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Learn Knit Stitch (Garter Stitch)

The basic knit instructions below will show you how to cast on and to make a knit stitch, also known as garter stitch. If you follow them exactly, you’ll complete a 7" by 9" block, which will be great practice and help a good cause: Warm Up America! Learn how your block can be joined with others to create an afghan to warm up someone in need.

With these basics, you can make a scarf, hat, pillow, bag or any number of projects.

Beginner Knit Block

What you need:

  • Worsted-weight yarn, any color or colors
  • Size 8, 14"-long knitting needles
  • Yarn needle with big eye
  • Small scissors

Casting On

slip knotStep 1: Make a slip knot on the shaft of one needle. This counts as your first stitch.


step 2Step 2: Place this needle in left hand. Hold other needle in right hand to control the yarn. Insert point of right needle, from front to back, into the slip knot and under the left needle.


step 3Step 3: Hold left needle still in left hand, and move left fingers over to brace right needle.


step 4Step 4: With right index finger, pick up the yarn from the ball.


step 5Step 5: Release right hand’s grip on the needle, and use index finger to bring yarn under and over the point of right needle.


step 6Step 6: Return right fingers to right needle, and draw yarn through stitch with point of right needle.


step 7Step 7: Slide point of left needle into back of new stitch, then remove right needle.


step 8Step 8: Pull ball yarn gently to make the stitch fit snuggly on needle. You have now made one stitch (called casting on), and there are two stitches on left needle (slip knot is counted as a stitch).


Step 9: Insert point of right needle, from front to back, into stitch just made, and under left needle. Repeat Steps 5 through 9, 26 more times, until you have 28 stitches on the left needle. This completes the cast-on row, which is the way all knitting is begun.


First Knit Row

Step 1: Hold needle with stitches in left hand; insert point of right needle in first stitch, from front to back, just as in casting on.

Step 2: With right index finger, bring yarn from ball under and over point of right needle.

Step 3: Draw yarn through stitch with right needle point.

Step 4: This step now differs from casting on: Slip loop on left needle off, so new stitch is entirely on right needle.

knit row 1knit row 2knit row 3knit row 4

This completes one knit stitch. Repeat Steps 1 through 4 in each stitch still on left needle. When the last stitch is worked, one row of knitting is completed.

Now measure your work. It should be about 7" wide. If it is too wide, start over and cast on fewer stitches; if it is too narrow, start over and cast on more stitches.

When the width is correct, begin next knit row as follows: turn right needle and hold it now in left hand. With free needle in right hand, work Steps 1 through 4 of First Knit Row in each stitch. Again take needle with stitches in left hand, and work another row of knit stitches. Work rows of knit stitches until block measures 9" long.

To complete the block, now bind off all the stitches.

Binding Off

Step 1: Knit the first 2 stitches; insert left needle into stitch you knitted first, and pull it over the second stitch and completely off the needle.

One stitch is now bound off.

Step 2: Knit one more stitch, insert left needle into first stitch on right needle, and pull it over the new stitch and completely off the needle. Another stitch is bound off; don’t work too tightly.

Repeat Step 2 until one stitch remains; now cut yarn from skein, leaving a 6" end. With needle draw end up and through last stitch to secure it. Thread yarn end into yarn needle and weave end into several stitches to secure it.

bind off diargambind off diagrambind off diagrambind off diagram

For more knitting instruction, information, and fun things to do with your knitting, go to the Getting Started page for a list of helpful books, videos, CD-Roms, and web sites.

Need help? Post your question on our bulletin board. You may find the answer to your question already posted.