Free-Form Knitting Without Rules by Margaret Hubert

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Free-form knitting means no rules, usually no instructions and no right or wrong way. Sound interesting? Keep on reading!

What exactly does free-form knitting mean? The term “free-form” is usually given to a type of fabric created by using many different yarns in a multi-stitch, multidirectional manner. This fabric can be used to create wearable garments, bags, hats, pillows, wall hangings, etc. There are as many different approaches to the method as there are artists creating it.

Here is one “rule” that I generally  follow while free-form knitting: Use the most intricate stitches, like two-tone lattice, with the plainest of yarns, and the simplest stitches, like garter stitch, with the highly textured, fuzzy yarns.

You will note that I said there are “usually no instructions.” Many free-form knitting artists believe that trying to write instructions for free-form defeats the whole purpose. It is, after all, supposed to be “free.” After quite a few years of teaching workshops in conventional and free-form knitting styles, it is clear that beginners appreciate a little instruction to get them started. It is my hope that by providing some instruction, soon their own creativity will be sparked.  After completing a single project, and sometimes even before completion, imagination starts to take over, and students take off. The other interesting thing is that, when a dozen students are given the same set of written free-form knitting instructions, twelve very different pieces emerge. The reasons for this phenomenon are yarn choices, interpretation of the instructions, and most important of all, individual imagination.

Once you have decided what you would like to make, choose a color combination. If you feel that you are not very good at choosing colors, one foolproof method is to choose a multicolored yarn, then pull solids to match from the colors. Begin experimenting with some small pieces of knit, using several yarns and stitches in the same piece. Adding some of the lovely designer yarns makes a piece really special. Dye lot is not a problem when working free-form knitting. You can add new yarns as you go along.

Lining Method

For the lining method, you will need a suitable fabric to which you can sew your pieces. Polar fleece, muslin, or an ordinary sweatshirt may be used for lining. You can use a commercial pattern or you can make your own by tracing an existing garment. The lining will become a permanent part of your garment.

After you have some pieces made, begin pinning them onto your lining, and when you have an arrangement that you love, sew the pieces right to the lining and to each other. Do not start sewing till you are sure of your placement. Then sew the pieces on with small firm stitches.

Template Method

The template method of free-form knitting is worked similarly to the lining method, except that the pieces are only sewn to each other and not to the lining. To begin, it is a good idea to measure an existing garment, one that fits you well, as your model. If pinning pieces to this garment would not harm the fabric, you could use the actual garment as your template. If this is not suitable, then trace the garment onto a piece of poster board. As you make your knitted pieces, lay them onto the tracing, using it as a guide. Be very sure of your placement before sewing.

For the purpose of this article, I have created a free-form bag, made up of small knitted pieces, with written instructions.

Chic Free-Form Bag

Chic Free-Form Bag

Both sides of the bag are the same, so you need two of each shape you make for the side pieces. You can follow this exactly, and your bag will look just like the photo. I encourage you, however, to experiment. Try some different approaches, different stitches, etc. Make larger pieces by picking up along row ends and then going in a different direction. Add beads if you like. Make each side of the bag different.

Creating a spectacular free-form piece is not for the timid. You have to be open to taking risks. The most important thing to remember when trying free-form, is to let your imagination soar, and have fun.

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Chic Handbag Free-Form Knitting Pattern, designed by Margaret Hubert

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Try your hand at free-form knitting and create this one-of-a-kind handbag!

Chic Free-Form Bag

Chic Free-Form Bag

Skill Level: Intermediate

Finished Size: Approx 12 x 9 1/2 inches

Materials for Handbag Free-Form Knitting Pattern:

  • Bulky weight novelty yarn* (71 yds/50g per ball): 1 ball each #138 (A), #89 (B)
  • Bulky weight novelty yarn* (71 yds/50g per ball): 1 ball #14 (C) Light weight yarn* (125 yds/50g  per ball): 1 ball each #207 (D), #208 (E)
  • Worsted weight novelty yarn* (165 yds/50g per ball): 1 ball #2020 (F)
  • Size 6 (4mm) needles or size needed to obtain gauge
  • Tapestry needle
  • 1/4 yd washable felt for inner lining
  • 1/4 yd silky lining fabric (optional)
  • Sewing needle and matching thread
  • 1 button

*Handbag shown in this free-form knitting pattern was completed with Stars (50 percent rayon/50 percent nylon), Wild Thing (85 percent  polyester/15 percent metal), Indiecita Baby Alpaca DK (100 percent superfine baby alpaca) and Eros (100 percent nylon) from Plymouth Yarn Co.

Gauge Approx 10 sts = 2 inches/5cm in St st with 1 strand of D. Exact gauge is not critical to this project.

Pattern Note: Sl all sts purlwise with yarn on WS  of fabric.

Handbag Free-Form Knitting Pattern:

Cut washable felt into 2 (9 x 12-inch) pieces to be used for back and front of bag. Referring to photos A, B and, sew knitted pieces together as you work, using tapestry needle and yarn. When pieces are completed, sew to felt, using sewing needle and thread.

