The Sand and Dot Stitch Cowls

In this series of posts, I began with a stitch pattern, thinking about its qualities and how they would result in fabric. Then I made a swatch to see if I liked working the stitch pattern and see if I was right about what it could do. With that information in hand I decided on a project, and made more swatches to explore how to put the stitch pattern to work. Now we’ll bring the series to a conclusion with the projects themselves.

Cowl Calculations

I measured the stitch and row gauge of Swatch 1: 13 sts and 20 rows / 4 inches [10 cm]. To get the number of stitches in 1 inch, I divided 13 by 4 to get 3.25 stitches per inch (SPI). I have 126 yards of chunky weight yarn; not enough for a long cowl but I can probably get a short one of decent width with that amount.

So how many inches around IS a short cowl? Adult heads are usually between 18 to 25 inches around, with necks being of course a lot less. I settled on a number approximately twice around the head: 40 inches.

To find out how many to cast on, I multiplied the SPI of 3.25 by 40, the number of inches I want. 3.25 x 40 = 130 stitches. Like its Seed stitch parent, Sand/Dot has a repeat of 2 stitches when worked flat. Since I wanted to work in the round, I needed to consider whether the stitch pattern needed any modifications.

Flat to Circular in Seed Stitch Patterns

Seed stitch patterns are like checkerboards with alternating red and black squares: purl stitch above knit stitch, knit stitch above purl stitch. If a round begins with a knit stitch, the first stitch of the round above needs to be a purl, and vice versa.

Round 1: [k1, p1] to end of rnd.
Round 2: [p1, k1] to end of rnd.

However, working in the round is not truly working in a circle, but instead is a spiral. The last stitch of a round butts up against the first stitch of the next round, not the current round. Over an even number of stitches, the repeat of Round 1 would end with a purl stitch and the first stitch of Round 2 would begin with  one, putting two purl stitches next to each other. What to do??? Work over an odd number of stitches instead.

Seed Stitch in the round is thus said to be a repeat of 2 stitches, plus 1 stitch. While Sand/Dot stitch has rows/round “between” the seed stitch portions that might visually disguise the purl-next-to-purl problem, I decided it would help me stay in pattern to work over an odd number of stitches, and added 1 stitch to my 130-stitch calculation.

Working Method

I like the look of both stitch patterns, but I do like knitting a bit more than purling. For this double-sided cowl, there was no reason not to work Dot stitch, with its easier-for-me Rows 1 and 3  of knitting. If I want the Sand stitch side as the RS, I simply turn the cowl inside out!

Below you’ll find the line by line instructions for each cowl, with commentary about some choices I made for each. I hope you’ve enjoyed this glimpse into the design process, and give it a try yourself. I’d love to see the results!

Pebbles on the Beach

This cowl was derived from Swatch 1. On it you can see the fabric curls slightly to the Dot stitch side. To counter that curl I decided to purl the first round after the cast-on. Since there isn’t a bind off with the same baby picot look as the cast-on, I opted for the opposite texture and used a rolled stockinette top border.

Using  US 10 [6.0 mm] circular needle and Faux Channel Island Cast-On, cast on 131 stitches. Join for working in the round, making sure the work is not twisted. Purl one round.

Rounds 1 and 3: knit.
Round 2: *k1, p1; repeat from * to last st, k1.
Round 4: *p1, k1; repeat from * to last st, p1.

Repeat Rounds 1-4 seven times. Knit 3 rounds; bind off.

Pebble Pathways

This cowl was derived from Swatch 2. Since it alternates Sand and Dot, thus curving slightly from RS to WS in welts, I decided it didn’t need any special border treatments.

Using  US 10 [6.0 mm] circular needle and Faux Channel Island Cast-On, cast on 131 stitches. Join for working in the round, making sure the work is not twisted.

Rounds 1 and 3: knit.
Round 2: *k1, p1; repeat from * to last st, k1.
Round 4: *p1, k1; repeat from * to last st, p1.
Round 5: knit.
Rounds 6 and 8: purl.
Round 7: *k1, p1; repeat from * to last st, k1.
Round 9: *p1, k1; repeat from * to last st, p1.
Round 10: purl.

Repeat rounds 1-10 twice, 30 rows total. Bind off.

Lines in the Sand

This cowl was derived from Swatch 3. It features a central panel of Sand/Dot stitch, and has symmetrical borders top and bottom, albeit with slightly different looks top and bottom. As with Pebbles on a Beach, I chose to work with the Dot stitch side facing me. For the bottom border I used the same cast-on and purl round combo as for Pebbles on the Beach, plus one repeat of the Dot stitch before a 3-round band of purls (knits on the other side). For the top border, I worked another 3-round band of purls, then one repeat of Dot stitch, and bound off purling.

Using  US 10 [6.0 mm] circular needle and Faux Channel Island Cast-On, cast on 131 stitches. Join for working in the round, making sure the work is not twisted. Purl 1 round.

Rounds 1, 3, 5: knit.
Round 2: *k1, p1; repeat from * to last st, k1.
Round 4: *p1, k1; repeat from * to last st, p1.
Rounds 6-8: Purl.

Repeat Rounds 1-4 three times, then Round 5 once. Repeat Rounds 6-8 once. Repeat Rounds 1-5 once. Purling, bind off.








From Stitch Pattern to Project Swatch

In the last post I talked about Sand and Dot stitch, stitch patterns that are simply two sides of the same fabric. When you fall in love with a stitch pattern in a book or magazine (or website ;), the first step is to make a swatch to a) see how your fingers like making it, and b) see what the resulting fabric feels and looks like. Once you’ve decided you want to move forward with the pattern, the next step is to swatch for using it in a project.

