The garter stitch is the most basic knitting stitch out there. When you knit flat, you just knit every stitch of every row.
While you can just seam garter stitch if you want to knit a project flat, what do you do if you want to work Garter Stitch in the round?
Because the right side of the work is always facing you as you work in the round, knitting every stitch of every round gives you Stockinette Stitch, not Garter.
The easiest solution is to work in the round, knitting one round and purling the next, over and over. The reason this works is that knit and purl are opposites; the purl ridge gives you the bumpy texture you see in Garter Stitch.
The Biggest Problem
There's one big problem with knitting garter stitch in the round, other than having to purl, which a lot of knitters don't like.
The problem lies in the nature of circular knitting, which is actually a spiral more than a loop.
Just like you can get jogs in stripes or designs when you are knitting colorwork in the round, so too does Garter Stitch jog, making it obvious where the round ends.
Options for Dealing With the Jog
You can, of course, just ignore the jog and knit and purl as you normally would. It's not a huge deal to have this faux seam running down your work most of the time.
But knitters are nothing if not clever, and many different ways have been devised to eliminate the jog.
Kathryn Ivy describes how she knits jogless Garter Stitch by moving the end of the round so you can't see a line where the round ended because it's always moving.
That's fine if you don't need to do any shaping that relies on being so many stitches from the beginning or end of the round, and if you remember to move and replace your stitch marker each round.
Knitting Garter in the Round Without Purling
What if you want to eliminate the purl stitches altogether? Of course, that's possible, too.
A cool technique to try is from Fleegle's blog, which shows how to work a Shetland shawl (aka garter stitch) from the center out without purling. It involves using two strands of yarn and working in both directions, alternating direction, and yarn used on each round. This is a super clever idea that can be used on any project worked in the round.
Projects to Try
If you're ready to try knitting garter stitch in the round using any of these methods, check out my cowl pattern above, or try one of these projects:
- Garter ear flap hat from Purl Soho
- No-purl, seam-free, garter-stitch-in-the-round cowl by Kathleen Rogers
- This giant cowl from Steven Callaghan can be worked as knit one round, purl one round or turning back and forth, your choice.