How to knit the moss stitch for beginners

A step by step tutorial to knitting the moss stitch pattern

A very popular and easy pattern for knitting beginners is the Moss Stitch. It can be a great pattern for your first scarf or a little baby blanket as it has a very nice texture, lays flat, is not too stretchy, and is reversible on top of that. So, it has all the best ingredients, eh?

A close-up of a swatch in teal cotton knitted in the irish moss stitch pattern on brown hardwood knitting needles

You can easily knit it flat, in the round and there is even a fun variation called the Double Moss Stitch (see below). In short, a very versatile pattern you will often find on Irelands famous Aran sweaters (usually as fillings for the wider cables). I also have a lovely little free dishcloth pattern here on my blog for you with this stitch.

ⓘ The Irish Moss Stitch is sometimes also called American Moss Stitch or just Moss Stitch – they all mean the same thing. In knitting patterns you sometimes find it abbreviated to “moss st“.

Irish Moss stitch: Step by Step instructions:

Another close-up of the irish moss stitch knitting pattern

The Irish moss stitch has an easy four-row repeat. You basically just switch between purl and knit stitches:

Cast on multiples of 2:
  • Row 1: *Knit 1, Purl 1*
  • Row 2: *K1, P1*
  • Row 3: *P1,K1*
  • Row 4: *P1,K1*

Make sure to pay close attention in row #3. That’s where you will have to knit all purl stitches and vice versa. If you don’t, you will create a 1×1 rib. That can also be very beautiful, but it’s probably not what you were looking for.

Here’s a simple way to keep track. If the cast-on tail is on the right side of your work, you need to switch stitches. If it’s on the left side, you can knit all stitches the way they appear.

Another close-up of the irish moss stitch knitting pattern a bit more from the side

In theory, you can knit the moss stitch with an odd number of stitches as well. You will have to add an extra knit stitch on row and a purl stitch in row 2. So the repeat will look like this: Row 1: *K1,P1*, K1; Row 2: P1,*K1,P1*, Row 3: *P1, K1*P1, etc.

Note: This won’t work if you are knitting in the round

CAST ON AND BIND OFF RECOMMENDATIONS

The good part: The Irish Moss stitch pattern is neither too stretchy nor too rigid, so it’s perfect for the standard bind off and the standard long-tail cast on.

There really is no need for any special techniques. Do, however, take care to cast off the stitches the way they appear (so, don’t knit every stitch, but continue alternating to purl and knit).

The same applies to the cast on. You can get an extra neat edge if you alternate between casting on knit and purl stitches.

HOW TO INCREASE AND DECREASE THE MOSS STITCH

For easy projects like a scarf or a blanket, you might not need a pattern. So, I want to quickly show you how to decrease a moss stitch. The knit two together (k2tog) is perfect for that. There are a couple of things you might want to consider to get an extra neat decrease

  1. You always have to decrease two stitches next to each other starting in an odd-numbered row.
  2. Always start the decrease with a purl stitch first in on the right side. That way, the knit stitch will lay on top of the purl stitch.
  3. On the return row, decrease the two adjacent purl stitches (for that’s what they appear to be) as a p2tog.
  4. The decrease is the most invisible if you do it from the edges and not in the middle.

Increases can be handled the same. Use M1L and M1R but make sure to knit really tight to avoid holes. So, increase with M1R after a knit stitch in an odd-numbered row. In the return row, you will have to P1L between those two stitches. Again, try to start from the edges.

Moss stitch in the round

You can easily knit the simple Irish Moss stitch in the round. It’s basically the same repeat. The only thing that’s different is that there is no return row where you have to pay attention so you don’t accidentally purl a knit stitch. So, it’s actually even a bit easier.

Cast on multiples of 2:

  • Round 1: *K1, P1*
  • Round 2: *K1, P1*
  • Round 3: *P1,K1*
  • Round 4: *P1,K1*

There is just one thing that may feel odd. At the end of round 2 and the beginning of round three, you will be purling 2 stitches in a row. But since those two stitches won’t be on the same level, you won’t really notice it later on. But it will still feel a bit weird. Using a stitch marker can be a smart idea to avoid confusion.

Double Moss Stitch

A close up of a swatch in dible moss stitch

A nice variation of the Irish moss stitch is the Double Moss stitch. It’s a bit more stretchy but is knitted with almost the same repeat but you double the knit and purl stitches:

Cast on multiples of 4
  • Row 1: *K2, P2*
  • Row 2: *K2, P2*
  • Row 3: *P2,K2*
  • Row 4: *P2,K2*

Find my full tutorial on how to knit the Double Moss stitch here.

So, that’s it. This was my step-by-step tutorial on how to knit the moss stitch pattern. Make sure to comment with your questions and tell me what will be the first project you will be using this stitch on!

How to knit the irish moss stitch for beginners -step by step

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