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Custom Design Stitch Charts, Graphs and Patterns

Design Your Own Knit Cowl

Knit Cowl w Seed Stitch Edge

Design Your Own Knit Cowl

I spent many hours scouring Ravelry and other pattern libraries for cowl patterns.  I wanted a pattern that was going to be fast and easy to knit and that also would be long enough to pull up over my head like a hood.  I just didn’t see one that I really liked so I decided to design my own.

Swatch

The first thing I did was to knit a large 5″ x 5″ swatch on circular needles in knit stitch in order to get an accurate gauge.  I swatched in knit stitch on circular needles because I didn’t want to seam two pieces together, and I was planning to knit my cowl in knit stitch.  I wanted a stitch pattern that would be easy and fast to work up.  It just doesn’t get any easier and faster than knit stitch in the round.

My gauge came out to 3.5 stitches per inch and 5 rows per inch.

If you are going to use a stitch pattern on the edges to prevent the fabric from rolling, you should knit the exact same edge stitch pattern on your swatch so you can calculate its gauge as well.  This will also keep you from making the same mistake I did by ensuring that the number of rows of border stitching will be adequate to keep your fabric from rolling.

Calculating Finished Size

I didn’t want the cowl to be too snug around my neck because I also wanted to be able to pull it up unto my head, so I decided to make it 17.5″ wide.  Since I was working in the round, I doubled this to 35″ for front and back.

Since I wanted the cowl to be long enough to pull up on my head in bad weather, I decided to make it 17″ long, including the border rows.

Border or No Border

I originally did not want my cowl edges to roll, but I really don’t like the look of garter stitch, so I decided on making a few seed stitch border rows on each end.

However, I didn’t knit enough seed stitch rows and the cowl ends roll anyway.  As it turns out, I’m not unhappy about the roll.  I especially like the way it rolls around my face when I have it up on my head, so all is good!

My recommendation is if you do not want your edges to roll, that you should knit at least 5 or 6 rows in whatever stitch pattern you are planning on using.  This is another instance where test swatches really help.

Calculating Stitches and Rows

Since I planned on only knitting 2 or 3 rows of seed stitch I just used the gauge from my test swatch to calculate total number of stitches and rows I needed in order to reach my goal of a cowl that was approximately 35″ around [17.5″ x 2 for front and back], and 17″ long.

If you are going to use an edge or border stitch pattern to prevent your edges from rolling, then you would need to deduct the edge or border row gauge from your total number of rows.

Taking my gauge of 3.5 stitches per inch, I multiplied 3.5 by the total number of inches wide I wanted my cowl to be; in this case 35″ around.

     3.5 x 35 = 122.5 stitches

Since I was doing seed stitch edges, I needed to have an even number of stitches, so I rounded down to 122 stitches.

Then I took my row gauge of 5 rows per inch and multiplied it by the height I wanted my cowl to be; in this case 17″ long.

     5 x 17 = 85 total rows

Since I was planning on doing 3 rows of seed stitch on each end, I deducted 6 rows [3 for top edge and 3 for bottom edge] from 85 for a total of 79 rows of knit stitch.

Start Knitting!

I cast on a total of 122 stitches on the same pair of circular needles I used to make my test swatch.

I then knit 3 rows of seed stitch.

Then I knit 79 rows in knit stitch.

Then finished up with 3 rows of seed stitch.

Conclusions

Everything turned out exactly the way I had originally planned it except for the edges rolling because I didn’t knit enough seed stitch rows to prevent the fabric from rolling.

If I had made the seed stitch border around my test swatch, I would have discovered this before I even began knitting my cowl.

As it turns out, I’m not unhappy with the rolled edges, especially when I have the cowl up on my head.

Variations for Future Patterns

This Design Your Own Knit Cowl pattern recipe lends itself particularly  well to mosaic, fair isle or entrelac type knitting.

It is also easily adaptable for those who would rather crochet their cowl instead of knit.

NOTE – If you would like to be a pattern tester for this or other StitchMeKnot patterns, please see complete details here

How to Read Knitting Charts – Part 1

This is part 1 of a How to Read Knitting Charts tutorial which I did for the Stitchboard Community.  This lesson uses the familiar stitch pattern called Seed Stitch.

First, lets cover some basics about reading knitting charts.

