What is a stitch?

Terminology used in knitting can be confusing for the beginner.

Thanks to the ambiguity of the English language, the word ‘stitch’ in knitting can mean two completely separate things.

Multicoloured knitting

Multicoloured stocking stitch

1 – Refers to a singular stitch on the needle and the method by which it is created.

An example of this would be a knit stitch or a purl stitch.

2 – Refers to a combination of stitches which create a pattern in the fabric being knitted.

Examples of this would be; stocking stitch, garter stitch, rib stitch or moss stitch, among many others.

All of these combinations of stitches form “textures” in the fabric and are made using the knit and purl stitch in various way.

The picture on the right shows a garment knitted in stocking stitch, which is formed by knitting the stitches on the right side of a row and purling the stitches on the wrong side.

Learning the basic stitches

When learning to knit, all you need to start with are the two basic Knit and Purl stitches.  Once you have mastered these, you will be able to create many combinations as required in knitting patterns.

Cast on a few stitches and knit a few rows completely out of knit stitches, then knit a number of rows of purl stitches.

You will then get some idea of how these stitches are formed and start to understand how many textures can be achieved by combining the two.

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