Seed stitch knitting is a wonderful, easy, textured stitch that even beginners can manage with ease. It is a very useful stitch, as it is reversible, so can be used for projects where both sides of the knitting will show. In addition, it doesn’t curl up, it lies nice and flat, so it can be used without borders. For the same reason, it can be used to make borders or cuffs!
Seed Stitch Knitting Tutorial
Because it is such a simple, basic stitch, instructions are often not even given in patterns! It is called seed stitch because it creates a fabric that looks like scattered seeds. Some pattern books refer to it as Rice Stitch; you could also imagine scattered rice grains across the fabric. Seed stitch is made up of single knit and purl stitches alternating across the fabric.
Supplies For Knitting Seed Stitch
- Type of yarn of your choice
- Knitting needle sizes suitable for that yarn
- Yarn needle
Abbreviations Used for Seed Stitch Knitting
- k = knit stitch
- p = purl stitch
- rep = repeat
- no = number
- st(s) = stitch(es)
How To Knit Seed Stitch Step by Step
If you are converting any pattern to seed stitch, you first need to see if you will be casting on an odd or even number of stitches.
For an Even Number of Stitches:
- Cast on an even number of stitches.
- Row 1: (k1, p1), repeat to the end of the row.
- Row 2: (p1, k1), repeat to the end of the row.
- Rows 3+: Repeat the pattern of rows 1 and 2 until the fabric is your desired length.
You can see from these instructions that in each row, a purl must sit on top of a knit stitch, and a knit must sit on top of a purl stitch. This is what gives the stitch its lovely texture.
For an Odd Number of Stitches:
- Cast on an odd number of stitches.
- Row 1: (k1, p1), repeat to the last stitch and k1.
- Row 2: Repeat this pattern for all remaining rows.
How to Follow Seed Stitch Knitting Patterns
When you are working seed stitch, there is no need to keep referring to your pattern or to keep counting to keep track of your stitches.
As long as you can recognize the knit stitches and the purl stitches, you just need to make sure you knit the opposite stitch into the row below. To clarify, the knit stitches look like flat V’s, and the purl stitches look like little bumps.
So if the stitch you are about to knit into looks like a V, work a purl. If it looks like a bump, work a knit into that stitch.
Seed Stitch Knitting In The Round
If you are working in rounds on circular needles, for example, making a cowl or knitting a top-down garment, you must start with an odd number of stitches.
- Place a stitch marker on your needle after casting on so that you can see where the new round begins.
- Round 1: k1, p1, repeat to the last stitch before the marker, k1.
- Round 2: p1, k1, repeat to the last stitch before the marker, p1.
- Continue repeating these 2 rows until your work is the desired length.
If you are shaping the work at the same time, read on to the part about increasing and decreasing seed stitch knitting.
Casting Off In Seed Stitch
To keep the elasticity of your fabric, it is best to cast off in the seed stitch pattern, ie. one cast off knit-wise, next cast off purl-wise, and so on.
Troubleshooting Seed Stitch Knitting
The most common problem for beginner knitters is that their seed stitch turns into rib stitch knitting. This happens when you knit into a knit stitch below and purl into a purl stitch.
Just keep remembering to knit into the purls and purl into the knits! Say it to yourself while working, and keep watching which stitch you are working into! If you do this, your seed stitch knitting will form in all its bumpy glory!
Increasing/Decreasing In Knitted Seed Stitch
If you are making a shaped garment, such as a sweater or cardigan, you need to work your increases or decreases into the seed stitch pattern.
Increasing Seed Stitch Knitting
Generally, the easiest way to increase knitting is to work twice into the same stitch.
When you are increasing in seed stitch, you can knit or purl twice into the required stitch because the stitch only takes on its knit or purl character in the following row.
To disguise your increases, you need to have a consistent line of all the same stitch next to the increase. So you will have one smooth column of stockinette stitch at the end of each row, next to the bumpy row of seed stitch.
You will work your increase 1 stitch in from the edge, then only on the next row do you need to see if that should be a knit or a purl stitch to keep the seed stitch pattern consistent.
- Cast on an odd no. of sts.
- K1,p1 across the row, end with k1.
When the increase is required:
- Row1: k1, increase by knitting twice into next stitch, k1, p1 across to last 2 stitches. Knit twice into the next stitch, k1.
- Row 2: p1, k into p stitches and p into k sts all the way across to last stitch, p1.
