Stockinette Stitch Made Simple for Beginners

Stockinette stitch is the mainstay of knitting – it is the stitch that is used most often! It is not really a separate stitch in the way that knit stitch and purl stitch are, but rather a pattern created by alternating rows of knit and purl.

Stockinette Stitch Pin
Stockinette Stitch

Stockinette Stitch Knitting Tutorial

The name stockinette originates from the phrase ‘stocking net’. Net was the original word for knitting and stocking net referred to the type of knitting used to make stockings. The earliest references to stockinette come from the late 1700’s, so it has been around for a long time!

Stockinette stitch can be knitted on straight needles or circular joined needles. The method used for each varies slightly. While straight needles has alternating rows of knit and purl stitches, knitting in the round only requires a knit stitch. This tutorial will show you how to knit stockinette stitch using both methods.

How to Knit a Hat, Knitted Hat PatternPin

Stockinette Stitch Project

Use your stockinette stitch to knit a beanie! Learn how to knit a hat with this free pattern that includes adult and kid sizes.

Are Stockinette And Stocking Stitch The Same?

Stockinette and stocking stitch are different names for the same technique. They mean exactly the same thing. As with crochet terms, they are different in different countries. Stocking stitch is used more in the UK, and stockinette stitch more in the US.

What Is Stockinette Stitch?

This knitted fabric has a right side and a wrong side. The right side is made up of little v shapes made by using a knit stitch. The wrong side is formed by the characteristic bumps made by the purl stitch.

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Right Side of the Fabric Vs Wrong Side

Stocking Stitch vs Garter Stitch

Stockinette stitch is a pattern created with alternating knit and purl stitches, whereas garter stitch is all knit stitches. The stockinette stitch has little v shapes on the right side and the garter stitch looks like the back of the stockinette stitch which is rows of bumps.

Is Stockinette Stitch Stretchy?

Yes, the stockinette stitch is very stretchy, making it perfect for sweaters, socks, and other close-fitting garments.

Stockinette Stitch Abbreviations

The abbreviation for stockinette stitch in patterns is st st.

Uses of Stockinette Stitch

Stockinette stitch is one of the most widely used stitch patterns in knitting. It can be used to knit sweaters, scarves, blankets and just about anything!

How To Do Stockinette Stitch On Straight Needles

Step 1 – Cast On

Cast-on the required number of stitches, using the method of your choice. If you are making a small swatch to practice this stitch, then cast on 10 stitches.

Step 2 – Knit Row

Row 1: Knit stitch across the row.

  • Insert the needle front to back and left to right into the first cast-on stitch.
  • Yarn over and around clockwise.
  • Pull the right needle back through.
  • Slip the stitch on the left needle off. You will have one stitch on the right needle and the rest of the cast-on stitches on the left. This is your first row of knit stitches.
Stockinette Stitch - Row 1 - Knit StitchPin
Stockinette Stitch – Row 1 – Knit Stitch

Step 4 – Purl Row

Turn your work so the stitches are in your left hand. You will see a series of bumps facing you.

Back of First Row of Stockinette StitchPin
Back of First Row of Stockinette Stitch

Row 2: Purl stitch across the row.

  • Insert the needle in the front of the first stitch – right to left, back to front
  • Yarn over and around anti-clockwise.
  • Pull the right needle back through.
  • Slip the stitch on the left needle off. You will have one stitch on the right needle and the rest of the cast-on stitches on the left. This is your first row of purl stitches.
Stockinette Stitch - Row 2 - Purl StitchPin
Stockinette Stitch – Row 2 – Purl Stitch

Step 4 – Repeat

Repeat these two alternating rows until the fabric is the length you want.

How to Do Stockinette StitchPin
How to Do Stockinette Stitch

Step 5 – How to Cast Off Stockinette Stitch

  • Casting off is best done on the knit side of the fabric.
  • Knit the first 2 stitches of the row. (2 stitches on the right needle)
  • Pass the last stitch over the first stitch. (1 stitch on the right needle)
  • Knit one more stitch (2 stitches on the right needle)
  • Pass the last stitch over the first stitch. (1 stitch on the right needle)
  • Repeat until you have just one stitch left.
  • Cut the yarn and pass the end through the last stitch. Pull tight.
  • Weave any ends into the fabric with a tapestry needle.

How To Do Stockinette Stitch In the Round

This is even easier than on straight needles because there is no wrong side when working in the round! All the stitch creation happens on the right side of the work, and the wrong side just takes care of itself!

To work in the round you will need a circular needle, which is simply two short needles joined together with a cord. You can buy them with cords of varying lengths, according to whether you want to knit a wide tube or a narrow tube!

Circular needles knit a seamless tube, perfect for hats, socks, mittens, and so on. A few days ago, I overheard a conversation in my local yarn shop, one lady was singing the praises of circular needles, and the other was complaining that they were too awkward to use, she would rather just sew up a seam! Once again, knitting choices are definitely personal!

Anyway, on with the instructions!

