Order of the Garter

A year and a half ago I was wandering around a bookstore when I picked up a book called ‘I Love Knitting’. I couldn’t tell you what made me pick it up, but I felt like I should buy it. On the way home from the bookstore I called into a general homewares shop that just happened to stock two sizes of grey powdered aluminium needles and three or four shades of acrylic with all of the tactile crunchiness of fresh cornflakes.

That evening I cast on for the first time and before even trying it decided that I did not like Garter Stitch. Even in the pages of the book garter stitch looked clumsy and childish next to the smooth, uniform fabric of stockinette stitch, or the interesting textures of the other simple stitches on display.

My very first piece of knitting wasn’t in garter stitch. In fact, my first ever attempt at actually knitting a few stitches was done in moss stitch, for some reason. I even have a picture to mark the occasion.

I couldn’t understand why anyone would enjoy the look of garter stitch – it looked so naïve. Surely it was the stitch that people learned to ‘get used’ to the knit stitch before going on to learn properly, and which they then forgot about when they learned how to do the proper stitches?

This view seemed to reside in my subconscious for quite a long time, until one day I saw the most simple short scarf/cowl you might imagine. Made with chunky yarn and in simple, naïve, beautiful garter stitch. Like paring a piece of furniture down to its most basic elements, this stitch achieved such a simplicity of design in this scarf because of its properties – edges that don’t curl, identical on each side, and a lovely thick, warm and stretchy resulting fabric.

I had a quick look around for small and quick pattern done in garter stitch and found the Knitted Kitty pattern.

(The kitten found the ball of Noro he was playing with to be rough and full of twigs)

I kept it to a small project because I wasn’t sure if the garter stitch, despite my new-found appreciation of its form, would keep my interest. I am only now attempting my first garter stitch project of any notable size, and just past the half-way point I can feel that I am starting to tire of the monotony just slightly, but I have an audiobook on the go to keep me occupied in a secondary way, and the constantly changing colours of the yarn I am using are at least providing an element of surprise eery few inches or so. Hopefully I shall be able to judge in a day or so whether the effect of the finished article was worth it.

Pattern: Knitted Kitty
Yarn: King Cole Big Value DK

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