Étude no. 1 (free stitch pattern)

étude no. 1 - free stitch pattern derived from traditional cross stitch design

Sometimes I take a break from my other knitting to try something new.  I’ll swatch an unusual stitch pattern from a stitch dictionary. I’ll try some new bind-off technique. It’s all part of stretching myself and expanding my knowledge of how knitting works. I might not ever use the new technique for a design or even a personal project, but it’s all good. It keeps my brain limber.

Sometimes I expand my design repertoire and want to share the results with you. (Some of my playing with crochet foundations as knitting cast-ons comes from that, for instance.)

I think I might call some any resulting stitch patterns that aren’t part of a larger project études, because they’re similar to the exercises used by musicians to challenge themselves.

Not all the results will necessarily be successful; I will try to share my thought processes along the way. I want to encourage other knitters to give such experimentation a try without worrying about making mistakes.

And on that note, here is Étude no. 1.

I’ve been thinking for a while that the intermediate stages of my secret code charting process look like the generic charts for cross stitch or stranded knitting, and that I should try playing around with turning some traditional designs into knitted lace. Not necessarily with the purpose of making something that looks the same as the original, but just to see what would happen.

This would also give me the freedom to try a couple of design techniques that I don’t do with the secret code methods (because it would mess up any remnants of the code aspect, even though I’m mostly not concerned with decodability – I just use the words as a starting point). For instance I’ve been wanting to learn more about using no-spaces in the middle of patterns to make lace charts look a bit more like the final result. Also, I’ve been curious about making the kind of lace that doesn’t necessarily have decreases on the same rows as their corresponding yarn overs.

I have a couple of Dover books of traditional folk designs, so I went digging in Charted Folk Designs for Cross-Stitch Embroidery: 27 Charts of Ancient Folk Embroideries from the Countries along the Danube.

This is the one I hit upon, number 17.

etude1 orig xstitch

Except that I didn’t want to use the whole thing; I only wanted part of it:

etude1 unit

There’s one deliberate change (the bottom left corner only has one square, because I was thinking about how it might repeat horizontally and didn’t feel like having a quadruple yarn over. (Sometimes I like them.) The square in the bottom right is missing because I somehow missed that the red design wasn’t a perfect mirror of the black. Oh well.

I mirrored it horizontally and started treating the red squares as yarn overs, and figuring out where to put the corresponding decreases.

scan of original pseudo-chart

That shows a bit of my process (and how messy it can be). The scribbled-in squares are yarn overs; the Xs are no-stitch squares. The little tiny boxes are places where my knitting had extra stitches.

I wanted to put the decreases that corresponded with the triple yarn overs on the first row, and vice versa. I never did quite manage it, but I am happy with the end result:


The yarn overs for the central triangles are all together in the right arrangement, and the yarn overs that form the outer wiggly lines are all together. The one thing is that the stitch count varies up to four stitches per pattern repeat, and I couldn’t work out a way to tile the pattern so that the wide parts were balanced by the narrow part. It makes a fine vertical band, and would be a great scarf, even repeated, but I am dubious that it would be useful as an all over pattern for a sweater.

I like the result. It makes me think of citrus slices, or the rising/setting sun pattern in some glass transoms or doorways,

etude1 1

Chart Etude no. 1
Row 1 (RS): yo, ssk, k1, yo, ssk, k3, k2tog, yo, k1, k2tog, yo. (13 sts)
Row 2 (WS): purl.
Row 3: k1, yo, ssk, k1, yo x 2, ssk, k1, k2tog, yo x 2, k1, k2tog, yo, k. (15 sts)
Row 4: (p4, k) x 2, p5.
Row 5: k1, yo, k2tog, ssk, k1, yo x 3, cdd, yo x 3, k1, k2tog, ssk, yo, k. (17 sts)
Row 6: p6, k1, p3, k1, p6.
Row 7: k2, yo, ssk, k9, k2tog, yo, k2.
Row 8: purl.
Row 9: ssk, k2, yo x 2, sssk, cdd, k3tog, yo x 2, k2, k2tog. (13 sts)
Row 10: p3, (k, p4) x 2.
Row 11: k4, k2tog, yo, k1, yo, ssk, k4.
Row 12: purl.
Row 13: k3, k2tog, (k, yo) x 2, k1, ssk, k3.
Row 14: purl.

I then thought I would try to make a version that could be repeated horizontally without odd bulges, and this is what I came up with:



I like it as a border, but still think I wouldn’t want it as an all over pattern. And I might delete the last pair of rows if using as a border.

Chart Etude no. 1 variation on a theme
Row 1 (RS): k3, yo, ssk, k1, yo, ssk, k3, k2tog, yo, k1, k2tog, yo, k3. (19 sts)
Row 2 (WS): purl.
Row 3: k1, k2tog, k1, yo, ssk, k1, yo x 2, ssk, k1, k2tog, yo x 2, k1, k2tog, yo, k1, ssk, k.
Row 4: p6, k1, p4, k1, p7.
Row 5: k2tog, k1, yo, k2tog, ssk, k1, yo x 3, cdd, yo x 3, k1, k2tog, ssk, yo, k1, ssk.
Row 6: p7, k1, p3, k1, p7.
Row 7: k3, yo, ssk, k9, k2tog, yo, k3.
Row 8: purl.
Row 9: yo, k1, 1/1 LC, k2, yo x 2, sssk, cdd, k3tog, yo x 2, k2, 1/1 RC, k1, yo.
Row 10: p6, k1, p4, k1, p6, k.
Row 11: k7, k2tog, yo, k1, yo, ssk, k7.
Row 12: purl.
Row 13: k6, k2tog, (k, yo) x 2, k1, ssk, k6.
Row 14: purl.

3 thoughts on “Étude no. 1 (free stitch pattern)

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