Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Love or Hate? A Valentine's Day post devoted to garter stitch

So what say you? Do you love or hate the Marmite of the knitting world that is garter stitch?


As you may have figured out from my post on Elizabeth Zimmermann evangelising, I'm a lover, not a hater. The inimitable EZ of course devoted an entire book to the subject, Knit One, Knit All and one of the most famous knitting patterns of all time is her ode to garter, The Baby Surprise Jacket.

There is something about the repetition of all those knit stitches (and maybe some purls if you're knitting in the round) that's rhythmic and soothing, and the simple garter stitch is especially useful if you're into sub-titled Scandinavian television crime shows. Sometimes it's nice to switch from a complicated lace or cable pattern, get back to basics, and just enjoy every stitch.

Aside from the pleasantries of knitting garter stitch, it does produce a fantastic, wearable result when used properly. Take this classic and oft knit design by Melissa LeBarre, the Garter Yoke Cardigan. I knit it ages ago and still love the end result. The simple structure of the cardi looks great on so many different people, as you can see from the projects on Ravelry.

There some other really stunning garter stitch projects out there; my friend Rikke loves garter stitch even more than I do and she's a real pro at choosing patterns that use it wisely. Here's her grellow version of Stephen West's Clockwork:

And one of my favourites, the Blackcurrant Shawl by Veera Välimäki:

And last, but not least, THE Rikke Hat, named in her honour by Sarah Young: 

She's got lots of other garter-lovin' projects on her Ravelry page, so if you're still not convinced (or just crave a bit more garter squishyness) do check out her page here.

Ok, just one more... this is a delicious new pattern from the Quince & Co Scarves etc. collection. Yum!


Some knitters I know are not so keen on garter stitch. My very vintagey friend downright despises it. Is it that garter stitch has a too rustic, or on the other hand, a too modern look? Stripey garter stitch is a popular trend at the moment, but for me, not so much.  In garments, you also run the risk of getting that Michelin Man look if the yarn is too bulky, or doesn't have the right drape.

So tell me what you think. Are you hot for garter? Does it make you break out in hives? Or are you wondering what all the fuss is about - it's only a stitch pattern after all! Cast your vote below...

create a free poll on pollsb.com

And to finish, here's a Valentine from me to you, my current favourite happy love song, Emmylou by First Aid Kit.

Keep your eye out for some retro shawl eye candy in the video and see the duo in some great Scandi knitwear here.


kristenmakes said...

LOVE! I actual used to dislike it but I think it was my squishy Aestlight shawl that made me realise how cosy and beautiful garter really is. I, too, am an EZ devotee, but had not subscribed to her love of garter until Aestlight!

meghanaf said...

Oh I do love Aestlight, even though I have yet to knit one! Have never met an aestlight I didn't like.

Noas' Libellule said...

When I read your opening remarks, I thought easy I hate it! I think it SO boring to knit - let's get some yo action... And now that I have seen the patterns, well I don't know.. I may have to try... Thanks for opening up my mind!

meghanaf said...

@Noas ' Libellule - glad to have (maybe) made you a convert!

Mademoiselle C said...

What a great post ! I love it almost as much as knitting garter stitch (garter yoke cardi is on my needles and a color affection too, with lot's of garter stripes...)

meghanaf said...

@Mademoiselle C - it's looking like love for garter stitch is winning! Hurrah!

Anna said...

I love garter stitch, I find the rhythm of it relaxing. I have been trying to always have something on the needles that is garter stitch

meghanaf said...

I agree Anna - it's perfect knitting after a long day at work.

In case anyone's interested, the poll has revealed that 61.9% of you love garter stitch, and 38.10% aren't bothered!

Astrakan said...

I Love. Fibers are lighiest whith it. I made a test Astrakan, project stripes in ravelry!
elegant and simply : chic.

But it eats some meters...
also I prefer a 2ply and lace§

By Altadena said...

love, I recently finished a baby coat that I named Baby Mousse :-)