Stitch Anatomy – Knitting: substituting stitches in patterns

Some time ago a nice lady asked me a very interesting question: since I really don’t like the look of Garter Stitch, can I substitute it with Stockinette Stitch?

The answer is, yes BUT.

Let’s see the differences between these two stitches and why they are not completely interchangeable. I’ve knitted two small samples to see the differences.


I’ve used the same yarn (Madelinetosh Vintage), the same needles (KnitPro Marblz double pointed needles size 4.5 mm / US 7), the same chair (Ikea something) and I’ve made them the same day, that is today…

As you can see, there is a HUGE difference, even for such a small sample. I’ve cast on the same amount of stitches and knitted the same amount of rows for both of them. The swatch is 15 st x 18 rows (I didn’t block them)


The Stockinette Stitch sample measure 8 x 8 cm (about 3 x 3 inches), it’s a perfect square. The Garter Stitch sample measures 8,5 x 6 cm (about 3 1/2 x 2 1/4 inches). Quite a difference, don’t you think?


How then can it be possible to knit a Stockinette section inside a Garter border and get a straight piece and not a odd shaped one?
Thanks to the Garter stitch: its great elasticity let it adapt easily beside almost any other kind of stitch. Beside the Stockinette Stitch section, it will stretch in height and thus let every stitch reach the same size.

Back to the initial question, then:

  • if a pattern calls for Garter Stitch, it’s possible to knit in Stockinette Stitch, but the different height of the two stitches must be taken into account (unless the shape or the length is not a problem, like in a blanket, for example). Remember also that Stockinette has the tendency to roll and you can’t really do anything about that (even blocking won’t fix the problem); the best thing to do is add a little border in Garter Stitch (for example), as it will keep the piece straight and avoid the curling.
  • if a pattern calls for Stockinette Stitch, it’s possible to knit in Garter Stitch, but, again, remember the differences in size. You will need a lot more rows to get to the same height, as the Stockinette Stitch is taller and slightly thinner. This also means you will end up using much more yarn than the amount stated in the pattern.


My advise is: make a swatch and measure, do some basic calculations and adapt. This is really necessary if you are making a fitted garment, unless you don’t mind to end up with a long dress or a short top instead of a sweater!

Please, write me and let me know if you have any doubt or question about any aspect of knitting or crochet. I won’t say your name, don’t worry, you won’t be ashamed in public as a newby! It’ll be our secret! ­čśŤ

Have fun!!!

Stitch Anatomy – Crochet: joining squares as you go

This method was a true revolution for me. I first tested it some years ago for a baby blanket I was doing and it worked so perfectly that I haven’t used any other method since then!

It’s pretty easy. I’m demonstrating here using my new Giorni di Sole blanket that you can find here or on Ravelry. You can try a couple of these squares to practice!

You need to crochet one full square, which means completing round 5. Then you can crochet all the other squares up to round 4.
Here is how they look.


Now take the square with round 5 completed and name it square 1 (my N. 1 is blue). Take another square (green for me) which you’d like to put beside N.1 and start round 5 completing only one side of the square. Once you reach the second corner, make only the first half but don’t chain 2. Here is how your square N. 2 looks now.


And now the fun part! Place your square back to back (wrong side against wrong side). Insert the hook in the chain 2 space of N. 1, grab the working yarn and pull through.


And make a slip stitch! You’re not going to chain now, Your slip stitch will replace the chain!


Complete your corner as normal, with the next 3 double crochet, and carry on till you get to the next chain 1. Once again, you won’t chain. Insert your hook in the chain 1 space of the square N. 1, pull a loop and make a slip stitch.


Just as you did before.


Continue on like this…


…till you get to the next corner. And guess what? You’ll do exactly the same!


And now your two squares are joined! You can continue on with the border until you reach the other side and close with a slip stitch.

When you have to join 3 corners together, just make 1 long slip stitch inside them, and that’s it!

I told you it was easy! This will save you a huge amount of time since you don’t have to make all those boring slip stitches all together at the end.

What about you, what’s your favorite joining method? Please let me know if you have questions and feel free to comment below. Happy crafting!!!



Stitch Anatomy – Crochet: Front and Back Loops

One of the most common question crocheters have asked me is: Shall I go into one or both loops of the stitch?

The answer is, as always, it depends.

The standard way of crocheting is going into both loops of the stitch. This gives a smooth and flat piece. Crocheting into only one loop of the stitch gives a different result. Let’s first take a look at the stitch to understand exactly what a loop is.

At the top of every stitch there is a sort of V. The two legs of the V are the two loops of the stitch, called front or back loop according to their position.

Normally both loops are used, which means that the hook will go underneath both loops at the same time, as shown here.


To work a back loop only stitch, the hook will go underneath the back loop like this.


To work a front loop only stitch, the hook has to be inserted in the stitch like this.


Going underneath only one loop of the stitch leaves the other loop unused. This unused loop shows in the work as a little line. Working into the back loop only leaves that line in the front of the work while the back stays flat.


Working into the front loop only gives the same line in the back of the work while the front stays flat.


Which one to choose then? Front, back or both loops? As I said before, it depends on the effect you want to achieve. If you want more texture, go for one loop at a time, if you want to crochet a flat piece just use both loops. When you are following a pattern, the author will tell you what to do, so don’t worry. If there’s no mention of loops (back or front) you can relax and crochet into both loops (some people find it easier!).

But what about the chain?
It’s, again, a personal choice, there’s no right or wrong. I always use both loops of my starting chain to build my first row of stitches as it looks smoother. When I turn my work and I have to work in the turning chain I always try to go underneath both loops as the chain doesn’t stretch to much and doesn’t leave holes.

Tips: if you want to add a line to your work for every row, work the first row in the back loop only, then turn and work in the front loop only. This creates horizontal lines on the right side.


What’s your style? Have you ever tried to crochet in one of the two loops only? What do you think?

Don’t forget to enter my giveaway on Instagram! It’s closing in 2 days!
Sorry for the poor quality of the pictures but it’s been very gloomy and dark in the Netherlands these days, not the best weather for indoor photography!