Getting Gauge in Garter

The Flamboyant Shawl

If you know how to work the knit stitch, you know how to knit garter stitch. Known as the simplest of all stitch patterns, garter stitch is what you probably learned when you were just beginning knitting.

Many of us abandoned it when we became more advanced knitters, able to knit stockinette, cables, and lace.

But garter stitch shouldn't be relegated to the beginning knitter only—its inherent texture and elasticity makes it very useful and attractive in all sorts of knitting patterns.

Judging from the most popular patterns here on Knitting Daily and on Ravelry, garter stitch is making a comeback. There are a lot of really beautiful garments and accessories that use garter stitch, some of them are even entirely knit in garter stitch. The Flamboyant Shawl by Maria Leigh (pictured above left) is one of those; it's all garter stitch with a lovely garter ruffle.

There are a few things you need to know to knit a successful garter stitch project, and one of them is how to read gauge. Here's a tutorial on that, from the new DVD Beyond Basic Garter Stitch.

Calculating stitch gauge Calculating row gauge

To calculate stitch gauge, lay your swatch on a flat surface, without stretching it. Place your tape measure on the swatch and count the bumps (as shown above left) between 0 and 4 inches to see how many stitches you have over 4 inches. That number is your stitch gauge.

The Oscilloscope Shawl

To calculate row gauge, lay your swatch on a flat surface, without stretching it. Place your tape measure on the swatch and count the ridges (as shown above right) between 0 and 4 inches to see how many rows you have over 4 inches. Each ridge counts as 2 rows. That number is your row gauge.

Beyond Basic Garter Stitch with Kate Gagnon Osborne and Courtney Kelley

It's all about the bumps with garter stitch, isn't it? I enjoy knitting garter because it's quick and working the knit stitch row after row is relaxing. And when you add design elements such as eyelets and applied I-cord, you get something spectacular like the Oscilloscope Shawl, a pattern which comes free with Beyond Basic Garter Stitch. Bonus!

Get Beyond Basic Garter Stitch today. Here's a huge teaser: You'll learn how to knit garter stitch in the round without purling! I just blew your mind, didn't I?


P.S. Leave a comment below and tell us why (or why not) you enjoy knitting garter stitch.

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Knitting Daily Blog
Kathleen Cubley

About Kathleen Cubley

Hello daily knitters! I'm the editor of Knitting Daily. I've been obsessed with knitting for about ten years now and my favorite projects are sweaters. I like the occasional smaller project, but there's nothing like yards of stockinette with a well-placed cable or a subtle stitch pattern here and there. I crochet a bit now and then—especially when I need to produce a baby blanket in time for the baby shower. I've been in publishing for 20 years and I'm finally exactly where I want to be: at the crossroads of knitting and communication. I live in Spokane, Washington and when I'm not knitting I enjoy gardening, snuggling with my dogs, swimming, reading, and playing in the snow in the winter. But, really, I'm pretty much always knitting!

8 thoughts on “Getting Gauge in Garter

  1. I LOVE garter stitch! It lies where you put it, it always looks elegant (at least when it’s done with even tension it does!), and to my mind, light weight yarn and needles chosen at the fat end of the gauge will drape better than any other combination I can think of! Plus, if you’re looking for warmth, the density of garter stitch gives what is practically a double fabric!
    Alma Hamilton

  2. Measuring gauge seems straightforward enough, and it works well for a shawl, but earlier this year I discovered that I need TWO gauges for sweaters: 1) the >blocked< gauge printed on the pattern (or yarn label); and 2) the >UNblocked< gauge that comes from the "raw" swatch, which is smaller. Surely there will still be some "stretch" going on with a piece knitted in garter stitch. For the longest time, I thought I was a tight knitter, and increased my needles by one size. Now because of blocked vs. unblocked gauge swatches, I find I can use the needle size that appears on the yarn label or pattern. I began a thread about this at, and a bunch of people chimed in. It's worth the read for anyone who has suffered by gauge!

  3. Garter stitch is not one of my favorites but I really admire the patterns using that stitch presented here. I can see how garter stitch might present measuring problems and appreciate this and all the tips Knitting Daily shares with us knitters. Keep up the good work! AAP

  4. I’m in the process of knitting The Triangle Scarf using the garter stitch. It’s a simple pattern, but it looks elegant in the yarn I’m using. It also has a lovely drape. A few years ago, I tried knitting a garter stitch sweater, and, as Patty wrote, It is tricky to correct any mistakes. I think I gave up on that one. Judy in SE WI

  5. I love garter stitch because it is so forgiving. I knit 8 inch squares which I donate to a charity. The squares are knitted into blankets somewhere in Africa and the blankets are given to the needy. The squares received are often not really square but garter stitch allows for much “play” in the sizing. It is an easy, quick stitch and I actually love the fabric it creates. Kids like to finger it for its rich texture. Sometimes I use a thick guage needle with a fine yarn and it makes a lacelike fabric… great scarf. Guess you know garter is my fav! Maggie

  6. I have love for the garter stitch, my first project was Sally Melville jacket! After I mastered that I was hooked! I also love interweave projects, thanks for the free patterns! Sharon