Seed vs. Moss Stitch: What’s the Difference?
The simplicity of seed and moss stitch.

The simplicity of seed and moss stitch.

If you love the idea of nothing but knits and purls, Seed stitch is the solution. This stitch pattern is made by working 1 knit stitch and 1 purl stitch across a row, and then they are alternated every other row by knitting the purl stitches and purling the knit stitches. The very texture of the fabric is how Seed stitch got its name. Little purl bumps are created across the fabric which resemble scattered seeds in a field.

Seed Stitch
(Over an even number of stitches)
• Row 1: *K1, p1; rep from * across.
• Row 2: *P1, k1; rep from * across.
• Rep Rows 1 and 2 for pattern.

Seed Stitch

Seed Stitch

Seed stitch and British Moss stitch are the same—you knit 1, then purl 1 across your row, and then reverse this on the opposite side by knitting the purls and purling the knits. As discussed in the above video, American Moss stitch is slightly different from Seed stitch, as you’ll soon discover. In the United States, the confusion lies in the fact that we do not specify British Moss or American Moss. We simply say “Moss” stitch. As a result the names are misunderstood and misused.

Seed Stitch Stripe

Seed Stitch Stripe

This 2-color variation of Seed stitch is made with Wooly Worsted by Ewe & Ewe. My example was created by working 3 rows in green and then 2 rows in fuchsia to create this dimensional stripe pattern. What I find most appealing about this swatch is the transitional row where you can see the purl bump of the new color with the color of the previous row still “peeking” through.

Here’s where I got a little adventurous—in this example, I worked with De Aire, a super-bulky yarn by Plymouth. I casted on to a size 17 U.S. needle and worked for 3 inches. I then jumped down to a size 7 U.S. needle and worked for 2 inches to create this undulating pattern. The beauty of this example is that no stitches were increased or decreased. If you feel daring enough with your needles, try a sock-weight yarn to achieve a dramatic open-work look.

Undulating Seed Stitch

Undulating Seed Stitch

My final example, made with Haciendo by Plymouth Yarn Co., illustrates the basic Seed stitch used with a thick/thin yarn. This creates a very organic, pebbly look which creates large and small seed bumps. This is a great example of how one stitch pattern can produce a dramatically different look when you change the characteristics of the yarn.

Seed Stitch using thick/thin yarn

Seed Stitch using thick/thin yarn

American Moss stitch creates a more elongated stitch. Unlike Seed stitch, you work 2 rows the same way, and then you alternate your knits and purls on rows 3 and 4 as you can see in the photo below. This creates a slightly more graphic stitch pattern, producing some much unexpected results.

American Moss Stitch
(Over an uneven number of stitches)
• Rows 1 and 4: K1, *p1, k1; rep from * across.
• Rows 2 and 3: P1, *k1, p1; rep from * across.
• Repeat Rows 1–4 for pattern.

American Moss Stitch

American Moss Stitch

American Moss stitch creates a very attractive 2-color stripe pattern as you can see illustrated in the photo below. In my example, Rows 1 and 2 are worked in teal and Rows 3 and 4 are worked in plum. This swatch looks quite different than the one above, but we did nothing other than work a 2-color stripe pattern.

Moss Stitch Stripe

Moss Stitch Stripe

I’d like to close with a few good reasons to give Seed and American Moss stitch a try:

  1. There is no wrong side—these stitch patterns are completely reversible, making them easily adaptable to circular knitting patterns.
  2. These patterns create very dense and durable stitches. Seed and Moss stitches produce a thick, springy fabric which is great for winter accessories such as hats and scarves. I also think that with the right super-bulky weight yarn, you could make a pretty amazing rug for the kitchen or bathroom.
  3. They’re so easy to learn! If you can knit and purl than you can master these stitches with no problem.
  4. Your stitches will always look neat because of the texture and variety that these stitches produce.

This should give you a pretty good idea about the benefits of spending some time experimenting with your knits and purls. I hope that you’ve found this article enlightening and that it just might inspire you to start doing a little exploration of your own and to play, play, play!

So tell me, why do YOU love the American Moss and/or Seed stitch and how do you plan on using it in your knitting projects?

55 Responses to Seed vs. Moss Stitch: What’s the Difference?

  1. Jill says:

    I love to use these sts as edgings instead of ribs as they don’t curl and don’t cinch in the fabric. In fact, I think they tend to run a little wider and shorter than stockinette stitch.

    They also work really well as a slightly decorative filler stitch bordering cables and obviously with a little imagination (as in your article )look great standing alone.

    • Kara says:

      These are really excellent tips for alternate edgings and for ways to fill in cables instead of opting for the usual garter stitch. When I started exploring the many uses of seed and moss stitch, I began to realize that the variations really are unlimited.

      Thanks again for sharing!

  2. Kara, thank you very much for this great knitting tutorial, very helpful!

  3. Denise Layman says:

    I love that undulating piece using just different needles! That would be a great thing to try on the Martha Stewart knitting looms! The gears are turning in my brain!