Repeat these 2 rows wherever an increase is required. Depending on your pattern, this may be only every 4 or 6 rows. You will work the border stitches in stockinette stitch and the normal seed stitch in between.
Decreasing Knitted Seed Stitch
Decreasing works in exactly the same way, but instead of knitting twice into 1 stitch, you will be knitting 2 stitches together.
- Row 1: k1, k2 tog, work seed stitch in the correct sequence to last 2 stitches, knit 2 together, k1.
- Row 2: p1, k into p stitches, and p into k stitches all the way across to the last stitch, p1.
And so on, until the required number of decreases has been worked.
Variations Of Seed Stitch
Here are 2 versions of the seed stitch: the simple seed stitch and the oblique seed stitch.
Simple Seed Stitch
In older books, seed stitch is a little different. This example, for instance, is just labeled ‘Simple Seed Stitch’ The book in which I found it is from 1972! It is, however, a very pretty variation and just as easy to work! It gives a more widely scattered version of the bumpy ‘seeds.’
- Cast on a multiple of 4 stitches.
- Row 1: *k3 p1* rep to end of row.
- Row 2: (And every alternate row) purl.
- Row 3: k
- Row 5: k1, *p1, k3 * rep to last 3 sts, p1, k2.
- Row 7: k
- Repeat these rows until your fabric is the required length.
Oblique Seed Stitch Knitting
This one does require a little more concentration and counting, but the stitches are just as easy to work, and you do end up with a unique design!
- Cast on a multiple of 5 stitches.
- Row 1: *k4, p1* rep to end of row.
- Row 2: *p1, k1, p3* rep to end of row.
- Row 3: * k2, p1, k2 * rep to end of row.
- Row 4: *p3, k1, p1 * rep to end of row.
- Row 5: * p1, k4* rep to end of row.
- Row 6: * k1, p4 * rep to end of row.
- Row 7: *k3, p1 ,k1 * rep to end of row, k2.
- Row 8: *p2, k1, p4, k1, * rep to end, p2.
- Continue in this way, working the ‘seed’ one stitch further to the right in each row.
Knitting Seed Stitch vs Moss Stitch
Seed stitch and knitting moss stitch are often confused, and indeed, they are very similar. Both involve working in k1, p1 across the rows. The difference is that when working knitted moss stitch you will work two rows of k1, p1, then 2 rows of p1, k1. So you have a 2-row repeat of each row.
Moss stitch needs to be worked on an even number of stitches. With moss stitch, instead of working a knit on top of a purl and vice versa, you will have 2 rows of knit on top of 2 rows of purl, and only after that will you work the ‘opposite’ stitches. I like to think of moss stitch as a kind of ‘elongated’ seed stitch.
What Can I Make With Seed Stitch Knitting?
Absolutely anything! You can convert any knitting pattern into seed stitch! Even a very basic stockinette stitch pattern can easily be worked in seed stitch.
You can make cowls and scarves, gloves and mittens, baby clothes and booties, bags, coasters, beanies, cardigans, sweaters, and blankets. You name it, it will look good in seed stitch.
Seed Stitch Knitting FAQs
Do you need an odd number of stitches for seed stitch?
You can easily use an odd number of stitches for knitting seed stitch. For row 1, knit 1 and purl 1, then repeat to the last stitch and knit 1. Repeat this pattern for all remaining rows.
Can you knit seed stitch with an even number of stitches?
Knitting seed stitch is easy when you have an even number of stitches on your knitting needles. Cast on an even number of stitches. For row 1, knit 1, then purl 1 and repeat to the end of the row. For row 2, purl 1, knit 1, and repeat to the end of the row.
Does seed stitch have a wrong side?
The beauty of knitting seed stitch is that it has no wrong or right side, meaning it is reversible.
Seed Stitch Knitting - In Conclusion
If you can knit a rib, you can work seed stitch! Your stitches will just be staggered instead of forming columns. It makes a nice stitch variation when knitting for men or boys as it has a masculine look about it! It is also wonderfully hard-wearing. Because of the surface bumps, it makes excellent washcloths, both for scrubbing dishes and for exfoliating rough skin. Give this easy stitch a try; you will be glad you did!
Seed Stitch Knitting
- Knitting Needles
- Cast on an even number of stitches.
- Row 1: Knit 1, Purl 1, Repeat to end of row.
- Row 2: Purl 1, Knit 1, Repeat to end of row
- Continue the pattern of row 1 and 2 until your desired length.
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