A Stitch In Time – The Ultimate Guide To Perfecting The Stockinette Stitch

Stockinette stitch is a simple knit stitch that creates a flat fabric. It is one of the most basic stitches in knitting and is used in almost every knitting pattern out there. Once you master the stockinette stitch, you can confidently say that you know how to knit!

This stitch can be used for blankets, scarves, jumpers, stuffed animals, and more. If you want to learn how to knit, this is going to be the stitch that you have to begin with.

You can make an entire basic item with stockinette stitch. You won’t be able to make smooth corners that come with techniques such as increasing or decreasing.

However, you will be able to make a square/ rectangular item, like a blanket or scarf, with a completely flat surface.

So, how do you master this incredibly important stitch? Let’s find out.

A Stitch In Time - The Ultimate Guide To Perfecting The Stockinette Stitch

What Does The Stockinette Stitch Look Like? 

The stockinette stitch consists of using two stitches to make your end piece – knit and purl. These two stitches should be known by any person who is looking to start knitting. We will get into how you use these two stitches later. 

You might be familiar with how a knitted blanket looks like – it is made up of rows and columns of ‘V’ shapes. There are no bumps in between the rows, otherwise known as purl stitches, like you would find when using the garter stitch. 

So, the right side of the stockinette stitch is made up of only knit stitches, that look like little ‘V’ shapes, and the wrong side is made up of purl stitches, which look like rows of little bumps of yarn. 

If you have ever seen a knitted blanket or scarf that has no texture and is only made of uniform stitches, it is most likely a stockinette stitch. This stitch is very popular for knitting toys, clothes, and homeware pieces. 

How To Use The Stockinette Stitch

How To Use The Stockinette Stitch

To master the stockinette stitch, you will need to know how to knit a row of stitches as well as purl a row of stitches. Let’s focus on how to do this. 

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How To Cast On

Before you can learn how to knit, you will need to cast on to create your stitches. To do this, make a looped knot in your yarn and put it over one needle before pulling it to make it smaller.

To make your looped knot, loop the yarn and pull it through the loop to make a knot. 

Put your other needle through the knot on the needle so that it creates an ‘L shape’, with the empty needle behind the needle with the knot on it.

Wrap the yarn anticlockwise around the back needle and pull the yarn under the front needle. The empty needle should now be at the front with a new stitch on it. 

Pull this stitch away from the back needle to add some length. Add enough length so that you can put this new stitch back onto the needle with the knot on it. Remove the empty needle and pull the yarn so that the stitch is the desired size. 

Now you have successfully made your first cast on stitch, you should have two stitches on your needle. Continue the above process in the newest stitch until you have the desired number of stitches. 

Learning How To Knit

If you don’t know how to use the knit stitch then you don’t know how to knit. Luckily, we know how to and we’re going to tell you how to right now. 

Cast on however many stitches you want to practice with. We suggest between five and ten so that you have enough room to work without being overpowered by stitches. 

So, now that all of your stitches are cast onto one needle, hold this in your non-dominant hand. Take the other needle in your dominant hand and stick it into the back of the first stitch on the other needle, which is the one closest to the pointed tip.

Let’s say that your right hand is your dominant hand for this example. 

Your needles should now be in an ‘L’ shape, with the empty needle being behind the full needle. Now take your working yarn and wrap it around the back of the empty needle and over the point where the two needles meet. Keep this yarn reasonably tight to ensure that the stitch works. 

Now begin sliding the full needle up the empty one towards its pointed end. Take it over the point and down the backside of the empty needle. You should see a ring of wool on the previously empty needle. 

Use the previously empty needle to pick out this new stitch and keep it on the needle. Now drag this needle off of the full needle sideways until the needles are not touching anymore. The cast on stitch will come with it to complete the new stitch.

You should now have a needle with nine cast on stitches, and one needle with a knit stitch on it. Continue this method for the rest of the stitches on your needle until they have all moved from one hand to the other. 

Learning How To Purl

Now that you have knitted one row, you will have to purl a row to achieve the stockinette stitch. Let’s talk you through the purl process now. 

So, you have one needle full of knitted stitches in one hand. Turn this needle so that it is facing the opposite way and swap it with the empty needle in your non-dominant hand.

Your stitches should now be facing you with the bumpy side rather than the side that looks like a row of little upside down ‘V’s. 