Photo A

Photo A

Photo B

Photo B

Mitered Kite Free-Form Knitting Pattern – Make 2

Use A, D and E (except for A, carry colors up sides). With A, cast on 23 sts and knit 4 rows. Cut A, continue with mitered piece as follows:

Row 1: With E, knit across.

Row 2: With E, purl across.

Row 3: With E, knit across.

Row 4: With E, p10, p3tog, p10. (21 sts)

Row 5: With D, knit across.

Row 6: With D, k9, k3tog, k9. (19 sts)

Row 7: With D, knit across.

Row 8: With D, k8, k3tog, k8. (17 sts)

Row 9: With E, knit across.

Row 10: With E, p7, p3tog, p7. (15 sts)

Row 11: With E, knit across.

Row 12: With E, p6, p3tog, p6. (13 sts)

Row 13: With D, knit across.

Row 14: With D, k5, k3tog, k5. (11 sts)

Row 15: With D, knit across.

Row 16: With D, k4, k3tog, k4. (9 sts)

Row 17: With E, knit across.

Row 18: With E, p3, p3tog, p3. (7 sts)

Row 19: With E, knit across.

Row 20: With E, p2, p3tog, p2. (5 sts)

Row 21: With D, knit across.

Row 22: With D, k1, k3tog, k1. (3 sts)

Row 23: With D, k3tog, fasten off.

Large Shells Free-Form Knitting Pattern

Large Shell A Free-Form Knitting Pattern: Make 2 shells using 2 strands F as Color 1, beg with Row 1, and E as Color 2.

Large Shell B Free-Form Knitting Pattern: Make 2 shells by casting on and working Rows 1 and 2 with B,  knit 2 rows, then follow shell pat beg with Row 3, using D as Color 1, and E as Color 2.

Large Shell C Free-Form Knitting Pattern:

Make 2 shells by casting on and working Rows 1 and 2 with B, then follow shell pat beg with Row 3, using 2 strands F as Color 1, and D  as Color 2. Cast on 39 sts.

Rows 1 and 2: Knit.

Row 3 (RS): With Color 2, k1, *sl 1, k3; rep from * to last 2 sts, end sl 1, k1.

Row 4: With Color 2, k1, *sl 1, k3; rep from * to last 2 sts, end sl 1, k1.

Row 5: With Color 2, p1, *sl 1, p3; rep from * to last 2 sts, sl 1, p1.

Row 6: With Color 2, rep Row 4.

Row 7: With Color 1, knit across.

Row 8 (dec row): With Color 1, *k2, k2tog; rep from * to last 3 sts, end k3. (30 sts)

Row 9: With Color 2, k1, *sl 1, k2; rep from * to last 2 sts, end sl 1, k1.

Row 10: With Color 2, k1 *sl 1, k2; rep from * to last 2 sts, end sl 1, k1.

Row 11: With Color 2, p1, *sl 1, p2; rep from * to last 2 sts, end sl 1, p1.

Row 12: With Color 2, rep Row 10.

Row 13: With Color 1, knit across.

Row 14 (dec row): With Color 1, k2, *k2tog, k1; rep from * to last 4 sts, end k2tog, k2. (21 sts)

Row 15: With Color 2, *k1, sl 1; rep from * to last st, end k1.

Row 16: With Color 2, k1, *sl 1, k1; rep from * across.

Row 17: With Color 2, p1, *sl 1, p1; rep from * across.

Row 18: With Color 2, rep Row 16.

Row 19: With Color 1, knit across.

Row 20 (dec row): With Color 1, k2 *k2tog; rep from * to last 3 sts, end k3. (13 sts)

Row 21: With Color 2, *k1, sl 1; rep from * to last st, end k1.

Row 22: With Color 2, k1 *sl 1, k1; rep from * across.

Row 23: With Color 2, rep Row 17.

Row 24: With Color 2, rep Row 22. Fasten off Color 2.

Row 25: With Color 1, knit across.

Row 26: With Color 1, k2 *k2tog; rep from * to last st, end k1. (8 sts)

Row 27: With Color 1, knit across.

Row 28: With Color 1, k2tog across.  (4 sts)

Row 29: With Color 1, [k2tog] twice.  Bind off rem sts.

Pyramid Piece Free-Form Knitting Pattern Make 2:

Note: Use 1 strand E and 2 strands F. With E, cast on 32 sts and knit 1 row, change to F.

Row 1 (RS): With F, k1, sl 1 *k4, sl 2; rep from * to last 6 sts, end k4, sl 1, k1.

Row 2: With F, p1, sl 1,*p4, sl 2; rep from * to last 6 sts, end p4, sl 1, p1.

Row 3: With E, rep Row 1.

Row 4: With E, k1, sl 1, *k4, sl 2; rep from * to last 6 sts, end k4, sl 1, k1.

