What is Garter Stitch?
8 ways to knit Garter Stitch
Garter Stitch Inspiration


One of the first surprises for most machine knitters is the fact that the humble garter stitch is problematic on the knitting machine. Because our needles face in one direction and they form uniform stitches in one direction, we can easily produce stockinette stitch (translated knit 1 row, purl 1 row) but to knit every row?…..

Be default, knitting machines knit stockinette stitch. Stockinette has a smooth side (knit) side and a bumpy side (purl side)
In hand knitting terms this is knit 1 row purl 1 row.
Hand knitters can easily knit garter stitch by knitting every row. The "purl bumps" are visible on both sides of the knitting.

As machine knitters we have to take steps to show the purl bumps on the opposite side of our knitting.
Even with a ribber, knitting in garter stitch takes extra steps.

There are a number of techniques you can use to get garter stitch texture in your knitting. From hand manipulating a few stitches to turning the work with a garter bar, to using your ribber to using a garter carriage, with a little planning machine knitters can incorporate purl bumps in our knitting.

Top Right: Reverse Stockinette
Lower Left: Garter Stitch

1. Reverse Stockinette

An easy way to imitate garter stitch is to simply use the purl side of your knitting. This is called reverse stockinette and is an easy way to get the look of garter stitch without all the fuss.

Faux Garter Stitch Hems

Faux Garter Stitch Bands

Seaming Reverse Stockinette

2. Garter Bar Turn

Master using a garter bar to “RTR” (remove- turn – rehang) a large numbers of stitches to add garter rows to your knitting. This isn’t practical for an entire garment, but is useful in adding stripes of garter stitch or knitting bands.

Garter bars are available for most machines but they are specific to the PITCH of your machine. You MUST know if your machine is 4.5mm, 6mm, 7mm, 9mm etc.The prongs of the garter bar must match the position of the needles.

3. Hand Knitting Needle Turn

A variation on RTR (Remove-Turn-Rehang) is to use a hand knitting needle. Remove each stitch of a row, turn the work and rehang each stitch back on the needlebed. Knit a row … then repeat … and repeat … and repeat for garter stitch.

4. Garter Carriage

Brother Machines offered an optional accessory called a Garter Carriage (standard gauge 4.5mm machines only). This is a motorized attachment that has a single latched needle that faces the opposite direction from the needlebed of the machine.

Utilizing the motor, the G-carriage automatically reforms each stitch (one at a time).

Needless to say this is a slow process, although it can run almost unattended. It is great not only for garter stitch, but for knit and purl stitch patterns as well.

Many G-Carriage knitters put their machines to use knitting beautiful, textured blankets. But you can do sooo much more!

Check out Designer Eileen Montgomery's printed book "Garter Carriage Knits and Purls" for some beautiful designs with the turtle.

Also check out the Knit it Now version of the Paisley Jacket pattern from this book

5. Hand Manipulation

Hand manipulation – The most tedious method of adding garter stitches is to reform each stitch.
  • Use your latch tool and pick up a single stitch in the row below the current row.
  • Remove the stitch from the machine, unknitting the current stitch.
  • Using the latch tool, re-form the stitch and re-hang it on the needle.
Although tedious, this method can be used for small amounts of accent stitches.

6. Ribber Transfer Between the Beds

Although a ribber has needles facing in the opposite direction than the main bed, knitting garter stitch still requires hand manipulation with a ribber.

For example:
  • Cast on your main bed and hang a ribber comb
  • Knit a few rows.
  • Raise (engage) your ribber and transfer all the stitches to the rib bed
  • Knit a row.
  • Transfer all the stitches back to the main bed and knit a row.
  • Repeat for garter stitch.

7. Ribber Transfer Carriage

Another accessory is a transfer carriage. It “automatically” transfers stitches between the needlebeds.

8. Hand knitting

Considering all the time and fuss it takes to create garter stitch on the machine (except for the g-carriage)… if you want garter stitch hems, hand knit them, then hang the work back on the machine to finish.

If you want a stripe of garter stitch, remove the work from the machine on a hand knitting needles, hand knit the stripe and hang it back on the machine.

There is NO law that says your entire project has to be done on the knitting machine. There is also NO law that says all knitting must be done by hand …. (machine knitting is NOT cheating).

Garter Eyelets Insert

Decorative eyelet and garter ridge insert. Alternate with multiple color stripes for fun, happy sweater.

No Roll Infinity Scarf

By definition, an infinity scarf or Mobius scarf has no beginning and no end. The challenge to knit one on a knitting machine is to create a reversible fabric. For single bed machines that means turning your work or reforming stitches.
This quick project creates a scarf that's not only reversible, but it has minimal stockinette curl.

Jodi's Garter Bar Demos

From Jodie*:
"For a long time the demonstrating of the Garter Bar has been one of my most popular presentations. Under this cover, you have the information given during these lectures. In addition, full illustrations are offered to assist you in mastering this necessary accessory to your knitting machine."

  • Using the Needle stopper Bar
  • Speed Ripping
  • Using the Garter Bar
  • Transferring Stitches
  • Holding stitches on sinker posts
  • Multiple decreasing or increasing
  • Transferring groups of stitches
  • Vertical weaving and embroidery weaving
  • The Diophantine Equation (Magic Formula) great information for both hand and machine knitters

Ready to Download
*Well known, long time machine knitter, Jodie Raymond traveled extensively sharing her knowledge of machine knitting. Known for her excellent finishing work and her clear instructions, Jodi authored 17 books in her long career.

Sailing with the Garter Carriage

Fire up your Garter Carriage and knit these 14 timeless, unisex, pullover patterns with a nautical theme.

  • Drop Shoulder with crew neck style
  • Sized from 44" - 56" finished bust
  • Gauge 6 - 6.5 stitches and 9-10 rows per inch
  • 75 pages
  • 45 stitch pattern included
  • DAK files
  • Full-size punchcard images
  • Tree of Life
  • Diamonds
  • Cables
  • Hearts
  • Boxes
  • Anchor
  • Zig Zags
  • Starfish
  • Ship
Phyllis Waterhouse is a long-time machine knitter, knitwear designer, instructor and author.
The photography may be dated, but her books are clear, easy to follow and stuffed full of helpful tips and tricks.