Above you’ll see the swatch, design inspiration photos, and rough schematic which I included in my design proposal for the Coronado Cardi. When I made the swatch, I was testing the idea of beginning with a Sand stitch border, which would curl just slightly toward the body. Above the border, the body in Dot stitch would allow the multicolor yarn to take center stage, with just a smattering of purl bumps to tie the textures together. The swatch shows where I tried a buttonhole band in Sand stitch to see what that would look like.

I used the same size needle throughout. Note how on the  right edge of the main fabric the border appears just a tiny bit wider than the Dot stitch main fabric.  Since I didn’t change needles or stitch count, shouldn’t the fabric be the same width on both sides??

The top of the loop and running threads are the dominant feature of any purl-based fabric like Reverse Stockinette or Sand stitch. The width-wise character of these “frowns” and “smiles” cause the curl at top, bottom, and sides of these fabrics. Perhaps it is simply the curl that we see, making Sand stitch appear wider, or even measure as being a fraction of a fraction of an inch wider, than Dot stitch. When designing, the best you can do is make a big swatch and trust your measurements (taking the average of several).

A Simpler Project

Let’s use our base stitch patterns to make a simple circular cowl. I’m going to use the Faux Channel Island cast-on from a few weeks ago as a bottom border, and a flat edge of some kind as a top border. Looking in my stash, I found three skeins of Jamieson’s Chunky Shetland (126 yds/100g; 15 sts and 22 rows for 4 inches/10 cm on US 10), each in a different color. In Swatch 1 (amethyst), Swatch 2 (aster), and Swatch 3 (north sea) below I explored ways to vary the stitch pattern(s) that would be appropriate for my project.


Swatch 1

The simplest thing to do? Begin with my chosen bottom border and jump right into the stitch pattern. End by working in stockinette to create an edge that rolls away from the Sand Stitch face of the fabric and toward the Dot stitch face of the fabric.

I love the way the cast-on edge works with the fabric itself. The bottom is curling up slightly, something I will need to consider as I make final decisions about the cowl I’m creating.

Swatch 2

Welting is the horizontal equivalent of ribbing, usually worked by alternating rows of Stockinette with rows of Reverse Stockinette. Here I’ve alternated a full repeat of Sand (+1 balancing row) with a full repeat of Dot (+1 balancing row), creating a reversible fabric with a three-dimensional character.

Rows 1-4: Dot Stitch.
Row 5: Knit.
Rows 6-9: Sand Stitch.
Row 10: Knit.
Repeat rows 1-10 twice, binding off on last row.

Swatch 3

In this swatch I’ve brought together features of Swatch 1 and 2. The swatch has a large middle area of Dot/Sand stitch, and borders of the same. But I’ve interrupted the patterning with 3 rows of Reverse Stockinette on the Dot stitch side, Stockinette on the Sand stitch side. The two sides of the fabric are decidedly different, with welts that pop up out of the Dot side and receding valleys of knit stitches on the Sand side.

Rows 1-4: Dot Stitch.
Row 5: Knit.
Rows 6, 8: Knit
Rows 7: Purl.
Rows 9-20: Dot Stitch.
Row 21: Knit.
Rows 22, 24: Knit.
Row 23: Purl.
Rows 25-28: Dot Stitch.
Bind off, purling.

In the final post of this series I’ll go over the process of writing up a simple cowl pattern worked in the round for each of these swatches as well as show you the results of knitting them.




Stitch Pattern: Sand and Dot Stitch

Sand and Dot stitch are two sides of the same coin, much like Reverse Stockinette and Stockinette. Change WS to RS and voila: you’ve swapped one for the other as your chosen fabric. The purl bumps sprinkled liberally over the face of Sand give it the gritty character from which it derives its name. Their smooth opposite side allows the rarer purls on the Dot stitch side to pop out of the fabric in splendid isolation. Here’s how you make them:

Sand Stitch (even number of sts)Sand Stitch

Rows 1 and 3 (WS): knit.
Row 2: *k1, p1; repeat from * to end.
Row 4: *p1, k1; repeat from * to end.

Dot Stitch (even number of sts)Dot Stitch

Rows 1 and 3 (RS): knit.
Row 2: *k1, p1; repeat from * to end.
Row 4: *p1, k1; repeat from * to end.



Deconstructing the Stitch Patterns: They’re Mashups

When you’ve been knitting for a while you develop mental strategies for remembering repeats. Freed from having to look back at your instructions, you can look at other things: the movie you’re watching, friends or family you are with, or simply the fabric magically developing under your moving fingers.

Read rows 2 and 4 as if they were sequential instead of separated by a row, and what do you see? And if you do the same thing with rows 1 and 3?


Every other row is Seed stitch. Every OTHER other row is either a knit or purl row. When you see a stitch pattern is simply a mash up of two simpler patterns it can be simple to read your work, and not have to read the instructions!

More on Pattern Mash-Ups: Inheritance

Sand and Dot inherit the characteristics of their parent patterns. Their common Seed stitch parent makes them a little shorter in height than their other parent, with more rows per inch (RPI). Their other taller parent contributes a tendency to curl at bottom, top and sides.

Coronado Cardi
Creative Knitting, Autumn 2016: Coronado Cardi

A few years back I used these stitch patterns in the Coronado Cardigan. Next post we’ll look more closely at how I used the characteristics of both stitch patterns in the design. And we’ll look at ways to play with stitch patterns in your own projects.