Row 5: With F, k3, *sl 2, k4; rep from * to last 5 sts, end sl 2, k3.

Row 6: With F, p3, *sl 2, p4; rep from * to last 5 sts, end sl 2, p3.

Row 7: With E, rep Row 5.

Row 8: With E, k3, *sl 2, k4; rep from * to last 5 sts, end sl 2, k3.

Rows 9–16: [Rep Rows 1–8] once, cut F, continue with E.

Work in St st, dec 1 st at each side [every RS row] until 26 sts rem, then  dec [every row] until 3 sts rem. K3tog, fasten off.

Knitted Leaf Free-Form Knitting Pattern:

Make 6 with D, 4 with E Cast on 5 sts.

Row 1 (RS): K2, yo, k1, yo, k2. (7 sts)

Row 2 and all even rows: Purl across.

Row 3: K3, yo, k1, yo, k3. (9 sts)

Row 5: K4, yo, k1, yo, k4. (11 sts)

Row 7: K5 yo, k1, yo, k5. (13 sts)

Row 9: K6, yo, k1, yo, k6. (15 sts)

Row 11: Ssk, k11, k2tog. (13 sts)

Row 13: Ssk, k9, k2tog. (11 sts)

Row 15: Ssk, k7, k2tog. (9 sts)

Row 17: Ssk, k5, k2tog. (7 sts)

Row 19: Ssk, k3, k2tog. (5 sts)

Row 21: Ssk, k1, k2. (3 sts)

Row 23: Sl 1, k2tog, psso. (1 st)  Fasten off.

First Fill-in Piece for this Free-Form Knitting Pattern:

Make 2 With C, cast on 8 sts.

Rows 1–15: Knit every row.

Row 16: K2tog, knit across.

Row 17: Knit across. Rep Rows 16 and 17 until 2 sts rem.  Bind off rem sts.

Second Fill-in Piece for this Free-Form Knitting Pattern: Make 2 With D and F held tog, cast on 15 sts. Knit 4 rows, then dec 1 st at each side every other row until 3 sts rem. Knit 1 row, k3tog, fasten off.

Third Fill-in Piece for this Free-Form Knitting Pattern: Make 2 With D and F held tog, cast on 21 sts, work same as 2nd fill-in piece.

Fourth Fill-in Piece:

Make 2 With D, cast on 10 sts.

Rows 1 and 2: Knit across.

Row 3: Inc 1 st, knit across. (11 sts)

Row 4: Knit across, inc 1 in last st.  (12 sts)

Row 5: Join E, rep Row 3. (13 sts)

Row 6: With E, rep Row 4. (14 sts)

Rows 7 and 8: With E, knit across.

Row 9: With D, dec 1 st, knit across.  (13 sts)

Row 10: With D, knit to last 2 sts, dec 1, cut D and E, join A. (12 sts)

Rows 11–31: Knit across.  Bind off all sts.

Gusset Note for the Chic Handbag Free-Form Knitting Pattern: Gusset is made using all leftover yarns; use 2 strands each of D, E and F, 1 strand each of A, B and C. Cast on 8 sts, knit every row, changing color every 4–5 inches, until piece measures 56 inches. Bind off all sts.

Button Tab for this Free-Form Knitting Pattern: Using 1 strand each D and F held tog, cast on 7 sts. Knit every row until tab measures 4 inches. Make buttonhole: K2, bind off next 3 sts, knit to end. Next row: Cast on 3 sts over bound- off sts.  Knit 2 more rows, cut D and F, join C and knit 2 more rows. Bind off.

Assembly for the Handbag Free-Form Knitting Pattern:

Being careful not to twist, sew caston and bound-off ends of gusset tog. Marking seam as bottom of bag, sew felt pieces to gusset along bottom and sides of bag only, leave rem for strap. Using C, with RS facing, pick up and knit 50 sts along top edge of bag, bind off. Rep for other side. If silky lining is desired, sew in fabric before assembling bag. Cut lining fabric to shape, leaving at least a 1/2-inch seam allowance all around for turning under, sew in place. (Photo C) Placing seam at center bottom of bag, pin gusset into place on 1 side of bag, using tapestry needle and C, sew gusset to bag. Rep for other side. Sew button tab and button in place.

Photo C

Photo C

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Knitting Pain — When Knitting Hurts

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What I’m about to discuss is no substitute for medical advice. It’s just  a longtime knitter’s observations and experience. Take it as you would if you were having a conversation with a friend about knitting pain. If these solutions don’t work for you, please consult your physician.

Knitting Pain from Repetitive Motion Problems

Power Knitters are most likely to be prone to chronic wrist and hand pain caused by the relentless knit and purl motions of the same muscle groups. Eventually, the nerves in the wrist can be so compromised that carpal tunnel syndrome develops.

