Knitting Stitches for Beginners:  Complete Tutorials

Knitting Stitches for Beginners, by Janice  |Updated 01-31-2024

Are you just getting started and think all of these knitting stitches for beginners look too difficult to tackle?  Think again.  There are many stitches that easy even for beginners.  But before I share these easy stitches, I want to take a look at all knitting stitches and classify them by difficulty level.

A woman is knitting with yellow yarnKnitting Stitches for Beginners

Knitting Stitches

When you hear the terms, knitting stitches, there are really only two main stitches:  knits and purls.  One must master these stitches if they want to knit.  But if all we did was make knit stitches, or purl stitches, alone, the fabric we create would be, well, boring.

That is why there are hundreds of variations of these two stitches that have been perfected over the years.  We normally call them knit stitch patterns.

Each variation creates a different texture and once you master a few of these, then you can create your own patterns for projects personal to you.

Classification of Knit Stitches

I don't know if there is a technical classification of stitches, but I've seen catagories where stitches can be loosely organized:

  • Knit and Purl Stitches
  • Ribbing (Which uses mostly knit and purl stitches)
  • Reversible Stitches
  • Slip Stitch Patterns
  • Cable Stitches
  • Lace and Eyelet Stitches
  • Textured Stitches

Some are easier than others, with the knit and purl stitches being the easiest. In this article, I will give a brief explanation of all but concentrate on the knitting stitches for beginners.

Knitting Stitches for Beginners:  Knits and Purls

Ready to get started?  Here are the two stitches to learn first:  The Knit Stitch and the Purl Stitch.  Then I'll show you how to combine them to make amazing items.

The Knit Stitch or Garter Stitch Pattern

Let's start with the most basic stitch: the Knit Stitch.  If you create the knit stitch over and over again across the row and then in each subsequent row it is called the Garter Stitch Pattern. It's classified under the knit and purl category and it's reversible, which means it looks the same on both sides. To create this stitch, you simply knit every row. It produces a fabric with a textured, bumpy look that's flexible and sturdy.

Check out the tutorial for the garter stitch

Here's the tutorial for the garter stitch variations

The Purl Stitch

The purl stitch is just the opposite of the knit stitch and is normally not worked alone.  If all you make are purl stitches, you create a piece of fabric called the reverse stockinette pattern.

This is the other basic knit stitch for beginners and if you can do the knit stitch, you can make the purl stitch.

Find out how to make the purl stitch.  Once you've mastered these two stitches, the rest is easy.  The next set of knitting stitches for beginners use variations of these stitches to make a wide range of textured fabrics.

Stockinette Pattern

The Stockinette Stitch is likely the first knit and purl stitch pattern that beginners learn. It's also under the knit and purl category but it's not reversible. It is created on straight needles by working one row of knit stitches and purling all the stitches in the next row. Alternating a row of knit stitches and then purl stitches creates a fabric that is called stockinette.

A swatch of stockinette pattern worked in white woolThis is the right side (public side) of the stockinette stitch.
The reverse or wrong side of the stockinette stitch pattern worked in white wool yarnStockinette Stitch: Wrong Side

Learn how to make the stockinette stitch.

Knitting Stitches for Beginners:  Knits and Purls

Once you can make a knit and a purl stitch, you can begin combining the two stitches to create a wide variety of different stitch patterns.  Here are a few to try:

Knit and Purl Stitches

Learn more about knit and purl stitches here.

Rib Stitches and Rib Patterns

This subset of knit and purl stitches, the Rib Stitches uses both knits and purls across the row to create a stretchy, textured fabric that is often used in hats, hems of sweaters, collars, and sleeve cuffs. 

There are many rib stitch pattern variations.

Rib Stitch done in red yarn.This is one type of Rib Stitch

Slip-Stitch Knit Patterns

The next catagory of knit stitches that can be mastered by beginners is called the Slip stitch knit patterns.  With these patterns, one new technique is introduced, the slip stitch.  This is a super easy stitch, actually no stitch at all.  To make a slip stitch, you move or slip one stitch from the left needle to the right needle without knitting or purling the stitch.  

Not only can you make some very interesting textured designs, but slip stitch techniques can also add color work to your repetroire of skills. 

They are a bit more complicated than simple knit and purl stitch patterns, but still well within the ability of beginners.

Linen stitch knitted with no.6 super bulky yarn and number 15 needles showing the wrong side.The linen stitch is one example of slip-stitch knit patterns.

Learn more about Slip Stitch Knit Patterns.

Reversible Stitch Patterns

When you make something that shows on both the right and wrong side such as a scarf, you will want to use a reversible stitch. These are easy patterns that look identical on both sides.  Not all knit stitch patterns are revesible, but many are.

Learn more about reversible knit stitch patterns.

Cable Stitches

Entire books have been written about making cables and the number of different cable patterns boggles the mind.  Cables are created by knitting stitches in the wrong order, thereby giving you the twist you see in cables. 

Creating cables is not difficult but can be a little cumbersome getting used to hold needles along with cable needles as you knit along a row or round.  I would not consider this technique to be truly beginner friendly, but it may not be as difficult as you might suspect. It does require practice like any other knitting technique to get it looking great.

Knitted Cable Patterns

Learn more about Cable Stitches.

Knit Lace Stitches

Knitting lace can be very intiminating for beginner knitters and rightly so.  Lace is created by working a variety of different techniques, usually yarn overs and knitting increases or knit two together (K2tog).

Here's an introduction to lace knit stitches for the absolute beginner.  Learn what it takes to create lace, the pros and cons, and how to create simple lace designs using just knit, purl and decreases stitches.

Learn how to make simple Knit Lace Stitches.

The knit garter lace stitch pattern worked in purple.Knit Garter Lace Stitch

Textured Knit Stitches

Many sources add an additional catagory of stitches, textured knit stiches, that may or may not overlap other stitch patterns.  These stitches add a visual and tactile component to the fabric.  Once you've mastered the basic stitches with a few additional skills, textured knit stitches could be your next challenge.

Last Words

If you are just beginning your adventure with knitting, it can be overwhelming to know what stitch to learn next.  This article has outlined some of the most common knitting stitches from the most beginner-friendly to the more advanced.  Once a beginner has mastered the knit and purl stitches, it's time to move onto the next level of textured, ribbed, reversible, slipstitch, lace or cabled stitches.  It's safe to say that there is always something new to learn.  

Happy Learning, Happy Knitting.


Knitting Stitches for Beginners
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A sample swatch of garter, stockinette,  and seed stitches

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About Janice

Hi, I’m Janice, the voice behind Smart-Knit-Crocheting. I love to knit and crochet and even more, I love teaching others what I know.

Though I learned to knit and crochet as a child, I didn’t get serious about these amazing hobbies until I retired. I’m a certified knit and crochet instructor through the Craft Yarn Council and am working on becoming a Master Hand Knitter through The Knitting Guild Association.

I’m currently living with my husband of over 50 years and our 7 Shih Tzu dogs.

I love hearing from you, so please drop me a line and let me know what you’re working on, whether you love knitting or crocheting more, and if you have any questions. Please visit my about me page for more information.

Happy Crocheting