  • Open out the circular needles and cast on the required number of stitches. It is impossible to work only a few stitches on a circular needle, as they will become too stretched out.
How to Do Stockinette Stitch on Circular NeedlesPin
How to Do Stockinette Stitch on Circular Needles
  • Join the circle of stitches, making sure that you don’t allow the cast on row to twist. To join the circle, once your cast-on row is complete, just knit the first stitch from your left needle onto your right needle and pull it tight.
Knit to Form a CirclePin
Knit to Form a Circle
  • Then continue knitting all across the round. You may want to use a stitch marker to mark the beginning of the round.
  • Keep knitting, knit stitch only until the fabric is the length you want. No purl stitches are necessary! You can see in the picture above how the tube looks. I have only worked with knit stitches, but on the inside of the tube, it looks like there are purl stitches. That is because the reverse of knit stitch is a purl stitch.
How to Do Stockinette Stitch on Circular NeedlesPin
How to Do Stockinette Stitch on Circular Needles

How Do I Prevent Curling With Stockinette Stitch?

As you can see in the picture below, the stockinette stitch loves to curl up! If you want a flat fabric, you will need to work a stitch pattern border that stays flat by using another stitch, such as garter stitch or rib stitch.

Stockinette Stitch CurlingPin
Stockinette Stitch Curling

If you are knitting a garment that will be sewn together, you do not need to worry about this at all, as the seams will flatten out the stockinette stitch. If you want a flat fabric for something like a table runner, washcloth, or scarf, you will want it to lie flat.

How To Work A Border for Stockinette Stitch

  • Cast on the required number of stitches.
  • Work at least 4 rows of a ‘flat stitch’ such as garter stitch.
  • This is the bottom of the fabric, which also needs to lie flat.
  • Then on the next row, (right side), knit across all stitches.
  • On the next row, (wrong side), Knit 4, purl to the last 4 stitches, knit 4 again.
  • Repeat these two rows until the fabric is just 4 rows short of the length you want.
  • Knit 4 rows of garter stitch.

Alternatively, work 4 rows of rib stitch – (knit 1, purl 1 across the row.)

  • Knit 1, purl 1 twice, knit to last 4 stitches, knit 1, purl one twice.
  • Knit one purl one twice, purl to last 4 stitches, knit 1, purl one twice.
  • Finish off with 4 rows of rib stitch.

How to Count Stocking Stitch Rows

To count the rows of stocking stitch, turn the fabric to the right side and count the little v shapes created by the knit stitch. Don’t count your cast-on row.

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What Is Reverse Stockinette Stitch?

This stitch is just a stockinette stitch back to front! It is made in exactly the same way as stocking stitch, but the purl side is used as the right side, and the knit side is used as the wrong side.

Advantages Of Stockinette Stitch

  • EASY – It is very simple to work, as long as you know the basics of how to work knit and purl stitch. Because it is so simple, you can easily work it while chatting to friends and family, while watching TV or listening to an audiobook, or while traveling.
  • INCREASING AND DECREASING – It is easy to increase and decrease in stockinette stitch without having to worry if it will affect the pattern of the fabric.
  • BASE – It forms a good base for embellishments such as embroidery or beading.
  • COMBINATIONS – It works well in combination with other stitches. It forms a perfect contrast to cables or lacy stitch panels and makes their details stand out beautifully.

Disadvantages Of Stockinette Stitch

The only one I can think of is that rather than sinking into the meditative bliss of being able to knit without having to think about each stitch, is that you may get bored with the sameness of one row knit, one row purl, endlessly on for many, many inches! This is when you start practicing those important qualities of patience and perseverance!

Troubleshooting Stockinette Stitch

Honestly, not much can go wrong with this easy stitch, even for beginners! It goes without saying that the sooner you spot any mistake, the easier it will be to fix it! So keep checking your knitting every few rows to be sure that all is well!

  • UNEVEN STITCHES – One possibility is that your stitches can look untidy and uneven. Sometimes we unconsciously work with a different tension for forming knit stitches to forming purl stitches. The solution to this is to consciously give your yarn a little tug after each stitch to tighten it up a bit, whichever stitch you are working on. Also, try knitting on needles a size smaller than recommended. Tighter knitting often looks neater than looser knitting.
  • YARN SPLITTING – You could accidentally split your yarn, and only pick up 2 plies of the 4 plies of the yarn, for example. You will need to frog (pull out your knitting) until you get to that split stitch and then rework it carefully.
  • TWISTING – You could accidentally twist a stitch, purl a knit stitch, or knit a purl stitch. You may be tempted to just leave this mistake, as your knitting won’t unravel, but honestly, it will always bug you and you will notice it even if nobody else does!
  • DROPPED STITCHES – You may accidentally drop a stitch, which will need to be picked up and reworked. If this happens, pull out your knitting to where the dropped stitch is. Have the ‘ladder’ that has formed between the left and right needles. Put the lowest rung of the ladder over your left needle. Pass the lowest intact stitch over the ladder loop. Your stitch is remade. Work your way up the ladder until you have caught up all the rows you have dropped. Alternatively, you can use a crochet hook to hook the intact stitches through the dropped stitch loops all the way back up the ladder.

Stockinette Stitch – In Conclusion

There you have the basics of working with the most used stitch in knitting! Once you have mastered it you can make anything! (except perhaps a lacy shawl!) But seriously, any garment can be made using stocking stitch. I do hope that this article helps you to get to the stage of being a ‘confident knitter’ and that you can relax and enjoy this wonderful, addictive craft, rather than having to concentrate on the ins and outs of every single stitch. Happy knitting!

Stockinette StitchPin

Stockinette Stitch

Learn how to do stockinette stitch with this easy step by step tutorial.

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Difficulty: Easy Beginner

Keyword: Knitting

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