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Knitting Tutorial: Stitch Deconstruction Series -- Garter Stitch

It's never a bad time to go back over the basics, especially with the chance to dig deep into the foundation stitches of our work! In part one of the Stitch Deconstruction Series we'll go over the characteristics of garter stitch, as well as review how to actually count those stitches and rows!

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Garter stitch is the easiest of all knitting stitches because, simply, you are knitting every single row (unless you like to be different and choose to purl every single row). Row after row, hour after hour, it is easy to get lost in the simple joy that is the knit stitch.

The main advantage of garter stitch is that it lies perfectly flat without any worries of rolling or curling at the edge. It is quite elastic lengthwise and super expansive widthwise. Those characteristics allow it to pull firm to the body, conforming to different shapes. This makes it ideal for blankets, button bands, vertical borders and even old-fashioned garters for your stockings.

However, remember I said it was expansive? Yeah, it can keep expanding quite rapidly, causing significant flaring if used in horizontal borders. It will keep expanding, unfortunately, each time it is worn, so it won't be long before a small sweater becomes a large one.

When you need warmth, squish, delightful texture and a comforting feel, garter stitch is definitely your ticket for pleasure. But it can be a little tricky to understand the stitch and row counts for this bumpy stitch, so here's how to count for any project you have:

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Stitches: Each little frown (you know, the smile that is upside down?) counts as one stitch.

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Rows: There are two methods for counting rows in garter stitch.

Method 1 -- Every V-shaped (flat) row alternates with a curved row, so it almost looks like one row of stockinette stitch and one row of reverse stockinette stitch. You might need to stretch out your knitting to see better, but essentially, the interlocking frowns and smiles counts as one row, and the smooth, partial "V" is the second row.

Method 2 -- The most popular way to count is by looking at the ridges (those interlocking smiles and frowns) as two rows.

Another trick for your garter stitch knitting is with the help of a locking stitch marker. Because garter stitch is reversible, it can be hard to tell which side is the right side versus the wrong side (which can cause you to get confused in your row counting), so just stick that stitch marker on the right side of your knitting!

What do you think about garter stitch? How often do you use it in your knitting? I'd love to know! Tune in next issue for the next part in the Stitch Deconstruction Series when we'll look at stockinette stitch.

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