17 Mar 2019

Glorious Garter Stitch

A question for you: what is the first stitch every knitter learns? Well that's a bit of a trick question since there are only two possible answers, a knit or a purl, but if I was to answer that I suppose I'd say most people learn the knit stitch first. 

And now a 2nd question: can you name two stitch patterns using only knit stitches? This time there would be a few options to choose from, but here are two: if you were working in the round, you would probably be working in Stocking Stitch (or as they call it over here, Stockinette Stitch). 

However, if you were working back-and-forth on straight needles, then that would most likely be Garter Stitch. 
Every Row: Knit to end. Simple, easy, yet so versatile.

Garter Stitch is a dense, compact stitch which produces deep areas of colour with a wonderful stitch definition and texture. It can be worked all in one colour, but I think it really comes into its own when sections of Garter Stitch in different yarns are worked side-by-side. For example, in Anna's Patchwork Cushion, blocks of Garter Stitch in different colours co-ordinate to give a dynamic, modern result. 

Garter Stitch is also absolutely gorgeous when worked in stripes. For example, in the Winsford Stroller Blanket above, the pattern features bands in solid and two-colour stripes. This is a variation of Garter Stitch called Wide Garter Columns from our book, Reversible Knitting Stitchesand it gives a wonderful blending of the two colours used in the pattern. 

However, you don't need to work any variation of Garter Stitch for a striped pattern. At the top of this blogpost and in the photo above, you can see how well stripes work in the basic stitch. This is Anna's Ugly Blanket which has been worked in a variety of colours. 

I love that name! It stems from an initial impression of some left-over yarns as they looked so unpromising when all mixed together in their basket. However, Garter Stitch came to the rescue and blended them perfectly in the finished blanket!

Garter Stitch has several other qualities too. Firstly, it is a reversible pattern, meaning that both sides look good so you don't have to choose which side is the "Right Side". In fact, it is one of those rare species: a truly reversible stitch, so both faces are identical. 

One result of this reversibility is that Garter Stitch lies flat. I have written about this here and here, but to recap: knitwear has a tendency to curl when one side has more purl "bumps" than the other. The purl stitches push outwards and the result is a curl in the finished item. Sometimes this is desirable, such as when you want to make an easy roll-necked sweater. However, usually it is not a good feature. 

Garter Stitch is perfectly balanced with exactly the same number of purl "bumps" on both sides, so lays absolutely flat. This quality can be used for items that need to be level, such as rugs and hot pads. For example, in Anna's Quilted Hot Pads above, a T-shirting yarn has been used to make a pad with raised stitches over a Garter Stitch base giving a perfectly flat, insulated layer for your saucepans.

Another quality of Garter Stitch is that it tends to push out widthwise so can hold other designs open. In the Quilted Hot Pads, this is important so that the insulating ribs of the stitch are held securely in place. 

In other patterns, small sections of Garter Stitch can be used to give warmth and texture to a design. I will come back to that next time and see how panels of Garter Stitch can be used in a baby blanket.

Meanwhile, if you have enjoyed seeing some of Anna's wonderful explorations of Garter Stitch, then please visit her website and read more about her new E-Book, Glorious Garter Stitch.

And if you would like to have your own copy of our book, Reversible Knitting Stitches, then please click here.

Until next time - Happy Knitting!


Anna's Website: www.kikuknits.com

Anna's new E-Book: Glorious Garter Stitch


5 Mar 2019

A return to winter and a new scarf

It’s been an odd year for weather. Last week in the UK people were sitting in the parks surrounded by daffodils and basking in the warm Spring sun. This week, Storm Freya has blown that wonderful sunshine away with freezing temperatures returning alongside the strong winds and rain. 

Meanwhile in Boston, there has been so much snow in this first week of March! Over a foot of snow arrived yesterday and for a time 2-4 inches of snow were falling every hour. A real return to winter. 

We had just the same last year, when our arrival back in the North-East saw the start of four storms, one coming right after the next until there were walls of snow on all the roads and driveways. As one of the commentators on CBS said,

“Call it what you want but suddenly March is becoming the new February.”

He may well be right there. Well, I for one am not going to stop my winter knitting just yet! So I have just finished up another winter scarf and I can see this is going to be needed straight away. 

This is the Karlskrona Scarf, a strongly textured man’s scarf with a really interesting reversible stitch pattern. This features a dynamic zig-zag design on the front and a well-defined vertical stripe on the reverse. 

Both sides show a classic symmetry that is both pleasing to knit and to wear. The stitch is also easily memorised so is a great fire-side pattern to work. What could be better after a morning shovelling snow than to sit in front of the fire, a cup of tea to hand and a new project on your needles. Sounds a perfect combination to me!

For more details about the Karlskrona Scarf please click here. The pattern includes three different sizes and is available for instant download from my website. 

The stitch pattern is taken from our book, Reversible Knitting Stitches and you can find more details about ordering your own copy of the book here.

Until next time - keep warm!


Last Blogpost: Love this time of year

Thanks to Tim for his great photos! If you would like to see more of his work, please find him on Instagram: @xidman


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