FOR FLAT NEEDLE KNITTING

1.  Columns are numbered across the top and bottom.  The numbers will be in reverse order.

2.  Odd Rows are numbered on the right side – they are read from right to left.

3.  Even Rows are numbered on the left side – they are read from left to right.

4.  You start knitting from the bottom right hand corner – Row 1, Column 1.

For these tutorials, I am using the standard knitting symbols as set forth by the Craft Yarn Council.  You can find a list of these standard symbols at their website here.

Not all designers use these standard symbols, so it is very important that you read all of the pattern’s written instructions and make sure you understand what the symbols in the chart mean before you start knitting

In these tutorials, I am including a legend of the symbols used for your convenience.

A blank space on the graph represents a knit stitch on the right side of the work, and a purl stitch on the wrong side of the work.

A black dot represents a purl stitch on the right side, and a knit stitch on the wrong side.

The V with an underscore beneath it is a little different than the symbol used by Craft Yarn Council.  Their symbol had the horizontal bar going through the ‘V’.  I haven’t figured out how to create that symbol, so I put the horizontal bar under the ‘V’.    This symbol represents a Slip Stitch purl wise with yarn in front.

Seed Stitch - Chart Reading Tutorial

Notice the Columns are numbered 1 through 6 from right to left.  Row 1 is numbered on the right side and Row 2 is numbered on the left.

Remember, for flat knitting we start reading the chart from the bottom right hand corner, Row 1, Column 1.  Odd number rows are read from right to left [this is why they are numbered on the right side of chart], and even number rows are read from left to right.

So starting with Row 1, Column 1, we see the V with the underscore.  Looking at our legend, we see this represents a slip stitch purl-wise, with yarn in front.

We then move to Row 1, Column 2.  This block is blank and since it is a right side row, it represents a knit stitch.

Row 1, Column 3 – is a black dot, which is a purl stitch for a right side row.

Row 1, Column 4 is a knit stitch.

Row 1, Column 5 is a purl stitch.

Row 1, Column 6 is a knit stitch.

If we were to write out this stitch pattern in the traditional method it would look something like this:

Row 1:  Sl 1 purl-wise wyif, * K1, P1*, repeat from * to * to last stitch, K1.

Let’s continue with Row 2 – reading from left to right this time.  Remember, this is a wrong side row.

Row 2, Column 6 – is a slip stitch purl-wise wyif.

Row 2, Column 5 – is a purl stitch, because on wrong side rows, the blank box represents a purl stitch.

Row 2, Column 4 – a knit stitch, for the same reason.

Row 2, Column 3 – a purl stitch.

Row 2, Column 2 – a knit stitch.

Row 2, Column 1 – a knit stitch.

If we were to write this in a more traditional way it would read something like this:

Row 2:  Sl 1 purl-wise wyif, * P1, K1*, repeat from * to * to last stitch, K1

So the two row pattern could be written like so:

Row 1:  Sl 1 p-wise wyif, * K1, P1*, rep from * to * to last stitch, K1.
Row 2:  Sl 1 p-wise wyif, * P1, K1*, rep from * to * to last stitch, K1.

Notice how Rows 1 and 2 are now repeated 2 more times in the chart.

In the written directions you need to look for something like this …

Repeat Rows 1 and 2 [x] number of times, or for [x] number of inches, or until you get to your desired length, etc.

So the complete written instructions for this graph could read something like this …

Row 1:  Sl 1 p-wise wyif, * K1, P1*, rep from * to * to last stitch, K1.
Row 2:  Sl 1 p-wise wyif, * P1, K1*, rep from * to * to last stitch, K1.
Repeat Rows 1 and 2 until you have knit to the desired length for your scarf [or whatever].

I’m sure most of you will now recognize this stitch pattern as the Seed Stitch.

In this simple stitch pattern, I used a slip stitch purl-wise wyif at the beginning of each row, and a knit stitch at the end of each row.  These are called “Edge Stitches”.  Sometimes charts will use an “X” or some other symbol to indicate “Edge Stitches”.  You’ll have to read the legend for your pattern.

When a chart uses a generic symbol for the “Edge Stitches” this indicates that you, the knitter, can use whatever border pattern you wish, such as garter stitch, to begin and end the charted stitch pattern.  This is sometimes done to prevent the fabric from curling for stitches such as stockinette stitch, or to incorporate a decorative edging on the edges.

Most of the time, charts are reduced to a single repeat.  For example, the above chart for the Seed Stitch would have been reduced from 6 columns to 4 columns [i.e. the second repeat would have been removed].