Think of knitting as a rigorous workout performed day in and day out. Those muscles need a break. As much as I hate to say it, there’s nothing like a holiday from knitting to begin your therapy. Give your hands a rest from knitting, and substitute another creative activity that uses fine motor skills but other muscles in the affected areas. Try beading or stringing jewelry, painting or drawing, computer games, pulling weeds or working out. Continuing with these activities once you’re back to your knitting needles will help to balance your hands’ workouts and reduce knitting pain.

Switch Knitting

When the repetitive motion knitting pain becomes chronic, you may have to change your knitting technique or alternate several styles from one project to another. Throwers can learn to use their hands less by adapting to the more passive way of teasing the yarn around the needle with your right index finger. Of course, that finger will also get worn out, which is why you’ll continue to take breaks, exercise and alternate techniques. Try bracing a left straight knitting needle on your hip or under your left arm. (Photo 1)


Photo 1

Pickers, experiment with purling opposite to the way you’re used to. This automatically makes a change in the way you knit.

Lots of knitters find continental knitting more comfortable than purling. Try a transAtlantic approach by picking on your knit rows and throwing on your purl rows.

These ideas are based on trying to give all your knitting muscles a chance to get in on the action. You can accomplish the same thing by thoughtfully choosing the most comfortable needle for each project as well as the one that works best with your knitting style. Circular needles are lighter and require less effort to manipulate. (These are a godsend for knitters with arthritis in their hands and fingers.) Use short knitting needles for a small number of stitches and a long circular needle for a large number. Large-size circular needles may also be more comfortable for bulky projects than their straight cousins.

Here’s a catch, though: be sure to swatch using the knitting technique and the exact needle you intend to use on your knitting project. And then recheck your gauge using that needle and technique once you’re underway to be sure you’re on target.

Hand braces from the drug store effectively restrict the movement of all those little muscles but can wreak havoc with your knitting technique. Make a few potholders or an afghan until you’re used to the new sensation.

“Craft gloves,” available from your local craft store, provide a constant hand hug, keeping those muscles warm and limber and easing knitting pain.

Gymnastics for Knitters

Since prevention is the best remedy, get into the habit of taking breaks rather than indulging in knitting marathons. The pressure to finish a project, the sheer joy of tackling a new and fun design, long car trips and a bonanza of reruns of our favorite t.v. shows tend to make us forget the importance of giving those little knitting muscles some relief.

As we knit, our hands are more or less clenched. Here’s a mini-workout that will relax those muscles to prevent knitting pain. Repeat each exercise several times and with each hand:

  1. Wiggle all your fingers.
  2. Hold your hands palm down, spread your fingers, flex them upwards, then relax.
  3. Try touching your wrist with your thumb.
  4. Stretch the muscles of your fingers and hands by holding each hand palm downwards, then pushing up as hard as you can with the other hand. This is a lovely stretch that you’ll also feel in your lower arm.
  5. Reverse the stretch by pushing your hand downward.
  6. Interlock your fingers, extending your arms straight in front of you. Now rotate your hands so your palms are turned away from you. (Photo 2)
  7. Stand up, pour a glass of water (our bodies always work better when they’re well-hydrated), pet the dog/cat, water a plant and then resume knitting.
Photo 2

Photo 2

When Nature Interferes with Knitting

Whether it’s the effects of repetitive motion over a lifetime, an injury, illness or genetics, some of the knitting pain between our fingers and shoulders require a little extra attention — possibly including a visit to the doctor. All the recommendations for pain related to repetitive motion apply in these cases.

The most common complaint related to knitting pain is osteoarthritis that develops gradually over the years. Treat the condition as your physician recommends. In addition, as a sufferer myself, I find that both rest and heat give me some relief. Forget “no pain, no gain.” When you start experiencing knitting pain, put down your needles for the day. Therapeutic gloves keep your joints warm and may forestall the onset of pain. Just switching from straight to round knitting needles puts less strain on your joints.

The other “-itis,” tendonitis, is insidious. It runs its course and recovery seems to be quicker if you simply abstain from knitting altogether. Some of the exercises listed above help to treat mild cases.

Sitting Pretty — Why Posture is Important in Knitting

Believe it or not, some of the discomfort that develops while we’re knitting is caused by our posture. You know how good that shoulder massage feels or twisting your head back and forth? Shoulder and neck pain creep up on us if we don’t take the occasional break, and also because the nature of knitting causes a lot of us to lean forward. We lean forward because our knitting is often in our laps. If it’s difficult to learn to sit up straight (with your shoulders back), see if you can get used to holding your knitting higher. Try resting your elbows on the arms of a chair (Photo 3), or invest in a Knitting Chair. Mine reclines slightly, forcing my head and shoulders back into a relaxed position. A footstool also promotes this kind of posture.

