How to Knit Seed Stitch

The seed stitch is one of my favorite knitting stitches because it adds a texture to the knit that looks really complicated, even though it’s actually simple. If you know how to knit and purl, you’re ready to try seed stitch.

seed stitch

You might notice that British knitters refer to the seed stitch as moss stitch, which is even more confusing since American knitters have an entirely different stitch called the moss stitch. For our purposes, we’ll call it a seed stitch. If you happen to see a pattern by a British knitter that says it's a moss stitch and looks like seed stitch, it’s probably this seed stitch.

Save This Seed Stitch Pattern & 6 More Common Stitches

knitting stitches guide

Hold onto this seed stitch tutorial and get instructions for six more popular knitting stitches.Get My FREE Guide »

This is the seed stitch as you’d find it written in a pattern:

Row 1 (RS) K1, *p1, k1; rep from * to end.

Rep row 1.

Understanding the seed stitch

The trick to the seed stitch is knowing when to knit and when to purl — you know, just in case you lose your place while knitting.

Once you’ve completed the first row, you’re going to be doing the exact same p1, k1 across the second row, except this time you’re going to knit the purls and purl the knits.

Say your house catches fire and you need to stop knitting. (You’ll run out of the flaming home with your knitting in tow, of course.) How can you tell what stitch you’re on? I always like using Debbie Stoller’s illustration from Stitch ‘N #####: The Knitter’s Handbook as an example. Debbie says that purl stitches —which have the rounded bump — look like they have a little noose around their necks, while knit stitches — which have the little V — look like they’re wearing a scarf.

knit the seed stitch

Take a look at the difference in the photo above. Notice that the first stitch on the needle all the way to the right has the little noose around its neck. That’s a purl stitch.

The stitch beside it is wearing the scarf (the V) around its neck. That’s a knit stitch. Notice how the knit and purl stitches alternate across the needle in seed stitch.

Knit the purls

Let’s say your knitting was interrupted. You picked up the work again, and the next stitch on the needle is a purl stitch. (We know it’s a purl because of the noose around its neck, right?)

knit the purls

Remember that we knit the purls. So we’ll knit into that purl stitch.

knit

Purl the knits

Now let’s say you pick the knitting back up and see a knit stitch is next. (We know it’s a knit stitch because it has a little scarf or V around its neck.)

purl stitch

We purl into the knit stitches, so when you see a knit stitch, purl.

knitting

Seed stitch patterns

Once you’ve mastered the seed stitch, go crazy and try out some of these patterns. And remember that Craftsy has knitters from all around the world, so some of the designers hailing from Europe and Australia refer to seed stitch as the British moss stitch. Don’t worry; it’s the same stitch! (We talk about the American moss stitch, which differs slightly, in this blog post.)

Fast Seed Stitch Scarf

Photo via Craftsy member Taiga Hilliard

1. Fast Seed Stitch Cowl

This project is perfect if you're just learning seed stitch. Since it's worked in a bulky or super bulky weight yarn, you'll be able to easily see your stitches. Plus, it's small, free and fast, so you'll see the fruits of your labor in a flash.

Get the FREE pattern »

Winter Seeds Infinity Scarf

Photo via Craftsy member Eyes of Style

2. Winter Seeds Infinity Scarf

A variegated yarn makes this easy-as-ever scarf look much more complicated than it really is. With chunky yarn, it's quick too — but you don't have to tell anyone how easy it was!

Get the FREE pattern »

Moss Stitch Bow Headband

Photo via Craftsy member Cable Cable

3. Moss Stitch Bow Turban Headband

The creator of this pattern hails from London, thus the moss stitch name. Make this headband to match your favorite outfit, or knit it in a neutral color and wear it with everything!

Get the pattern »

Moss Stitch Cowl

Photo via Craftsy member Arianna Frasca

4. Moss Stitch Cowl

Seed stitch is versatile enough for women and men, and this Moss Stitch Cowl is evidence of that. Pair it with some buttons and knit up a couple as gifts.

