I love the look and feel of moss stitch. I love the drape it gives fabric. It’s amazing as and edging on blankets and is the perfect stitch for tea towels and dishcloths. Unfortunately it’s a stitch that a lot of knitters hate to use. Me too! I love everything about it except physically knitting it. In my perfect world I could hand over unfinished pieces to the knitting pixies and receive perfect moss stitch back the next morning. All for a little milk and honey. It would be a bargain I’d happily make. Sadly those pixies haven’t yet graced my house.
In the meantime I’ve been on a quest for a moss stitch fake, the mythical lichen stitch, which won’t hurt my hands. It needs to have the look and feel of moss stitch but doesn’t move the yarn back and forth, back and forth, back and forth until you are bored to tears and in pain.
Experiment No. 1 – actual moss stitch
I use a cheats moss. I cast on an uneven number of stitches and then row 1: k1, p1 repeat to end and turn work. Row2: k1, p1 repeat to end and turn work. Continue this way till the will to knit leaves you. I did 10 rows of 33 stitches in a cotton DK yarn from Paintbox on 4mm US 6 needles. Yes it looks great, yes it drapes great, yup that’s about as much of that as I care to do. If you need perfect moss stitch, then this is the technique I recommend.
Recommended when only the original will do. Coping techniques: get comfortable in a chair, put on something interesting to watch or listen to and work in short burst with frequent breaks.
Experiment No. 2 – Faux moss stitch
I was very excited to try this one. Pictures online look like moss stitch, perhaps this is the easy answer to my quest? No. It’s not. The yarn still moves back and forth, back and forth, ad nauseam. This stitch must be done over an even number of stitches. Instead of the k1, p1 repeat you are k1, slip one with yarn in front, then k1, effectively you don’t purl you slip a stitch which will be knitted on the next row. But you still need to move the yarn from the back of your work to the front and then back again. I found this stitch incredibly irritating. I think it was the disappointment of realizing it didn’t fix the problems of hand pain, but I am stuggling to understand the merits of this stitch over a traditional moss. The hand movement is the same, it’s slightly more complicated and the weave of finish product isn’t quite as good. For my money it’s all round inferior.
Experiment No. 3 – Norwegian purl and Russian prul
Oooh, this looks great! Why haven’t I done it this way before? Ah, yes, continental knitting. I knit English style. Bugger! If you are a continental knitter, then this is a great way to do moss stitch. If you are an English style knitter, problems. My tension for continental knitting is all over the show and it feels peculiar, like I am a beginning knitter who doesn’t have a comfortable feel on their needles yet. If you don’t knit at all, then think about continental knitting. If you are prepared to put the work in to switch styles I can see this working really well and resolving the hand pain issue. But I found Norwegian purl a bit counterintuitive. Further research revealed the Russsian purl technique. The Russian technique worked for my brain and made me strongly consider putting some work in on continental knitting style so that I was fluent and comfortable with it.
Recommendation. Great if you already knit continental style. Look no further, your moss stitch needs have been met. If you knit English style then you can put in the work to learn fluency in continental style knitting and either switch or become fully bi-knitual in both styles. It will be personal preference as to which purl style works best for you. For me it was Russian purl all the way.
Experiment No. 4 – Granite stitch
Oh help! I think I’ve run out of knitting stitches to try and I really want a replacement. Let’s think a bit outside the box. Bear with me. Crochet. Granite stitch. Yes, it looks great and very much like moss stitch and provides a similar drape. Bonus, easy on the hands and will work perfectly for a piece that is purely moss stitch or in this case granite stitch such as a tea towel or a dish cloth.
Recommendation. If you knit English style and don’t want to do continental style then this is the perfect solution for the tea towel, dish cloth needs. It will also work for blanket borders. Finish the knit and then add a granite stitch crochet border.
I haven’t yet tried a project that has some moss stitch throughout and using the granite stitch interspersed with my knitted stitches. I suspect that with a small amount of moss stitch I would just do the traditional moss rather than switch crafts and needles for hooks etc.
If anyone out there has a suggestion or a recommendation on an alternative to moss stitch, let me know! Email me firstname.lastname@example.org or hit me up on twitter @KororaK and I’ll happily try out your suggestion and report back.
In the meantime happy crocheting as a solution to your knitting needs!