18 Dec 2017

The Humble Garter Stitch

Garter Stitch can teach us a lot about knitting. It is usually the first stitch that most of us try when we are introduced to the art and is worked by knitting into every stitch on both the right side and the wrong side.

It is at this point that we learn one of the first rules of knitting: that whatever stitch you work on one side shows as the opposite on the other. So your carefully worked knit stitches that you just completed on the wrong side now show as a line of bumps on the front. Indeed, you could have made the same fabric by working a second right side row but this time purling across all the stitches!

But there’s a second thing Garter Stitch can teach us: that the side of the stitch with the ‘bump’ showing tries to push outwards. Have you ever seen a length of Stocking Stitch as it is being worked on a knitting machine? If so, you may have noticed that it emerges as a tightly rolled tube of fabric with the purl side on the outside. It can take a fair bit of unrolling and blocking to get the fabric flat enough to seam it together into a sweater!

In the stitch pattern I featured yesterday, you can see the purl bumps of the Horizontal Parallelogram Check standing out strongly from the knit stitches behind.

In Garter Stitch, though, the purl ‘bumps’ on one row are perfectly balanced by the ones on the next. Each row pushes outwards, first to one side then the other. This gives a strong horizontal patterning with deeply-indented spaces between the rows but the overall fabric lies perfectly flat! True, the rows are highly compressed by this, but the finished result is stable, neat and flat.

Garter Stitch can, therefore, be used as a border to stabilise other designs such as lace scarves and shawls. However, it is a well-loved pattern in its own right, and appreciated not just because it is easy to work but also for its strong lines and detailed patterning.

In this series of twelve blogposts, I am focusing on one stitch from each of the chapters in our Reversible Knitting Stitches book and featuring a knitting pattern that has been inspired by each one. Today it’s the turn of the humble Garter Stitch and one of Anna‘s colourful patterns, the Autumn Scarf.

The Autumn Scarf is a modern design with bold diagonal blocks of colour. The scarf is worked with three different shades: a deep orange, a rich yellow and a strong contrasting grey. However, the yarn is available in a wide range of colours and the scarf would look great with other colour combinations too. 

The result is eye-catching and the scarf can look very different depending on how it is worn. If it is wrapped casually around your neck in a college-style fashion, then the bold colours will show separately over your shoulder. However, a more complex wrapping style would bring the colours into closer proximity, giving a fun result.

The scarf uses a lovely soft chunky yarn so is quick to work and it won't be long until you have a new scarf to keep those wintry winds at bay!

If you would like to read more about the Autumn Scarf pattern, then please click here.

Please click here to read the first in this series of blogposts, then follow the links at the bottom of each post to see all the stitch patterns featured.

To read more about the Reversible Knitting Stitches book, please click here
The book is available as an E-Book, a Print book, or a Print and E-Book Package.

Until tomorrow,

Happy Reversible Knitting!


Last Blogpost: Mathematics and Knitting

. 27/7/18 W

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