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How to Knit Moss Stitch – Easy Beginner Tutorial

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Moss stitch is an easy knitting technique that adds cozy texture to all sorts of projects. In this post, I’ll walk you through how to knit the moss stitch step-by-step, share tips for avoiding common mistakes, and include some fun free patterns to try once you’ve mastered the basics.

a few rows of knit moss stitch in blue yarn on a gray background

Looking to add some cozy texture to your next knitting project? Try the moss stitch! It’s a simple knitting technique that creates a thick, two-sided fabric with a bumpy, woven look.  Does it look like moss? Sort of, what do you think?

Here’s why you’ll love moss stitch:

  • Great for beginners. Moss stitch uses basic knits and purls in a simple 2-stitch, 4-row repeat. It creates a really pretty texture without a whole lot of effort. 
  • Reversible and lays flat. Moss stitch looks the same on both sides. It’s not especially stretchy, but it lays flat and does not curl. This makes it great for projects where both sides of your knitting will show.
  • Dense, squishy texture. Moss stitch is ideal for projects that need structure and warmth, like scarves, cowls, and mittens. Use it on borders and edges, or as an allover texture.

How to Moss Stitch

Moss stitch is made by alternating knit and purl stitches for two rows, then switching their location for the next two rows. You can think of it like a type of 1×1 ribbing that shifts every 2 rows.

Moss Stitch

  • Cast on an even number of stitches
  • Row 1 and 2: Knit 1, purl 1 across the row
  • Row 3 and 4: Purl 1, knit 1 across the row
  • Repeat Rows 1-4 for Moss Stitch.
close up of moss stitch texture in blue yarn

Moss Stitch vs Seed Stitch

At first glance, moss stitch and seed stitch look quite similar. Add in their different regional names, and it’s no wonder these two stitches get confused!

Here’s how to tell them apart:

  • Moss Stitch (sometimes called Irish Moss Stitch) is a four-row repeat of alternating knits and purls.
  • Seed Stitch (sometimes called British Moss Stitch) is a two-row repeat of alternating knits and purls.

Moss stitch is like an elongated version of seed stitch. While seed stitch alternates knit and purl stitches every row, moss stitch alternates every two rows.

Moss Stitch Instructions

Ready to try moss stitch for yourself? Here are the step-by-step instructions to knit moss stitch in rows and in the round.

Materials

  • Yarn: Choose a smooth yarn in a medium weight to practice.
  • Knitting needles: Choose a needle size according to the yarn label.
  • Tapestry needle
  • Scissors

Techniques to Know First

Here are the basic knitting techniques you’ll need to know before learning moss stitch.

Pattern Notes

  • The pattern is worked over a multiple of 2 stitches
  • The pattern has a 4-row repeat

Moss Stitch in Rows

  • Cast on an even number of stitches.
  • Row 1 and 2: *Knit 1, purl 1; repeat from * to end of row
  • Row 3 and 4: *Purl 1, knit 1; repeat from * to end of row
  • Repeat Rows 1-4.

Moss Stitch in the Round

  • Cast on an even number of stitches
  • Round 1 and 2: *K1, P1; repeat from * to end of round
  • Round 3 and 4: *P1, K1; repeat from * to end of round
  • Repeat Rounds 1-4.

What if you have an odd number of stitches?

You can work moss stitch over an odd number of stitches, too.

  • Cast on an odd number of stitches
  • Rows 1 and 4: K1, * p1, k1; repeat from * to end of row
  • Rows 2 and 3: P1,* k1, p1; repeat from * to end of row.
  • Repeat Rows 1–4.

Binding Off in Moss Stitch

Binding off in pattern creates an edge that blends seamlessly into the existing moss stitch texture. To bind off in pattern:

  1. Knit or purl the first two stitches according to the established moss stitch pattern.
  2. Lift the first stitch on the right needle over the second and off the needle.
  3. Knit or purl the next stitch according to the moss stitch pattern.
  4. Lift the first stitch on the right needle over the second and off the needle.

Repeat steps 3-4 across the row to finish binding off.

The Trick to Knitting Moss Stitch without a Pattern

One handy trick for knitting moss stitch without constantly checking a pattern is to “read your knitting.”

To tell knit and purl stitches apart:

a close up of alternating knit and purl stitches

When working moss stitch, read the stitches on your needle. If you have two of the same stitches stacked on top of each other – like two knits – that’s your signal to switch to the other stitch on the next row. But if you only see one knit stitch, you’ll need to repeat that row.

Reading your knitting takes practice, but soon you’ll be able to “see” the moss stitch pattern without counting rows. 

Patterns Using Moss Stitch

Here are a few of our favorite free knitting patterns using moss stitch.

Tips for Knitting Moss Stitch

  • Count your rows. If you find yourself losing track of where you are in the 4-row repeat, use stitch markers to keep your place.
  • Read your knitting. Look at the stitches on the needle to see where you are in the pattern.
  • Avoid unintentional yarn overs. Remember to bring the yarn to the front of the work before purling, and to the back of the work before knitting. Make sure it’s not wrapping accidentally around the needle, which would create an extra loop.
  • Block your finished project. Blocking evens out inconsistencies in your tension, and really brings out the texture of moss stitch.

More Knitting Stitches

Check out these other easy knit stitches.

What’s Next?

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

pinterest image with background photo of moss stitch swatch with text overlay of "knitting 101: moss stitch"

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