On swatching, part 3

A small swatchlet, with regular eyelets around the edge to make it easier to block.

A couple of weeks ago, I started a series of posts about how I knit the swatches for my stitch pattern posts. First I wrote a general description, then I provided charts and written instructions for the borders, and today I’m going to talk about blocking.

It is important to note that these are not gauge swatches, and so I take a shortcut that I wouldn’t use when making swatches to plan a finished garment.

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Rolled up: a free lace knitting stitch pattern

Rolled Up v1: a free lace knitting stitch pattern

One thing I’ve noticed over the last nine (!!!) years of learning to design lace, is that it’s easier to make lace look at least reasonably good if it has only a few right side rows, even if it’s wide. There are some other constraints, but repetition helps make things look like a pattern very quickly.

Follow link for charts, photos, and explanations.

Charting mosaic knitting in StitchMastery

It occurs to me that it might be helpful (for other designers at least) to explain how I use my chart software to make mosaic knitting charts. For one thing, while there is a mosaic knitting format built into StitchMastery, it isn’t the one I personally prefer, so I do some extra editing to make my charts in the Barbara Walker format.

This is not a post about how to design mosaic knitting stitches; it is a post about how to produce a particular kind of chart format in the StitchMastery software. I don’t know enough about other knitting chart software to know how the methods translate.

I also use vector graphics art software for some of the final editing on these charts. Some major examples of this kind of software include Adobe Illustrator (subscription software), Inkscape (free and open source), Affinity Designer (this is what I use on our desktop computer). I usually prefer using Graphic for iOS. (They also have a version for MacOS which I have not tried.)

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Obscure telegram methods and encoded knit cables

table showing the Cooke and Wheatstone telegraph codes

Recently, a friend on social media linked to an article about the Cooke and Wheatstone telegraph system, which used something different from Morse code. My immediate reaction was to look at the code chart and think that it looked like knitted cables. I found this exciting, because it’s been very hard to reliably produce fancy braided cables from my code charts.

It doesn’t help that my very first attempt to produce such cables worked, but most of my efforts since then have failed.

In the end, the Cooke and Wheatstone system turned out not to work for my purposes, for the same reasons that my usual code grids don’t (with the added difficulty that there’s several letters missing with that code, so that one has to use S instead of Z and K instead of Q, and a few other substitutions). Nonetheless, this has led me in some helpful directions, because I talked the problem through with a designer friend. This kind of dead end is never a waste of time for me, even if there’s mild disappointment involved.

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Étude no. 13: making a coordinating stitch pattern

There’s a lot of shawls and sweaters that make use of fancy lace, but that also have sections of simpler or smaller lace – having the contrast can make the fancy lace stand out more.

Often the simpler lace is a mesh of some sort, like Feathered Lace Ladder. Other times it’s a simpler lace with a similar feel that fits in the right number of stitches, as Embossed Leaf Lace might, depending on the more complex pattern.

I’ve been wondering for a while if it might be possible to use a subset of the rows of a fancy stitch to make a simpler lace that would coordinate well with the fancy stitch pattern. The only way to find out is to try! So I did, with several samples.

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Really the last flattened diamond post.

A method for tiling a knitting stitch pattern with an odd number of stitches using flattened diamonds.

In my last post about flattened diamonds, I talked about the problem of dealing with a diamond when the desired stitch pattern is centered around a single stitch.

How chevrons centered around a single stitch repeat.

The focal point of such a design is off center when placed on an even number of stitches. (I’ve been having trouble with my chart software. It’s almost fixed, but I thought I’d take this opportunity to show that graph paper can be just fine for the design process.)


The diamonds I’ve been working with so far have a rectangle in the middle based on an even number of stitches. When I place a simple chevron on such a diamond, it looks like this, which bothers my mirror symmetry-loving brain, especially when designing a shawl. The actual pattern repeat works out just fine, mind you! But there is the necessity of including an extra stitch on the right-hand side of each row.


My first thought about this was to make the center repeat an odd number of stitches, and make one arm of the diamond one stitch longer than the other. This certainly tiles, but it makes the increases at each edge peculiar.


My second thought makes use of 3-to-2 decreases and the principle that the decrease corresponding to a particular increase can be on a completely different row. (On this sketchy chart, the dark squares are grey-no-stitch squares.) This tiles nicely, keeps the increases at each edge consistent, and makes the design process easier for me. It won’t work for all stitch patterns, however. But I do like it.

IMG_4934So my third thought is probably too complicated for a final pattern chart, but it helps satisfy my mirror symmetry cravings in the design process. The arrow points at the spine of the shawl. The central column of diamonds has an extra column up the middle, so the chevrons can be centered on that spine. The diamonds on each side are based on an even number – the chevron sits slightly to the left in the diamonds that are on the right-hand side of the pattern, and vice versa.


Note that in the end, once the diamond outlines are removed, this produces the same overall rectangular stitch pattern as the second chart in this post: a repeat of 12 + 1 stitches and 8 rows. But if designing a crescent shawl, I think the third thought works best.

One last flattened diamond stitch pattern blog post… for now

Figuring out how to make the diamonds that tile nicely for a crescent shawl has felt rather like trying to drink from a firehose in regards to filling up my head with ideas. The method in question isn’t only of use for secret code, of course, and I’ve been playing around with some other ways to use it.

(I’m only including text instructions for the stitch design in the featured photo. It’s really a post about how to play with designing using charts, and the text was going to make it too long. Speak up in comments if you want text to go with the others of these, and I’ll post separately.)

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How I use my secret code methods in a non-rectangular space

This is the basic method I used to make the Galaxite stitch pattern, though I’m going to use a much shorter word to make things quicker to explain.

Sky in base 6 becomes 31 15 41. In my description of how I do my secret code charts, I’ve called the method I used for laying out the code in the diamonds, “adding it all up“, but it’s not really well described, I think. (I’m going to be rewriting that whole section of my site; when I got Sequence Knitting, I instantly realized that this particular method uses the spiral form of sequence knitting.)

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