Photo 3

Photo 3

Add some upper body exercises while you’re taking a break from knitting:

  1. Roll your shoulders forward, then backward several times.
  2. Slowly trace large circles with your head, first in one direction then the other. This stretches your neck muscles. (Photo 4)
  3. Lift each arm, one at a time, bend your elbow until your hand touches the back  of your neck. Now push your elbow down for a good shoulder and upper arm stretch.
  4. Clasp your hands behind your back, palms outward. Lift as high as you can.
Photo 4

Photo 4

When knitting pain becomes chronic, a visit to a medical professional is a must. Once knitting becomes pain free, following these suggestions may help to keep it that way.

My thanks to the knitters of Stitch and Bitch at Picasso’s Moon in Sarasota, FL  for lending us their bodies, feedback  and laughter.

By Kathleen Power Johnson

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Double Increases in Knitting Patterns: And Then There Were Three

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In knitting, increases and decreases are fairly simple. Double increases add stitches and decreases take them away. They enable us to knit beyond simple rectangles. With increases and decreases, we can knit sweaters and socks, hats and even fun stuffed animals, like hedgehogs. The appearance of increases and decreases help to create a stitch pattern’s distinctive look. Using double increases you create three stitches where only one existed before.

Two singles make a double knitting stitch

To knit a double increase, you simply put a single increase on either side of a center stitch. On the right of the Photo 1 swatch is a knit stitch with a M1L and M1R on either side of it. This double increase (M1L, k1, M1R) is subtly blends with the rest of the knit stitches. On the left side of the Photo 1 swatch is a less-subtle variation of the double increase made by knitting the M1L through the front loop and the M1R through the back loop. This reversal of the normal double increase method leaves the new stitches open, appearing as small eyelets (open M1L, k1, M1R).


You can knit even larger eyelets by working yarn over increases on either side of a center stitch. Pairs of yarn overs are common in lace knitting patterns. An “OKO” (yarn over, k1, yarn over) double increase is shown on the right side of the Photo 2 swatch.

So far, all of the increases we’ve covered are created between stitches. You can also use the “k1f&b” (knit 1 front and back) single increase to create a double increase, but because it uses a single stitch to create two, you must place it in a slightly different way. Work the k1f&b by knitting into the front, and then again into the back of a single stitch, before sliding the old stitch off the left needle. You’ll see that the new left stitch has a little purl-like bump at its base. To create a  knit center stitch with two purl-like bumps on either side, you must work the first  k1f&b in the stitch before the center stitch, and the second k1f&b in the center stitch. The left side of the Photo 2 swatch shows the result.


True double knitting increases

Create a true three-from-one double increase by extending the k1f&b increase: Knit into the front of a stitch, then its back, and then the front again. The end result is not always worth the tight maneuvering required to work this increase: The two added stitches both appear to the left of the original stitch in a little clump with a hole below it. A true double increase is appropriate when adding stitches to create a bobble, which is at least a visually interesting clump of stitches.

The “KOK” (k1, yarn over, k1) increase is easier to work and looks better, as shown in Photo 3. As with the k1f&b increase, you work multiple times into the same stitch, but instead of knitting into the back, a yarn over is worked. Knit into a stitch, but don’t slide the old stitch off the left needle; bring the working yarn to the front between the needles and over the right needle; insert the right knitting needle back into the original stitch, wrap and pull through; slide the whole mess off the left needle. The original stitch will be stretched by its children, appearing as a single eyelet. This technique is used in the center back of the Double-Increase Shawl pattern.

Double your knitting fun

A simple, knitted shawl begins with one stitch and increases one stitch at the beginning of each row (or  at each end of every other row). By knitting every row, and combining the garter stitch with rate of increases, you’ll create a triangular, knitted shawl that’s the perfect size for draping around your body. This shawl has horizontal lines but and rows of purl bumps and knit valleys.

By putting two of these horizontal triangles side by side, you can create the same larger triangular shape but with more flattering diagonal lines. The two singles we just put side by side are effectively one double increase. You can see this in the line of purl stitches on the third swatch (Photo 3).


We’ve looked at several ways of knitting double increases. Now that you understand them, you can switch the M1s used in your top-down raglan pattern for the more decorative open M1s or create your own stitch pattern by using 2 k1f&bs instead of 1 KOK.

by Beth Whiteside

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More Cracking the Code: Maintaining the Pattern by Power Johnson Kathleen

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When you see words like “maintaining the pattern as established”, it really means, “Gee, it would take pages and pages to tell you what you need to continue to do, so would you mind figuring it out for yourself, based on the information we’ve already given you?”.

To make a long story short, maintaining the pattern means keeping the continuity of a stitch pattern, while working on something else, like shaping, for instance. This entails enough of an understanding of what’s going on with your knitted fabric so you can finesse adding or removing stitches simultaneously.


From my many years of teaching knitting, I’ve learned there are two types of knitters: intuitive stitchers who easily tune in to what’s going on with their knitting, and others who are more comfortable being told exactly what to do every step of the way. This is a right-brain/left-brain thing or something to do with middle-age.


A knitter is a blind follower, until they learn to read their own knitting. This includes distinguishing knit from purl stitches, types of stitch manipulations, and how groups of stitches work together in a pattern. Like everything else in life, this will come with experience. As you begin to see how a stitch pattern develops, it will become easier to work without instructions and to spot and rectify mistakes.

