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How to Knit Garter Stitch for Beginners

Garter stitch is one of the most popular knitting patterns, and for a good reason! It’s easy to learn, very versatile, and perfect for beginners.

If you want to learn how to knit garter stitch, you’re in the right place. This tutorial will show you how to knit garter stitch in just a few easy steps. So grab your needles and some yarn, and let’s get started!

a garter sttich swatch on the needles on a gray background

Garter stitch is great for beginners because it is easy to learn and very versatile. Once you know how to knit garter stitch, you can use it to create all sorts of projects – from hats and scarves to blankets and sweaters.

In this easy-to-follow tutorial, we will show you how to knit garter stitch step-by-step. We’ll also provide some tips and tricks for mastering this basic knitting pattern. 

So whether you’re a beginner knitter or just looking to freshen up your skills, keep reading for our step-by-step guide on knitting garter stitch!

What is Garter Stitch?

Garter stitch is a basic knitting stitch pattern that is made by knitting every row. Garter stitch creates a stretchy, reversible fabric that lies flat.

Garter stitch:

Row 1: Knit

Repeat Row 1

Appearance

Garter stitch fabric is reversible and has a distinctive ridged appearance on both sides.

Garter stitch fabric is quite stretchy, both width-wise and length-wise. It’s also squishy and relatively dense, so it’s an excellent choice for cold-weather accessories.

Lies Flat

Garter stitch fabric lies flat, unlike stockinette stitch, which has a tendency to curl. This makes garter stitch a great choice for projects that need to lie flat, such as blankets and scarves.

Some patterns take advantage of garter stitch’s ability to lie flat, and use it as an edge stitch or a border around sections of stockinette stitch.

Reversible

Another advantage of garter stitch is that it is fully reversible. This means that you can use either side of the fabric as the “right” side, which is essential for projects where you’ll see both sides, like a scarf.

Abbreviations in Knitting Patterns

In knitting patterns, you might see garter stitch abbreviated as “g-st” or “g st.” The pattern may also say something like, “work in garter stitch” or “knit every row.”

knitting across a small swatch of garter stitch fabric

How to Knit Garter Stitch

Now that we know what garter stitch is, let’s learn how to knit garter stitch!

Beginner Knitting Techniques You’ll Need to Know First

Before you start knitting garter stitch, there are a few basic knitting techniques that you’ll need to know first: casting on, the knit stitch, and casting off (binding off). 

If you’re not familiar with these techniques, don’t worry! We have tutorials that will show you how to do them step by step.

And if you’re a true knitting beginner, you may want to read over our complete How to Knit guide before you get started.

Knitting Supplies You’ll Need

To knit garter stitch, you will need the following supplies:

  • Yarn. I recommend that beginners start with a worsted or bulky weight yarn.
  • Knitting needles. Choose a knitting needle size that matches the yarn you’ve chosen.
  • Scissors
  • Tapestry needle

Now that you have everything you need, let’s get started!

a few rows of garter stitch in blue yarn with wooden knitting needles

Garter Stitch Instructions

This section will teach you how to knit garter on two straight needles, working back and forth in rows.

Step 1. Start by casting on 15-20 stitches. Since garter fabric is quite stretchy, I recommend a moderately stretchy cast on, like the long-tail cast on.

Step 2. Row One: Knit all stitches. To make a knit stitch, insert the right needle into the front loop of the first stitch on the left needle from left to right. Then, wrap the working yarn counterclockwise around the right-hand needle, and pull the needle through the loop. Finally, slide the new stitch off the left needle.

Step 3. Repeat Row One until your piece measures the desired length.

Step 4. Then, cast off and weave in your ends.

And that’s it! You’ve now learned how to knit garter stitch. Practice this stitch a few times, and before you know it, you’ll be a pro!

Tip: You can create garter stitch by purling every row, too. This is called “reverse garter stitch” and produces the exact same fabric. Neat, right?

Still have some questions? Check out our FAQ section below for more information.

How to Knit Garter Stitch in the Round

Garter stitch can also be knit in the round, either on double-pointed needles or circular needles.

Knitting garter stitch in the round is slightly more complicated than knitting garter stitch flat, but not by much. Since you’re always working on the RS (right side) when knitting in the round, you’ll knit garter stitch by alternating knit rounds and purl rounds. 

To knit garter in the round, start by casting on the desired number of stitches onto dpn’s or circular needles. Join your work in the round, being careful not to twist your stitches.

Round One: Knit all stitches

Round Two: Purl all stitches

Repeat rows one and two until your piece measures the desired length. When you’re finished, cast off and weave in your ends.

