the right side of your work (RS) will look the same as the wrong side (WS).

How To Knit Garter Stitch (Pattern Instructions)

  1. Step 1 – Insert your needle into the first stitch

    After you have cast on, you will start to knit into your first stitch and create your first row of garter stitch.
    Insert your right-hand needle into the first stitch on the left-hand needle, going up into the back of the stitch.insert the needle into the first stitch

  2. Step 2 – Wrap the yarn around the right-hand needle

    Wrap the working yarn that is attached to the ball, around the right needle.
    The yarn should be wrapped counterclockwise so that it comes between the two needles.wrap the yarn around the needle

  3. Step 3 – Bring the right-hand needle to the front

    Then you need to slide the right-hand needle under the left needle, catching the wrapped yarn and bringing the needle to the front.bring the needle to the front

  4. Step 4 – Slide the stitch off the left-hand needle

    Next, you slide the completed stitch off the left hand needle.
    The completed stitch will now be on the right hand needle.
    You have just made one knit stitch and can continue to knit the next stitch and then the other stitches in the row.completed garter stitch

  5. Step 5 – Continue to knit the stitches on the row

    Knit into a new stitch (the next stitch) and again into every stitch across the row, then turn the work and continue to knit every stitch across that row.
    Repeating this process creates garter stitch.
    As you can see in the photo below the garter ridge is created by the bumps created by the stitches. garter stitch knitting example

Does Garter Stitch Curl?

No, it doesn’t and that is why it is commonly used for borders and edges in patterns.

To make neater edges when working garter stitches, you can create a selvedge edge:

  • You can make the edges of the garter stitch more smooth by slipping the first stitch of every row.
  • This is a slip stitch and you transfer this stitch purlwise.
  • Then you knit every stitch across the row.
  • Repeat for every row.

This can make the edges easier to seam when you are knitting a sweater or cardigan.

You can see an example of this in the chunky cardigan knitting pattern.

Chunky cardigan

Working Garter Stitch In The Round

Please note – Working in garter stitch by knitting every row only works on straight knitting needles (working flat).

If you want to create garter stitch on circular needles, while working in the round, you need to work differently.

This means that you will need to knit one round and purl the next to create garter stitch.

This is because knit and purl are opposites, the purl ridge gives you those little bumps you see in garter stitch.

If you knit every round when working on circular needles, you will see stockinette stitch.

This hat has the appearance of garter stitch but was knit in the round using the purl stitch – Beanie Hat With Pom Pom| The Astraia.

More Knitting Tutorials

Is garter stitch just plain knitting?

Garter stitch is a really simple basic stitch pattern that is created by knitting every row. This creates a stretchy, reversible knitted fabric that lies flat.

Can you substitute garter stitch for stockinette?

This depends on the pattern instructions and project you are making. Sometimes it is possible to substitute garter stitch instead of stockinette stitch, but this can change the size. You will probably need more rows as stockinette stitch is taller and narrow.

Is garter stitch tighter than stockinette?

Garter stitch is more condensed than stockinette stitch and the knitted fabric lies flat. Stockinette has the tendency to curl. If you add weight, like a heavy mixtape yarn or cotton yarn, garter stitch can stretch a lot, becoming longer.

Are garter stitch and purl stitch the same?

Garter stitch is alternating rows or rounds of knits and purls. They look similar when knit, with small bumps on each row of the knitted fabric.

What is garter stitch used for?

Garter stitch is used in many knitting patterns, from blankets, shawls, sweaters, cardigans, scarves, and dishcloths.

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2 Comments

  1. hooray! I’ve been knitting for 3 years and never used garter stitch. I’m pleased to learn it here before I start the Carolina shawl.
    We both (hubby and I) have strong Scottish roots. We have watched every episode of Outlander. I was delighted to
    Run into your website!

    1. Hello Peggy,
      Thank you so much for your kind words, I’m so happy that you like the Outlander patterns!
      I hope you found the tutorial useful and enjoy knitting the Carolina shawl 🙂
      Happy knitting!
      Louise