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How to Knit Stockinette Stitch for Beginners

Stockinette stitch is one of the most basic knitting stitch patterns, and a great one to start with if you’re new to knitting. It’s a great stitch for beginners because it is easy to learn, versatile, and beautiful.

If you want to learn how to knit stockinette stitch, you’re in the right place. This tutorial will show you how to knit stockinette stitch step by step. So grab your needles and yarn, and let’s get started!

wood knitting needles knitting a swatch of stockinette fabric in blue yarn

When you think of knitting, what comes to mind? Odds are, you’re picturing a project made with the iconic stockinette stitch.

It’s true – stockinette stitch is one of the most popular knitting stitches, and for good reason! Stockinette stitch is an easy stitch to learn, and it produces a beautiful, smooth knitted fabric.

You’ll need a few basic knitting skills to get started with stockinette stitch. But if you’re new to knitting, don’t worry – we’ll take you through it step by step! We’ll also offer some pointers and tips that can make the process go a little more smoothly for you.

What is Stockinette Stitch?

Stockinette stitch is a basic knitting stitch pattern that creates a smooth, even fabric. It is made by knitting alternating rows of knit and purl stitches.

Stockinette Stitch:

Row 1: Knit

Row 2: Purl

(Don’t worry if that description seemed too brief – we’ll go through everything step-by-step in the tutorial below!)

Stockinette vs. Stocking Stitch

The terms “stocking stitch” and “stockinette stitch” are used interchangeably. In North America, “stockinette stitch” is more common, while in the United Kingdom, you’re more likely to see the term “stocking stitch.”

Appearance

Stockinette stitch fabric is smooth on the front side and bumpy on the back side. It is not reversible. 

The “front (or “right”) side of the fabric looks like a series of V’s, while the “back” (or “wrong”) side resembles rows of ridges or bumps.

Stockinette stitch fabric is moderately stretchy and has excellent drape. You’ll find it used in wearable garments like sweaters, hats, scarves, and mittens.

Tendency to Curl

Knit fabric made from stockinette stitch tends to curl. The top and bottom edges curl toward the RS, while the sides curl toward the WS.

To counteract its tendency to curl, stockinette stitch is often bordered by a stitch pattern that lays flat (like garter stitch, seed stitch, or moss stitch).

Abbreviations in Knitting Patterns

In knitting patterns, you may see stockinette stitch abbreviated as “st st” or “St st .”You may also see a pattern say something like, “work in stockinette.” 

How to Knit Stockinette Stitch

So, now that we know what stockinette stitch is, let’s learn how to knit it!

Beginner Knitting Techniques You’ll Need to Know First

Here are the basic knitting techniques you’ll need to know to knit stockinette stitch. If you’re not familiar with these stitches, don’t worry! We have tutorials that will show you how to do them step by step.

If you’re not familiar with these techniques, don’t worry! Click on the links above to see step-by-step tutorials for each technique.

Knitting Supplies You’ll Need

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

  • Yarn. For beginners, I recommend a smooth worsted or bulky weight yarn in a lighter color.
  • Knitting needles. Choose knitting needles in a size that corresponds to the yarn you’ve chosen. You can use straight needles or a circular needle. Either way, I recommend wooden knitting needles for beginners, since they have a bit more grip.
  • Scissors
  • Tapestry needle 

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

Stockinette Stitch Instructions

Now that we’ve gone over some basics, let’s learn how to knit stockinette stitch! 

There are two ways to knit stockinette stitch: flat and in the round.

This section will teach you how to knit the stockinette stitch on two straight needles, working flat (aka back and forth in rows.)

Cast On

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

Row One:

Knit all stitches. To make a knit stitch, insert the right knitting needle into the front loop of the first stitch on the left needle from left to right. Next, wrap the working yarn counterclockwise around the right needle, and pull the needle through the center of the stitch. Then, slide the new stitch up and off the left needle.

Row Two

Purl all stitches. To make a purl stitch, insert the right needle into the front loop of the first stitch on the left needle from right to left. Next, wrap the working yarn counterclockwise around the right needle, and push the needle back through the stitch. Then, slide the new stitch off the left needle.

Repeat

Repeat rows one and two until your piece measures the desired length.

Cast Off

Then, cast off and weave in your ends.