It is very important to read your pattern carefully before you start knitting.  In this example, the written instructions indicate that columns 2 and 3 are the “pattern repeat”.  In other words, you repeat this portion of the pattern for as many times indicated in the pattern’s written instructions.  In this case up to the last stitch.

SEED STITCH IN THE ROUND
[ALSO FOR LOOM KNITTERS BOTH FLAT AND IN THE ROUND]

Now what if you want to knit the seed stitch in the round, or use it on a loom knit project?

Reading charts for knitting in the round, or for loom knit patterns, is a little different because all of the rows are read from right to left because the work is never turned to the wrong side.

Let’s look at the following chart …

Seed Stitch in the Round - Chart Reading Tutorial

Notice all the row numbers are on the right.  This tells you all rows are read from right to left.  Because this is for a pattern knit in the round, there are no edge stitches.

However, if you wanted to knit this as a flat panel on a knitting loom, then you may decide to put in your own edge stitches.  The choice is entirely up to you, as the knitter.  In the case of seed stitch, edge stitches aren’t really needed because it doesn’t curl like stockinette.  Again, the choice is yours.

Also notice the Legend.  The reason the blank squares are always Knits and the black dots are always Purls, is because the work is never turned to the wrong side.

Okay, lets step through the process of transcribing this chart one stitch at a time.

Starting at the bottom right hand corner …

Row 1, Column 1 – the symbol is a blank square; according to our legend, all blank squares are Knit stitches, so this is a Knit.

Row 1, Column 2 – we have a black dot; looking at the legend, we see this is a Purl stitch.

Row 1, Column 3 – A knit stitch.

Row 1, Column 4 – A purl stitch.

Row 1, Column 5 – A knit stitch.

Row 1, Column 6 – A purl stitch.

The written instructions would be as follows …

Row 1 – *K1, P1* rep from * to * across.

Now here is where reading knit charts for in the round, or for looms is different from flat needle knitting.

Row 2 is now read from right to left also.  And since we are always on the right side of our work, we don’t have to reverse the legend for wrong side rows.

So Row 2 would be as follows:

Row 2, Column 6 – This is a Purl Stitch
Row 2, Column 5 – Knit Stitch
Row 2, Column 4 – Purl Stitch
Row 2, Column 3 – Knit Stitch
Row 2, Column 2 – Purl Stitch
Row 2, Column 1 – Knit Stitch

So the written instructions would be …

Row 2 – *P1, K1″ across

Then we again have rows 1 and 2 repeated 2 more times, so the full pattern would read …

Row 1 – *K1, P1* repeat across [or to the end of row].
Row 2 – *P1, K1* repeat across [or to the end of row].
Repeat Rows 1 and 2 until you reach the desired length for your project.

That’s really all there is to reading knitting charts.

For those of you who do better with visual aids, I have found the following youtube video by Knit Purl Hunter.  She does an excellent job of explaining the difference between reading a chart for flat knitting and for knitting in the round [or for loom knitting].  Here is a link to her video.

Create Custom Stitch Designs Tutorial – Part 3

Create Custom Stitch Designs Tutorial – Part 3

This tutorial continues to build upon the skills learned in Parts 1 and 2 so you can create your own custom designs.

To summarize, those tutorials took a basic 3 stitch pattern and copied, flipped and/or rotated the design to create new, larger, better stitch designs.

This tutorial expands upon those principles by adding to, or deleting, parts of the design.

Start With A Basic Design

In this case, I started with an empty circle. Then I began adding and modifying the circle in different ways. As I began to create different shape patterns based upon the empty circle, I discovered I was starting to make what looked like teddy bear eyes!

Expand On The Modified Design

Then I began to expand on the eye patterns to see how they could be modified to make different types of faces.

As I expanded on the face patterns, I discovered a few potential body designs.

I did not set out to design teddy bear faces or bodies. I was not looking to create anything in particular. I was just ‘doodling’ with graph paper and some colored pencils to see what I could come up with based upon a simple circle. I was pleasantly surprised with these results.

create custom stitch designs tutorial part 3 - circles and faces

Now Its YOUR Turn

1. Grab some graph paper and colored pencils. You can print out free blank graph paper at our Free Resources page. You can also do a Google search for free graph paper templates.

