From Stitch Pattern to Project Swatch

Coronado Cardi

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.

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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.

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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.

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Build Your Skills: A Pretty Baby-Picot Cast-On

faux Channel Island swatches

Looking for an easy way to jazz up the bottom of edge of your next project? The “faux Channel Island” cast-on may be just thing. It is created by working a knit half-hitch stitch (i.e. a classic long-tail cast-on stitch), then a knit alternating stitch (the knit half of what happens in an alternating provisional cast-on), until the desired number of stitches is reached. Turn the work, and begin your pattern stitch. Voilà!

The video below shows how to work it over an even number of stitches. To work it over an odd number of stitches, begin with a slip knot instead of the twist loop start, and begin the two-stitch repeat of casting on with the knit alternating stitch.

About the video…

This is the first in a series of short videos I’m planning to release. They’re hosted over on my Youtube channel, but are currently “Unlisted,” meaning that they won’t turn up in searches. They are, for now, exclusives. When I’ve built the library up a bit more, there’ll be a more formal launch of the channel. Please do feel free to share the URL with your knitting friends!

 

Knitting Rectangles: Transform with a Fold

Shape: rectangleTwo pairs of equal sides, four equal angles.  Whether you cast on for width and work to length, or cast on for length and work to width, knitting lends itself to making rectangles. This simple shape frees the knitter to experiment with color and pattern, no garment considerations necessary.

What types of rectangular projects do we make? Trivets, placemats, table runners, scarves, stoles, shawls, baby blankets, lapghans, afghans: all are simple rectangles. What else can we make with a rectangle if we permit slightly more complexity, allow a fold here, a seam there? Can we transform that simple rectangle into something more three dimensional?

Fold and seam the rectangleOne Fold, One Seam

One of my favorite rectangular transforms is to take one short end, and seam it along one of the long edges opposite. The resulting shape is a rough cone, smaller at the top by one short end width and larger at the bottom by one short end width. Make the rectangle small, and you’ve got scarflette; make it large and you’ve got a shoulder-hugging shawlette.

I’ve used this construction on at least four published shawlette designs. The fun in making each is in the stitch pattern or technique coupled with the yarn chosen. The resulting fabrics have different weight and drape, which effects the way each looks when worn.

Sizing the Rectangle

Making a rectangle is easy, right? But what size should it be, either for a shawlette or scarflette? How do I know it will go over my head (scarflette)? Not be too tight around my shoulders (shawlette)?

Scarflette The smaller top side of the cone needs to stretch enough to go over your head but not be so large it gapes around the neckline. The bottom side of the cone needs to be large enough to rest on your neck and upper shoulders but not so large the fabric bunches up.

The scarflette’s inner circumference is 24-1/2″ – 6″ = 18-1/2″ around. Its bottom circumference is 24-1/2″ + 6″ = 30-1/2″.

Shawlette The smaller top side of the cone needs to be large enough to go around your neckline but small enough it doesn’t slide off your upper shoulders. The bottom side of the cone needs to be large enough to accommodate your total body circumference and arm movement but not so large it flaps around.

The shawlette’s inner circumference is 42″ – 16″ = 26″ around. Its bottom circumference is 42″ + 16″ = 58″.

Both projects can be customized to fit your body. Depending on which project you’d like to make, measure around your head, neck, neckline, upper shoulders, upper body including arms. Make your rectangle slightly narrower or wider, longer or shorter to hit your measurements. Remember knit fabric stretches, and depending on the yarn and fabric, may stretch quite a lot.

Have fun!

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Maker Faire Bay Area Time!

Edit: See the bottom of the post for a short recap of my sessions in the NeedleArts Zone, and some links to weaving references for teachers and parents!

It’s Maker Faire Bay Area weekend! And Maker Faire has its very own NeedleArts Zone, sponsored by TNNA, The National Needlearts Association. The NeedleArts Zone provides opportunities for makers small and large to learn how to knit, crochet, spin, weave, needlepoint, and cross-stitch. Supplies and teachers are provided FOR FREE: show up, sign up, and you’ll get to try something new. I’m excited to be teaching weaving on little looms, one of my new favorite things to make with!

Maker Faire has something for every kind of maker, as well as makers of all ages. 3-D printing, alternative energy, rockets, robotics, VR, woodworking… the list is endless. And if you’re not sure you want to MAKE, it’s a great place to people watch.

Here’s a few photos from yesterday’s set up. You can find the NeedleArts Zone in building 2, Craft section. We’re right on a corner!


Maker Faire Recap

Stitchers on Friday morningIn addition to helping set up on Thursday, I worked Friday afternoon and Sunday morning/early afternoon in the NeedleArts Zone teaching weaving, my current fiber-related new hobby. Here are just a few thoughts and photos on the experience!

Friday was student day at Maker Faire. When the gates opened, the first students into the Needlearts Zone swarmed the needlepoint station. SWARMED, truly. Every time I looked over from the weaving station, the needlepoint tables were full of stitchers. How wonderful is that?!

My tables quickly filled up with new weavers ranging in age from eight to 18. I had some great conversations with parents, who wanted to know where to get the looms so their kids could keep weaving at home. Teachers can incorporate making a loom out of cardboard into their class activities, getting kids to practice measuring and cutting skills before moving on to weaving itself (see these free patterns from Red Heart for instructions on making a cardboard loom as well as the basics of weaving: LW4978, LW4979, LW4918).

Sunday was equally busy, but with adult learners as part of the mix. Many went beyond the basics of plain weave and tried more complicated basketweave and tapestry techniques. While we had warped the looms for students ahead of time, each student learned how to take their piece off the loom and finish the ends so they had something to take home as a reminder of what they learned.

It was exhilarating to be part of creating so many new weavers, spinners, knitters, crocheters, and stitchers!

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