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

Did you know? You can create reverse stockinette stitch by purling the RS (right side) rows and knitting the WS (wrong side) rows. This is called “reverse stockinette” and produces the exact same fabric, just with the reverse side showing. Neat, right?

Tips for Knitting Stockinette Stitch

If you get lost, or can’t remember what row you’re on, you can “read your knitting” to figure out where you are. Hold your knitting up as if you’re ready to knit, and look at the side that’s facing you.

  • The smooth side is the knit side. If the smooth side is facing you, then you’re on a knit row.
  • The bumpy side is the purl side. If the bumpy side is facing you, then you’re on a purl row.

Here’s a saying to help you remember: “Knit the knits and purl the purls.”

How to Knit Stockinette in the Round

As we talked about before, there are two ways to knit stockinette stitch: flat and in the round. We’ve already learned how to knit stockinette flat, so let’s learn how to knit stockinette in the round. 

To knit stockinette in the round:

  1. Start by casting on the desired number of stitches onto circular needles. Join your work in the round, being careful not to twist your stitches.
  2. Then, simply knit every round until your piece measures the desired length. 
  3. 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 stockinette stitch both flat and in the round.

Why is this? Well, when working in the round, all the knitting happens on the “right” side of the work. So, when knitting stockinette in the round, you’ll knit every row.

Getting Gauge in Stockinette Stitch

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

To measure your gauge in stockinette 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.

stockinette stitch under a gauge square ruler

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 rows in 4 inches. To count the number of rows in stockinette stitch, simply count the Vs in the column.

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!

Knitting Patterns Using Stockinette Stitch

Now that you know how to knit stockinette stitch, why not put your new skills to use? Here are a few beginner-friendly knitting patterns that use stockinette stitch:

Stockinette Stitch Scarf Knitting Pattern: This is an easy scarf knitting pattern that is perfect for new knitters. It’s a simple stockinette scarf with a garter stitch border.

Stockinette Cowl Pattern: Here’s another free pattern for practicing stockinette stitch. This particular cowl pattern in knit flat, rather than in the round.

Stockinette Slouch Hat: If you’d rather try stockinette in the round, check out this slouchy hat pattern.

How to Prevent Stockinette Stitch from Curling

As mentioned above, stockinette stitch has a tendency to curl. There are a few things that you can do to prevent this from happening.

a swatch of stockinette knitting curling before blocking

Blocking: One way to lessen the curling is to block your project. Blocking is the process of wetting and shaping your knitting so that it dries in the desired shape. Blocking is often done with wool yarn, but can be done with other fibers as well. (Blocking will help, but won’t prevent curling completely.)

Borders: Another way to stop stockinette fabric from curling is to add a border of 3-4 edge stitches around your stockinette stitch piece. Some popular border stitch patterns include garter stitch, seed stitch, and rib stitch.

FAQ about Stockinette Stitch

Here are some frequently asked questions about stockinette stitch.

What is stockinette stitch used for?

Stockinette stitch is a versatile stitch that you can use for a variety of projects. It’s often used for sweaters, hats, scarves, and other wearable garments!

Can I use any type of yarn for stockinette 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.

close up of stockinette stitch and garter stitch fabric
garter vs stockinette

What is the difference between stockinette stitch and garter stitch?

The garter stitch pattern is created by knitting every row, while the stockinette stitch pattern is created by alternating knit rows and purl rows. 

My swatch of stockinette stitch is curling up! What can I do to fix this?

Try adding a border of garter stitch on all sides of your stockinette swatch. A garter stitch edge will help to keep your piece from curling up at the edges. You could also try blocking your piece. 

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: We 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. We love to see what you make!

pin image with a photo background of knitting a small swatch of stockinette stitch fabric in blue yarn

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wood knitting needles knitting a swatch of stockinette fabric in blue yarn

How to Knit Stockinette 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 stockinette 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. wood knitting needles knitting a swatch of stockinette fabric in blue yarn
  3. Row 2: Purl across. purling on the WS of a swatch of stockinette knitting in blue yarn
  4. Repeat Rows 1 and 2 until you reach the desired length. Cast off stitches, and weave in ends. front side of a small swatch of stocking stitch knit with blue yarn on a gray background

Notes

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

To knit stockinette stitch in the round:

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

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