Picking the right stitch pattern
September 12, 2012
When designing your own knit project you may go around and around trying to decide which stitch pattern is the correct one. I have had this battle many times. Either I have a distinct vision in my head of what I want my stitch pattern to look like (herringbone, small cable or twisted stitch) or I know how I want the garment to hang but no vision of the texture. In either case I turn to my collection of Stitchtionaries, a dictionary of stitch patterns that show a swatch of the completed pattern with instructions on how to complete the pattern. In these books you can learn a lot of each pattern just based on the small amount of info given and it can help you determine the best stitch pattern for your project.
Most stitchtionaries will only provide you with a picture of the swatch and pattern instructions. On the surface this may seem unhelpful when trying to determine the drape of the fabric created from the pattern or how durable or delicate it is. But this is not always the case. If you look closely you can determine the drape by noticing how the fabric changes from the bound off edges to the middle. If the fabric nips in at the middle then it is a dense fabric that pulls its stitches tight making it hang heavy. If the swatch appears to be the same width from bound off edge to bound off edge than you can guess that it is a lighter fabric that can be easily adjust to hug a shape or hang nicely. The lightest fabrics will be airy laces or eyelet patterns followed by simple textured stitches- like stockinette, twisted stockinette and seed stitch- finishing with some dense stitches like linen, double knit and transverse herringbone.
Be sure you consider not only the drape or density of the fabric a stitch pattern will make but also how well it will play into the overall design of your project. If you are creating a sweater that features many details like ruffles, an interesting neckline or dramatic sleeves, chose a stitch pattern that is simple. This will keep the focus on your main elements. If your overall design is simple like a blanket, dishcloth or sock, go bold or dramatic to spice it up or make it interesting. You can also consider combining stitch patterns to emphasize elements you want noticed. For example you can create a sweater with a simple body shape featuring a bold stitch pattern (like a lace emblem or thick cable pattern) coupled with a simple pattern on the sleeves to keep all the focus on the body. Or you could create a lap blanket with a basic garter or moss stitch center and an attention-grabbing chevron or picot border.
When selecting your stitch pattern make sure you consider the main elements of your design- drape and density, focus and overall look. And finally don't forget to swatch, swatch, swatch!!!!
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