Mermaid: a free lace knitting stitch pattern

This month, the random number generator chose the word Mermaid, suggested by Ange on Patreon. This was a nice coincidence: a lot of artists who post on social media were making art about mermaids through the month of May. (The hashtag for this is #MerMay – it started on Instagram, but I have also seen it on Twitter and Mastodon. It’s probably elsewhere too!) Of course, it’s June now, but at least I did the designing in May!

Each month, my Patreon backers have the chance to suggest words for me to encode as knitting stitches. A random number generator helps me choose a word every two weeks, and then I get to work, first turning the letters into numbers, then charting the numbers onto grids in various ways. Finally, when I make the chart into lace, I turn the marked squares into yarnovers and work out where to place the corresponding decreases. (I usually make lace; occasionally I make cables instead.) I also make a chart for any craft that uses a square grid for designing; this goes in a separate post.

Mermaid: a free lace knitting stitch pattern, by Naomi Parkhurst

chart for Mermaid: a free lace knitting stitch pattern, by Naomi Parkhurst
click to enlarge

Notes:

  • This is a stitch pattern such as might be found in a stitch dictionary. This is not a pattern for a finished object. You will need to add selvedges or some other form of knitted stitches to either side.
  • The repeats in the charts and the text aren’t in the same places. (The double YOs complicate writing the repeats logically in the text.)
  • I knit two versions of this stitch pattern in the swatch: version 1, at the bottom, repeats rows 1-8; version 2, at the top, repeats rows 1-16.
  • Mermaid is a multiple of 11+11 stitches and either 8 or 16 rows.
  • I’ve made stitch maps for it: version 1, version 2.
  • Designers, please feel free to use it in your patterns. I’d like credit but won’t be offended if people don’t give it.
  • If you like my posts like this, please consider supporting me on Patreon or donating with my Paypal tip jar in the sidebar. Thanks!

Abbreviations:

  • DSD: double slip decrease; ssk, slip the resulting stitch back to the left needle, pass the next stitch over, then slip the result. (Right-leaning double decrease. Substitute knit 3 together if desired; they are similar but don’t look quite the same.)
  • k: knit.
  • k2tog: knit 2 stitches together as if they were 1. (Right-leaning decrease)
  • p: purl.
  • sk2p: slip 1, k2tog, pass slipped stitch over. (Left-leaning double decrease.)
  • ssk: slip each of the next 2 stitches as if to knit, then knit them together through the back loop. (Left-leaning decrease)
  • yo: yarnover.

