I’ve been noodling around for years, trying to find a consistent way of producing images that look like stranded knitting that make me happy. I think I’m finally there. I’m going to share an overview of what I do, just because. It’s written for people who already know how to use vector art software (Adobe Illustrator, Inkscape, or other programs like that). I explain what I do, but not how I do it.
If you’re not comfortable with that kind of software, Chart-Minder.com is a reasonable alternative. I used it for quite a while. It doesn’t quite work out for the effect I have in mind, but if you want to design colorwork, it’s good for that aspect.
I came up with the DSD double decrease several years ago. It’s a double decrease that is visually an exact mirror of sk2p: work ssk (or any of the other left-leaning single decreases), slip it back to the left needle and pass the next stitch over it, then slip it to the right needle again.
It took me a while to find a name for it. I knew I couldn’t have been the first person to invent it, and I wanted to use the same name as other designers. When I asked on Ravelry, I got a kind answer from Annie Maloney (Ravelry patterns, stitch dictionaries), who also designs lace. She told me that she calls this decrease a double slip decrease because that is what Barbara Abbey called it in her book about lace design. Annie Maloney abbreviates it as DSD, so I do likewise.
I didn’t know if I’d ever come across it again in anyone else’s work, but amazingly, in the last couple of months I’ve come across examples in two books I’ve had for a very long time: my Mon Tricot stitch dictionary and Susanna Lewis’s Knitting Lace, which provides charts for a 19th century stitch sampler and talks about lace design.
I’ve mentioned before that I’m a tight knitter. This doesn’t trouble me much these days; I’ve loosened up enough that I don’t need to struggle to push each stitch along the needle one at a time the way I did when I was a child. I often get the gauge on the yarn label using the recommended needles. (Yes, really, though it’s not as useful as you’d think.) The biggest benefit to being a tight knitter is that I don’t need to knit socks using the thinnest needles.
But there’s times that it used to get a little aggravating, and I’ve realized that the reason those times don’t happen any more is that I’ve worked out various unconscious tricks for dealing with them. One of the things that used to vex me was knitting (or purling) three stitches together: such a struggle to get the needle through all three stitches at once!
Here’s how I loosen them up:
Several years ago, I came up with a decrease because I wanted to decrease a single stitch without having the decrease lean to one side or the other. I thought of it as a centered single decrease, and went looking to see what other people called it because I figured it must exist. And indeed, it was the bunny ears decrease. It can also be described as a 3-to-2 decrease because you start with three stitches and end with two.
I also worked out a way to combine a 1/1 cable cross with a decrease in the same pattern. I’ve since come to realize that it could also be called a 3-to-2 decrease; just a different kind.
I’ve recently had reason to use it again in something else I’m designing, and I thought I’d share the method here. There are multiple permutations and so I’m going to spread them over a couple weeks.
If you know of a name for this class of techniques, please comment or let me know on Ravelry or social media.
If you’ve ever wanted to knit colorwork designs, but find the idea of stranded colorwork intimidating because of handling more than one yarn at once, then mosaic knitting might be for you: each row is worked while holding only one yarn. (Stranded knitting is not actually as hard as it looks either, in my opinion, but it’s not as easy as mosaic.)
The key to mosaic knitting is the slip stitch. Mosaic knitting essentially involves knitting two row stripes in alternating colors. You can be knitting along in one color, but when you need a contrasting color, you slip a stitch instead of knitting it. Because the previous row was a different color, it looks as if you knit that stitch in the contrasting color. In other words, you only need to hold one strand of yarn at a time while knitting, and yet it looks as if there are two colors in that row.
I’m going to demonstrate how this works with photos and words in this post; I’m also going to explain how to read the specific kind of mosaic knitting charts I like to use.
I get occasional questions about how I knit my stitch pattern swatches, and since I’ve finally settled down into something consistent, I thought I’d write up my full process.
The first thing to know is that there are actually several categories of swatches in the world. The swatches I’m going to write about in this post are not my rough draft design swatches (here’s an old, somewhat out of date post), where I figure out what the heck I’m doing, make changes as I go, and learn from a variety of mistakes. They are also not the kind of swatches that are used to help work out a full-size design. And they are definitely not gauge swatches.
These are finished objects, the swatches I knit to photograph for my stitch pattern posts. The example I’m using here is a traditional mesh patter, Star Rib Mesh. I found it in the first of Barbara Walker’s treasuries.
A while back I wrote about some ways of working double YOs on the next row. I still mostly use the standard method, working (k1, p1) in the double YO. Then Denise Plourde wrote on the Stitch Maps Ravelry group about a new method she’d come up with. Here is a description that doesn’t require a login. I find it quite beautiful. Apparently it got me thinking, because a few days after reading about that, I came up with a different way entirely.
All of these methods are ways to cope with one problem: it is impossible to knit (or purl) the two consecutive loops in a double yarnover; the structure of the stitch does not allow it. Try it: the result is a single knit stitch with two wraps around the needle, what’s called an elongated stitch.
I will probably continue using the (k1, p1) method in my swatches and charts as it is straightforward, people are used to it, and I don’t mind how it looks.
Follow this link for eight double YOs, each worked differently.
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.)