There are many stitch
patterns available in books, magazines, and online--and probably
just as many that have not been invented yet. You will find a
large selection in the StitchFinder.
To use them for simple projects like scarves, dishcloths, and
afghans, keep in mind that these projects can all be simple
squares or rectangles. You can just cast on the appropriate number
of stitches according to your gauge and desired width (stitches
per inch × desired width = the number of stitches to cast
on) and start knitting.
But to get the most out of these
stitch patterns, you'll want to consider a few factors before
- Is the project something you
want to lay flat such as an afghan? Seed stitch and
garter stitch are two common stitch patterns that lay flat and
are good choices but there are many others as well. Knit or
crochet a swatch first...you will do this anyway to check your
gauge...and you'll soon see if it rolls like stockinette (which
will roll regardless of what you do...it's simply the nature of
- Speaking of swatches, stitch patterns often will result in a
slightly different gauge than the original gauge stated on a
yarn label or pattern. So be
sure you gauge swatch carefully! You'll want to make a
note of the differences so that you can adjust your knitting or
crochet as needed.
- Think about the yarn you've
selected. Is it a highly textured yarn or novelty yarn?
You won't be able to see a stitch pattern distinctly (called
stitch definition), so stick to something simple that isn't a
lot of work. Cables, however, often work well with this type of
yarn although they too will be more defined with a smoother
- Consider the stitch multiple.
This is the number of stitches needed to complete one repeat of
a pattern. If it's a multiple of 2, you can cast on any number
of stitches that is evenly divisible by 2. If it's a stitch
multiple of 4 + 1, cast on any number evenly divisible by 4 and
then add 1.
If you're going to use a sweater pattern and utilize a different
stitch pattern, the stitch multiple is particularly important.
You may love a certain stitch but given the multiple, it may not
work with the size and gauge of that sweater.
Suppose the pattern dictates that you cast on 80 stitches for
the size you are making. You will be limited to stitch patterns
that will work over 80 stitches. You may be able to use one that
is plus or minus two stitches but be aware of how that will
affect the finished size.
- Seaming your project
together? Unless you're knitting in the round, you
want the pattern to line up when you sew the seams together;
that is, the pattern of one half will align with the pattern of
the other half in one continuous repeat. Adding an additional
stitch on each side of your piece will give you the space to sew
your fabric together, without worrying about navigating your
stitch pattern. In knitting, you'll knit the extra stitch on the
right side (RS) and purl it on the wrong side (WS); in crochet,
you'll want to work that stitch in a plain stitch (sc, hdc, dc,
tr) that is the same height as your row. Be sure to cast-on or
chain 2 extra stitches (one for each side) for your selvage
stitches; if you need help keeping track of them, use stitch
markers to designate these stitches.
With these few principles, you will be able to change a
stockinette sweater pattern into a unique creation simply by
knitting it with a different stitch pattern!