Row 1 (RS): k1, k2tog, yo x 2, ssk, k3, ssk, yo, k1, *k1, yo, k2tog, k3, k2tog, yo x 2, ssk, k2, k2tog, yo x 2, ssk, k3, ssk, yo, k1; work from *, k1, yo, k2tog, k3, k2tog, yo x 2, ssk, k1. [44 sts]
Row 2 (WS): p2, (k1, p1) in double yo, p7, *p7, (k1, p1) in double yo, p4, (k1, p1) in double yo, p7; work from *, p7, (k1, p1) in double yo, p2.
Row 3: k2tog, yo, k2, yo, ssk, k2tog, yo, k3, *k3, (yo, ssk, k2tog, yo, k2) x 2, yo, ssk, k2tog, yo, k3; work from *, k3, yo, ssk, k2tog, yo, k2, yo, ssk.
Row 4: purl.
Row 5: ssk, yo, k2tog, yo x 2, k2tog, k3, k2tog, *yo x 2, ssk, k3, ssk, yo x 2, (ssk, yo, k2tog) x 2, yo x 2, k2tog, k3, k2tog; work from *, yo x 2, ssk, k3, ssk, yo x 2, ssk, yo, k2tog.
Row 6: p3, (k1, p1) in double yo, p5, (k1, p1) in double yo *p5, (k1, p1) in double yo, p6, (k1, p1) in double yo, p5, (k1, p1) in double yo; work from *, p5, (k1, p1) in double yo, p3.
Row 7: ssk, yo, k3, ssk, yo x 2, DSD, yo, k1, *k1, yo, sk2p, yo x 2, k2tog, k3, yo, k2tog, ssk, yo, k3, ssk, yo x 2, DSD, yo, k1; work from *, k1, yo, sk2p, yo x 2, k2tog, k3, yo, k2tog.
Row 8: p6, (k1, p1) in double yo, p3, *p3, (k1, p1) in double yo, p12, (k1, p1) in double yo, p3; work from *, p3, (k1, p1) in double yo, p6.
Row 9: k1, yo, k2tog, k3, k2tog, yo x 2, ssk, k1, *k1, k2tog, yo x 2, ssk, k3, ssk, yo, k2, yo, k2tog, k3, k2tog, yo x 2, ssk, k1; work from *, k1, k2tog, yo x 2, ssk, k3, ssk, yo, k1.
Row 10: p7, (k1, p1) in double yo, p2, *p2, (k1, p1) in double yo, p14, (k1, p1) in double yo, p2; work from *, p2, (k1, p1) in double yo, p7.
Row 11: k3, yo, ssk, k2tog, yo, k2, yo, ssk, *k2tog, yo, k2, yo, ssk, k2tog, yo, k6, yo, ssk, k2tog, yo, k2, yo, ssk; work from *, k2tog, yo, k2, yo, ssk, k2tog, yo, k3.
Row 12: purl.
Row 13: yo, ssk, k3, ssk, yo x 2, ssk, yo, k2tog, *ssk, yo, k2tog, yo x 2, k2tog, k3, k2tog, yo x 2, ssk, k3, ssk, yo x 2, ssk, yo, k2tog; work from *, ssk, yo, k2tog, yo x 2, k2tog, k3, k2tog, yo.
Row 14: p6, (k1, p1) in double yo, p3, *p3, [(k1, p1) in double yo, p5] x 2, (k1, p1) in double yo, p3; work from *, p3, (k1, p1) in double yo, p6.
Row 15: k1, yo, sk2p, yo x 2, k2tog, k3, yo, k2tog, *ssk, yo, k3, ssk, yo x 2, DSD, yo, k2, yo, sk2p, yo x 2, k2tog, k3, yo, k2tog; work from *, ssk, yo, k3, ssk, yo x 2, DSD, yo, k1.
Row 16: p3, (k1, p1) in double yo, p6, *p6, [(k1, p1) in double yo, p6] x 2; work from *, p6, (k1, p1) in double yo, p3.

Encoding explanation for the curious:

The first thing I did was to turn the letters of mermaid into numbers, using base 8: 15 05 22 15 01 21 04. (I picked base 8 because I liked the resulting charts.)

Then I charted them in various ways, and picked this one:

image that shows how I laid out the numbers on the chart

Here’s how I charted it, using my method 4. I started in the bottom right corner and worked from right to left since knitting goes from right to left. (This is arbitrary, really, but I like to be consistent.)

The first digit of mermaid is 1, so I counted one square and filled the next square with black to show that I counted 1 for the first digit. The next digit is 5, so I counted 5 squares, and marked the next. The third digit is 0, so I counted no squares and marked the next. (This is a little weird until you get used to it, but it’s the only way to account for zeroes.) The next digit is 5, so I counted 1, 2 squares and… oops! No more room on this row. However, I jump up to the right end of the next row to count 3, 4, and 5, and marked the next available square with black. And so on and so forth. The blank square in the upper left doesn’t matter for the code, since there’s not a black square at the end to indicate that it’s been counted.

image showing the mirrored version of the initial chart

Once I marked out this grid, I mirrored it along the vertical axis.  Then I added wrong side rows, replaced each black square with a yarnover, and spent a lot of time swatching to figure out where I wanted to place the decreases required to make a standard rectangular stitch pattern from the charts. Finally, I added another repeat of the pattern vertically, but offset halfway to add visual interest.

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