101 Elevated

The first thing I remember knitting was a shawl for one of my American Girl dolls when I was in kindergarten. My little shawl was knit in an abstract lace pattern, in that there were scattered holes due to all my dropped and slipped stitches. What wasn’t “lacy” was actually garter stitch–by default, the first stitch any knitter ever learned. In contrast to complex eyelet and and bulky cables, garter stitch is the easiest stitch out there: just knit. Every row. It’s knitting 101. Of course, such a basic stitch doesn’t really provide more experienced knitters with a chance to show off their skills the way intricate lace patterns do, nor is garter stitch as perfectly flat and uniform as stockinette stitch. For some reason I can’t comprehend, the simplicity and slight rustic quality of garter stitch has translated into under-appreciation.

Since beginning a striped garter stitch afghan a few months ago, this simple knit-every-row stitch pattern has become my favorite–but outside the world of afghan-knitting, surprisingly few patterns incorporate garter stitch. Garter stitch seems to appear most often as a border or trim on scarves and some sweaters, and an admirable trim it makes: it’s simple and unassuming, perfectly willing to let beautiful craftsmanship and other details take center stage. But restricting garter stitch to the “trim” category is a mistake. I love the minimal yet still textural quality of garter stitch as a foundation for showing off surprising color palettes, bold stripes and intarsia, or unique yarns–it’s perfect for creating a masterpiece with color, rather than fancy stitchwork. To be quite honest, choosing color palettes and fibers for projects often intrigues me more than the knitting itself–making garter stitch my figurative crafting soul-mate.

One Response to “101 Elevated”
  1. Helen says:

    Nice that you’ve found a crafting soul mate :) You’re right that often the simplest things are the most beautiful and also unfortunately the most overlooked.

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