Gathered Stitch from The Harmony Stitch Guides
at the work of any of the top knitwear designers, from Shirley Paden
and Mari Lynn Patrick to Mona Schmidt and Evelyn Clark, and one thing
soon becomes clear: These folks really know how to use a stitch
dictionary. Yes, they know how to design graceful silhouettes or socks
that sing, but they can do things with a book of stitch patterns that
would frighten fish (as the characters in Steel Magnolias might say).
Their "secret" (besides the fact that designers like Shirley, Mari
Lynn, Mona, and Evelyn have talent running out their ears!) is that
they know how to read a stitch dictionary like a cookbook, and how to
adapt those little recipes to the larger canvas of a sweater, or the
tiny, in-the-round canvas of a hat or a sock. With a few basic skills,
you can start using the spice of stitch patterns in bags, hats, socks,
sweaters, and any other knitted thing you can imagine.
So: Let's get started on building those "few basic skills."
What does THAT mean?
"Multiple of X plus Y" You will usually see this notation at
the beginning of a stitch pattern, after the stitch name, before the
actual row-by-row instructions. Those words can look a bit cryptic,
especially if you are just starting out in the world of stitch
patterns. What it means: It means that one full repeat of that
stitch is X stitches wide, plus Y stitches "extra," outside of the
stitch repeat, to balance out the design in a piece of flat knitting. Example:
In Mona Schmidt's Tweedy Vest, the notation for the rib stitch pattern
says "multiple of 8 sts plus 9." Thus, you can work a single repeat of
this pattern over 17 stitches (8 + 9), two repeats over 25 stitches (8
+ 8 + 9), three repeats over 33 stitches (8 + 8 + 8 + 9) and so forth.
Want a matching scarf for the vest? Choose a multiple of 8 stitches,
add 9 to that, and maybe add a few border stitches on each side in
garter stitch so the sides don't roll in. Cast on!
What stitches do I repeat?
Look for the asterisk and the semi-colon.
The asterisk marks the beginning of the repeat section; the
semi-colon marks the end. The stitches from asterisk to semi-colon are
the ones you repeat, over and over again, to form an overall multiple
of the pattern. Anything outside of the repeat section is there to
balance the pattern. The "extra" stitches are sometimes called "edge
On Monday: Converting flat stitch patterns for working in the round. Hey wait...what about Friday? Friday, we say goodbye to someone very special, someone who has been part of Knitting Daily from the very, very beginning. Come join me in wishing him well!
Creative uses for swatches:
So far, some of your oh-so-clever ideas for using swatches include:
doll afghans (Tara R.); patches on torn jeans (Lisa B.); sewn and
stuffed as cat toys (Kerri M.); sewn into fingerless mitts (Coral B.),
tiny gift bags (Ann R.), or sachets (Glenna E.); squares for charity
afghan projects; and mug rugs (Martha S.). And I was very
impressed by Wendy H., who puts her swatches into a book made of
handmade paper, complete with notes on gauge, needles, and yarn—what a
wonderful "knitting journal"!
Stitch of the Day page
Coming Up on Knitting Daily
It looks like you all are enjoying our new Stitch of the Day feature! I'm glad you like it. Next week we'll continue talking about ways to incorporate these stitches into your knitting. Near future: I'm also putting together a poll for you...here's a hint: Start counting your UFOs now.
Sandi Wiseheart is the editor of Knitting Daily.
What's on Sandi's needles? I finished a UFO! Whoo! Done are the Waving Lace Socks
that are destined for Michelle (shhh, don't tell her yet!). The yarn
for Nicholas' cabled pullover has been delivered—double whoo! So I
guess now I will be swatching...