Garter Stitch - and why I hate it

I understand that Garter Stitch is basically the first stitch every beginning knitter learns...But, gosh darn it, I hate it. I hate the look of it, I hate the feel of it, it's only good for edges of projects so they don't curl in, and I don't like spending all the time to make sure they are evenly knitted with the right tension of the yarn.

That last part is what bugs me the most, I can knit fairly fast, evenly, and I keep the tension of my stitches relatively, well...even. However, I can always see imperfections on my tension in Garter Stitch sections and it just bothers me to no end. I'm sure some of you out there are thinking right now, that those imperfections make a "Hand Knitted" projects have style, taste, or the looks of being hand made. Well I'm a man who looks for perfection, and I can not see Garter Stitches a stitch I wish to continue in my repertoire.

And if you are saying to yourself, "how do you plan to keep your works from curling up?" Well, I can always crochet a border around it, So HA!

Let me know what you think. I'd be glad to compare thoughts with you!


crmartin's picture

Do you block your projects? Many imperfections will disappear once they are blocked.



kevyoga1970's picture

I'm with ya. I don't care for it at all. Some designers have done beautiful things with it--Jared Flood, for example--but it doesn't work for me. It is unappealingly "cushy," and I think it blurs some of the characteristics that make great yarn--great yarn.

I don't mean to insult those who use garter stitch in their designs. To each his own.

QueerJoe's picture

I would also add that garter stitch tends to stretch out more than other fabrics. Personally, I only use garter stitch when I'm making mitered squares because the row to stitch ratio is about equal on garter stitch and not on stockinette. Plus, mitered squares don't stretch because they're not single-directionally knit.

One of our members made me a great garter stitch scarf in a handspun yarn with a cable down the is just beautiful in a rustic, manly way that I absolutely love. The stretchiness is mitigated by the cable, but the added length in the scarf doesn't hurt anything as far as I can tell.

YugiDean's picture

If I'm making a border on a stockinette project to keep it from curling, I like to do seed stitch. I like the texture it provides, and it's far more interesting than just plain old garter. I don't mind garter too much when it enhances the project. For example, the alligator scarf I'm doing looks really good with garter to give it that "scaley" feel. :-) Otherwise, I'm not a big fan of the way garter looks, either. I don't mind the feel, but the floofiness of garter isn't fun enough to outweigh the weirdness of the look.

Go seed stitch and mistake-rib!

"Men can starve from a lack of self-realization as much as they can from a lack of bread." --Richard Wright

kevyoga1970's picture

I completely agree. I'm a huge fan of seed stitch. It can do the same chore of controlling rolling stockinette without having that "floofy" feel that really makes me crazy; and I think it shows off the yarn in a more honest way.

Many many years ago when I was studying weaving in college--my parents were so proud--my teacher told me "sometimes you just have to let the yarn be yarn."

JDM511's picture

I was never a fan of Garter Stitch, I think because of associating it with beginner projects. I have been working on two Rib Warmers from Elizabeth Zimmerman's Knitting Workshop. With this project, I have learned to appreciate the simplicity of the garter stitch, the way the short rows turn the corners of the rib warmer. I am not sure if you can read any of EZ's works and how she talks about her beloved garter stitch, without starting to appreciate the garter stitch project.


rjcb3's picture

Oh my goodness!!!
Oh my goodness!!!
Oh my goodness!!!

Don't be too full of hatred. Oh, the Garter Stitch can be such a wonderful thing -- it all depends on what you're knitting. That's really it. It just depends on what you're knitting.


TomH's picture

I agree. Garter stitch can be wonderful if you're working with novelty yarns. While novelty yarns might not be politically correct, some people love to receive gifts made from them because they can be so fun and funky. And I think it's great to honor your recipients.

rjcb3's picture

I love variegateds! I really do like doing Garter Stitch things with the various changing colours. Don't get me wrong, I certainly love seeing variegateds in regular Stocking Stitch especially knitted in the round ('don't care to purl much, unless I'm designing a gansey or some such textured pattern)

Also, if I'm working with stuff like acrylics and other synthetics, I like Garter Stitch, because those ridges are extra thick and nice and warm, or sturdy (if you're making socks or slippers or the like). Let's face it, single-layer acrylic isn't always that warm, but that extra bulk and extra row of stitches making up the ridges does make all the difference.

It makes for an awesome heavy sweater, too! I "designed" (I think the term is rather fitting more as Zimmermann's "unvented") what I call "The Vertical Sweater" where it's all Garter Stitch and knit sideways so that the ridges run up and down.

...and the traditional gloves (I think the very first pattern for any type of gloves, was the sideways gloves in the Bernat Complete Book Of Knitting, about -- wow -- about 25 years ago -- longer?)

Oh, the versatility!

Sorry to go on and on,'s that whole knitting thing and I'm so passionate about it all.


Jaredsfa2004's picture

thanks for the comments, I now don't feel alone in this situation. I love the seed stitch idea. I block my works, however not all of them... as I feel that not all projects need blocking. You know, after looking into it, other stitches that would work, like the seed stitch, are the Sand or Rice stitch.

Another thing I'd add to why "I Hate The Garter Stitch", if you find a mistake in previous rows, it takes twice the work to repair the knit purl knit purl rather than just working up the knit.

TomH's picture

Here's a scarf pattern that's an interesting take on garter stitch using slip stitch. I found it on Ravelry. And it's a free pattern. If interested, go take a look.

"My Garter Slipped Scarf by Bereni New"

If I had more time, I'd whip one up. Maybe I'll just have to make time after New Year's.

By the way, I agree with Robert. Garter stitch can be quite nice when used in an interesting way or yarn. (Plus, it knits up so quickly!)