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.)

If I pretend that each digit of the code represents a word, I can write out each of those “words” by counting out that many squares in the chart, and then marking the next square. (This helps account for encodings that contain zeros—sky is quite unusual in not having a single zero in it.)

I usually start in the bottom right corner of my charts, as if I’m knitting. If I mark out 3 1 1 5 4 1 on one row of a chart, starting on the right, here’s what I get:

sky 1 rowThree light squares, marked off by the black square in the fourth square. Then one light square, marked off by the black mark in the sixth square, and so on. Sky in base six takes up a total of 21 squares (the same as adding up all the digits and then adding on the number of digits used to encode the word: 3 + 1 + 1 + 5 + 4 + 1 + 6 = 21.)

That’s my sequence. Now I can lay out my sequence on rectangles of different proportions; they don’t have to be exactly 21 squares in area, though they can be.

Imagine that the white squares are knit and the black squares are purled (they could be anything, but that’s an easy substitution. Now, cast on seven stitches in the round and work the sequence above; it will fill three rounds perfectly, as shown below. Alternately, cast on six stitches; it won’t quite fill four rounds. This is where I depart from the regular form of sequence knitting, which would continue to fill the space (the code would stop working if I did that).

sky in other rectanglesIn the four row version, there are three extra spaces at the end of the fourth row. They don’t matter for the purposes of the code; there’s no black square following them, so we don’t have to count them.

Now, it turns out that the pieces don’t have to be cut into equal lengths. I first realized this with Beloved, which is also tiled diamonds, though I didn’t explain it in detail at the time.

I did introduce an added complication at that point; I wanted to outline the diamonds to help define the code more clearly since it’s not a rectangle. I’m not entirely sure this is necessary, or even helpful. Still, it’s how I’ve done things so far; what do you think?

The end squares of each row of diamond are marked in orange. I don’t place a black marker in those squares. They act as margins between the diamonds.

Here’s the blank diamond I started with.

whole diamondBecause I like symmetry, I cut the diamond in half before putting the sky sequence into it.

half diamondSo, keep in mind that I treated the orange squares as being off limits.

sky 1 row

Here’s the long row of sky, just as a reminder.

There are 2 squares available on row 1. The first two squares of sky are blank, so no black squares will go on row 1, and squares 1 and 2 are now accounted for.

rows 1 and 5There are 5 squares available on row 3 (I’ve hidden the alternate rows because those will be plain knitting), so the contents of squares 3 through 7 will go on row 3.

row 5There are 8 squares available on row 5, so the contents of squares 8 through 15 are placed there.

row 7There are 5 squares on row 7, so squares 16-20 go there.

half sky

And finally, there are 2 squares on row 9, so square number 21 goes there, with one square left over in the diamond. All of the sky sequence has been placed on this half diamond.

whole skyHere it is, mirrored, making the diamond to be tiled.

sky diamond orange squares

Here’s the diamond tiled in a crescent shawl, with the orange boundary squares still present.

sky diamond no orange squaresAnd with the orange squares removed.

To turn this into an actual stitch pattern, the knitter would need to work out what kind of stitch was represented by the black squares and then work the knitting accordingly. When I design lace, each black square is replaced by a yarnover, and then I figure out where to place the decreases and any decorative stitches.

crescent shawls: tiling flattened diamonds.

When I posted Galaxite on Saturday, I wrote in passing about using a tiled flattened diamond to create the stitch pattern. This post goes into more detail about how this structure was created.

Crescent-shaped shawls have been popular among knitter and crocheters for several years now. The first such shawl I remember seeing was Annis, which caught a lot of people’s attention. A lot of other crescents used the same basic method (the body done with short rows, and the fancy edge knit straight), but designers started branching out very quickly, finding a variety of ways to make a crescent shape.

Last winter I knit Sacre Coeur, which uses a very different method, which I found fascinating and unexpected. Its designer, Nim Teasdale, will be the first to tell you that she didn’t invent it (at least, that’s what she said when I asked), though I think she does an excellent job of working with it. I don’t know an exact name for the style (if you do, please comment!), but it seems to be popular at the moment: one advantage to it aside from its beauty is that the shape can be worked until the knitter runs out of yarn or decides they’re done.

The method starts with casting on a small number of stitches, then increasing three stitches at each edge over two rows, while putting whatever stitches one likes between the edges. When blocking, the bound-off edge is curved around, while the two selvedges are blocked out as straight as possible.

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Book Review: KNITSONIK Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned this book in the same post as Sequence Knitting, then went on to only review the latter. Now it’s this book’s turn.

KNITSONIK Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook, by Felicity Ford. KNITSONIK, 2014. ISBN: 978-0993041501. Website: knitsonik.com. Ravelry group: KNITSONIK

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Book Review: Sequence Knitting

Book review of Sequence Knitting.

For my birthday this year, I bought myself two books I’ve been yearning for: Sequence Knitting and the KNITSONIK Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook. Both have to do, in rather different ways, with demystifying particular design processes, though sequence knitting is also a new method for knitting complicated patterns using extremely easy-to-memorize methods. I am pleased as can be with both these books. I’ve already learned a lot from both of them. I have so much to say about each of them that I can’t possibly review them both in one post.

Sequence Knitting: Simple Methods for Creating Complex Reversible Fabrics, by Cecelia Campochiaro. Sunnyvale, CA: Chroma Opaci, 2015. ISBN: 9780986338106,  website: sequenceknitting.com, on Ravelry: Sequence Knitting

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Concentric circles and links to previous math posts

I was talking about math and design with my friend Lori, who designs crochet motifs (and uses a lot of geometry as a result) and I thought I’d collect my posts on the topic so far in one place as well as talking about areas of concentric stripes in circles (and therefore calculating relative yarn quantities).

The first is about figuring out the percentage of the finished area of a circle you’ve worked so far.

Summary: if a is the number of rounds you’ve worked so far (from the center out) and b is the total number of rounds in the circle, do this math: (a*a)/(b*b) to see how far you are.

Alternately, you’ll be approximately halfway done when you’ve worked 70% of the rounds.

All this assumes a fairly regular density of stitches.

The second is my recent post about working out how much yarn you need for each stripe in a striped triangle.

Discussing the triangle stripe problem led to the question of the amount of yarn used for the stripes in a circle.20130816-211045.jpg

I wasn’t expecting to find as handy a visual pattern as I did for the triangle shawl, and indeed I didn’t. But I found a more useful rule of thumb than I expected, which I will summarize before showing my work.

If your center circle takes exactly one skein of yarn, the second stripe will take approximately 3 skeins; the third stripe will take approximately 5; the fourth, 7; the fifth, 9; and so on. Count by odd numbers and you’ll get a good rough estimate. The more stripes you go, the less accurate the approximation will be at the outer edges, but it’s a good starting point.

This calculation assumes that the stripes each contain an equal number of rounds and are approximately the same density of stitches.

Here’s the math:

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