With a two-row, three-stitch repeat, the bamboo stitch is so easy you can knit it while binging on your favorite TV show without dropping a stitch or a line of dialogue. Yet the passed yarn over pattern creates an elegant texture reminiscent of a bamboo forest that will inspire compliments from your friends.
This tutorial includes step-by-step photos, tips for using the bamboo stitch and four knitting patterns to try your new technique (including a FREE pattern).
How to knit the bamboo stitch
The basic pattern is simple:
Row 1 and all right side rows: *YO, K2, pass YO over the 2 stitches you just knit. Repeat from *
Row 2 and all wrong side rows: Purl if knitting flat. Knit if knitting in the round.
1. Create a yarn over by wrapping the yarn over the right needle. I recommend that you make the yarn over loose so it will be easier to pass over the knit stitches in Step 3 below.
2. Knit the next two stitches from the left needle to the right needle.
3. Now you will pass the yarn over over the stitches you knitted. First, slip the tip of your left needle under the yarn over on the right needle.
4. Lift the yarn over up from the right needle. Be careful to stabilize the two knit stitches with your thumb or index finger or they will slide off the tip of the needle when you pull the yarn over.
5. Pass the yarn over over the two knitted stitches you just added to the right needle.
6. Drop the yarn over off both needles.
7. You have now completed the bamboo stitch Row 1 pattern!
All right-side rows will be like this. Row 2 and all wrong side rows are purl stitches if you are knitting flat or knit stitches if you are knitting round. Simple!
Making the most of the bamboo stitch
Challenges for beginners
The bamboo stitch is easy to learn, but there are still some pitfalls to watch out for. In the beginning, I found myself forgetting the yarn over and going straight to the knit stitches after the pass over. Also, it’s easy to lose control of the stitches when you are doing the pass over step. But don’t get discouraged! After a few repeats it will be second nature.
Where to use it
You might try using this stitch in place of garter, moss or seed stitch. For example, you might experiment knitting bamboo stitch borders like the washcloth pattern below.
As mentioned in the tutorial, keeping the yarn over loose will help you control the pass over more easily. However, if you are generally a loose knitter, you might want to knit the other stitches with a tighter tension to close up gaps created by the yarn over.
Selecting a complementary yarn
I’ve found that this pattern works best on yarn with good stitch definition, like the worsted cotton blend in my photos. I was not as happy with the look when I tried a lofty bulky yarn.
Wrong side out
Although the bamboo stitch is not reversible, the reverse side of this pattern also has an intriguing texture, so don’t worry about hiding the wrong side from view.
Bamboo stitch knitting patterns
1. Zen Cowl
This FREE knitting pattern for a bamboo stitch cowl is easy and quick to knit in super bulky yarn. It’s a great first project for learning the bamboo stitch. The cowl is knit in the round, so remember that your wrong side rows will be knit stitches.
2. Easy Bamboo Stitch Baby Blanket
If you’d rather start out with a flat knitted project, this snuggly baby blanket is also easy and quick. The bamboo stitch gives it an extra cushy texture just right for baby. Though the blanket is knitted flat, I recommend knitting back and forth on circular needles because a project the size of this 32 inch by 38 inch blanket is easier to handle on the longer, flexible length of the circular needles.
3. Floral Bath Set
This washcloth set lets you practice a variety of new techniques while creating a lovely gift for a housewarming or shower. The Japanese Garden pattern on the left lets your try out the bamboo stitch as a border instead of an all-over pattern. You can see how it sets off the design in a unique way. For washcloths like these you will want to use a worsted weight cotton or cotton blend to stand up to water but still be soft on the skin.
Photo via Craftsy member Nat Raedwulf
4. Wildlings Toddler Leg Warmers
This knitting pattern showcases another way you can combine the bamboo stitch with other stitch patterns such as the ribbing and picot lace in the cuffs of these leg warmers for your little wildlings from 12 months to toddler size 4.