And that’s all there is to it! Now you know how to knit garter stitch both flat and in the round.

How to Count Rows in Garter Stitch

When working with garter stitch, it can be helpful to know how to count your rows.

To count the number of rows in garter stitch, simply count the number of “ridges” that you see on the right side of your work. Each garter ridge is made up of two rows: one knit row and one purl row.

So, if you see ten ridges, that means you’ve knit twenty rows. Easy!

Getting Gauge in Garter Stitch

In knitting, gauge is a measurement of the number of stitches and rows that you knit per inch. When working with garter stitch, or any knitting stitch, it’s important to “get gauge” so that your finished piece will be the correct size.

To get gauge in garter stitch, first knit a swatch using the needles and yarn that you plan to use for your project. Then, measure how many stitches and rows you have per inch.

garter swatch with a gauge ruler on top

Stitch Gauge: Lay your swatch on a flat surface, being careful not to stretch it. Lay your ruler on the swatch, and count the number of stitches in 4 inches. 

Row Gauge: Lay your swatch on a flat surface, being careful not to stretch it. Lay your ruler on the swatch, and count the number of ridges in 4 inches. Each garter ridge counts as two rows. 

Adjusting your gauge: If your gauge is too loose, try knitting with smaller needles. If your gauge is too tight, try knitting with larger needles.

Once you’ve achieved the correct gauge, you’re ready to start knitting your project!

Tip: Garter stitch is unique in that it has something called a “square gauge.” As a general rule, its stitch gauge is twice its row gauge. This means that if you knit 20 stitches and 40 rows, you should end up with a square piece of fabric.

Knitting Patterns Using Garter Stitch

Now that you know how to knit garter stitch, why not put your new skills to use? Garter stitch is great for projects like blankets, dishcloths, and scarves. Here are a few beginner-friendly knitting patterns that use garter stitch.

a small swatch of garter sttich fabric in blue yarn on a gray background

FAQ about Garter Stitch

Here are some frequently asked questions about garter stitch.

What is garter stitch used for?

Garter stitch is a versatile stitch that you can use for a variety of projects. It’s often used for sweaters, hats, scarves, blankets, and more!

Can I use any type of yarn for garter stitch?

Yes! You can use any type of yarn for this stitch. Just be sure to use needles that are the appropriate size for your yarn.

What does “work in garter stitch? mean”?

“Work in garter stitch” means you will knit all stitches on every row until instructed to do otherwise.

What is the difference between garter stitch and stockinette?

Garter stitch is made by knitting every row, while stockinette stitch is made by alternating between knit and purl rows. 

In terms of their appearance, garter stitch has a ridged appearance that lays flat. Stockinette stitch has a smooth appearance and a tendency to curl.

How do I knit garter stitch in the round?

To knit garter stitch in the round, alternate rows of knit stitches with rows of purl stitches.

More Knitting Tutorials

Here are a few more of our knitting tutorials that you may be interested in.

What’s Next?

Pin this post: Save this tutorial to your Pinterest boards so that you can come back to it later.

Leave a comment: I love to hear your feedback. Tell me in the comments below!

Share on Instagram or Facebook: When you make this project, share it on social media and tag me @sarahmaker. I love to see what you make!

a pinterest pin with a photo background of knitting a small swatch of garter stitch

Have questions? Join the Facebook Group!

I hope this article was useful for you! If you have any additional questions, feel free to join my Facebook Group. I created this group for you to share pictures, ask questions, and help each other out.

a garter sttich swatch on the needles on a gray background

How to Knit Garter Stitch

Yield: 1
Active Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Difficulty: Easy

In this easy-to-follow tutorial, we'll show you how to knit garter stitch step-by-step, with tips for mastering this easy knitting pattern.

Materials

  • yarn

Tools

  • knitting needles
  • scissors
  • tapestry needle

Instructions

  1. Cast on a number of stitches. the front side of the completed long tail cast on in blue yarn and wood knitting needle
  2. Row 1: Knit across. two woodend knitting needles and blue yarn knitting a purl stitch
  3. Repeat Row 1 until you reach the desired length. knitting across a small swatch of garter stitch fabric
  4. Cast off stitches. a swatch of garter stitch with all stitches cast off, and one loop left on the knitting needle

Notes

Knitting garter stitch in the round is slightly different. Instead of knitting every round, you'll alternate between knit and purl rounds.

To knit garter stitch in the round:

  1. Cast on a number of stitches, and join to work in the round.
  2. Row 1: Knit around.
  3. Row 2: Purl around
  4. Repeat Rows 1 and 2 until you reach the desired length.
  5. Cast off.

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