Get the pattern »

Moss Stitch Keyhole Scarflette

Photo via Craftsy member Knits By Jo

5. Moss Stitch Keyhole Scarflette

I can see myself making one of these in a couple of different colors for spring and fall so that they match all my coats. Is that an insane idea?

Get the pattern »

Asymmetrical Seed Stitch Poncho

Photo via Craftsy member Tangled Handknits

6. Asymmetrical Seed Stitch Poncho

Stay warm, cozy and stylish in this seed stitch pattern. Who doesn't love a pattern that's makes a statement, keeps you comfortable and is a breeze to work up?

Get the pattern »

Save This Seed Stitch Pattern & 6 More Common Stitches

knitting stitches guide

Hold onto this seed stitch tutorial and get instructions for six more popular knitting stitches.Get My FREE Guide »

35 Comments

Sara

Yeah the seed stitch really adds some nice detail. I absolutely love the Moss Stitch Bow, it looks like it has plenty of good stretch in it and its super cute!! Thank you for the lovely tutorial!!

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Ashley at The Feisty Redhead

Yeah, good call on the stretchy factor of the bow! It stretches, plus it won’t roll up like stockinette does, so it’s a really good choice for a headband. Glad you like it!

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Robyn

I really need to learn to knit! There are so many pretty things that just don’t look as good when you crochet them!

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MT-MOONCHASER

I usually use seed stitch when knitting scarves that usually are knit in garter stitch, such as those done with eyelash yarns. I have also used it when knitting a scarf with a variegated mohair blend.

It also makes a nice border along the bottom hem area and up the front of cardigan sweaters. In fact I am knitting a cardigan now that has garter stitch at the bottom and up the front that would probably look better with seed stitch…

Also it is great as a collar stitch and lays flatter than stockinette.

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Ashley at The Feisty Redhead

Love the idea of seed stitch as a collar! Thanks for recommending that.

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Carol

Should you use and even or odd number of stitches so that you can just flip your work and continue doing K1, P1?

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Ashley at The Feisty Redhead

As long as you know to purl the knits and knit the purls, it doesn’t matter whether you cast on an odd number or an even number. No matter how many you cast on, you won’t be able to get a continuous k1, p1 flow throughout the whole pattern.

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EVELYN

So glad to see CRAFTSY is including tips & pointers on their site! Most of the other craft sites do so, and we knitter-lovers can,t get enough “how-to”!!

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Jean J

First time I’ve seen a How-To on your site. Love it! I save these so I can use for a reference at a later time. Hope you plan to continue doing this. Also like that you’ve included a few patterns using the stitch. Making a simple swatch just doesn’t do it for me. lol

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Jo Howell

Really glad to see pointers! Having knit for quite some time am very familiar with the seed stitch but I think this is the best tutorial on it I have ever seen! Keep up the good work! Thanks.

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Emi M

I’ve also seen instructions that say to k1, p1, etc to the end, repeat that pattern for the second row and then start with the purl stitch for the 3rd and 4th rows. Does this just make for a bigger looking seed?

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Clare Streamer

Hi, I’m new to knitting and I think I get the seed stitch, but found the pattern example confusing, K1 *p1 k1* if I repeat this row I’m knitting into a knit, am I missing something.
From Clare

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Ashley

Hi Clare! The basic idea here is to knit your first row K1, P1 — alternating all the way across. For the next row, simply knit the purl stitches and purl the knit stitches. The order from the second row onward depends on whether you’re working with an odd number of stitches or an even number of stitches.

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dawn

i just did long tail cast-on of 250 stitches how should i start my first seed stitch row for a border since my first row is not alternated k1,p1?

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Colette norton

I have a problem with my instructions for 139 stitches, Seed stitch

K1, *P1, K1 rep from * across. Rep Row 1.

To me, that says to K1, *P1, K1 rep from * across for every row but your replies sounds like you are saying P1, K1 on second row.

