How to Knit the Garter Stitch

How to Work Garter Stitch in Knitting

The Spruce Crafts / Mollie Johanson

Project Overview
  • Total Time: 5 mins

Knitting patterns often use a garter stitch to create a border or edge with a striped texture that doesn't curl. It's also great for making a knit fabric that's thick, strong, and slightly stretchy. This is one knitting basic that everyone needs to know.

Working garter stitch is as simple as knitting every stitch, every row. So all you need to know is how to cast on and how to work a knit stitch, which you can learn here.

But just because it's an easy stitch, that doesn't mean it's too basic to make some special projects! Start with a garter stitch scarf, then try a blanket or some mitts, and after learning a few more basics, you can knit a baby sweater worked almost entirely with a garter stitch.

After you know how to work entire rows in garter stitch, you can also use garter stitch in conjunction with other knitting stitches and patterns. Because it's useful for making borders, patterns often use garter stitch at the beginning and end of rows. 

Ready to start knitting something? Grab some yarn and needles and cast on.


Watch Now: How to Make a Garter Stitch

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Knitting needles


  • Yarn


  1. Start Knitting the First Stitch

    Knitting in garter stitch is just knit stitches, so after casting on the first step is to start your first knit.

    Insert your right needle through the first stitch from front to back, left to right.

    Slide the Needle Through the Stitch
    Mollie Johanson
  2. Wrap the Yarn Around the Right Needle

    Bring the working yarn around the right needle. Wrap counterclockwise with the yarn coming between the two needles.

    Wrap the Yarn Around the Needle
    Mollie Johanson
  3. Bring the Needle to the Front

    Slide the right needle under the left needle, catching the wrapped yarn and bringing the needle to the front. 

    This forms the new stitch on the right needle.

    Form the Stitch on the Right Needle
    Mollie Johanson
  4. Slide the Completed Stitch off

    Slide the stitch off the left needle so the newly completed stitch is now on the right stitch.

    You just finished the first knit stitch, which is all you do for the rest of the garter stitch work.

    Transfer the Stitch to the Right Needle
    Mollie Johanson
  5. Continue Working All Knit Stitches

    Knit every stitch across the row, then turn your work and knit every stitch across that row. Repeat this process to work in garter stitch.

    Unlike stockinette stitch, which tends to curl, the edges of the garter stitch stay flat, which is great for knitting items without adding edging or other finishing. However, the edges aren't especially smooth. With an extra step as you work, you can create a nice finish on the garter stitch.

    To make the edge even, start the row of garter stitch with a slip stitch, transferring the stitch purlwise. Then knit every stitch across the rest of the row. Repeat this for every row.

    Now that you know how to work garter stitch, you can learn how to work purl stitches.


    Working garter stitch by knitting every row only works on standard needles. If you want to create a garter stitch on circular needles working in the round, you need to make a few adjustments.

    Continue Working All Knit Stitches
    Mollie Johanson