    • Kara says:

      Hey Denise!
      I’m so glad your gears are turning. What I love best about this stitch is the fact that it is so graphic and nice to look at…. and so darned easy too!

  4. Doreen Rabon says:

    If you alternate between seed stitch and stockinette stitch in squares of 12 stitches and 16 rows you get an interesting pattern and a difference in textures which children seem to like. It makes a nice warm blanket knitted this way.

  5. Eileen Bennett says:

    Wow, finally I have understood the difference. Thank you. Do you have any free instructions for scarves and hats with the above.

  6. Virginia says:

    Thanks for the tutorial. I never realized there was a difference between Seed vs Moss stitch.

  7. Katy says:

    I’m a beginner and I finally got the knit and purl down w/o mistakes and to find a combination of them both to create such beautiful work is awesome thanks for sharing.

  8. Bernadette Ontong says:

    Thank you for this, I always thought they were the same thing just different terminology.

  9. Joan Archer says:

    I like this stitch! I’ve just finished a jacket that used British Moss Stitch instead of rib for all the borders. Because the cardigan was an open one with no closures, the band was knitted in one piece so making the bottom front edges fold back. I don’t know if I decribed that properly, but it looks very effective when worn.

  10. Sharon says:

    Hi. I would just like to throw something in the mix. I’m from England and what you call ‘seed’ stitch, we call ‘moss’ stitch (single moss, to be exact). Have not seen the American Moss before though, so may give that a try at some point.

  11. Susan Cox says:

    Thank you for explaining the difference between the two. I just love it. How is the best way to decrease without losing the pattern? Say in the case of knitting a hat with the American Moss stitch?
    Thanks again!

  12. Mary says:

    In Ireland we call seed stitch= moss stitch
    American moss stitch= double moss

    Both stitches are often used in Aran patterns

    • Kara says:

      Hi Mary,
      Yes, I’ve heard of the name Double Moss used as well. There are so many names used for this stitch, but the bottom line, it’s so easy to learn!

  13. Shea says:

    Hi, can you explain how both of those would be worked in the round, like for a cowl? Would it be an even number or uneven? Thanks!

  14. Tere says:

    Hi Kara,
    At 63 I’m finally knitting. Previous to finding your site I was only knitting blankets using the garter stitch. Lots and lots of garter stitch blankets. I’ll be taking a trip and I need something to do during the flight. Something small. Your site encouraged me to step out and try different stitches. So, boring as it may be to more experienced knitters, I’m now knitting potholders and washcloths using the seed stitch and double seed stitch. Thanks!

  15. Chrissie says:

    I have just finished a beanie using a basket weave pattern for a border using knit and purl. You just K2 P2 for two rows and then P2 K2 for two rows then repeat the whole again for a total of 8 rows. Very effective.
    I am now having a go at American moss stitch, which I had never heard of before. Very effective so far.

  16. Helen Sunderman says:

    I love the Montana Moss stitch and will use to make a scarf when I finish my grandson’s hooded sweater. Can this stitch be used to make an adult sweater?

  17. Lorraine Elderhurst says:

    Hi Kara,

    I have just started knitting after a twenty year break. I too have been knitting throws in pearl and plain. I am going overseas and wanted something small and decided to make felt dolls with knitted clothes. The first instruction was to knit in moss stitch. Thank you for explaining it to me with those wonderful pictures. Now I can knit whilst I am away to my hearts content. I too love the seed look. Just to think pearl and plain alternatively can produce such a great look.


  18. Barbara Habina says:

    I just purchased five pounds of love in the breast cancer pink color and plan on making scarves, hats, and mittens. Thought of the seed stitch and found your instructions on Google. Can’t wait to try it.

  19. Natalie says:

    I really like your 2-color variation of seed stitch. What is the best way to deal with loose ends since you change colors so often?

    • Kara says:

      Actually, it’s so easy because every two rows you change color, so there’s no need to cut your yarns. For example, if you work a 2 row stripe, you work work 2 rows in color A, then after row 2, you simply drop color A, and pick up B. It’s as easy at that!

  20. Ronne Clohessy says:

    Just finished making a phone cozy using the American moss stitch accented with a single stripe. Best dressed phone in town!!!!!!

  21. Doris says:

    I plan to use 100% alpaca yarn for a project and am told it pills easily. By using moss stitch, the surface texture of the fabric I knit will be more complex and reduce the tendency to pill. At least, that’s my understanding.

    • Kara says:

      Hi Doris,
      In my experience, yes alpaca can tend to pill. However, I think your assumption of using Seed Stitch in this case might help reduce this.

      Good luck, and I’d love to hear how things turn out.

  22. nora says:

    Thank you for you explanation between moss stitch and seed stitch. I have previously interchanged them but now I know so I can say it correctly in my patterns. I have been trying fair-isle seed stitch. which turned out quite nicely. It makes a nice change from ribbing at the bottom of hats.