The main strategy in understanding the flow of a pattern stitch is to recognize the portion of the pattern that is being repeated across the row. When stitches are added or subtracted, part of the repeat is either added or removed from an edge too. The repeat is part of the instruction between the asterisk(*) and the semicolon (;), for example: K1, *k2, p2; rep from * across row ending k1.

From here on out, stitches are added as you would build a fence, moving outward from the portion you already have in a logical progression. When you increase to the right, you’d add 2 units, one at a time, then 2 purls, and so on. Increasing to the left is a mirror image, adding purls before knits. Fig. 1 shows the original sts in black, in the center. The colored stitches are added in order to the left and right. The decrease will work in the same fashion: remove bits of the repeat gradually.



It will be advantageous to write the sequence of stitches ahead of time on paper, row-by-row, or shaping unit-by-shaping unit. For example, using a diagonal stitch, a more complicated rib-type stitch, reads:

Rows 1 and 2: *K2, p2; rep from * to

end of row.

Row 3: K1, *p2, k2; rep from * to last 3

sts, p2, k1.

Row 4: P1, *k2, p2; rep from * to last 3

sts, k2, p1.

Rows 5 and 6: *P2, k2; rep from * to end

of row.

Row 7: Rep Row 4.

Row 8: Rep Row 3.

On some rows, the repeat begins at the beginning of the row. The pattern will shift by one stitch on every other row and any extra stitches before or after the repeating portion are a continuation of the repeat. This is illustrated in the chart below:


For decreases, simply remove a stitch on the appropriate row. This kind of list or chart will assist you in maintaining most knit/purl patterns. In addition, placing a marker before the beginning of the first pattern repeat and after the last will help you to keep track of your increases and how your pattern is developing. Also, first counting off and marking all the stitches that will be decreased, will help count decreases and maintain the overall pattern. Once again, make sure to identify selvage stitches. If there are any, place shaping units inside these stitches.


Stitch charts can help everything snap into focus when the words get confusing. Much clearer than 50 words, charts not only tell you what to do, but clearly show you how the stitches relate to each other. On graph paper, make your own chart. For shaped areas like armholes, necklines, and sleeves – make several (Fig. 2).



So, what about stitch patterns involving cables, crossed or slipped stitches and so on? Here are some surefire strategies:

1) Work increased stitches in the background stitch until you’ve acquired enough stitches for a half- or full-pattern repeat.

2) Work the stitches destined to be a cable in stockinette stitch until there are enough stitches to work a full of half cable (depending on the pattern).

3) Allow for 1 or 2 selvage stitches before establishing the pattern. For decreases, think in the reverse.


Lace patterns bring with them their own challenges. In a lace pattern stitch, for example, every yarn over is matched by a decrease (Fig. 3). A double-decrease, therefore, requires two yarn overs. To make matters even more complicated, decreases are not necessarily next to their yarn overs and, in lace patterns featuring double decreases, there is usually a half repeat at the beginning and end of the row with a single yarn over decrease pair.


Keeping in mind to avoid placing yarn overs near the very edge of your work, your approach is the same as with other stitch patterns: Work a half or full repeat as soon as you’ve acquired a sufficient number of stitches. Fig. 3 shows exactly how a repeat is added as enough stitches for yarn over/decrease pairs are accumulated. Fig. 4 shows the actual finished piece.


My wish for you is that you become “stitch literate” and hone your ability to read and understand your stitches so all your knitting projects are fun and satisfying.


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A Noteworthy Technique: Working in Rounds by Kathy Wesley

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When it comes to hats, socks, or shrugs, it’s often simpler to just work on circular or double-pointed needles and avoid sewing a seam. Many garments are worked on circular needles to the armholes, as well, before dividing the stitches and working on straight needles for the yoke and sleeves. Many of you might be quite comfortable working back and forth on straight needles, making scarves or shawls without seams.

On straight needles, one row is worked on the right side and then the piece is turned to work the next row on the wrong side. However, when working in the round, you continue to work on the right side without turning the work to the wrong side. This entails making some adjustments in how you’ll knit the item.

Between the first and final stitch of the round, a stitch marker is most helpful, otherwise it is too easy to continue knitting and forget exactly where you started.

Since you are always working on the right side, to create a stockinette stitch piece in the round, you’ll continue to knit each round instead of knitting one row and purling the next as on straight needles. For a garter stitch, instead of knitting each row as on straight needles, you’ll need to knit one round and then purl the next round to achieve the garter stitch look.

In the case of working pattern stitches or ribbing in rounds, the pattern repeat needs to work evenly, so that the pattern continues on with any type of break. The designer has taken this into consideration, when they wrote the pattern.

