Knit A Bit

Complete Idiot's Guide To Knitting & Crocheting

Selecting The Right Stitch Pattern For Your Knitting Project

Even if you're not ready to venture into designing a sweater, scarves, dishcloths, and afghans are all simple squares or rectangles. There are thousands of stitch patterns available. Just cast on the appropriate number of stitches according to your gauge and desired width (stitches per inch x desired width=the number of stitches to cast on) and start knitting.

But you do need to take into account a few factors. Use these same principles to change a stockinette sweater pattern into a totally different creation by using a different stitch pattern.

First, remember that stockinette rolls. This is simply the nature of the fabric and there's nothing you can do to stop it from rolling. So if you're knitting anything you want to lie flat, don't knit stockinette! Choose a stitch pattern that will lie flat. Seed stitch and garter stitch are good choices.

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 so stick to something simple that isn't a lot of work; if you're knitting a scarf or afghan, remember you want it to lie flat so again, stockinette is not a good choice.

Finally, consider the stitch multiple. This is the number of stitches you must have 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, any number that is divisible by 4 will work; then add 1.

Stitch multiples are also important if you've decided to use a stitch pattern instead of stockinette (or even a different stitch pattern) in a pattern you own. You've decided on a long sleeve, crew neck pullover. You've selected the yarn from the stash in your closet or under your bed. Now what stitch pattern are you going to use for this next creation?

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. Add one stitch on each side of the repeat and work it in stockinette; in other words, cast on the appropriate number of stitches plus 2 and knit those stitches on every right side row and purl them on every wrong side row. You will then use them to sew your sweater together and your stitch pattern will be perfectly aligned. These are called selvedge (or sometimes selvage) stitches.

We'll assume that the number of sts your pattern calls for is 80. You'll select a stitch pattern where the multiple will work over 80 sts (this could be 2, 4, or 10).Then cast on 2 additional stitches for the selvedge.

My book, The Complete Idiot's Guide To Knitting And Crocheting (3rd edition), is a comprehensive resource. You'll learn all the basics and then add additional skills that will take you well beyond the beginning stages.

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