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Jenny

If you have an odd number of stitches you will always start every row with a K1. If you have an even number of stitches you will start the first row with a K1 and the second row with a P1. Then repeat the two rows.

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Colette norton

I meant P1, K1 for second row and then K1, P1 for next row, etc.

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Reply
sdorttuii plmnr

You have observed very interesting details! ps nice internet site. “Become addicted to constant and never-ending self improvement.” by Anthony D’Angelo.

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Malathy

Hi, I like your knitting technic, but I am not best knitter. But saved all your patterns. Thank u.

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Cate

What’s the difference between moss stitch and seed stitch? It looks the same to me. Ice always known this stitch as moss stitch.

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Brynne Muir

These instructions, unfortunately, make no sense. They are contradictory or poorly written. Here’s why:
It is not possible to “knit the purls and purl the knits” given the instructions for rows 1 and 2, and etc, because as soon as I complete a row and flip it (say I end on a knit), according to the instructions, I should be doing the opposite, so essentially, I would be K1, P1 the entire scarf or what have you. Either way, I’m not getting a seed stitch. I don’t know what this is. I’ve started and re-started this ###### thing seven times and have experimented, and still cannot come close to a seed stitch. HELP!

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Alice

I am not sure if you can help me but, I am knitting a a pencil skirt, top down, in the round. I am a continental knitter. I am using a slanted seed stitch patter. Round one P1K1. Round 2 knit all stitches. Round 3 k all stitches. Round 4 K1P1. Round 5 k. What would be the best increase stitch that does not leave a hole? will the increases distort the stitch pattern?

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alison

Ummmm, doesn’t knitting your purls and purling your knits result in a single rib? For a seed stitch, you knit your knits and purl your purls.

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BB

THANK YOU ALISON!!!!!!!!!!!!
The incorrect instructions on this webpage for creating the seed stitch fabric by knitting on top of the purl stitch & purling on top of the knit stitch, are found ALL OVER THE INTERNET! I wasted HOURS & YARN doing it wrong. Just now, I followed your one sentence directions “For a seed stitch, you knit your knits and purl your purls.”, and I made 10 rows of perfect seed stitch! EASY PEASY! Thanx for your help.

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Kristen

I am currently doing the seed stitch but am having great difficulty in an area. First is there any difference between a dec and tog? Both terms are used in pattern at different times.
Onto pattern question… doing pattern of k1 *p1, k1* it states k1, work 2tog, work pattern to end…..do you k or p the 2tog?
Then when you do pattern in next row how do you handle the change in # stitches? End with a purl? Or 2 knits?

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Jenny

For seed stitch.
If you have an odd number of stitches you start every row with a K1. If you have an even number of stitches you start row 1 with a K1 and start row 2 with a P1. Then repeat the two rows. Whatever stitch you finish the row with you start the next row with the same stitch. E.g. If you finish with a K stitch you start the next row with a K stitch. Hope this helps the ladies that are struggling with this stitch.

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dorothy keeble

Is seed stich another name for moss stitch thankyou

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Nancy Dussault

If you work the (Moss Stitch) or the (Seed Stitch),(point de riz ou point de blé) en “français”, with circular needles or work in a round,we need an even number of stitches and alternate on each rounds.
The exact opposite of a flat work.

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Laura

That was the BEST explanation ever as how to identify a purl vs a stitch… Im teaching myself to knit, and have broken, and started over so many projects, because I couldn’t remember if I needed to stitch or purl next. LOL.. Thanks for sharing!

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Deb

Thanks for this instruction. I was wondering how you would work a chart in seed stitch. I bought the enchanted castle blanket pattern and it is still sitting in my project bag. I found that I didn’t know how to start subsequent rows of the chart when there is nothing under it that was either a purl or a knit and how do you make sure you’re doing the correct stitches in place for the second row. I’m not sure if I am making sense or just thinking too hard about it, but the chart stitches are uneven. I’d appreciate any help, because i’ve basically given up on it.

Thanks,

dk

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