Playing With Stitch Patterns

Filed in Just Stitches, Skill Building by on October 26, 2015 0 Comments

One of my personal knitting goals this year is to draft an original (at least to me) stitch pattern. That means I’ll start with a blank piece of graph paper and some yarn and needles and just play, without consciously deriving from or referring to any published stitch pattern. Chances are that I’ll hit pretty close to someone else’s creation, just because of exposure and the fact that not much in the world is truly new. I’m not worried about that. It will still be new to me.

I love to play with stitch patterns. I love how the simplest combinations can yield such fun results.  As I look at this baby blanket I’m working on, the possibilities literally swirl around in my head. Ripple patterns are really fun and easy to riff off of to create variations, and that kind of practice can lead to new exploration.

This is a 6 row, 15 stitch repeat that combines increases, decreases, knit rows and purl rows. There is one pattern row, repeated twice, 2 purl rows and 2 knit rows. The sequence of these combinations creates the ordinary magic of stripes of stockinette and reverse stockinette texture that have the added zing of zig zags. I know I found it in a book or online list of stitch patterns somewhere, but I needed a baby blanket in a hurry. I looked at the picture, read over the words a few times, memorized it, and never wrote it down. Then I swatched, measured and cast on. So, I don’t know exactly where this one came from.


The instructions are:

Row 1: K1, yo, k5, sl 1 k2 tog psso, k5, yo, k1, rep across row.

Row 2: Purl all sts.

Row 3: Knit all sts.

Row 4: Rep row 1.

Row 5: Rep row 2.

Row 6: Rep row 3.

That’s it! The first row combines a double decrease in the middle with 2 increases at the ends to keep the stitch count constant, and because they are 5 stitches away from each other, they form the ripple. The next two rows complete a stockinette stripe, then because row 3 and row 4 are both knit rows, right on top of each other, the stockinette reverses. When you go back to row 1, the stockinette reverses again.

Understanding the sequence and mechanics like this  makes it possible to read your knitting and free yourself from following any pattern at all for something rectangular like a baby blanket. You can always tell exactly where you are, and best of all, you’re free to play.

Consider what would happen if you made the following adjustments:

  • Replace a left-slanting double decrease with a centered double decrease.
  • Replace the 2 yarn overs with a closed increase.
  • Add more rows of stockinette (another purl and knit row in each section).
  • Knit 3 stitches between increases and decreases. Or 7.
  • Changed colors every 6 rows. Or every 3 rows.

If your eyes glazed over while reading the last paragraph, don’t worry. I’m going to show some examples of these changes in next week’s post. If this gets you very excited and itching to get out some yarn and needles and play around, by all means do! Share your ideas or questions in the comments and let’s create something fresh!


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