    • Kara says:

      I’m glad my tutorial helped you. I find that Seed and Moss stitch are two of the most versatile and easiest patterns out there, and they produce interesting effects in a variety of yarns.

  23. Vicki Murray says:

    When I just want to knit, nothing special but to create in yarn, I often make a washcloth either square or diagonal seed stitch or moss stitch–no issues with patterns and the nubs created are great for gently exfoliating when I wash my face. A great “no-thinking” gift.

  24. Helen Lord says:

    How does one print out a tutorial such as this so that I can refer to it without being online? There is no “Print” button.

    • Kara says:

      Hi Helen,
      That is a good question. You can certainly print the page from your internet browser, but because this is presented on the blog, this is not set for printable format. The tutorials will however, always be here for you anytime, and you can save web pages so you view them later. You can also hit “print screen” on your keyboard, print or save the page that way.

      Hope this helps!

    • MJ says:

      Hello Helen,
      I hope that somehow you are able to receive my response…
      Saving text from ANY website is easy. Simply highlight the text, copy it and paste it to any ‘text’ program such as Microsoft ‘Word’.
      Hope this is helpful to you.

  25. Lyn says:

    Interesting blog, just wish I had seen this before attempting an american baby pattern that they referred to as Seed stitch. I have been knitting for 55 yrs both in UK and Aus, but had never heard of seed stitch! I always referred to it as Moss stitch.
    After many sample squares I was finally able to ascertain that I was in fact knitting a form of moss stitch, phew, cardy came out beautifully, but still think American patterns are a wee bit brief in their instructions!

  26. Jane says:

    Hi and thank you for confirming what have wondered for a while….I have always loved (UK) moss stitch and have knitted tons of stuff. My niece in Australia has asked me to knit her a scarf …no big deal …but her surname is Seed as was my maiden name …my married surname is Moss!!!! I just love it’s the same stitch!!!!!!

  27. Gill says:

    American moss stich is called double moss stitch here in England. Just finished a really complicated cable jacket for my grandson. The hood is just double moss and I have just started the sewing and was having a senior moment as to which side was the right side! Many thanks for the reassurance that either side is the right one.

  28. Rit says:

    If you knit in the round, use an odd number of stitches. That way you just K,P always. Correct to an even number later.

  29. Shirley says:

    I grew up knowing there was a difference between seed and moss stitch. Then, some patterns said that they were the same and I was perplexed. I had not heard of British moss stitch, and only in recent years knew there were more versions of this simple pattern. I love the look of it, but dislike doing it because of all the changes from knit to purl and back again. I don’t pick purl well, and there’s so much extra movement with throwing. I do it anyway sometimes.

  30. Nicole says:

    Hi there,
    I’m a new knitter and I started a scarf with the seed stitch. When I lay the scarf flat, it looks very very nice but when I hold it up, there are holes! I haven’t added stitches by mistake. I know that one of the holes could have been a mistake but otherwise it all seems good…until I hold it up!
    I’m using a super bulky acrylic Bernat product with 8mm needles.
    I don’t really want to pull it all out…it took a long time to get as far as I did!
    I would love some insight!

    • Kara says:

      Hi Nicole,
      It could be a combination of things– needle size and the yarn, and in this case, it could also be the fact that you’re using such a bulky yarn that the alternating knit and purl stitches appear like holes. I suggest to keep experimenting — try smaller needles and worsted weight and see what happens. I’ll be you get some very different results!

  31. Jean says:

    I do like the looks of the seed stitch. I have difficulty with tension when using it on a basic wool worsted light color. I have tried many ways to eliminate the occasional “hole”.

    Do you have this problem? Do you have a solution?

    Thanks for this demonstration of the various ways to knit the seed stitch

    • Kara says:

      Hi Jean,
      Eliminating holes comes down to experimentation. I find that when I use a smaller needle than what is called for on the yarn label, then it produces a denser fabric. Hope that helps!

  32. Laurie says:

    I loved the moss stitch several years ago when I made a scarf with it, but I lost my instructions and forgot how. As I looked up the moss stitch, the seed stitch came up but with different instructions. I think your video is great at explaining American vs British! I never knew there was a difference. It makes a great scarf pattern, especially if you want to make stripes like your tutorial shows. I found it on Pinterest and pinned it to share with others. Thank you! 🙂

  33. Olin Dahm says:

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  34. I really like your writing style, wonderful info , thankyou for putting up : D.

  35. Catherine says:

    I struggle with remembering what row I am on, and my eyesight is not as great as it was – though I can easily spot knit sides and purl side in stocking stitch am really struggling with double moss (irish moss in the pattern I am using) – any hints?

  36. June Brown says:

    I must admit that I, although British, prefer American Moss Stitch. I think the pattern is absolutely beautiful. I must admit that I was confused as I thought that American Moss Stitch was the one and only Moss Stitch and that Seed Stitch was totally different. I went on this YouTube channel and saw the American Moss Stitch being knitted and I fell in love with it immediately. I will enjoy doing this stitch once I have finished doing another stitch.

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