2. Take a small shape or pattern – no more than 3 or 4 stitches, then begin to apply some of the techniques you have learned in this three part tutorial. See how many different designs you can come up with for just that small shape or pattern.

Check out the StitchMeKnot Tutorial Library of some very basic stitch patterns for you to experiment with.

3. CONGRATULATIONS!!! You have just created your very first custom designs.

In Conclusion

I hope this tutorial series Create Custom Stitch Designs was helpful and motivates you to have confidence in your ability to create your own custom stitch designs.

If you have ideas and/or suggestions for additional tutorials, or have a question about this tutorial series, please contact me by e-mail. I am very interested to know how I may be able to help you create your own custom stitch pattern designs. Thank you.

Create Custom Stitch Designs Tutorial – Part 2

Create Custom Stitch Designs Tutorial – Part 2

This tutorial shows you how to take your 3 stitch design and using the skills you learned in Part 1, to build better designs. All the designs below are based upon the same 3 stitch pattern we used in Part 1.

Create Custom Stitch Designs Tutorial Part 2 - fig 1

Flip, Copy And Repeat

Create Custom Stitch Designs Tutorial Part 2 - fig 2

Create Custom Stitch Designs Tutorial Part 2 - fig 005

Create Custom Stitch Designs Tutorial Part 2 - fig 006

Create Custom Stitch Designs Tutorial Part 2 - fig 004

Create Custom Stitch Designs Tutorial Part 2 - fig 4

Create Custom Stitch Designs Tutorial Part 2 - fig 003

Flip, Copy And Repeat The New Stitch Design

We can take these new patterns and apply the lessons we learned in Part 1 to make new interesting designs. For example, using the last design pattern above we can create the following:

Create Custom Stitch Designs Tutorial Part 2 - fig 001

Create Custom Stitch Designs Tutorial Part 2 - fig 012

Invert Stitches and White Space

These next few patterns show how you can invert the stitches and white space.

Create Custom Stitch Designs Tutorial Part 2 - fig 014

Create Custom Stitch Designs Tutorial Part 2 - fig 013

Putting It All Together

Now let’s use a new pattern as a building block to create a repeating decorative design.

Create Custom Stitch Designs Tutorial Part 2 - fig 015

Create Custom Stitch Designs Tutorial Part 2 - fig 017

Again, using the skills we learned in Part 1, we can further build upon our designs to create a frame or a border.

Create Custom Stitch Designs Tutorial Part 2 - fig 016

Create Custom Stitch Designs Tutorial Part 2 - fig 018

Continue to Build Upon Your Design

We can further build upon these newly created stitch patterns.

Create Custom Stitch Designs Tutorial Part 2 - fig 019

Create Custom Stitch Designs Tutorial Part 2 - fig 020

Now YOU Can Create Custom Stitch Designs

You now have the skills needed to take a simple 2 or 3 stitch pattern to create your own truly awesome custom stitch designs. If you need a little more inspiration, look at the examples in part 3 of our Create Custom Stitch Designs Tutorial.

Create Custom Stitch Designs Tutorial – Part 1

Create Custom Stitch Designs Tutorial – Part 1

This is part 1 of a 3 part tutorial to teach you to create custom stitch designs of your own.  We by starting with a simple 2 or 3 stitch design.

Start With A Small Basic Sesign

Take a very simple stitch pattern from the StitchMeKnot Tutorial Library and create a new and different custom design or pattern.

For example, I am using a simple three stitch design.

Create Custom Stitch Designs Tutorial - Part 1 - fig 1

Copy, Flip, and/or Rotate

Now just copy, flip and/or rotate the design in such a way as to come up with a new stitch pattern.

Create Custom Stitch Designs Tutorial - Part 1 - fig 2

Repeats with No Added White Space

Using the same three stitch design, we can turn and/or flip it a few times to create yet another new design.

Create Custom Stitch Designs Tutorial - Part 1 - fig 4

Superimposed Common Areas

Take the same design above, and superimpose the common areas of the stitch pattern.

Create Custom Stitch Designs Tutorial - Part 1 - fig 3

Add Extra Space Between Design Elements

Or you can create extra space between the flipped repeats.

Create Custom Stitch Designs Tutorial - Part 1 - fig 4

Are You Ready to Create Custom Stitch Designs?

In Parts 2 and 3 of this tutorial, I will show you how to take these new designs and use them as building blocks to make even better custom stitch designs. You are only limited by your own imagination.