Now you are ready to purl your row. Take the empty needle in your dominant hand and insert it into the front of the first stitch.

Your needles should now look like an ‘L’ shape, but with the dominant needle being in front of the other. This differs from the technique of knit stitching that we looked at earlier. 

Wrap your working yarn around the front needle anticlockwise. Keep the yarn pulled taut to ensure that it doesn’t come off of the needle in this next step. 

Now you want to pull the front needle down and underneath the back needle so that the looped yarn remains on the needle. This yarn will go through the previously knitted stitch and make a new purl stitch. 

Pull the needle with the purl stitch on it off of the needle in your non-dominant hand, taking the old knit stitch with it. This is your first purl stitch – continue for the rest of your row. 

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Continuing Your Stockinette Stitch

Continuing Your Stockinette Stitch

Now that you have successfully finished one knit row and one purl row, you can now turn your needle around again to see the knit side, otherwise known as the ‘right’ side. You should have two rows of little upside down ‘V’ shapes. 

Congratulations! These are your two first rows of stockinette stitch. Continue in the same pattern (K, P, K, P) until your work reaches your desired length. 

If you find that the ‘right’ side of your work suddenly has an indent in it, this will be because you have accidentally used knit stitch on a purl row.

Likewise, if you have used a purl stitch on a knit row, there will be a row sticking out of your ‘right’ side. 

To rectify this simply undo your stitches and redo them with the correct stitch. Remember that the stockinette stitch is completely flat with no bumps or grooves in it.

Casting Off Your Stitches

Casting off is the term used to describe finishing your work and closing the stitches off so that they don’t come undone and ruin all of your hard work. 

Casting off, in our opinion, is one of the easiest techniques in knitting – and it symbolizes the end of your craft, meaning that you have made something from nothing and therefore should be very proud! 

First, knit two stitches. This is true if you are casting off on a knit row. If you are casting off on a purl row, purl two stitches instead.

Most patterns will have you finish on a purl row so that your rows are even numbers, but you might sometimes have to cast off on a purl row. 

Anyway, knit (or purl!) two stitches. Put the needle in your non-dominant hand into the first stitch on your dominant needle (the stitch closest to the floor).

Pull it over the second stitch and off the needle completely. Remove the other needle from the stitch and allow it to drop. 

Knit another stitch from the non-dominant needle and do the same – pull the first stitch over the new one and let it drop.

Continue this process until you have one stitch left on your needle. Now wrap your yarn around the needle so that it acts like a second stitch. Pull the last stitch off of the needle.

Cut your yarn and pull the loop remaining on your needle up until all of the yarn is through the stitch. Pull tight to knot it. You’re done! 

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Phew – and there we have it. You should now be able to successfully use the stockinette stitch to create all sorts of knitted gems.

This stitch is one of the most common stitches used in knitting, so if you don’t know how to use it, you’re going to be very limited with your crafts. 

Thankfully, it is very easy to complete. The pattern is knit, purl, knit, purl etc. until you are finished with your stitching.

There is only one stitch easier than stockinette stitch – garter stitch – and the former looks much more professional!

Frequently Asked Questions

Do You Start Stockinette With Knit Or Purl?

Most stockinette stitches will begin with a knit row to make life easier for the person following the pattern. If you are using this stitch from the first row, it is going to start with a knit row. 

However, there are some instances where you might have to start with a purl row. For example, you might be using stockinette stitch halfway through a pattern, where the instructions call for the stockinette stitch to be started after a knit row. 

A good rule of thumb is if the yarn is behind the needle with the stitches on, then you should start your stockinette stitch with a knit row. If the yarn is in front of the needle, however, begin with a purl.

How Do You Knit A Stocking Stitch Evenly? 

When you’re first starting out with knitting, then you might find that your stitches are all uneven and strange looking. This could be true for a few reasons. 

For beginners, the most common issue is tension of the yarn. You’ll pull it much too tight for some stitches while leaving it too slack for others.

This can cause the stitches to look uneven. To fix this, you will need to keep a consistent tension throughout all of your stitches. 

This sounds easier than it is and will take you a few tries to perfect, so hang in there. What’s more is that every pattern will call for a slightly different tension, so you’ll have to work this out before starting new projects.

Amanda Brown

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