Garter Stitch on the Knitting Machine

Garter Stitch: In hand knitting, knit every row.

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?…..

Here are 8 ways to create garter stitches for machine knitters.

Top: Reverse Stockinette
Bottom: Garter Stitch

Reverse Stockinette

The simplest way to get the bumpy appearance of garter stitch is to use the purl side of your knitting as the public (right) side.


machine knit blanket has reverse stockinette blocks and hand knit garter stitch bands.


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.


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.  Knit a row … then repeat … and repeat … and repeat for garter stitch.


Brother Machines offered an optional accessory called a Garter Carriage.  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.


Hand manipulation – The most tedious method 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.

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 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. 


Ribber Transfer Carriage

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





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).

Hand knit

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.


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