Knitting – getting to grips with moss stitch

Moss stitch knitting featured

Knitting is not my thing, or it hasn’t been so far in my creative journey. But a couple of weeks ago I started to knit again and chose something simple. A moss stitch scarf for my daughter who is in Boston to try to keep her cosy in rather extreme temperatures.

Boston temperature Jan 2015

I was keen to get going but, learning from my past mistakes of rushing in and regretting it, I knitted a sample to begin with. This gave me the chance to practice moss stitch, which I had never done before, and to see what it was like in Stylecraft Chunky Spice. The sample also had a section of knit 1 purl 1 rib but we both favoured the moss stitch. The fabric it produces has a lot of texture, it lies flat and it still drapes nicely.

The orange spice yarn is lovely but we decided that a darker colour would be better, so switched to copper, again in Stylecraft Chunky. This is a kind of burnt orange and would go with all sorts of colours of coats and jumpers. Yay – the real scarf project could begin.

Thank goodness for t’internet

When I did knitting the first time, there was no internet, no YouTube tutorials and no blogs to get advice. We take this for granted now but having all these resources at our fingertips when trying something new is really amazing.

Moss stitch works because you knit into a knit stitch then purl into a pearl stitch, producing the characteristic even bobbles. Not too hard! The internet site I had looked at for guidance about moss stitch had given instructions to have an even number of stitches and to cast on then knit one and purl one to the end of the row. The next row was to start with a purl, then a knit, then purl one, knit one to the end.

All went well for a few rows.

Moss stitch progress to 16 rows

Then I went wrong

I couldn’t remember whether the next row was meant start with a purl or a knit stitch. My impatience took over and I ploughed on but way through the row it was clear I had gambled 50:50 and lost. Disaster.

After trying to retrace my steps and failing, I then took the knitting off the needles and tried to pull back one row to where things had been going well. Could I get the stitches back on? No I could not.

Even though I am a slow knitter I was so frustrated at this that I then ended up pulling the whole lot out.

De-mystifying moss stitch knitting

Rather than just start again and run into the same trouble, I did a bit more research and found that it was also possible to do moss stitch by casting on an odd number of stitches and doing knit 1 purl 1 on every row. That is so much easier! You don’t have to remember which row you are up to, you just start with a knit each time.

I also spent a bit of time looking at the stitches and at the knitting, trying to work out if there was any way I could tell which stitch I should be doing next, in case I got confused in the middle of a row.

I’ve put together some photographs to show what I found out. This will be useful for me when I forget (probably 2 days after finishing this scarf)  – and it might be useful to other novice knitters out there 🙂

All of the photos below are taken with the knitting in your left hand as it will look at the start of a new row. This is for right handed knitters, and I’m not sure what happens if you knit left handed – sorry! But you need to look at the needle the knitting is on as if you were about to start the row.

Take a look at the appearance of the top row of the knitted stitches, the ones just below the needle.

Knitting tutorial on moss stitch

The stitches that you need to knit into have a high collar, almost a little noose while the ones that you need to purl into have a scarf thrown around their tiny necks.

This is highlighted in the next two photos. In the first, I have circled the stitches with the nooses, the ones you need to knit into:

Moss stitch when you need to knit the next stitch

In the second, I’ve highlighted the stitches with scarves, the ones you need to purl into:

Moss stitch when you need to purl into the stitches

After starting a row, I then took a picture of the knitting after I had just done a purl stitch. You can see the next stitch, which is to be a knit stitch, has the characteristic noose. Because you have just done a purl stitch, the yarn you are knitting with is at the FRONT of the knitting, not the back:

Moss stich knitting showing next stitch is a knit

You then take the yarn to the back and knit the stitch. Once you have done the knit stitch, your knitting looks like this. The next stitch is to be a purl stitch and has the scarf appearance. The yarn is at the BACK of the knitting, not the front:

Knitting moss stitch showing next stitch is a purl


You just need to move the yarn to the front and then do your purl stitch and you are away again.

Making progress at last

It has taken a sample and a false start, but I am finally on track with my first knitted scarf – well, ever. My target is to knit 20 rows each evening, which takes me about 40 minutes if I concentrate and don’t get distracted watching TV or playing about on instagram! These are my first 20 rows redone:

Knitting post knitting up to 20 rows

And here is the scarf today – I did a few extra rows last night as I had some crafty friends round and later I had no internet. Currently I am up to row 112 and have a scarf that measures about 60cm long 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Moss stitch scarf 112 rows

Moss stitch scarf after one ball yarn used

One whole ball of yarn gone too, so the adventure of starting a new one is next. x

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