Let’s talk about situations that are supposed to be simple but often cause beginner knitters a lot of frustration. Some of these situations happen at first attempts to knit seed stitch – one of the most basic knitting stitch patterns that is used and loved by many knitters.
All issues with seed stitch can be easily avoided, but beginner knitters are often too embarrassed to ask for help. So if you are a beginner knitter, or if you know someone who’s learning to knit, I hope you’ll find the tips outlined in this tutorial helpful.
The correct way to work seed stitch boils down to two simple rules: (1) alternate knit and purl stitches, and (2) knit the purls and purl the knits in the next row or round.
If you work back and forth, those rules translate into:
Cast on an odd number of stitches.
Pattern row: [knit 1, purl 1], repeat brackets to the last stitch, then knit 1.
Work the pattern row in every row.
Cast on an even number of stitches.
Row 1: [knit 1, purl 1], repeat brackets to the end of the row.
Row 2: [purl 1, knit 1], repeat brackets to the end of the row.
Repeat rows 1 and 2 to form the pattern.
If you work in the round, the instructions will be the same as the instructions for working flat on even number of stitches:
Cast on an even number of stitches.
Round 1: [knit 1, purl 1], repeat brackets to the end of the round.
Round 2: [purl 1, knit 1], repeat brackets to the end of the round.
Repeat rounds 1 and 2 to form the pattern.
Even with such simple instructions, a few things can go wrong.
ACCIDENTAL YARN OVERS
This issue happens when a knitter first attempts to work on a pattern that has knit and purl stitches in the same row, like seed stitch or ribbing.
The reason for the accidental yarn overs is working each stitch with the yarn at the back of the work. When a knitter is comfortable working in garter stitch (knitting every stitch in every row), it becomes a habit to keep the yarn at the back of the work.
To avoid any problems with stitch patterns like seed stitch, remember to bring the yarn to the front of the work before purling a stitch.
Then bring the yarn to the back of the work before knitting the next stitch.
SEED STITCH LOOKS LIKE RIBBING
This issue occurs because the only difference between seed stitch and “knit 1, purl 1” ribbing is that in ribbing knits and purls are stacked on top of each other forming neat columns of stitches (“ribs”).
In seed stitch, knits and purls are scattered. If you don’t follow the second rule of seed stitch – “knit the purls and purl the knits” – you’ll get ribbing.
The best way to avoid this issue is to learn to recognize stitches. It is the most important knitting skill that will help you prevent many issues with all sorts of stitch patterns. Here’s a tutorial that should help.
A quick fix will be to work seed stitch on an odd number of stitches and remember to start each row with a knit stitch.
Unfortunately, the quick fix won’t be helpful if the pattern tells us to work only a certain number of stitches in seed stitch, for example, when making a border.
It will also lead to confusion when we need to decrease or increase stitches in seed stitch. In all those cases, it’s better to rely on our ability to recognize stitches.
SEED STITCH IS TOUGH ON HANDS
This issue is common to more experienced knitters. When we work on a big project made mostly in seed stitch, we may feel that our hands get tired faster.
The reason for that is the fact that we have to move the yarn to the front or to the back of the work after every stitch. Over time, this little action puts a strain on the wrists and arms, especially when we use English knitting style.
A quick fix to this issue is to take breaks after every 20-30 minutes of knitting. For a long-term solution, it helps to use Continental or Russian knitting styles.
If you’ve never tried to hold working yarn in your left hand, it might feel a bit awkward at first. Keep practising and soon your efforts will pay off – your wrists won’t be as tired and you’ll finish more projects, whether they are worked in seed stitch or any other stitch pattern 🙂
If you enjoyed this tutorial,
here’s something else you might find helpful:
“Neat Side Edges” Book
Learn twelve ways to make side edges of a knitted project nice and tidy. Plus, ways to fix side edges, and a way to improve edges of finished projects.