What’s the first knitting stitch most of us learn?
Plain knitting, also known as the garter stitch!
On two needles, garter stitch is all knitting. Every stitch. So, once you’ve cast on, it’s only one stitch to learn or practice. Of course, if you knit in the round, it’s one round (or row) of knitting alternating with a round of purling.
There is a symmetry to garter stitch not found in stockinette. 10 stitches is the same length as 10 ridges, or 20 rows. I think that is so cool, but then I’ve always loved math! 😎
And garter stitch knit on 2 needles lies flat. The edges don’t curl. So, it makes a nice edging, or strap. As an edging, garter stitch is often used to flatten a pattern that otherwise would curl. I like it as a strap for a purse or bag.
Knitting tip: When knitting a strap, you can cast on the stitches lengthwise and knit. Yes you have long rows, but it often seems easier and faster than knitting many short rows.
Its ridges give garter stitch a texture — and a thickness — not found in stockinette stitch.
Beginners often start making scarves in garter stitch. Making a long scarf can be excellent practice in the stitches. Hopefully not to the point of getting bored of garter stitch, though.
In cotton, it also makes great dishcloths, and dish towels. I like the ridges for scrubbing dishes — or absorbing the water when drying them!
And it can make washcloths, towels, sweaters, and more… My sister likes to make watch caps with it instead of ribbing.
I looked for the origin of the term garter stitch. And couldn’t find it. I suspect it was used in garters — bands that used to be used frequently to hold up socks and stockings. If you know its origin, please share in the comments!
Meanwhile, I’m going to keep knitting…
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