Once you know how to knit and purl, you can combine these stitches in many different ways to make knitted fabrics with different sorts of characteristics.
The combination or pattern of knits and purls is called a ‘stitch pattern’. The Simple Collection designs use three basic stitch patterns: Garter Stitch, Stockinette Stitch, and Ribbing. Grab some needles and yarn, and try them out yourself!
GARTER STITCH ::: (is very easy)
You make garter stitch by knitting every row, right sides (RS) and wrong sides (WS).
Garter stitch is bumpy, stretchy, and lays nice and flat. It is reversible, it looks the same on both sides.
Garter Stitch is soft and cushy (like the marshmallow mitts)
Makes a nice edging (like on the Malt blanket)
And because it is so simple and effective, we have used it really extensively in our Simple Collection designs (perfect for learners)!
STOCKINETTE STITCH ::: (is very easy too)
Stockinette stitch is made by knitting one row (RS – right side) then purling the next row (WS – wrong side), then repeating these two rows, so you always knit on the RS of the work, and purl on the WS of the work.
Stockinette stitch is quite smooth on the RS or knit side, and has a uniformly bumpy texture on the backside (this is called Reverse Stockinette Stitch).
Smooth and sleek (like the body of the Antler Cardigan)
Reverse stockinette looks somewhat more rustic and textural: (like the Hipster Hat)
Stockinette stitch, worked on its own, has a strong tendency to curl. At the side edges it curls toward the back, and at the cast-on and bind-off edges, it has a tendency to curl toward the front. This means a stockinette stitch scarf isn’t going to stay flat for long… But it is interesting to use this ‘curl’ as a design feature – like I did at the sleeves of the Low Tide cardigan, and at the neckline of the Raindrops pullover. A little rolled edge can be a cute and informal detail.
RIBBING ::: (isn’t too hard with a little bit of practice)
Ribbing is a general term for a set of stitches that alternate vertical columns of knits and purls. In the Simple Collection, we use a lot of 1×1 ribbing, which alternates 1 knit and 1 purl at a time.
For Beginners ::: the most important thing to note is when you switch from a knit to a purl in a single row, you MUST move your yarn from the back of the work (where it is when knitting) to the front of the work (for purling), bringing it in between the needles (not over the needles, or you will create an extra stitch).
You make 1×1 ribbing by working the following pattern (on an even number of stitches):
Row 1 (RS): (k1, p1) repeat to end.
Row 2 (WS): (k1, p1) repeat to end.
Repeat rows 1-2, and a pattern of columns will form. Another way of knowing how to knit the stitches in ribbing is to look at them. If the stitch looks like a knit (a little V shape) then knit it. If the stitch looks like a purl (a little bump), then purl it. It is as simple as that.
Ribbing is great for edges because it pulls in, so it is nice for necklines and cuffs.
If ribbing has an even number of knits and purls (1×1, 2×2, or 3×3) then it is reversible and looks the same on the right side and the wrong side. This is great for scarves!
There are an unlimited number of ribbing patterns. Perhaps you want a chunkier looking edge – try 2×2 rib (k2, p2) repeat to end. Or if you want a sleeker looking rib try 3×1 rib (k3, p1). Each pattern has a slightly different effect. See how we used 1×1 rib on the brim of the Sitka Spruce hat, and 2×2 rib on the brim of the Tofino Surfer hat, and really big 6×3 ribbing on the edge of the Drift? There are many different effects you can achieve.
To create twisted ribbing, you knit into the back loop of the knit stitches. It has a unique ‘braided’ appearance, and is very firm and pulls in even more than regular ribbing.