Knitting Stitches for Beginners

  • 01 of 05

    Garter Stitch

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    Garter Stitch is the first stitch most knitters learn. © Sarah E. White, licensed to About.com, Inc.

    When you're thinking about learning to knit or are a new knitter, all of the available knitting stitches can be kind of overwhelming. Which ones are easy for beginners to learn? What patterns set the foundation for being able to knit more complex patterns later on?

    Here are a few of what I consider to be the essential knitting stitches for beginners.

    Garter Stitch, of course, is the first knitting stitch that new knitters should learn. Knitting every stitch of every row is the best way to get the...MORE knit stitch down before learning how to purl. I always start new knitters with a Garter Stitch scarf, but you could also knit a washcloth, hot pad or anything else in this simple stitch to get your needles wet.

    But don't mistake Garter Stitch as being just for beginners. There's a lot to know about Garter Stitch, and I still use it a lot because it's so simple and you can knit it without thinking.

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  • 02 of 05

    Stockinette Stitch

    Once you've got knitting down, the next step is learning to purl. It's easiest to knit one row and purl the next, and when you alternate in that way the fabric you create is known as Stockinette Stitch.

    This smooth fabric is what most people think of when they think of knitting, and there are probably more patterns written using Stockinette Stitch than any other pattern out there.

    Stockinette Stitch is also what you get when you knit every round in circular knitting, so that's a good reason to...MORE pick up that skill.

    The only trouble with Stockinette is that the edges tend to curl. Don't worry about it when you're just learning, but when you start knitting projects in Stockinette, make sure you add an edging that doesn't curl (such as any of the other stitches mentioned in this article) if you don't like the rolled effect.

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  • 03 of 05

    Ribbing

    Bulky Ribbed Scarf
    Bulky Ribbed Scarf. (c) Sarah E. White, licensed to About.com, Inc.

    Comfortable knitting whole rows of knit and purl? Next, it's time to alternate knitting and purling in the same row. This is how you make many of the textured stitch patterns that are possible in knitting, but for now, we'll look at the most basic category of knit-purl stitch patterns, known as ribbing.

    Ribbing is any pattern where the knits and purls line up consistently across rows so that you get columns of knits and purls that alternate across the fabric. It can be used throughout the...MORE knitting pattern or as an edging.

    The most common forms of ribbing are 1x1 and 2x2, the numbers indicating how many stitches you work of each type of stitch in order (so 1x1 rib is knit 1, purl 1 repeating). But you can make ribbing in just about any combination, from 3x1 to 4x4.

    The main thing you have to pay attention to in ribbing is that the number of stitches you cast on fits the number of stitches needed for that particular pattern. For instance, 1x1 ribbing works on any even number of stitches while 2x2 needs a multiple of 4. 

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  • 04 of 05

    Seed Stitch

    If you can knit ribbing, you can knit Seed Stitch. Seed Stitch is worked in the same way as ribbing, but the each row is off by one stitch, so instead of lining the knits and purls up in consistent columns, they alternate on each row.

    Seed Stitch brings a lot of texture to your knitting and it's really easy to do. It's also a good lesson in reading your knitting because if you see a knit stitch in the row you just knit you know you need to purl that stitch on this row and vice-versa....MORE It's never too early to start practicing this essential knitting skill. 

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  • 05 of 05

    Moss Stitch

    Sarah E. White

    Another easy variation of knits and purls in the same row is Moss Stitch, which is like ribbing for two rows, then moving over one stitch for two rows. It's easy to get Seed Stitch and Moss Stitch confused. A helpful reminder: seeds are little, so you only need one row to make them.