One of my very favorite things about the online knitting community is the way that one person will write about a technique or an idea, and that will inspire someone else to try a variation, and so on.
This back-and-forth brainstorming has been happening lately with hex mesh, bunny ears decreases, and combinations thereof.
Sequence of events: several years ago, I unvented the bunny ears decrease and figured I couldn’t have been the first to come up with it. Indeed, that was the case. Details in this post. Later, Denise Plourde came up with a way to not use (k1,p1) to work a double yo, instead using a (p1, yo, p1) and a bunny ears decrease and posted about it on Ravelry and on Stitch Maps. I’ve been playing with that for the last couple of weeks – last week I posted a hexagonal mesh based on a six row repeat using that technique. And then StitcherUniverse posted on my Ravelry group that he had come up with a way to use a variant of bunny ears to make that a four row repeat.
I had to try it out, plus I wanted to see what would happen with another hex mesh from this post.
Follow link to see results
Over the last while, I’ve been turning a doodled colorwork pattern into several knitting stitch patterns so you can see how I turn my code grids into knitting in various ways. Here is my original post.
For this version, I substituted yarnovers for the original black squares, and then made quite a few alterations in both the layout and the chart. Lace often has its own considerations, you see.
Periodically I like to play with techniques in swatches to see what I can do with them. When I write about this, I call the posts my études, because they’re somewhat like the exercises musicians do for practicing.
This time I was looking at a potential chart for one of my Patreon words, and wondering if I could make something work. I had an idea about a combination to try and I decided to make a swatchlet to see.
Last week I showed how I turned a doodled colorwork chart into a very different-looking mosaic knitting chart. I had a plan worked out for a series of posts showing how that original colorwork chart would look as a knit-purl pattern, and even as lace. I will come to those blog posts eventually, I hope, but I got whacked in the head by an idea and feel compelled to run with it.
Important note: after the initial mosaic chart, none of the charts in this post are suitable for mosaic knitting.
There’s a knitting stitch combination that I’ve seen called a gather, and I’ve mostly seen it in Estonian stitch patterns, though I’m guessing they get used elsewhere too. Essentially, they are a combination of a double decrease (or more) and a double increase (or more) happening at the same time.
It sounds more complicated than it is. Take the 3/3 gather. When making a k3tog decrease, the basic principle is to insert the needle through all three stitches as if they were one stitch, and then knit one stitch in that clump of stitches. The gather expands upon that: knit those three stitches together without removing them from the needle, then yarnover, then knit the three stitches together again. This is the same as working a KYOK at the same time as a k3tog. Start with three stitches, end with three stitches, but they’re gathered together.
But thinking of it as a decrease/increase started making my brain fizz.
Over the last few years I’ve had various people ask me if Stitch Maps could be useful to me in my design process because they look more like knitting than regular knitting charts. The answer is a bit complicated. They are useful to me in my design process for certain kinds of things, but not because they “look like” knitting. To my mind, they don’t actually look like knitting, though they do follow more of the shape of the fabric than a standard knitting chart done on a square grid.
Before I go on, I just want to say that I think Stitch Maps are awesome, and I pay the higher level subscription fee every year because I find them valuable and I want some of the features from that subscription level. That said, they still can’t replace swatching in my design process, for multiple reasons. Some Stitch Maps look a lot like the final knitting, while others don’t so much. So how I feel about them is more related to my particular style of knitting stitch patterns than to anything in Stitch Maps itself.
The questions people ask me say a lot about their (pretty reasonable) assumptions about knitting design and stitch pattern design. I’m sure there are designers out there who have a picture in their head of what they want their end result to be. But that’s not how things are for me.
I’m going to digress a moment. About a year and a half ago, one of my online communities got into a discussion of aphantasia and whether we saw movies in our heads when reading. The group covered a real spectrum, with one person saying she could paint the scenes she saw in her head in full color, and that they were vividly, visually present, like a movie, to another person who saw nothing at all when reading and can’t picture memories in her head.
I don’t quite lack mental imagery when thinking about things or reading books, but it’s barely there: I get glimpses, vague outlines or hints of movement, like ghosts and shadows. I hate things like battle scenes in books where it matters how people move in relation to each other because I can’t actually comprehend how it all fits together unless I make a diagram on paper, and so I find it boring. (I skim over those bits.)
So how can I design things, if I can’t imagine what things will look like ahead of time?
Aside from just loving the stitch patterns from the Japanese Knitting Stitch Bible, I have been wanting to apply some of the things I’ve learned to my own stitch designs.
This is my first attempt at pulling in some ideas to use in one of my stitch patterns. I am both happy about it while at the same time not feeling that it is a good enough stitch pattern to want to share the instructions.
On the one hand, I feel as if I’m starting to learn how to use columns of stitches worked through the back loop, how to use twisted decreases, and how to use what Hitomi Shida calls knot stitches. On the other hand, I just plain don’t like the result.
So why share it? Mostly because this kind of thing happens all the time to me when I’m learning how to design things. It happens to other designers too. It all takes practice and repetition, and time for the back of the brain to absorb the lessons that are there to be learned. It’s been helpful for me to be told that people I admire have their own mistakes that are still useful to them; I hope to encourage others to feel comfortable taking creative risks that don’t work out.
This is the third and final part of my very basic series about how to use a stitch pattern. Here are the first two:
- The parts of a stitch pattern.
- Using gauge to figure out how many stitches to cast on.
Stitches in stitch dictionaries are usually written to be worked flat, but they can usually be converted to be worked in the round. This post discusses how. Occasionally, you’ll find a stitch pattern written to be worked in the round; the instructions here will work for those, too.