Tips for knitting stripes in garter stitch

In this post, we’re taking a closer look at knitting stripes in garter stitch.

I just love knitting garter stitch! It’s so relaxing and the garter stitch fabric is so soft and cuddly. I use it for scarves, blankets, shawls, washcloths…

Add some stripes and it becomes even better!

Colorwork can be as easy as adding some stripes to your garter stitch project. But sometimes those garter stitch stripes can end up messy. Today I will explain why this happens and what you can do about it.

Tips for knitting mess free stripes in garter stitch

Knitting video: Knitting garter stitch stripes

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This video shows how to take control of your garter stitch stripes. If you want more knowledge about why purl dash lines appear and two bulletproof tips for how to control them when knitting garter stitch stripes, keep reading ๐Ÿ™‚

Garter stitch stripes can end up messy

Sometimes stripes in garter stitch look messy because the start and the end of a stripe don’t look the same or two stripes may look different at the color changes. Like on my gray and green swatch in the pic.

Some color changes look super clean and others add a line of dot’s in the old color over the new color at the row of the color change. These are called purl dashes or purl dash lines.

An example on how messy garter stitch stripes can look if you're not careful!

Garter stitch variations:
โ€“โ€“> Drop stitch garter lace
โ€“โ€“> Yarn over garter stitch
โ€“โ€“> Garter ridge eyelets

Why do purl dash lines appear?

In garter stitch, purl dash lines appear when changing colors. These lines of purl dashes lay in the nature of knitting, as all knit stitches are purl stitches on the other side of the work.

So, what can we do to take control over the purl dash lines?

Well, the only thing we can do about them is to decide on which side of our work is the right side and make the color changes accordingly.

This means that if you like the purl dash lines to show on the right side, you add the new color on a wrong side row.

If you want to hide the purl dash lines, you make the color change on a right side row.

Tips for knitting neat stripes in garter

Tip 1: Garter stitch stripes with an even number of rows will always have the purl dash line on the same side.

So, to make things easy for yourself make stripes that are 2, 4, 6, etc rows high to ensure that the dashes appear on the same side every time.

Tip 2: Place a removable stitch marker on one side of the work. Make all the color changes when the stitch marker faces you.

If it’s not super important that the stripes are a specific number of rows this is a way to skip the counting part but still have control over the purl dashes.

I used this tip a while ago when I was knitting a scarf with leftover yarn in a lot of colors. I decided in which order I wanted the colors to appear and did each stripe as long as I had yarn.

An example of how garter stitch stripes can look when you have control over the purl dash lines.
This is how tidy garter stitch stripes can look if you have taken control over the purl dash lines!

Your next read:
โ€“โ€“> How to knit garter stitch
โ€“โ€“> Garter stitch in the round
โ€“โ€“> Weaving in ends in garter stitch