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The Seed Stitch: What Is It and How Do I Knit It?

Winter accessories in this stitch will ward against the cold.

seed stitch in knitting
Photography by: Amanda Mustard Illustrations

It's easy to recognize the seed stitch in knitting: the textured fabric is covered in small nubs arranged in a checkerboard order. These purled bumps draw comparisons to seeds in a field, which is the look that gives this stitch its name. Similar to its cousin the moss stitch, seed stitch is made dense with a tight weave, so it lies flat and won't roll or curl at the edges. It's also reversible, making it ideal for items where both sides can be seen. Seed stitch is made by working a sequence of knit and purl stitches, usually alternated on every row. Compared to other stitches like the garter stitch or the stockinette stitch, it may take more time to produce because it has fewer stitches and more rows for every inch, but this creates a firm and dense fabric—a practical choice for blankets, shawls, and winter accessories.

 

To knit the seed stitch, hold the yarn in your right hand and the knitting needle with cast-on stitches in your left hand (the pointed tip of the needle should be pointing to the right). Make sure that the first stitch is no more than one inch from the tip of the needle. Seed stitch has a multiple of two stitches. When knitting flat, work the pattern over an odd number of stitches in order to achieve a symmetrical look at each end. (If you choose to work over an even number—on circular needles in the round or on double-pointed needles—this technique is slightly different.)

 

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How to Knit Seed Stitch

To begin, make a slip knot on the shaft of one needle. Place this needle in your left hand. Hold the other needle in your right hand to control the yarn. Cast on a foundation row of stitches in any number required by your pattern. With yarn in back (this is typically abbreviated in a knitting pattern as wyib), insert the right needle into the next stitch and under the left needle. Visually, this forms an "X" with the needles. Wrap the yarn around the right needle, counterclockwise. Draw the yarn through the stitch on the left needle to the front of the work to create a loop on the right needle. Drop the original stitch off the left needle. You will have made one new knit stitch on the right needle. Draw the yarn between the needles to the front of the work. With the yarn in front, insert the right needle purlwise into the next stitch. Visually, this forms an "X" with the right needle in front. Wrap the yarn around the right needle, counterclockwise. Draw the yarn through the stitch on the left needle to the back of the work to create a loop on the right needle. Drop the original stitch off the left needle. You will have made one new purl stitch on the right needle. Draw the yarn between the needles to the back of the work. Repeat these steps up to the last stitch in the row. 

 

With yarn in back, insert the right needle into the next stitch and under the left needle. Wrap the yarn around the right needle, counterclockwise. Draw the yarn through the stitch on the left needle to the front of the work to create a loop on the right needle. Drop the original stitch off the left needle. This finishes the row. If you have an even number of stitches, a pattern will read like so, "For rows 1: knit 1, purl 1. For row 2: purl 1, knit 1." If you have an odd number of stitches, a pattern will read like so, "For row 1: knit 1, purl 1, repeat to final stitch and end with knit 1. For row 2 and on: Repeat the same pattern for the remaining rows."

 

For your first project, why not consider a knit baby blanket? This is ideal for practicing the seed stitch for a few reasons: one, a baby blanket's in seed stitch will lie flat and won't curl; two, this stitch can be densely worked with a thicker yarn or beautifully softened with finer mohair; and three, the firm fabric will keep a little one bundled up warm at night.

 

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