Circular needles are available in many different lengths, in order to accommodate several different numbers of stitches. When working on circular needles, the stitches must fit comfortably around the needle without gaps between the stitches. It will be necessary, quite often, to use several lengths of needles, as in the case of hats, where there are very few stitches after decreasing to form the top portion of the hat.

Double-pointed needles are used when the circumference is too small to fit on a circular needle as with the glass cozy. When working on double-pointed needles, after casting on, divide the stitches among the needles. The piece is then worked in the round, working across one needle, and then the next continuing until the round is complete.

Finally, in the case of some items, like Afghans, they call for a circular needle, but the stitches are worked in rows. The circular needle is longer than straight needles, so it allows more stitches to fit on the length of the needle and prevents stitches from accidentally dropping off the end of needle.

Now you know some of the differences between working on straight needles and circular ones, why not try one of these projects that goes round and round.



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Knitting Garments That Fit and Flatter

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Many are blessed with hour-glass-shaped bodies. Therefore, almost anything worn looks nice and beautiful. The rest of us do not have that perfect body due to genetics or childbirth, etc. Are we doomed to always wearing oversized baggy clothes to cover it up? Of course not— we can always create the illusion of a waist and wear the clothes we like.

Knitting Garments that Fit

If you look at any fashion magazine or designer runways, you will notice that most garments are fitted and have a tight waist area. These waists are created by using either a belt or vertical darts. For those of us with not-so-perfect bodies, wearing a belt is out of the question. We should look into garments that use vertical darts. This is in the woven-fabric world. The question is: Can we use the same technique for our knitted tops? The answer is a definite yes.

We can create a fitted look by using increases and decreases in our arsenal to produce the same effect tailors create with vertical darts for their fitted garments. As you can see in the openwork top in Alluring Lace on the facing page, I have used decreases and increases in the waist area to create the same effect. I have placed these decreases and increases right next to the lace panel and have hidden them behind the purl stitches (Fig. 1). The result is a fitted, beautiful top that can be flattering for all of us.

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Another area where increases and decreases may be placed is at the side edges. It is preferred to work these decreases and increases one stitch in from the edge, so that you will have a nice edge stitch for sewing the seams (Fig. 2). With this technique, the darts will be hidden in the side seams and are not visible in the front and back. This works well when you do not want to disrupt the stitch pattern in the front and back.

Some garments have an allover pattern that would not allow you to do any increases or decreases. In this situation, there is another way of knitting garments that fit and flatter. Knit as the pattern is written until you are close to the waistline. Then, switch to a smaller needle. Knit a couple of inches with smaller needles, and then go back to the original-size needles. You will have a nice waistline without disrupting the pattern. Remember, too, the importance of gauge.

Considering that the knitted fabric is stretchy, the waistline we create in knitting would not be as tight and sometimes uncomfortable as woven fabric, which is another advantage of our wonderful art.

Now take a look at the patterns you like. Choose the ones that can have the fitted look. Create a fashionable garment using these techniques and wear it proudly! ■



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Side-to-Side Knits

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Knit Tank Top

Side-to-Side knit items can be made and assembled in any number of ways; worked in pieces from the bottom up is the most traditional method. Other forms have gained popularity over the years, such as circular, from the top down, or side to side. This article will explore types of side-to-side construction, looking at advantages as well as disadvantages, stitch-pattern considerations and shaping methods.

Side-to-Side Knits| Considerations

When finished, an advantage to side-to-side knits is that the garment will lay flat. Often no further finishing is needed. Also, it’s a great way to try different stitches within a design, such as panels of texture in rich vertical stripes. Stripes are an obvious choice. They are often chosen for side-to-side knits because of flattering vertical lines that naturally occur. Color-pooling is also kept to a minimum when knitting vertically. With vertical knits, the most important thing to remember is that the width of a garment will determine the number of rows. Stitches will not determine the width. Stitches determine the length. Measure gauge swatches carefully to allow for the stretch factor, which results when stitches are turned on the side. Make swatches large enough to hang vertically (at least 6 inches, but 8 inches is preferred). When designing, it may be necessary to calculate two gauges within a garment, especially sleeveless knits. The weight of a garment may cause more stretch in the armhole section than within the body of a piece. This is particularly true in some stitch patterns, such as garter stitch, or various yarns, such as nylon or cotton. These have a tendency to stretch anyway. If you measure a swatch while it’s hanging, this can compensate for these changes.

Sleeve or Sleeveless

Vests and tanks are quick to knit. They only require a little seaming on the side and can even be grafted together for beautiful seamless joins. Pullovers and cardigans can be constructed cuff to cuff or by knitting the body in one piece, adding sleeves later. Simple fabrics such as garter, stockinette or seed stitch will look the same on both sleeves. If you choose patterns such as Fair Isle or lace, you may find the design will be different when you knit up than when you knit down. However, there are ways to compensate for this difference. Stitches for the sleeves can be picked up from the body and knit down, or they may be knit separately and joined to the body in a more traditional way. Another option is to knit two pieces from the body center out to each cuff and graft them together to assemble. Additionally, you may start with the body and knit to one cuff, and then pick up stitches and knit to the other cuff.


