Knitting Stitches for Beginners

Man Knitting At Home
Leila Cromwell-Morgan / EyeEm / Getty Images

When you're thinking about learning to knit or are a new knitter, seeing all of the available knitting stitches can be kind of overwhelming. It's helpful to discover which ones are easy for beginners to learn, and what patterns set the foundation to able to knit more complex patterns later. 

Thankfully, there are innumerable knitting stitches just for beginners, which means you have the opportunity to practice in a wide range of styles. Here are some essential knitting stitches that beginners can tackle and build off of to become that much better. You may just find a new favorite pattern or project.


Watch Now: How to Seed Stitch

  • 01 of 05

    Garter Stitch

    A swatch of garter stitch on a knitting needle
    The Spruce Crafts / Sarah E. White

    Garter stitch is the first knitting stitch that new knitters should learn. Knitting every stitch of every row is the best way to get the knit stitch down before learning how to purl. Many new knitters start with a ​garter stitch scarf, but you could also knit a washcloth, hot pad, or anything else in this simple stitch to get your needles working.

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  • 02 of 05

    Stockinette Stitch

    A close-up of a swatch of stockinette stitch
    The Spruce Crafts / Sarah E. White

    Once you've got knitting down, the next step is learning to purl. It's easiest to knit one row and purl the next, and when you alternate in that way the fabric you create is known as stockinette stitch.

    This smooth fabric is what most people think of when they think of knitting, and there are probably more patterns written using stockinette stitch than any other pattern out there. Stockinette stitch is what you get when you knit every round in circular knitting, so that's another good reason to pick up this skill.

    The only trouble with stockinette is that the edges tend to curl. Don't worry about it when you're just learning, but when you start knitting projects in stockinette, make sure you add an edging that doesn't curl (such as any of the other stitches mentioned here) if you don't like the rolled effect.

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  • 03 of 05


    A close-up of a swatch of a ribbing stitch pattern
    invizbk / Getty Images

    If you're comfortable knitting whole rows of knit and purl, it's time to alternate knitting and purling in the same row. This is how you make many of the textured stitch patterns that are possible in knitting, but for now, we'll look at the most basic category of knit-purl stitch patterns, known as ribbing.

    Ribbing is any pattern where the knits and purls line up consistently across rows so that you get columns of knits and purls that alternate across the fabric. It can be used throughout the knitting pattern or as an edging.

    The most common forms of ribbing are 1x1 and 2x2, the numbers indicating how many stitches you work of each type of stitch in order (so 1x1 rib is knit 1, purl 1 repeating). But you can make ribbing in just about any combination, from 3x1 to 4x4.

    The main thing you have to pay attention to in ribbing is that the number of stitches you cast on fits the number of stitches needed for that particular pattern. For instance, 1x1 ribbing works on an even number of stitches while 2x2 needs a multiple of 4. 

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  • 04 of 05

    Seed Stitch

    A close-up of a swatch of seed stitch knit
    The Spruce Crafts / Sarah E. White

    If you can knit ribbing, you can knit seed stitch. Seed stitch is worked in the same way as ribbing, but each row is off by one stitch, so instead of lining the knits and purls up in consistent columns, they alternate on each row.

    Seed stitch brings a lot of texture to your knitting and it's really easy to do. It's also a good lesson in reading your knitting because if you see a knit stitch in the row you just knit you know you need to purl that stitch on this row and vice-versa. It's never too early to start practicing this essential knitting skill. 

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  • 05 of 05

    Moss Stitch

    A swatch of moss stitch
    The Spruce Crafts / Sarah E. White

    Another easy variation of knits and purls in the same row is moss stitch, which is like ribbing for two rows, then moving over one stitch for two rows. It's easy to get seed stitch and moss stitch confused. A helpful reminder: Seeds are little, so you only need one row to make them.