Skip to main content

How to Do a Garter Stitch in the Round

Learn how to do a garter stitch in the round from circular knitting expert Jessica Kaufman in this Howcast video.


All right. I'm going to explain to you how to knit garter stitch in the round. So this is one area where circular needles are... require a little bit more thinking from you than do straight needles. You know that most of the time working on circular needles is much easier because if you want to get stockinette you just knit around and around and around, whereas on straight needles if you want to get stockinette, you have to knit on the front and purl on the back. So with garter stitch, it's the opposite. On straight needles, to get garter stitch, you just knit on the front, knit on the back, and you never have to purl.

But if you want to get garter stitch in the round, you have to knit one round and purl one round, which isn't that bad. New knitters are a little bit scared of purl and they want to avoid purling, but that's usually just because they've learned the knit stitch first. I experimented with some beginners and taught them the purl stitch first, and then the knit stitch was the scary one. So it's whatever you get used to. So we're not going to shy away from the purl stitch when we do garter in the round. So as you can see here, I've got this wonderful little sample knit up that is garter stitch, characterized by these rows of ridges, of bumps that face up and down, a smile, a frown, a smile, a frown, with gutters in between them. This is garter stitch. And in order to do this, you have to knit one time all the way around in knit and one time all the way around in purl.

So the only complicated thing is remembering to switch between them. So I am finishing up the last three stitches of my knit round and I know that there's three left because I can just see plainly this ridge here that will always happen when you're knitting garter stitch in the round. That is where you switch from knit to purl. It's also the beginning and ending of my round. If you're worried that you won't be able to see that ridge or in the first couple rows or rounds when you're setting it up, you can use a marker. So I'm going to show you how to place a marker and how to look for it as you come back around. So I'm on my knit round and I've got three stitches left to knit and I can tell because I've got three purl bumps left here, which means the last round I did were purls, and then here on my column of where you can see that it switches, after that I've got knit stitches already-these little v's-so I know that I will need to be purling there because it's knit one round, purl one round. So I'm going to knit my last three stitches.

Knit one, knit two, knit three. And here is my switching column and I can see that I've got knit stitches coming up. Now if you forget to switch back to purl, it will be really obvious because you'll all of a sudden have two knit stiches stacked up and if I just blithely plow ahead here with my knits, it'll become really obvious that uh-oh, I'm not doing garter anymore; all of a sudden I'm doing stockinette. So I'm going to take those three back and I'm going to place my marker, which is a great alternate if you are worried that you won't see that ridge coming up or if you'd rather just not have to look for it. Place a marker and after the marker, you're going to switch. So I'm going to move my yarn to the front and now I'm going to begin my purl round. I'm going to purl all the way around. And you can see that I'm doing the magic loop method here. I've got my loop sticking out on either side. So you'll get a little bonus refresher on how to switch the needles in magic loop, in two purls, one purl, great. So I've got an empty needle in my left hand, a full needle on my right. I'm going to turn it around to do the other side. And it doesn't matter if you push the front needle in or pull the back needle out first-whatever you're more comfortable with-as long as they are in this position.

Now this is my purl side. I'm purling this whole round. So the yarn needs to be in front of the needle when I stick it into the first stitch. If I have the yarn behind the needle and I stick it in as if to purl, I'm going to be creating an inadvertent yarn-over here, which is going to leave a little hole. So I definitely want to make sure I put the needle in with my yarn in front. I'm going to finish this purl round. I've got two purls left, one purl left. Again, I'm going to switch. I like to pull the back needle out first and then stick the front needle in. I can see where my marker is, so I've got just a few more purls to go.

And by continuing to alter one round of knit and one round of purl, you get a beautiful, squishy garter stitch. So here we go. I finished my purl round. I know because the marker is here. I'm going to slip my marker, move the yarn to the back, and now I can begin my knit round. And that is how you make garter stitch in the round.

Popular Categories