An added plus in side-to-side knits comes into play with shaping. Neckline and shoulder shaping can be achieved in a smooth transition. You can increase on one side and decrease on the other, eliminating stair-step and bound-off stitches. Short-row shaping creates beautiful V-necks and A-lines, achieving a sculptured, contoured fit.

Finishing & Seaming

Finishing can be minimal with side-to-side garments. Trims, however, may be added as with all knits. You can use waste yarn to start and end edges (such as for buttonbands and cuffs), which makes it easy to pick up and finish off from live stitches. Use a smooth, contrasting color of cotton yarn for the waste yarn. It will be easier to see and remove later. Knitting vertically can be an exciting experience, opening up new design options. It lends itself well to creativity and versatility in designs.


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Traveling Cables

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By Cheryl Beckerich

Traveling cables appear to be complicated, but in reality, cables are nothing more than working your stitches out of order. Many times, cables are used to create a twist or braid that creates a vertical column up your fabric. Vertical cables are a great feature of many knitted garments, but the techniques used to create those columns can be used to add some other interesting design features to your knitting projects. In the pictured Cable Swirl Tam and Mittens, the cables evolve from the ribbing, which begins the hat and each mitten.


Cables can pop off the fabric, but they only pop if they are contrasted with a background that lends itself to defining the cable. In this case, the background is reverse stockinette stitch. It is one of the most used and best performing backgrounds for cables. It is a good choice for several reasons. When you combine knit stitches and purl stitches in ribbing (like a knit 2, purl 2 rib), the knit stitches naturally raise themselves up above the purl stitches. The knit stitches want to be out front, and the purl stitches want to stay in the background. It is one of the natural characteristics of knitting that we take advantage of on many sweaters or hats. In addition, since the knit stitch and the purl stitch are opposites, or the front and back of the same stitch, the juxtaposition between the two will provide the greatest amount of contrast.

Going back to the pattern, both the Cable Swirl Tam and Mittens require some shaping. The number of stitches needed on both pieces is increased in order to fit properly. In contrast, at the top of both the tam and the mittens, the number of stitches needed decreases. This is where the background really shines. You can add stitches by purling into the front and the back of a stitch, or by making 1 purlwise.

Because it is in the background, you can tell that the fabric is getting larger, but you do not see exactly where that happens. The fabric is decreased in size by using purl 2 together, again in the background stitches, and again, virtually invisible. The cables are out front, and they can move to the right or to the left at varying angles. The only thing they cannot do is move horizontally.

Traveling Cables Explained

Cables will travel to the left when the cabled stitches are held to the front of the work and to the right when they are held to the back of the work. The angle of travel depends on the frequency of cabling. I chose to use the cable technique every other round. Cables can be worked every round to make the stitches to travel faster, or you can add 2 or 3 rounds in between cables for a more gradual movement. Knitting traveling cables is a great introduction to cabling that really highlights the results of holding stitches to the front of your work versus the back of your work.

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Scrap Skeins and The Russian Join

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By Maile Mauch

The Russian Join is used to join two yarns together without a knot. This method can be used to join another yarn while knitting or to create a scrap skein. It is used on non-felting yarns such as cotton, linen, silk, rayon and bamboo.

Supplies Needed

• Assorted yarn

• 2 tapestry needles

• Scissors

Choosing Yarn

When choosing yarn for a scrap skein, start with yarns of the same thickness. It’s also best to combine yarns of similar fiber content for washability.

Sorting Colors

The color palette is open to you; choose a “colorpalooza” scheme with all random colors, or a family of colors in solids from the darks to the lights (called ombré), or variegated with related colors in the color run. Try a contrasting skein with colors that are opposites on the color wheel such as blues and orange, or pinks and greens—your imagination is the limit.

Once you have decided on a color scheme for your yarn, you can begin joining the yarn. If you want to have short repeats of colors, change yarns more frequently. The beauty of the Russian Join is that you can change yarn color as you are knitting and rejoin a color where you want it.

Russian Join

1. Decide the length of the first color and cut the length. Place tapestry needles at the ends of the first and second yarns to join.

2.  Make a 1-inch loop with the first yarn (A) and thread tapestry needle through the yarn. It helps if you untwist the yarn slightly before you place needle in the yarn. Slide needle in about 2 inches. Do not pull yarn at this point (Photo 1).


3. With second yarn (B) put needle through loop in yarn (A) and thread needle into the second yarn about 2 inches (Photo 2).


4. Pull needles through the yarns, tightening the loops and creating a join. At this time take scissors and trim needle ends of the yarn close to the yarn surface (Photo 3).


You have joined the two yarns and are on your way to a scrap skein! Continue joining yarns until you have enough for a project (Photo 4).


Note: 8-ply yarns can be joined using the Russian Join method, but instead of creating a bulky join, cut several of the plies in varying lengths and join a smaller section

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