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Think of knitting, and you might immediately think of sweaters, hats, and scarves. While these are all great projects, why not consider knitting something for your home? 

Decorative and practical, a knitted table runner can spruce up any ordinary space or be at the center of a festive dinner table setting. Here’s some information and inspiration for knitting a table runner for your home.

Knitting Supplies

knitting tools
Some essential and optional knitting supplies.

You don’t need anything fancy or expensive to knit a table runner, and if you’ve knitted before, you probably already have what you need. The most important items are listed below, and you’ll also need some scissors, a tapestry needle, and possibly a tape measure (optional).

Table Runner Knitting Pattern

white table runner
Source: instagram
Follow a pattern if you want to knit anything beyond beginner level. (Via @julias.seasonal_wreaths)

If you’re a beginner or intermediate-level knitter who wants a break from knitting scarves, table runners are a simple alternative. 

One of the great things about knitting a table runner is that you don’t actually need to follow a table runner knitting pattern. However, if you want to practice some more advanced knitting techniques or include complex designs, you could follow a table runner pattern or use one for some inspiration.

Check out the following links for some advanced table runner patterns:

Knitting Needles

needles
Source: instagram
Circular needles allow you to knit larger pieces.

Standard knitting needles are about 14 inches long. If you want your table runner to be thinner than the width of your needles, regular needles are sufficient. However, to knit a wider runner, you’ll need to use circular needles. These are two pointed ends joined by a thin plastic or wire cable. They come in varying lengths and allow you to knit a much wider piece of fabric than regular knitting needles will allow.

Knitting with circular needles is no more difficult than knitting with regular needles. If you’d like an introduction to circular needles and knitting in the round, check out Davina Choy’s Skillshare class, Knitting III: Learn Knitting in the Round with a Slouchy Hat.

Knitting Yarn

pink yarn
Yarn comes in many colors, weights, and textures.

You won’t want to use the same yarn to knit a table runner as you would to knit a cozy hat or socks. Table runners are decorative, but they’re also functional. You’ll probably place other items on top of a table runner, like bowls or vases, and it might get dirty with food or everyday dust and debris. With this in mind, the best yarns to knit a table runner are:

  • Tough and not fluffy—think cotton blend rather than mohair
  • Smooth and flat rather than bobbled or uneven
  • Durable and easy to wash

More Festive Knitting Cheer

Easy Knit Christmas Stocking—Beginner Friendly Flat Knitting!

What Stitches to Use to Knit a Table Runner

purple knitting
Source: instagram
This simple table runner uses garter stitch and stockinette stitch, via @cudarenki_handmade.

Table runners can be knit in many kinds of stitches, from beginner to more advanced level.

Cast On/Off

Whatever your level of knitting experience, you’ll need to know how to cast on and cast off. These stitches begin and end your knitted piece. Casting on and off are two foundational skills of knitting. If you need a refresher, check out the Skillshare class Four Knitting Cast On Methods—From Beginner to Advanced

Garter Stitch

gray knit
Source: instagram
A garter stitch table runner, via @chemknits.

Garter stitch is the simplest stitch type you can do. It’s what happens when you repeat the simple knit stitch over and over, row after row. If you choose a pretty yarn or execute it really neatly, a garter stitch table runner can look fab.

Stockinette Stitch

red knit
Source: instagram
A stockinette stitch table runner, via @stitchspot_.

Stockinette stitch is what’s formed when you alternate rows of the two most basic stitches: knit and purl stitch. If knitting it for a table runner, make sure to “block” it at the end to prevent it from curling, which it will naturally do. Soak the finished piece in water then pin it down on towels so that it dries flat. 

Basketweave Stitch

knitting texture looks like squares
Source: instagram
A basketweave stitch table runner, via @knittinggwen.

Basketweave stitch ends up looking somewhat like a woven basket. It consists of alternating squares or rectangles of knit and purl stitch. 

Seed Stitch

black knit
Source: instagram
The borders of this table runner are in seed stitch, via @claudiadonnellydesigns.

Seed stitch is a textured stitch that lies flat, so it’s ideal for table runners. It alternates single knit stitches and single purl stitches both horizontally and vertically.

Linen Stitch

multicolored knit
Source: instagram
A linen stitch table runner via @craftingmaria.

Linen stitch is a dense, durable stitch that produces a thick fabric, making it ideal for table runners and other household items, like dishcloths.

Cables

teal cable knit
Source: instagram
Cables on a table runner via @knit.to.mylou.

Cables are an advanced knitting technique. While they do produce a rather uneven surface, they look beautiful and can work if your table runner will be more decorative than functional. Learn how to knit cables in the Skillshare class Next-Level Knitting: Cables.

Increases/Decreases

While they’re not stitches per se, increases and decreases are useful if you want to give shape to your table runner, such as pointed ends. You can learn more about them in the Skillshare tutorial Knitting II: Learn Stitch Widths with a Triangle Scarf.

How to Knit a Table Runner

multicolored stripes knit
Source: instagram
Knit a striped table runner like this one from @knitondesigns.

As you’ve seen already, there are many ways to knit a table runner, but the following instructions produce a simple, garter stitch table runner with stripes.

Step 1: Gather Your Materials

Make sure you have the necessary materials listed above. 

To knit stripes, you’ll need some different yarn colors. It’s best if the yarns are of the same weight and texture, so it’s helpful to buy different colored yarns from the same brand or product range. 

You’ll also want to think about how wide you want the table runner to be before you get started, as you might need circular needles.

Step 2: Cast On

Cast on your first row according to the width you want your runner to be. There are simpler and more complex methods of casting on, but the straightforward slip knot method is fine for this project.

Step 3: Knit Your Desired Number of Rows in the First Color, Then Switch

It’s your choice whether to be organic or methodical in your approach to stripes. That is, you could knit exactly three or four stripes of each color before switching, or you could see how you feel as you go along. 

Knit a few rows of the first color in knit stitch, and when it’s time to switch colors, simply pick up a strand of the second color, make a loop, and start knitting with this. There’s no need to cut off the first color if you will be coming back to it after a few rows, as it can sit neatly on the back side of the runner. However, if you’re done with that first color or won’t be coming back to it for more than a few rows, snip it off (leaving a few inches of tail) and put that ball of yarn to the side.

If you need a refresher (or a starter!) on how to knit stripes, check out lesson 6 of the tutorial Knitting II: Learn Stitch Widths with a Triangle Scarf.

Step 4: Knit Until You Reach the Desired Length, then Cast Off

Keep knitting row by row, switching colors for the stripes, until your table runner is the length you want it to be. Finish by casting off.

Step 5: Weave in Loose Ends

With a tapestry needle with a wide eye, weave any loose ends into the fabric on the back side so they don’t show. This is preferable to knotting and cutting off the loose ends because it gives a smoother finish. 

Show Off Your Table Runner

teaset on red table cloth
Source: instagram
A seasonal table runner, via @lacelady_.

Beautiful hand-knitted items aren’t made to be hidden, so put your table runner somewhere where you will see it, or bring it out for special occasions. The holiday season is a great time to display your handiwork as you decorate your home with seasonal colors and patterns. Plan ahead, and you can even gift some table runners next holiday season or for birthdays throughout the year. Experiment with colors and textures, and enjoy!

All the Pretty Colors

Hygge Knit ♦ Traditional Fair Isle Knitting Technique