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How to Knit

Knitting Stitch Patterns

There are many ways to combine stitches to create different patterns, but the basis of every pattern is the knit stitch and the purl stitch.

Garter Stitch (g st)

Knit every row in flat knitting, and you have garter stitch (fig. 10). It's a great stitch pattern for new knitters because it uses only one simple stitch. Because garter stitch lays flat without curling, it's often used at the beginning and ends of rows to create flat, non-curling edges. Note: If you knit in the round, on circular or double-pointed needles, you'll create stockinette stitch instead of garter stitch.

Garter Stitch
Garter Stitch: Figure 10

Stockinette Stitch (St st)

This is the most commonly used stitch pattern. Simply knit one row, purl the next, and repeat to produce this pattern. Stockinette stitch will curl at the edges when not stabilized with other, non-curling, stitch patterns, such as garter stitch. Because of that, border stitch patterns are usually added to the lower and upper edges, and the side edges are sewn into the seam. To obtain an accurate measurement, you can block it to keep it flat temporarily.

Stockinette Switch (knit side)
Stockinette Stitch (Knit Side): Figure 11a

The knit side (the smooth side) is called stockinette stitch (fig. 11a), and the purl side (or bumpy side) is called reverse stockinette stitch (fig. 11b). Reverse stockinette stitch is often used as a background for cable patterns.

Reverse Stockinette Stitch (Purl Side)
Reverse Stockinette Stitch (Purl Side): Figure 11b

Ribbing (rib)

You'll recognize ribbing as the stitch found at the cuffs and hems of sweaters. It is a very elastic pattern and knits up narrower than stockinette stitch on the same size needles. There are many ways of making ribbing, but the most common are the single rib (fig. 12a) and the double rib (fig. 12b).

Fig. 12a. Single Rib
Single Rib: Figure 12a

The single rib is made by alternating one knit stitch with one purl stitch (abbreviated as k1,p1). The double rib is more elastic than the single rib and is made by alternating two knit stitches with two purl stitches (abbreviated k2,p2).

Fig. 12b. Double Rib
Double Rib: Figure 12b

The most important thing to remember when making ribbing is that the yarn must be brought between the needles to the back of the work for the knit stitches and brought between the needles to the front of the work for the purl stitches. Sometimes new knitters finish a row and discover extra stitches, or they may find a hole in their ribbing several rows later. Knitting with the yarn in front or purling with the yarn in back is generally the cause. If you create a little mix-up with your stitches, remember that you can easily fix knitting mistakes.

Ribbing is very easy once you have learned to recognize knit and purl stitches. Instead of counting stitches, you simply knit the knits and purl the purls.

New knitters may have trouble understanding the instructions for knitting patterns at first. The tips on the next page will help.

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