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January 23, 2021

Lesson 1: How to Knit Garter Stitch for Beginners

Inside: How to knit garter stitch for beginners covers not only the knit stitch, but includes detailed instructions and videos for how to cast on, bind off, fix mistakes and even weave in yarn tails. Everything you need to knit your first project, the Basic Garter Scarf (link below).

Welcome to your first day of knitting class!

I hope you’ve got your yarn and needles ready because we are getting hands on today. If you need a quick refresher about supplies, check out How to Knit for Complete Beginners: Overview.

Lesson 1 teaches you how to knit garter stitch for beginners. Read through the notes here and then watch the video. Once you’ve reviewed the skills grab your yarn and needles and get started.

By the way, if you’re left handed, all the videos in this series will have a left handed version just for you! I know watching a right hander kit and then try to flip the instructions in your mind can be tricky. I want you to be able to see the tutorial from YOUR perspective.

You may already have your hand up ready to ask, “What is garter stitch?”

Needle knitters refer to combinations of stitches as stitch patterns. Garter stitch is the name of the easiest stitch pattern. It means you work the knit stitch on every row.

garter stitch sample
Garter stitch sample

The most basic stitch every knitter must learn is the knit stitch.

But this lesson covers so much more than just one stitch.

In order to knit you first have to get the yarn onto your needles. We call this casting on. There are many methods, or cast ons, knitters use to get those loops of yarn onto the needles. They each have pros and cons for beginners.

In the Lesson 1 video below I show you 2 different cast on methods: the thumb cast on and the long tail cast on.

The thumb cast on is often easier for a beginner knitter, but it can create a loose, loopy edge along the bottom of your work. That’s why I prefer the long tail cast on.

The long tail cast on (You may also hear it referred to as the slingshot cast on) creates a strong, but stretchy edge to your knitting.

You can choose whichever cast on you are most comfortable with. I’ll show both of those full speed and in slow motion so you can see the movements clearly.

Another common method for beginners is the knitted cast on and I already have a video showing that method.

Practicing the knit stitch

Since practice makes perfect and knitting a plain square is about as fun as watching grass grow (unless that’s your jam) I have a free pattern for you to go with the lesson.

The Basic Garter Scarf is the easiest beginner knitting project! The Lesson 1 video covers all the skills you need to be able to knit this project from start to finish. Be sure and check out the pattern to get started.

I chose a scarf pattern to start since the one tricky spot for beginner knitters is tension. I’m not talking about your stress level. In knitting tension refers to how tight or loose your knitted fabric is.

Beginners knitters tend to knit either very tightly or very loosely.

If you find that you’re having trouble sliding the knitting needle into the stitch your tension is too tight. After you knit a stitch don’t pull the working yarn too much. I know it feels as if your stitches will slide right off the needle, but they won’t.

If you find that your row of stitches is uneven and hangs well below your needle your tension is too loose. You need to pull the yarn a bit tighter after knitting a stitch.

garter stitch sample with needles

Uh oh! What if I make a mistake?

Mistakes are okay! You’re learning a new craft and you likely won’t knit a flawless piece your first time. But I planned for that too.

This video shows you a common mistake beginner knitters make, how to recognize the problem and how to correct it.

Mistakes happen as part of the learning process, but I want you to have the knowledge to move past them.

Almost done?

One you finish knitting either a sample swatch or your entire Basic Garter Scarf it’s time to learn how to get your knitting off the needles. This is called the bind off.

Just like the cast on, there are a variety of methods for binding off. In Lesson 1 I teach the basic bind off. This is the most common bind off method and is an essential skill.

Get your FREE Basic Garter Scarf pattern and let’s learn How to Knit Garter Stitch for Beginners!


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how to knit garter stitch for beginners pin image

Lesson 1: How to Knit Garter for Beginners Tutorial Video

If any of the videos below do not show they may be restricted to GoodKnit Kisses YouTube members only. Find out more about GKK Membership HERE!

Right handed



Left handed


Older GoodKnit Kisses Videos teaching some of these techniques (Right handed only)


Be sure to follow all the How to Knit for Complete Beginners Lessons.

  1. How to Knit – Garter Stitch for Complete Beginners includes Basic Garter Scarf pattern.
  2. How to Knit – Purl stitch for Stockinette
  3. How to Knit – Stockinette with Garter Border includes Basic Bordered Dishcloth pattern.
  4. How to Knit – Ribbing 1×1 and 2×2 includes Easy Ribbed Headband pattern.
  5. How to Knit – Seed Stitch for Beginners includes Seed Stitch Washcloth pattern.
  6. How to Knit – Moss Stitch for Beginners includes Moss Stitch Washcloth pattern. (Coming March 6!)
  7. How to Knit – Basketweave Stitch for Beginners includes Basketweave Cowl pattern (pictured above) (Coming March 13!)
  8. How to Knit – In-the-Round with Moss Stitch Includes Moss Stitch Cowl pattern. (Coming March 27!)
  9. How to Knit – 5 Cast-Ons for Beginners (Coming April 3!)
  10. How to Knit – 4 Increases (Make 1 L/R, Lifted L/R, Kfb, & Yarnover) includes Grandma’s Favorite Dishcloth pattern. (Coming April 10!)
  11. How to Knit – 5 Decreases (Ssk, k2tog, cdd, sssk, k3tog) includes Grandma’s Favorite dishcloth pattern. (Coming April 17!)
  12. How to Knit – Slip Stitches (Knitwise, purlwise and slip stitch edges) (Coming May 8!)
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Kristen Mangus
About Kristen Mangus
Kristen is a multi-talented entrepreneur with a heart as big as Texas. She is the Owner, Host and Creative Director of GoodKnit Kisses. GoodKnit Kisses is a company positioned to inspire, encourage and empower people through education and design. She’s built a large and loyal on-line community of followers by sharing her personal passion for knitting and all things creative through YouTube video tutorials, Facebook live broadcasts, blogs and patterns. Her vision is to leave an inspired crafting world for future generations that continues to teach and reach others. She and her husband, John, have three amazing kids.

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