The other day I noticed that 80% of what I'm knitting right now is stocking stitch. Acres of this stitch is just the most boring thing ever for a lot of people but when I took a closer look at my own works in progress I was reminded that it is also incredibly beautiful and versatile.
If you're knitting in the round, it's just knitknitknit; if you're doing a flat piece of fabric, it's knit one row and purl the other - hello, usefully mindless knitting - so that all the loops are falling to one side. Because the loops aren't nesting over the previous row the way they do in garter stitch, where the loops alternate falling to the front or back of the fabric, your work gets longer faster. And for impatient knitters like moi, this is such a nice thing.
If you knit on needles smaller than the size of the yarn would normally require, you get a tight stiff fabric perfect for something that will see hard wear; if you go with bigger needles, you get drape. And you can make either side the 'wrong' side because they are both pretty. (I wrote this and realized immediately that I forgot to photograph any of the purl sides of the projects I'm working on. WHOOPS.)
Best of all: it shows off the yarn you're using. I left these pictures pretty large by the way, so feel free to click on any of them for a closer look.
Stocking stitch is a great backdrop for colourful stripes:
If you're knitting yarn with a big halo around every stitch there is no point in getting fancy - nothing will show anyway. But plain ol' stocking stitch? Luscious.
Sometimes with variegated yarn you need to go with a fancy stitch full of increases and decreases at some distance from each other to make sure you don't get big patches of just one colour, but if the yarn does huge colour shifts every inch or so, stocking stitch is the fastest way to celebrate the riot:
My personal favourite is how a hand-dyed semisolid yarn looks when you just let it be. There may be pooling, but it will be lovely. And in the case of my slouchy hat, I'm also going for drape. Is it my imagination or can you actually see how squashy and cuddly the fabric is coming out?
Okay, there is that problem with the boredom factor - acres and acres of nothing but the same hand motion and the same view every time you look down. But you can totally fix that by changing the view - by, for example, knitting multiple projects with very different yarns. It was an accident born of chronic overcommiting, but who cares: Go Me! and Go Stocking Stitch.