Common knitting knowledge suggests that a scarf is the ideal project for a beginner. But scarves are long and monotonous, and more impatient beginners may find them too tedious to start with. Instead of knitting a mile of garter stitch scarf, consider trying one of these projects. Each them is made with garter stitch squares or rectangles, just like the basic scarf, but they're either smaller or slightly more interesting (or both).
A dishcloth is, essentially, a scarf that you give up on sooner. Use a dishcloth cotton yarn and knit a garter stitch square. It can be anywhere from six to twelve inches on a side. The ridged texture produced in garter stitch is perfect for a dishcloth because it adds scrubbing power.
A basic baby sweater is made from four rectangles: one for the front, one for the back, and one for each sleeve. Make it a boat neck sweater and you don't have to put in any shaping at all. Just seam the finished rectangles together with a yarn needle to make the sweater.
This stuffed bunny is, incredibly, formed from a single knit square. Check out the free Incredibly Easy Bunny pattern from HeartStrings Fiber Arts (http://www.heartstringsfiberarts.com/bunny-pattern.shtm). This cute pattern requires a little patient seaming, but the results are worth it.
The most basic winter hat you can make is formed from a simple rectangle. In garter stitch, knit a rectangle 10 or 12 inches wide and long enough to wrap around your head. Cast off and seam the narrow ends together. Now run your seaming yarn through a stitch on each row of one of the long sides and pull tight. The top of your hat will gather together. Fold up a brim and wear your hat with pride.
-Log cabin knitting-
If you feel like knitting something a bit larger but don't want to purl, consider taking up log cabin knitting. The log cabin technique uses rectangular garter stitch strips in different colors, picked up from the side of the strip before. The results mimic the pattern of log cabin quilts and look elegantly simple. You can use this technique to make squares for a rug or an afghan. If you stop at one, you might have a very fancy but functional dishcloth.
A simple purse is nothing more than a few rectangles seamed together. Make two rectangles of the same size for the front and back of the back. Add a strap made from a long, skinny knit strip, or buy some purse handles (available at most yarn shops). From this basic recipe you could make anything from a tote bag to a chic little purse.
Garter stitch rectangles don't have to mean a long, boring scarf. Even if you don't want to deal with purling or shaping, you can still make fun, interesting, and useful projects. With a little thought, you can find ways to make even your easiest projects look like handcrafted treasures.